Mobile

12/4/2017
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

The Rising Dangers of Unsecured IoT Technology

As government regulation looms, the security industry must take a leading role in determining whether the convenience of the Internet of Things is worth the risk and compromise of unsecured devices.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled 450,000 pacemakers that are currently in use by patients out of fear that these devices could be compromised. Although the agency said there is not any reported patient harm related to the devices, the FDA is rightly concerned that attackers will exploit pacemaker vulnerabilities and have the ability to affect how a medical device works. 

While this is perhaps one of the most potentially life-threatening examples of unsecured Internet of Things (IoT) security, it drives home the point that manufacturers are not building these devices with security as a priority. As IoT devices grow in popularity, seemingly endless security- and privacy-related concerns are surfacing. 

IoT Malware: Alive and Well
With more than 20 billion devices expected to be connected to the Internet over the next few years, it comes as no surprise that attackers are increasingly looking to exploit them. Large-scale events like last October's distributed denial-of-service attack targeting systems operated by Dyn, and warnings from security experts should have security professionals paying attention. But are they?

According to a recent Gartner report, by 2020, IoT technology will be in 95% of new electronic product designs. While this statistic demonstrates the success of IoT, it is also a precursor for alarm. As the adoption of IoT devices rises, manufacturers are competing to stay ahead. Creating cheap products quickly often means overlooking security and privacy measures.

In general, consumers need to have more control over privacy and how they use IoT devices (think of the pacemaker). Watches and other wearables, for instance, are good examples of devices that give consumers control. Users can turn them off, take them off, and customize them. However, other devices, such as your personal home assistant can, theoretically, always be listening, as when, according to a CNET report, a hostage victim was able to contact law enforcement through their Amazon Alexa device, despite the fact that Amazon says the technology doesn't support "wake-up" action calls to outside phone lines.

National Security Issue?
The IoT Cybersecurity Act was introduced recently as an initiative designed to set security standards for the US government's purchase of IoT devices. In order to steer clear of stifling innovation, the government doesn't often insert itself into private sector manufacturing decisions. However, the proposed legislation signals that, at least in some quarters, IoT security is becoming a matter of national security. And, although this bill does not pertain to consumers, it is a step in the right direction by challenging manufacturers to prioritize IoT security and privacy in their engineering designs, and consumers, in their purchasing decisions.

At the end of the day, as consumers continue to embrace IoT technology, they should not have to sacrifice security and privacy for the convenience and enjoyment of a product and service. Instead, they should be able to decide how they use "things" and how they can control them. Until security and privacy measures are embedded in all devices, those of us in the security industry need to challenge ourselves by questioning whether the convenience is worth the risk and compromise of unsecured devices.

Related Content:

With 15-plus years of leadership experience implementing vendor security risk and assessment programs for startups and Fortune 500 companies, Jackson defines the security road map for SecureAuth's suite of adaptive authentication and IS solutions. Prior to joining SecureAuth, ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
12/4/2017 | 1:23:06 PM
Bubble
Anyone that does not think that security is the primary concern for any industry, is living in a bubble!
White House Cybersecurity Strategy at a Crossroads
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  7/17/2018
Mueller Probe Yields Hacking Indictments for 12 Russian Military Officers
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  7/13/2018
10 Ways to Protect Protocols That Aren't DNS
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  7/16/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-10869
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
redhat-certification does not properly restrict files that can be download through the /download page. A remote attacker may download any file accessible by the user running httpd.
CVE-2018-10870
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
redhat-certification does not properly sanitize paths in rhcertStore.py:__saveResultsFile. A remote attacker could use this flaw to overwrite any file, potentially gaining remote code execution.
CVE-2018-12959
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
The approveAndCall function of a smart contract implementation for Aditus (ADI), an Ethereum ERC20 token, allows attackers to steal assets (e.g., transfer all contract balances into their account).
CVE-2018-14336
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
TP-Link WR840N devices allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (connectivity loss) via a series of packets with random MAC addresses.
CVE-2018-10620
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
AVEVA InduSoft Web Studio v8.1 and v8.1SP1, and InTouch Machine Edition v2017 8.1 and v2017 8.1 SP1 a remote user could send a carefully crafted packet to exploit a stack-based buffer overflow vulnerability during tag, alarm, or event related actions such as read and write, with potential for code t...