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Getting IoT Security Right: Lessons from Other Security-Conscious Markets

Getting IoT Security Right: Lessons from Other Security-Conscious Markets

“IoT security” has long been a hot topic, with many articles and conferences insisting that the biggest single obstacle to growth in this industry is the lack of a comprehensive solution to secure IoT devices and ecosystems. But in many ways, the challenge of IoT security is not a new one, and there are clear parallels between IoT security and other industries that have needed to secure their critical assets and business models.  Understanding the technical and commercial structure of these approaches provides excellent guidance for IoT device manufacturers on how to address their security needs as well.

The focus of this article is on the global pay television market. Like many industries leveraging the Internet of Things, pay-TV involves high-value business models (more than US$200 billion in annual revenues), vulnerable edge devices subject to attack (set-top boxes), and a quickly evolving threat landscape that requires an active and dynamic approach to security.

A Short History of Pay-TV Security

From the very beginning of digital pay TV’s launch in the 1990’s, service providers turned to a small group of specialized Conditional Access System (CAS) companies whose expertise was in securing the pay-TV business model against piracy using smart card-based solutions that they either developed themselves in-house or customized based on available industry chips. Smart cards were the technology of choice for pay TV because they provided a hardware-based root of trust, securely storing the keys necessary decrypt access to pay-TV services. Smart cards also allowed service providers to implement and manage a single security solution across a variety of different set-top box vendors and devices, as well as offering the advantage of being replaceable, enabling service providers to “swap” cards in case of security issues.

By defining this “intermediary” role for CAS vendors in between the device manufacturers and the pay-TV operators who used those devices, it not only allowed each party to focus on their core strengths and business activities, but it also created a clear definition of who was responsible for the security lifecycle management of pay-TV services. And considering the average life of a set-top is almost 10 years and that CAS systems are under constant attack, that role is a critical one in order to create a sustainable pay-TV business model.

This is very important to consider when we think about IoT device security. The question of “who is responsible for what” is one that needs to be unequivocal.  In the world of pay TV, this was a byproduct of the fact that the companies providing CAS technologies were effectively different companies than those providing the devices themselves. Therefore, security responsibilities were clearly defined, and when breaches occurred (as they inevitably did), pay-TV operators knew exactly to whom they could turn for support. As a result, this successful model still remains dominant today in broadcast pay television, and the technology provided by CAS vendors has continued to evolve over time to fend off wave after wave of pirate attacks.

Becoming a Trusted, Strategic Security Partner

As CAS vendors become the trusted security experts in pay TV, operators also began to ask for their help with the end-to-end definition of their security architectures and choice of other technologies, like chipsets and set-top boxes. In fact, CAS vendors ultimately took responsibility for certifying the end-to-end implementation of pay-TV security, with the other parties in the chain required to submit their technologies for evaluation and approval. As the industry evolved further and new video distribution methods (namely the internet) and devices (like PCs, tablets and smartphones) became popular, CAS vendors were called on to adapt their security technologies to this environment as well. This role in helping design security into new devices, adapting it to new networks and evolving it over time is critical to IoT as well.

In addition, as pirates started to leverage the internet to distribute content illegally in new ways, CAS vendors were called on to provide managed anti-piracy services. This included both monitoring the internet and dark web for piracy as well as the response measures required to actively manage it. Today, CAS market leaders like Kudelski Group’s NAGRA are able to cover the entire end-to-end security needs of their customers, helping them to design, integrate, certify, run and sustain high levels of security over time, protecting their critical assets and business models. This same breadth of products and services is also important to consider when selecting an IoT security vendor.

Other Industries Embrace Similar Models

Pay TV is not the only industry to embrace the model of an independent security partner. Others as varied as banking, telecommunications and IT, all of which involve billions of dollars in revenue at risk of fraud, have also turned to trusted third-party security providers as well, also frequently using smart cards. This technology has protected a wide range of different types of businesses:

  • Banking applications, where smart cards have been used as payment and credit cards
  • Telecommunications, where smart cards (in the form of SIM cards) have been used to secure the secrets required for phones to access mobile networks
  • Corporate IT, where smart cards give secure access to company networks and resources

Smart card-based systems for all these industries are designed to resist attacks from even the most determined hackers and pirates, and as a consequence, these industries have resisted sustained efforts from organized criminals to undermine their businesses. As a result, the technology has evolved and flourished.  Smart cards have been so successful because they provide a secure device for storing data and executing security functions that need to remain “secret”, preventing counterfeit and pirate solutions from becoming widespread.

Whom Do You Trust?

Fast forward to IoT and many device manufacturers seem to be repeating mistakes that were already made and solved in these other industries many years ago. The worst mistake is that many IoT devices seem to be designed without any security at all, or with security only as an afterthought. Many IoT silicon vendors – whose real expertise lies in delivering functionality and connectivity – see this as an opportunity to position “security” as a selling point for their chips in the hope they can differentiate their products in what is often a low-margin business. But designing security into IoT chipsets is not enough to secure end-to-end security lifecycle management provided by the specialized security vendors like the ones mentioned above. The key question is whether or not the security provider is committed to the long-term protection of the end customer’s business model and has the infrastructure and operational experience to be the long-term guarantor of end-to-end IoT security.

What Does Good IoT Security Require?

Let’s assume for the moment that device manufacturers and service providers embrace the concept of identifying a partner to be responsible for security. What should they look for?

  • Deep relationships with key chipset vendors and the ability to influence their designs are required
  • The flexibility to deliver a root of trust using a variety of different protection methods (integrated secure element, SIM card, TEE, etc) in order to achieve maximum device reach.
  • The ability to provision devices with secrets, either in the production process or over the air (OTA) based on close collaboration with these chipset vendors.
  • The ability to quickly update code on deployed products in case of hacking
  • The ability to constantly monitor (via in-field diagnostics) any deployed products to anticipate potential security compromises (by using techniques such as artificial intelligence-based behavioral monitoring, for example)
  • The presence of proprietary security mechanisms embedded into the silicon in order to activate countermeasures (as has historically been done with smart cards) in the event of a security breach
  • Cryptographic algorithms and other security elements should be changeable in the field on deployed products to counteract piracy on deployed devices.

Most of these things require a strong collaboration on design between IC vendors and security vendors in order to align with the required features. Is such collaboration likely to happen? In industries like pay-TV, it has become the norm. Whether it becomes the norm with IoT will depend greatly on the decisions made by device manufacturers when they chose their security partners and IC vendors. Sometimes at the outset, it may appear efficient to select a “one-stop shop” solution, but a judicious reflection needs to consider the long term, and a key question is “who do I call when bandits knock at my door?”

Final Key Questions

In summary, IoT device makers and service providers are invited to consider two very important questions that are critical to IoT success.

  1. Does your security provider have the technical ability and operational experience to help you withstand both basic and advanced attacks?
  2. Is their commercial business model aligned with your needs for long-term security lifecycle management, keeping your IoT products secure over the long term?

Selecting a trusted, strategic security partner who has the ability and relationships to execute on the required technical features and services to enable sustainable business models is crucial. Once these types of questions become seriously considered in the IoT market, we will be able to make progress on removing “security” from the list of barriers holding back the full potential of the Internet of Things.

The Age of IoT Is Here – Is Your Enterprise Secure?

The Age of IoT Is Here – Is Your Enterprise Secure?

Whether you were ready for it or not, your network is likely supporting hundreds if not thousands of connected endpoints at this very moment. When we talk about IoT, especially in the enterprise, we’re not just talking about connected refrigerators anymore. IoT is powering manufacturing lines, medical devices, and entire cities.

The possibilities for IoT have never been greater, and neither have the stakes. Just look at what happened in 2016 when Mirai, the infamous IoT botnet, took down major websites like Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon via a massive distributed denial-of-service attack using hundreds of thousands of compromised IoT devices.

Nonetheless, 2018 will be the tipping point for IoT in the enterprise with nearly half expected to deploy IoT solutions by the end of the year. What has made the explosion of IoT adoption possible is also its Achilles heel? The diversity and volume of device manufacturers, platforms, and use cases have made it nearly impossible to standardize any type of security controls. Many device manufacturers don’t even prioritize security, often because their customers don’t. The onus, therefore, is and will likely continue to be on the consumer – whether that’s an individual or an enterprise.

A lack of standard security controls isn’t the only thing standing in the way of securing IoT environments. IoT environments look different than traditional enterprise networks. They’re inherently more complicated and fragmented, requiring a different approach to security architecture. This also makes it much more difficult to have visibility and control over every connected device. Industry standards and regulations are just as fragmented and obscure. Many organizations have published their own set of best practices, but there is not a universally agreed upon standard as of yet.

To that end, Kudelski Security has spent the last year researching the current state of IoT in the enterprise and the best practices for securing it. The findings are presented in our IoT Security Reference Architecture, which is designed to help enterprise security teams build a strategy for secure IoT deployments using a combination of people, process, and technology.

Inside the architecture, the team provides an overview of the differences between IoT and traditional network environments; the IoT security threats, challenges, and business impacts enterprises face; IoT security best practices at the people, process, and policy level; and the security controls and technical measures IoT enterprises should have in place.

The reference architecture takes into account numerous security guidelines and standards, with the two primary sources of inspiration being ENISA’s Baseline Security Recommendations for IoT in the context of Critical Information Infrastructures and the Industrial Internet Consortium’s Industrial Internet of Things Volume G4: Security Framework. (A full list of IoT guidelines is available in the report.)

This guide is best-suited to organizations who already have IoT devices deployed in their environment. We recommend comparing the best practices presented in the architecture with existing security controls to identify security gaps or complementary technology solutions to improve IoT security efforts.

To download the IoT Security Reference Architecture, click here.

 

The Business Case for Resilient IoT Security – Review of New Research

The Business Case for Resilient IoT Security – Review of New Research

IoT and a Growing Attack Surface

There is no doubt that the IoT brings with it tremendous opportunities to deliver more and richer data to drive operational efficiency and smart decision making.  But as IoT devices proliferate, they also increase the overall attack surface and expose organizations to additional threats. It has always been clear that it is far more cost-effective to implement good data security during the design phase of any product or system, and exponentially more expensive to fix it after there’s been a breach. Even though IoT security has been commonly recognized for years as one of the key barriers to successful IoT implementation, many management boards have yet to make the necessary investment in it.  So how does a product manager or security officer justify the business case for implementing the right level of IoT data security from the start?

Now thanks to new research released from the Ponemon Institute and IBM this month, those costs can now be quantified based on the real-life experience of 477 different companies who have gone through data breaches themselves, and the scope and cost of the problem can be better understood. In summary, the bad news is that the implementation of IoT devices has indeed increased the attack surface and the overall cost of recovery from data breaches, but the good news is that organizations implementing robust data encryption and incident response services have significantly lowered the cost of those breaches. Let’s look at some of the highlights in more detail.

IoT Data Breach Trends 2017-2018

More than 2000 IT and compliance professionals whose companies had suffered data breaches over the past 12 months were interviewed for the study.

  • They reported that the total cost of an average customer data breach was a staggering US$3.86 million.
  • That’s a year-over-year cost increase of 6.4%
  • The average cost per stolen consumer record of $148.
  • For healthcare, that figure skyrockets to a whopping $408 per lost or stolen patient record.
  • Companies making extensive use of IoT devices saw the average cost per stolen customer record increase incrementally by $5, suggesting indeed that deploying IoT devices can tangibly increase the risk of data loss.

That said, organizations who had taken proactive measures to encrypt most of their data (whether coming from their IT or IoT infrastructure) saw the average cost per stolen record adjusted down by $13, while those who had strong incident response (IR) capabilities – either in-house or with trusted third-party cybersecurity experts – were able to generate another $14 savings per stolen record. That suggests that an organization employing both capabilities might save more than 18% on the cost of a data breach. That means a savings of $700,000 on an average breach. And the survey further shows that companies who have had a single material breach have a 27.9% chance of suffering from an addition breach within the following two years, driving the breach costs (but also the potential savings of good security) even higher.

But we have now also entered the era of the “mega-breach”, according to the report. Ponemon measured for the first time the impact of breaches of between 1 and 50 million records and showed that they had a cost of $40 million and $350 million respectively. When companies invest in IR and encryption technologies for this type of volumes, the savings generated run far into the millions of dollars.  How many records do you have and what would be the total costs to you of such a breach if your company were to suffer one? That’s important to know and contributes directly to your IoT and cybersecurity business case.

Justifications Beyond Data: the Kudelski Group Analysis

But even with this excellent justification for IoT security investment, data breaches are only one potential factor that should be considered as part of the overall business case. Our experience at the Kudelski Group is that devices can also be compromised if not properly protected and could by hijacked by botnets designed to launch distributed attacks on popular websites or services. They could also be hacked to provide false data to their owners, which in the case of industries like power, health care and energy could cause serious productivity, availability, fraud, damage or – even worse – safety issues. The same is true in reverse, where unauthorized commands mistakenly accepted by insufficiently protected devices could cause them to behave in ways that are dangerous – think automotive, aviation and smart buildings. These device security scenarios must also be considered when creating the business case for IoT security but were not the subject of this study.

All the elements discussed so far fall under the category of “risk mitigation”, and while they are very compelling and must be considered, IoT also brings great promises of new features, new business models and operational efficiencies that positively and directly impact the bottom line. Organizations should rightly include (realistic) forecasts for value that IoT will add to the business over the long term. When all these factors are combined, we believe that the justification for a management board to invest in the proper design and implementation of robust, sustainable IoT device and data security as well as managed security and incident response services is overwhelming. And that’s why some of the world’s most recognized and security-conscious brands are already working with us to secure their connected futures.

 

Black Hat USA 2018 Presentation Picks

Black Hat USA 2018 Presentation Picks

As Black Hat continues to draw closer we wanted to take a moment to highlight some talks that we are excited about. There is a lot of great content, so picking just a few was difficult, but these are the presentations that I and some of my colleagues are looking forward to attending.

 

AI & ML in Cyber Security – Why Algorithms are Dangerous

By Raffael Marty

The topic of AI disciplines is one I spend quite a bit of time talking about myself. It seems you can’t turn anywhere these days without encountering some product claiming to use a subset of AI in some “advanced” way. A healthy dose of real-world challenges helps cut through the marketing hype and get to core issues. This talk is a much-welcomed reality check.

 

Blockchain Autopsies – Analyzing Ethereum Smart Contract Deaths

By Jay Little

Blockchain technologies aren’t just for cryptocurrencies. This technology is gaining more and more acceptance in the business world and being used or evaluated to solve a range of business challenges. Blockchain technologies aligned with business challenges, like Ethereum Smart Contracts, have a higher chance of success and longevity. Understanding how these contracts work as well as the various risks they present, is critical.

 

Applied Self-Driving Car Security

By Charlie Miller, Chris Valasek

Come on, who doesn’t love the thought of hacking self-driving cars? What’s even better is getting this information from the experts on the subject. In the not too distant future, we will share the road with people taking a nap, eating lunch, and texting. Okay, we do that now, but in the future people may not have control of their cars the way they do today. Highlighting these risks now helps us avoid running  into them tomorrow. This presentation promises to be informative and entertaining.

 

Understanding and Exploiting Implanted Medical Devices

By Billy Rios, Jonathan Butts

Self-driving cars are one thing, but IoT gets scarier when it’s inside your body. Increased attack surface from a device inside your body is the stuff of nightmares and Hollywood movies. This presentation promises to shed light on these risks.

 

WebAssembly: A New World of Native Exploits on the Browser

By Justin Engler, Tyler Lukasiewicz

WebAssembly is a technology supported by all of the major browsers that allows for the compilation of languages like C, C++, and Rust for the web. WebAssembly makes a promise of better performance and increased security, but is it a lot of hot air? This talk highlights this technology and the security risks it introduces.

 

Squeezing a Key Through a Carry Bit

By Filippo Valsorda

Although this presentation isn’t some destruction-of-the-Internet-style vulnerability, it demonstrates a great example of why no small bug should be ignored. In an amazing feat of crypto engineering, by exploiting a single bit bug, the presenter shows how a cryptographer’s worse nightmare comes true. Secret keys can be recovered in about 500 submissions on average. Don’t miss this highly technical talk on the cryptography track that shows a small bug can yield a big result.

 

Kudelski Security Events

We also have a few events happening while we are out in Vegas.

Join us for our Kudelski Security Bash party Tuesday night from 6-9pm in the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kudelski-security-bash-at-black-hat-2018-tickets-47833314732

We are also doing a couple of breakout debriefs from 4:30-6pm on Wednesday, August 8th, and Thursday, August 9th. Wednesday’s session is on IoT and Operational Technology security. Thursday’s session is on Blockchain. Use the following link to RSVP for these sessions.

https://resources.kudelskisecurity.com/iot-and-blockchain-debrief-session-black-hat-2018

 

If you are hanging out for Defcon as well, check out our presentation:

Reaping and Breaking Keys at Scale: When Crypto Meets Big Data

Presented by Yolan Romailler and Nils Amiet.

In this talk, we show how we collected over 300 million public keys leveraging our scanning infrastructure and our open source fingerprinting tool, Scannerl, and tested them for vulnerabilities such as the recent ROCA vulnerability or factorization using batch-GCD. We performed this analysis on a 280 vCPU cluster and are able to test new keys against our dataset in just a few minutes thanks to a novel in-house distributed implementation of the algorithm. As a result of our research, we could have impersonated hundreds of people, mimicked thousands of servers and performed MitM attacks on over 200k websites. Fun stuff.

If you see any of us around the week after next, say hello. See you at Black Hat and Defcon!

Move Over Functional Obsolescence: Cybersecurity Is Driving Lifecycle Management For Connected Medical Devices

Move Over Functional Obsolescence: Cybersecurity Is Driving Lifecycle Management For Connected Medical Devices

As CIO’s and CISO’s who walk the halls of healthcare institutions know all too well, the number of devices being enabled in the Internet of Things and Internet of Medical Things around us is exploding exponentially. With this explosion, complexities arise in security, data collection, storage, and especially lifecycle management. Devices have varying degrees of security and lifespans that range from two years up to 15 years, adding complications to management strategies.

Medical devices are the next perfect storm as a security threat vector and lifecycle management is now becoming predicated on risk and security vulnerabilities within the legacy device ecosystem. Hackers increasingly turn to medical technology used by providers as the next mechanism to commandeer and attack networks and hold organizations for ransom. Medical IoT devices are connected to a vast array of sensors, monitors and numerous applications making them an ideal entry point into the larger hospital networks and an easy way to propagate attacks to other systems.

The FDA started to make cybersecurity a priority in 2013 as a requirement for connected medical devices; however, due to the long development cycle of these devices and long time to get certified for use in the market, the rollout is slow. This will result in a significant lag in the introduction of connected devices that have embedded cyber threat resilience components that can thwart modern threats. This creates an incredibly complex lifecycle management challenge for healthcare technology.

Cybersecurity challenges are now becoming the primary driver for lifecycle management of medical technology. Older compromised systems present a sizeable risk to cybersecurity and leave every member of the C-Suite asking how to tackle this challenge. Often these systems have little to no update capabilities, are outside of vendor support or have been replaced with newer, better supported product lines. Vendor support for cybersecurity vulnerabilities typically takes time to create, test and patch before they can be deployed across the entire device population. As an example, an EEG monitor has a typical lifespan of 10 years. During that period security vulnerabilities will change and morph making it difficult for manufacturers to keep pace with the cybersecurity threat landscape. Even worse, securing these devices ultimately rests on the provider.

One must keep in mind that vulnerability testing is complex because of the various systems, subsystems and chipsets that are embedded in these devices. Most organizations simply do not have a $10 million budget to create a lab or staff who has the functional expertise to effectively perform hardware and software vulnerability testing with the rigor required to pass a security audit. Organizations must hire vendors who have the needed technical expertise, specialized staff and equipment in ferreting out vulnerabilities in purpose-built devices. It is not enough to perform a software scan on a device and assume it is secure.

So what approach should an organization take to lowering their risk on medical devices with varying usable lifespans and cybersecurity protections?

Evaluate Your Environment For Risk

  • Identify devices that are end of life. These devices will have no updates released, which exposes them to risk. Furthermore, discovered vulnerabilities may not be announced by the company. We recommend you replace these devices with supported systems.
  • Identify systems that are no longer covered by service contracts or lack current operating systems capable of being secured. This issue is similar to devices that are end of life, and should also be replaced or covered by a new service contract.
  • Audit prospective vendors security, patch management and cyber-security countermeasures to ensure satisfactory risk mitigation
  • Contract for penetration testing of on premise devices. It’s important to cover both the hardware and software of the device in this assessment.
  • Consider WIFI, Bluetooth, SD card and proprietary RF interfaces as potential areas of compromise on devices. Ensure there are controls in place to monitor and protect devices over all communication protocols. Disable protocols that are not in use if possible.
  • Create a risk profile for each device used in your environment and a risk score and then prioritize based on that risk creating a lifecycle management posture rooted in security.

Global Risk And Compliance

  • Have an action plan: Create standard operating procedures for what to do when medical devices are compromised
  • Create a risk framework for each device to determine what to do if a device is infected with malware or has been compromised by a hacker
  • Include medical devices in your governance plan to ensure that compromises are dealt with at an appropriate level and escalation paths are included
  • Ensure you have logs for each device with current firmware versions, patches, etc. and ensure you have a process and policy to perform medical device updates.
  • Create Incident response plans specific to breaches involving medical devices and have a team assembled. Include retainers for breach mitigation and post-mortem cyber forensics.

By implementing and monitoring the product lifecycle, leaders, CSOs and CISOs can better plan when to introduce new operational technology in the environment. Ensuring that each of these devices will not negatively impact your operations is critical for continuity of care and allowing for the transformative delivery of healthcare services and improved patient outcomes. Implementing a lifecycle management approach to medical device refreshes rooted in a security framework will allow providers to keep pace with the rapidly evolving threat landscape that is currently plaguing the industry, while ensuring compliance and minimizing security threats and vulnerabilities in the process.

Cyber-Attacks and the IoT Landscape: Botnets and Why Getting Your IoT Security House in Order Matters

Cyber-Attacks and the IoT Landscape: Botnets and Why Getting Your IoT Security House in Order Matters

Iot Security and BotNets are a hot topic right now because of several high-profile attacks. On September 20, 2016 Brian Krebs security blog krebsonsecurity.com was the victim of such an attack. One of the largest attacks recorded exceeded 620 gigabits per second(Gbs.).[i]

After the Mirai botnet was declared the major culprit in the largest DDoS attack in history it became evidently clear that IoT was the next battleground on the front against Botnets.  Striking at the core of Dyn a major domain name service company this botnet wreaked havoc in a 3-wave attack. It shut down major sites across the internet, gaming networks and other online services. “Attackers used the Mirai botnet to overwhelm Dyn’s DNS servers with a whopping 1.2 terabits per second of traffic. Dyn’s DNS servers couldn’t respond to legitimate DNS queries under the load, which rendered Dyn’s customers — including the New York Times, Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter – unreachable”[ii] As we look back through the annals of IoT breach history operational technology systems, consumer devices, medical devices and industrial control systems pose some of the highest risks to be taken over and enlisted as a zombie horde of devices just waiting to unleash havoc on networks with increasing frequency.

In February of 2017 a new threat emerged rooted in a multi-vector attack. A Windows Trojan that harbored IoT attack code was detected in the wild by malware researchers. It essentially looked-for vulnerabilities in Windows computers, infected them with a trojan horse that then scanned for vulnerable IoT devices infecting them with a variant of Mirai IoT botnet code. Why is this important? A computer infected with the trojan is sitting behind the firewall. Now it is scanning for vulnerable IoT Devices behind the firewall effectively circumventing the firewall and intrusion detection systems and taking command of the devices inside your network to launching a DDoS attack from inside your own network or worse.  Now machines can orchestrate a DDoS attack using SSDP because they have already successfully bypassed the firewall and other defense mechanisms.

The challenge however is that SSDP can lead to a 30x amplification of the attack. The Windows Mirai Spreader essentially flipped the script on what we believe to be innocuous devices on our own internal networks. This invariable will gain more importance as IoT 4.0 implementations happen in buildings, cities, industrial controls and vehicle networks. As attackers grow more sophisticated in their approaches we are not beyond the realm of polymorphic IoT attacks targeting command and control server environments causing servers or devices to return adaptive malicious code which fits the specific task it has been assigned to do.

Ever increasing complexity of the delivery systems now poses an even greater threat. Imagine you are a hospital with thousands of medical devices connected to your network.  Someone infects those devices and they launch an internal DDOS attack against the network. Suddenly your operational systems are shut down at a hospital crippling scheduling system, billing systems and other infrastructure and thereby causing the facility to have to shut down. It would no longer be able to schedule procedures to occur and even worse force the relocation of patients to other facilities. The potential is there for a Botnet to become the delivery mechanism for crypto lockers. Essentially ransoming medical devices, operational controls, elevators or any device within the IoT realm. The effects on facilities could be catastrophic and even potentially life threatening.

Now we are facing Reaper. It is gathering a horde of devices. It is estimated that Reaper has over 2m troops and it could grow to 3.5m or more. It is currently growing at a rate of 88k a day according to Krebs on Security. Much of Repear is built on the same foundation as the Mirai botnet which was incredibly successful. The approaches of each are different.  Mirai used a known list of default passwords to compromise IoT devices and turn them into an army of DDoS troops. However, Repear appears to be much more methodical in it’s approach. It is constantly trying numerous weaknesses until it infiltrates the machine. Reapers method is faster and easier, and it can learn new vulnerabilities as it discovers them. Checkpoint believes that attacks were coming from many different countries totaling approximately 60% of corporate networks which are part of the ThreatCloud Global Network.[iii]

Although the author of Mirai was recently identified and arrested and sentenced the author of the Repear botnot is unknown. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry and anyone with IoT devices should investigate their safety as soon as possible. As leaders responsible for stopping threats to operational technologies, IoT systems & devices and ensuring the overall security of your network you must take steps to ensure you minimize the risks from IoT devices & Botnet attacks

Recommended steps should organizations take to secure IoT devices:

  • Conduct security evaluations of all IoT hardware being used both inside and outside the firewall including testing the physical hardware for vulnerabilities, whitebox testing software, and penetration testing your IoT network and devices.
    • Start at the bottom at the chip level. Cases have already shown nefarious code implanted in chips. Perform hardware penetration testing at the chip and board level.
  • Limiting remote access to the devices to only administrators.
  • Ensure you have strong authentication mechanisms if remote access is needed. Strong unique non-sequential passwords for devices and include a second authentication factor.
    • For administrator and user services require strong authentication to systems and supporting software.
  • Include logic to verify updates before any changes to the devices are made to ensure only authorized software and firmware are used.
  • Utilizing an MSSP to manage security of IoT devices to better react to threats and stop any exploit before it becomes more prolific and attacks non-IoT portions of your network.

[i] KrebsOnSecurity: KrebsOnSecurity Hit With Record DDoS

[ii] Forbes Technology Council: Distributed-Denial-Of-Service Attacks And DNS

[iii] Checkpoint Research:  A New IoT Botnet Storm is Coming