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Cybersecurity

Internet of Things Connected Devices Are Inherently Insecure, Say Tech Experts

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Screenshot of Steve Augustino, Partner at Kelley Drye & Warren

January 24, 2021 –Internet of Things  connected devices are inherently unsecure, said Scott Poretsky, director of security at Ericsson, speaking at a Federal Communications Bar Association event on Thursday.

Resolving the security risks is all the more pressing with the coronavirus pandemic having generated great interest in enabling people to work in situations without being physically present.

A major sector of growth in IoT technologies is in health care, with virtual telehealth appointments and devices connecting patients with their doctors.

Unlike the common smartphone, IoT devices are not built with the same general-interest purpose in mind. IoT devices such as a smart toothbrush are only built to do a specific task. Hence that enables a long battery life.

Because IoT devices are built with such specific tasks, they lack powerful processing power. That leaves them vulnerable. And limited processing power means IoT devices don’t have room for security features. Too many open ports and too few layers of security, including mass-produced factory password settings, are wide open to cyber-attacks.

Additionally, low-cost devices infrequently receive firmware updates and software patches to fix security threats leaving consumers helpless.

Users of IoT devices need to know and do more to protect themselves from cyberattacks. Legislation has been passed to boost cybersecurity for IoT devices, said Rafi Martina, senior policy advisor for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia.

Warner introduced the now-passed Internet of Things  Cybersecurity Improvement Act. It requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue recommendations addressing secure development, identity management, patching, and configuration management for IoT devices.

Martina said vendors need to stop bad developer practices, close unnecessary open ports, and enhance support for security in devices that range from internet-connected home video cameras to light bulbs, doorbells and other home appliances.

According to the FCBA session description for the event:

A defining characteristic of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that devices are capable of communicating with each other and the world at large.  As these “always connected” devices are more broadly deployed and handle more complex tasks, protecting the security of these devices becomes more difficult.

Moreover, security is not the responsibility of any single entity in the ecosystem alone, requiring a layered approach to cybersecurity.  In this program, speakers will discuss what is being done by the industry and the federal government to improve cybersecurity in IoT.  We will discuss ways to establish transparency, traceability and trustworthiness in IoT ecosystems and the role the federal government plays in IoT security through the IoT Cybersecurity Act of 2020 and NIST’s Cybersecurity for IoT program, among others.

Born in China and adopted to American Fork, Utah, Reporter Derek Shumway graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in international strategy and diplomacy. At college, he started an LED lightbulb company. word

Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Consumers Need to Understand Personal Cybersecurity, Says White House Cyber Official

Consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, said Camille Stewart Gloster.

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Photo of John Mitchell, Tobin Richardson, Amit Elazari, and Camille Stewart Gloster (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – In addition to building a more robust cybersecurity workforce, policymakers should consider consumer education, said Camille Stewart Gloster, deputy national cyber director for technology and ecosystem for the White House, speaking Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2023 has featured numerous discussions of cybersecurity in sectors ranging from transportation to Internet of Things home devices. On Thursday, an official from the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufactures should design and pre-configure devices to be secure, thus reducing the security burden on consumers.

For their own protection, consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, Stewart Gloster said Saturday. “The sooner that people understand that their physical security and digital security are inextricably linked the better,” she argued. According to the panel’s moderator, Consumer Technology Association senior manager for government affairs John Mitchell, 82 percent of data breaches in 2021 involved “the human element, stolen credentials, phishing, misuse.”

Stewart Gloster’s team is working on a national cyber-workforce and education strategy, she said, which will address the federal cyber workforce, the national cyber workforce, cyber education, and “digital safety awareness.”

Stewart Gloster said workforce initiatives should promote the participation of “people of a diverse set of backgrounds who are highly skilled and multidisciplinary who can take a look at the problem space, who can apply their lived experiences, apply the things they’ve observed, apply their academic backgrounds to a challenging and ever evolving landscape.”

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Cybersecurity for IoT Devices Should be Market-Driven

NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT prescribe desired outcomes, rather than specific and ‘brittle’ standards.

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Michael Bergman (left) and Katerina Megas

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2023 – Cybersecurity protocols for Internet of Things devices should be industry-driven, Katerina Megas, program manager of the Cybersecurity for Internet of Things Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023.

The popularization of IoT devices gives cyber-criminals increasing opportunities to breach networks, many say. Network-connected household devices – e.g., lightbulbs and home security devices – can be entry-points if security protocols are lacking. On CES panel on Thursday, a cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufacturers should design and preset devices to be safe, shifting much of the burden from the consumer.

“For a long-term, sustainable solution, the best approach really is for demand to be market driven,” she said, adding that NIST is “happy” to support the market when called on. To preserve flexibility, NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT manufacturers in general prescribed desired outcomes, rather than specific and “brittle” standards, Megas said.

“How you achieve those [outcomes] will vary depending on the maturity of your organization, the architecture of your product, perhaps preferences that you might have for you own internal processes,” she explained.

Megas said manufacturers, who well know their devices’ technical capabilities, often lack an understanding of how consumers actually use their devices. Megas said she has examined how to “help a manufacturer who has no insights into the final contextual use of this product, how can we help them…understand, ‘Here are the risks associated with my device.’”

At an American Enterprise Institute panel held in November, Megas endorsed an “ecosystem approach” to cybersecurity, arguing that network security is also indispensable.

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Railroad Industry Needs Cybersecurity Update

Shawn Smith advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the rail industry.

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Photo of Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of Cylus

LAS VEGAS, January 5, 2023 – To keep pace with today’s technological innovations and cyberthreats, the railway industry must retool its cybersecurity defenses, said Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of rail cybersecurity company Cylus.

The railway industry is working to patch old vulnerabilities as well as the new ones that have been create by developing technologies, Smith told Broadband Breakfast at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. The need for enhanced cybersecurity has been a recurring theme at the conference, as have the implications of the ever increasing number of devices and technologies now relying on connectivity.

“We’re really fast-tracking an operator’s ability to keep pace with the change in the digital environment that they’re operating in (and) the interconnectivity that they’re seeing,” Smith said, adding that his team works to provide “visibility, threat detection, and response capability to keep pace with the change in their organizations.”

Smith said that many of the large rail players have developed responses for some cybersecurity risks, but lack the automation and planning tools necessary to maximize their effectiveness. He advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the industry.

Governments and industry players worldwide have of late been on high alert for cyberthreats, particularly since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Railways, like other infrastructure, are potential targets for nefarious actors, Smith said.

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