|By Jason Bloomberg||
|November 15, 2013 08:00 AM EST||
Your alarm clock jars you awake. You stumble to the kitchen, fire up your coffee maker, grab some milk from the fridge, and pour yourself a bowl of cereal. You turn down the thermostat before you head to your car. You park your sedan in your usual spot in the garage at work, and you enter your office building by waving your badge at the door. Finally, you drop into your chair and fire up your computer.
A mundane story, one millions of people trudge through every day with only minor variations. But here’s the question: how many Internet-connected devices did you interact with between opening your eyes and logging in? Let’s see: alarm clock, coffee maker, fridge, thermostat, your automobile, all the stop lights, traffic cameras, toll transceivers, and in-road traffic sensors on your commute, and finally your badge and the door. OK, maybe your household appliances aren’t on the Internet yet. Give them a few years.
Now ask yourself: how many of those net-connected doodads are secure? The answer: none of them. Every device on this list is woefully unprotected from various attacks, and to make matters worse, many of them might contain confidential information ripe for the picking. And if all that weren’t sufficiently disconcerting, the vendors of such miscellany aren’t particularly motivated to make them secure – even if they knew how to do it properly. Which they don’t. Nevertheless, we blindly forge ahead, building out the Internet of Things (IoT), as though the security issues will somehow resolve themselves. Just how worried should we be?
The Bad and the Ugly – but None of the Good
This tale of woe begins with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. These innocuous tags appear in everything from product packaging to airport tarmac equipment to passports to, yes, your security badge. And as you would expect from the tone of this ZapFlash, RFID tags are dead simple to hack. They come in two flavors: passive and active. The passive ones need no power source; they simply respond when the right signal gets close enough to them. No encryption, no authentication, no nothing. Anyone with the right device (which you can easily obtain over the Internet, of course) can read your tag simply by getting their snooping device close enough to it. Have you ever walked down the street with your security badge, or through an airport with your passport? Has anybody ever passed within a few feet of you? Stupid questions, right?
So, how do the best RFID security minds recommend protecting your RFID tags from compromise? Put them in protective sleeves. And no, wrapping your passport in aluminum foil won’t do. You need a special Faraday cage sleeve. But even if you manage to keep your RFID tags in an effective sleeve, all a hacker has to do is wait till you take it out. Recommending a sleeve to protect the IoT from attack is about as effective as climbing under school desks was at surviving a Cold War nuke.
Surely the technology in our increasingly cyber-aware automobiles is more secure than your run of the mill RFID tag, right? Sorry, no. Today’s cars have fifty or more tiny computers called electronic control units that control all aspects of the vehicle’s function. These units communicate with each other via a Controller Area Network (CAN). As vehicle manufacturers increasingly provide Internet access to their autos, hackers can easily access the CAN remotely – and with it, all the functions of the car. Brakes. Steering. Engine. Everything down to the radio.
There are two primary modes of protection the car manufacturers are implementing to prevent hackers from using these weaknesses to steal cars, kill targeted individuals, or simply wreak havoc. First, CAN protocols are proprietary. And second, the manufacturers are keeping all the details secret.
Neither technique, of course, provides any true measure of security, as researchers proved at a recent DefCon conference. Secrets are virtually impossible to keep in today’s Facebooked world. Also keep in mind, any authorized repair shop will have a diagnostic machine that interfaces with the CAN. If a hacker doesn’t want to bother reverse engineering the proprietary protocol directly, they can simply get their hands one of those machines and hack that.
Why the IoT is so Hard to Secure
There are both business and technical reasons why the IoT is so difficult to secure. On the technical side, the core problem is that the tried-and-true technologies we use to secure traditional interactions with the Internet just don’t work well – if they work at all. To use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, for example, each endpoint must be able to store digital keys and run encryption and decryption algorithms, conduct sophisticated handshakes to establish secure SSL connections, etc. However, many IoT nodes like the passive RFID tags simply don’t have the electrical power, storage, or processing power necessary to tackle even the simplest of PKI tasks.
Secondly, a large part of the IoT approach involves machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. In other words, sensors and other IoT endpoints talk to each other, instead of talking to a server somewhere. If your smart thermostat tells your dishwasher when to run, that communication might be running over your home Wi-Fi or perhaps Bluetooth or some other local network protocol that doesn’t require traffic to actually go over the Internet. And not only does it go without saying that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protocols are shockingly easy to hack, but how are the two communicating nodes supposed to know that the information coming from the other is authorized? Essentially, any kind of M2M interaction requires a certain level of trust, only we have no way of providing that trust in the first place, or revoking it should a breach occur. How will your dishwasher know someone has hacked your thermostat?
In fact, the two examples above provide special cases of a broader problem: the IoT gives us no way to control permissions. Let’s say you figure it’s a good idea for said thermostat to Tweet certain information so it’s easy for you to monitor your home while you’re away. If a hacker compromises the thermostat, they automatically get your Twitter login – and you no longer have any way to control your Tweets.
The final challenge I’ll consider here (keeping in mind there are sure to be dozens of others) is the fact that devices on the Internet must have IP addresses – and in many cases, IoT sensors wouldn’t work properly behind firewalls. They must have public IP addresses that anyone can access. And if someone can access them, then someone will. Ever heard of Shodan? It’s a tool for finding IP addresses for random devices, including baby monitors, Webcams, security systems, and all manner of other bric-a-brac. How would you like a hacker to compromise your baby monitor? It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.
Scanning random IP addresses, however, is only practical for the familiar IPv4 space. As we move to IPv6, there will be so many possible addresses that scanning them at random will be much more difficult. This advantage, however, is weaker than you might think. First, it simply presents an interesting challenge to enterprising hackers out there. How long will it take for a Shodan 2.0 to be IPv6 compatible? Secondly, IPv6 can actually make it more difficult for an organization with many IoT sensors to secure them (assuming they have any idea how to do so in the first place), because IPv6 makes it more difficult for an authorized party to scan for them as well. And if you don’t know what devices and sensors you have, you can’t control, manage, or secure them.
Such technical issues, of course, aren’t the whole story. On the business side, the problems are even more slippery. There is no agreement on how or even whether to address IoT security. Few countries have any regulation requiring companies to implement security in their devices. And there’s no market pressure forcing such vendors to get their act together. We, the customers, have simply grown too complacent. If we won’t pay more for secure automobiles and refrigerators, then rest assured no company will bother to go through the trouble to secure them.
The ZapThink Take
You were hoping I had some slick, imaginative approach for solving these issues, right? Sorry to disappoint. But rather than throwing our collective hands in the air, dumping all our devices down the garbage chute, and moving to a cave on Borneo somewhere, we must realize that the only way we’ll ever solve this riddle is by taking an entirely different perspective on securing technology.
We cannot impose security from the outside onto each sensor. It’s simply too easy for hackers to get a hold of them and defeat whatever mechanism we’ve put in place. Instead, the sensors themselves must be inherently secure. Only when a hacker can break open a sensor, reverse engineer it as well as the communication protocols it uses, and still not be able to hack into it or use it to hack into something else will we finally be able to sleep at night. Solve this challenge and I promise you, you’ll be very, very rich.
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,335
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,285
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,645
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
Oct. 31, 2014 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,928
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Oct. 31, 2014 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,628
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,307
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,188
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
Oct. 30, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,565
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,068
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,729
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Oct. 30, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,177
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Oct. 30, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,580
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Oct. 30, 2014 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,276
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
Oct. 29, 2014 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,548
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
Oct. 29, 2014 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,073
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
Oct. 29, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,620
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Oct. 29, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,052
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
Oct. 29, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,125
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Oct. 29, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,089
As a disruptive technology, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which is an emerging standard of web communications, is redefining how brands and consumers communicate in real time. The on-going narrative around WebRTC has largely been around incorporating video, audio and chat functions to apps. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Alex Gouaillard, Founder and CTO of Temasys Communications, will look at a fourth element – data channels – and talk about its potential to move WebRTC beyond browsers and into the Internet of Things.
Oct. 29, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,649