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IT Strategy Authors: Peter Silva, Ben Uher, Sanjeev Khurana, Patrick Hubbard, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Security Journal, IT Strategy, Secure Cloud Computing, F5 Networks, Internet of Things Journal

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Securing the Internet of Things | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #Sensors #Security

Whenever you connect anything to the internet, there is risk involved

Security Trends in 2016: Securing the Internet of Things

Whenever you connect anything to the internet, there is risk involved. Just ask the millions of IoT zombies infected with Mirai. Sure, there have been various stories over the years about hacking thermostats, refrigerators, cameras, pacemakers, insulin pumps and other medical devices along with cars, homes and hotel rooms…but Mirai took it to a new level.

mirai-trojan

And it’s not the only IoT botnet out there nor are these nasty botnets going away anytime soon. There’s a gold mine of unprotected devices out there waiting to either have their/your info stolen or be used to flood another website with traffic.

This is bound to compound in the years to come.

A recent Ponemon Institute report noted that an incredible 80% of IoT applications are not tested for vulnerabilities. Let’s try that again – only 20% of the IoT applications that we use daily are tested for vulnerabilities. There’s probably no indication or guarantee that the one you are using now has been tested.

R025_Fig1_1Clearly a trend we saw in 2016, and seems to continue into 2017, is that people are focusing too much on the ‘things’ themselves and the coolness factor rather than the fact that anytime you connect something to the internet, you are potentially exposing yourself to thieves. There has been such a rush to get products to market and make some money off a new trend yet these same companies ignore or simply do not understand the potential security threats. This somewhat mimics the early days of internet connectivity when insecure PCs dialed up and were instantly inundated with worms, viruses and email spam. AV/FW software soon came along and intended to reduce those threats.

Today it’s a bit different but the cycle continues.

Back then you’d probably notice that your computer was acting funky, slowing down or malfunctioning since we interacted with it daily. Today, we typically do not spend every waking hour working with our IoT devices. They’re meant to function independently to grab data, make adjustments and alert us on a mobile app with limited human interaction. That’s the ‘smart’ part everyone talks about. But these botnets are smart themselves. With that, you may never know that your DVR is infected and allowing someone across the globe (or waiting at the nearest street corner) watch your every move.

Typical precautions we usually hear are actions like changing default passwords, not connecting it directly to the internet and updating the firmware to reduce the exposure. Software developers, too, need to plan and build in security from the onset rather than an afterthought. The security vs. usability conundrum that plagues many web applications extends to IoT applications also. But you wouldn’t, or I should say, shouldn’t deploy a financial application without properly testing it for vulnerabilities. There the risk is financial loss but with IoT and particularly medical/health devices the result can be deadly.

Mirai was just the beginning of the next wave of vulnerability exploitation. More chaos to come.

ps

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.