SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Opinion piece: How you can bolster cybersecurity in the IoT era

FYI, this story is more than a year old

We are entering into the era of the IoT. In fact, Gartner recently predicted that IoT technology will be present in 95% of electronic products for new product designs by 2020. The rapid gravitation towards the IoT has come at a cost, however, and the IoT has already earned itself a reputation for poor security. In the ferociously competitive technology sector, the urgency to be first to market with affordable IoT devices has resulted in many organisations overlooking even some of the most basic security principles in favour of fast development cycles.

On top of this, the combination of overly rigorous cost controls and the drive towards user-friendliness leaves even less room for robust security measures. Many IoT devices also use extremely cheap processing units, equivalent to something you might buy back in the 1970s but much smaller. These kinds of devices are often either memory constrained or ‘input' constrained, allowing for simple functionality, but leaving little to no room for future updates or patches.

With the lifespan of these devices often expected to exceed ten years, this creates a very serious problem. As security evolves and new threats become apparent, IoT devices can become a major security risk if they cannot be patched.

Fortunately, this growing threat isn't going unnoticed. Technology groups such as I am the Cavalry are now driving and advising governments on what needs to be done to build more secure IoT solutions. The IoT Security Foundation is also driving to build standards and enlist companies to work together in order to improve the overall security of devices. Furthermore, the GSM Association (GSMA) has produced a set of guidelines around security best practices for IoT devices.

For manufacturers, developers and users of IoT devices, associations such as the GSMA have highlighted several key areas where security must be improved. The following eight areas are prime examples of these:

1) Device authentication and identity: Proper and secure authentication with individual device identification allows a secure connection to be built between the devices themselves and the backend control systems. If every device has its own unique identity, organisations can quickly confirm that the device communicating is indeed the one it claims to be. This requires individual device identification based on solutions such as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

2) Physical security: Physical security is paramount. Integrating tamper-proofing measures into device components should be at the forefront of all developers' minds as it ensures they cannot be decoded. Additionally, ensuring device data related to authentication, identification codes and account information is erased if a device becomes compromised will help to prevent private data from being used maliciously.

3) Encryption: When utilising IoT solutions, organisations must ensure traffic flowing between devices and backend servers is properly encrypted. Ensuring that commands are encrypted and looking at command integrity via signing or a strong encoding is vital. IoT devices should also encrypt any sensitive user data collected as well for further data security.

4) Firmware updates: In the rush to get new IoT products to market, manufacturers sometimes build devices with no firmware update capability at all. Creating a consistent process that enables flexible firmware deployment over time allows for the creation of new products whilst ensuring important security fixes are distributed universally across existing product lines.

5) Secure coding: IoT developers must implement secure coding practices and apply them to the device as part of the software build process. Focusing on QA and vulnerability identification/remediation as part of the development lifecycle will streamline security efforts while helping to mitigate risk.

6) Close backdoors: Building devices with a backdoor inside, whether for surveillance or law enforcement purposes, has become commonplace. However, this practice compromises the integrity and security of the end user. Manufacturers must ensure that no malicious code or backdoor is introduced and the device's UDID is not copied, monitored or captured. Doing so will guarantee that when the device registers online, the process is not captured or vulnerable to interception, surveillance or unlawful monitoring.

7) Network segmentation: If a network is partitioned into secure segments, then – should an IoT device become compromised – its segment can be isolated from the rest of the network. If a path to the Internet is required, then that could be granted, and if the device is somehow breached, the devices in that segment are the only ones impacted. The zone can be quarantined and remediation steps can be taken without incurring risk to other systems.

8) Understand the business need: Security teams can be so focused on reducing risk that they sometimes do not align well with business needs. A good security team will assess business requests around IoT and think ‘what is the challenge or problem that the business is trying to solve?'. Without this mindset, security teams are liable to propose a way to secure the IoT devices that may actually reduce the business benefit. Security teams that work alongside the business, rather than against it will build more effective, more secure IoT infrastructure.

In 2018 we will, unfortunately, continue to see IoT devices being compromised by malicious parties. This is the harsh reality of having so many devices already out in the wild that are virtually impossible to update. We are also likely to see more DDoS attacks stemming from compromised devices and even the appearance of IoT focused ransomware.

However, all is not lost. Initiatives to improve IoT security standards are already gathering momentum, and it should not be long before manufacturers start to make amends in relation to the key areas above, as well as other aspects of IoT devices. Over time, the IoT will become more robust, particularly as existing vulnerable devices reach their end of life and are replaced by more secure equivalents.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Security Information and Event Management
LogRhythm announces LogRhythm Axon and new solution enhancements
According to the company, Axon provides an easier way for security teams to achieve better visibility across both cloud and on-prem log sources, helping further establish a foundation for their security practices.
Story image
Virtual Private Network
BT enhances global Cardway portfolio with Mako Networks
BT has announced a significant enhancement to its Cardway portfolio of payment solutions following the signing of a global agreement with Mako Networks.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Swift successfully pilots its Securities View capability
The new capability significantly increases transparency in post-trade processing while preventing costly settlement fails; it will be widely available in 2023.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Continuous attack attempts discovered on Atlassian Confluence zero day
Following a coordinated disclosure of a zero-day vulnerability by Volexity in Atlassian Confluence, attackers went wild to exploit it.
Story image
Ransomware
Commonwealth tackling rising cybercrime threat in Asia
Ransomware, identity theft, and virtual security attacks identified as growing threats to security and economic growth.
Story image
Microsoft
Yubico research finds concerning trends around authentication security practices
A new global survey from Yubico has found that 59% of employees still rely on usernames and passwords as the primary method to authenticate their accounts.
Story image
Apple
Jamf shows intent to acquire mobile security firm ZecOps
This acquisition positions Jamf to help IT and security teams strengthen their organisation’s mobile security posture.
Story image
Work from home
Jamf showcases new products to simplify and secure work
At the 13th annual Jamf Nation User Conference, the company shared how its continuous product innovation is helping organisations succeed with Apple.
Story image
Enterprise
Delinea shares the importance of PAM, partners and security for modern enterprise
Identity-based security is becoming a crucial tool for modern enterprises as they continue to adapt to different working environments.
Story image
Firewall
Barracuda accelerates growth in its data protection business
Barracuda cloud-to-cloud backup protects against evolving cyber threats, such as ransomware, and is now transactable in the Azure Marketplace.
Story image
Threat intelligence
Trellix advances threat intelligence with new research centre
Trellix has announced the establishment of the Trellix Advanced Research Center to advance global threat intelligence.
Story image
Legacy
Trellix enables greater cyber resiliency with extended XDR platform
"Legacy SIEM technology has failed to modernise security operations. We are confident Trellix XDR fills this critical gap.”
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from SearchInform
Val Novoselova joins us today to to discuss new trends in the information security space, and how SearchInform is adapting to some of the new trends we are seeing.
Story image
Software-as-a-Service
Enterprises yet to fully commit to cybersecurity - CompTIA
“Digital transformation driven by cloud and mobile adoption requires a new strategic approach to cybersecurity, but this poses significant challenges."
Story image
Edge Security
Security practices for modernising the “spaghetti” of on-premises IT
Many organisations are wondering how to securely modernise their workload, often made up of a “spaghetti” of on-premises applications and management consoles.
Story image
Mobile Device Management
How to easily scale your mobile workforce and devices for the peak shopping season
Retailers are under constant pressure to streamline processes and become more efficient while looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction levels.
Story image
Partner Programmes
Trellix set to launch new unified partner program in 2023
"We co-developed the Xtend program with our partners to create the right business model for deploying Trellix XDR."
Story image
Virtual Private Network
95% of organisation rely on VPN as threats continue - report
There is a growing number of VPN-specific security threats and a need for Zero Trust security architecture in enterprise-level organisations.
Story image
Software-as-a-Service
Varonis adds secrets discovery to data classification
The data security firm announces enhancements that detect and remediate overexposed private keys, encryption certificates, API keys, and authentication tokens.
Story image
Network Management
Fortinet introduces enhanced AIOps across its gateways
FortiAIOps builds on Fortinet's rich history of developing artificial intelligence to deliver actionable network insights for self-optimising management.
Story image
Distributed Denial of Service
Sysdig reveals a loss of $53 for every $1 cryptojackers gain
The 2022 Sysdig Cloud Native Threat Report breaks down supply chain attacks against containers and how geopolitical conflict influences attacker behaviours.
Story image
Cloud
How modern IT architectures are moving beyond network visibility
Dealing with multiple cloud providers makes it difficult to identify security threats and performance bottlenecks and troubleshoot issues.
Story image
Phishing
Vectra Protect team finds Microsoft Teams vulnerability
The Vectra Protect team identified a post-exploitation opportunity in August, allowing malicious actors to steal valid user credentials from Microsoft Teams.
Story image
Malware
Kaspersky uncovers new malicious malware NullMixer
Kaspersky researchers have uncovered a new malware stealing users credentials, address, credit card data, cryptocurrencies, and accounts.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Test your API Security with Infinite API Scanner
The effectiveness of API scanning technology can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful programming outcomes, and often enterprises and IT leaders struggle to get it right.
Story image
Kaspersky
Cybersecurity loopholes prevalent in South East Asia
In terms of the share of vulnerabilities with publicly available exploits, three countries out of top five are located in Southeast Asia.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Employees unsure who to go to to report security incident
A new study shows more than 20% of the untrained global workforce do not know who to contact during a security breach.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Fortinet advances AIOps to aid the hybrid workforce
"We’re continuing our commitment to AI innovation by delivering AIOps capabilities across our robust portfolio of enterprise networking technology."
Story image
Data Protection
Cloudflare brings Data Localisation Suite to more APAC businesses
This allows any business in these countries to service their data locally while benefiting from the speed, security, and scalability of Cloudflare’s global network.
Story image
Cybersecurity
De-risking the innovation cycle – a modern, real-time approach to security
Many organisations see cybersecurity as an inhibitor of innovation, with burdensome protection measures standing in the way of progress and speed.
Story image
Cloud Security
75% of AU companies had cloud security incident in past year
According to new Venafi research, complexity is due to increase, as companies plan to host more applications in the cloud.
Aws Marketplace
Learn how to implement a backup and recovery plan for a new generation of Kubernetes-based modern applications
Link image
Story image
Secure Code Warrior
Secure Code Warrior announces Coding Labs innovation
Coding Labs mechanisms allow developers to move from learning to applying secure coding knowledge more efficiently, leading to fewer code vulnerabilities.
Story image
Data Protection
99% of security experts unhappy with tokenisation investment
Cybersecurity experts are looking for a solution that provides the strength of tokenisation while removing the friction that has accompanied it in the past.
Story image
Firewall
Forrester names Akamai as web application firewall leader
"We continually monitor and improve our capabilities to defend customers from new threats, while enabling customers to protect evolving attack surfaces."
Story image
Malware
Decrease in malware volume, but surge in encrypted malware
The Q2 Internet Security Report found office exploits continue to spread more than any other category of malware.
AWS Marketplace
Whitepaper: A practical guide for mitigating risk in today’s modern applications
Link image
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud security driving need for deep observability
Gigamon is bringing application and network-level intelligence together to help network, security, and cloud IT operations teams eliminate security blind spots.
Story image
IT Training
Six ways to transform your cybersecurity training and influence lasting change
If the goal is to win hearts and minds, formal awareness training can fall short and often doesn’t inspire people to care.
Story image
Ransomware
Delinea updates DevOps security, remote access more seamless
New enhancements include development support on the most recent Mac computers and improved secrets' management usability through automation.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ransomware attacks continue to increase, report finds
Nearly a quarter of businesses have suffered a ransomware attack, with a fifth occurring in the past 12 months.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Best practices for industrial cyber resilience
Operational technology (OT) security is gaining more attention than ever before, but sufficient understanding of what it takes to prevent breaches is still lacking amongst many organisations.