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The search for a universal IoT security standard – Embedded.com

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“Why isn’t there a universal security standard for IoT?” It’s a pretty common question that our IoT solutions group hears quite a bit from IoT developers, decision makers and expert researchers alike, regardless of the level of expertise they have on the topic. And it’s a fair one, after all, there are standards for just about any technology environment out there, so why not IoT?

The easy answer is that IoT is too diverse to have a set standard. Although true, that doesn’t adequately explain the topic with the level of subtle detail that is warranted. We’ve found that there are at least three influencing factors that impact universal IoT standards: device heterogeneity, vertical specific standards, and emerging architectural concepts. Let’s look at each.

Heterogenous nature of IoT devices

IoT devices are diverse. While most people think of an IoT device as something they can see, touch and interact with such as a smart phone, they are in fact, so much more. Quite often they have no human interaction at all. They are sensors that interact with their environment to report temperature in controlled environments, convey when a door is open or shut in a remote facility, or inform about the on/off status of a light switch in a smart building. They are gateways that secure the communication pathways transferring data from an end point to the cloud or actuators that turn off those lights when no one is present. They are also critical infrastructure operations that power energy delivery, maintain manufacturing environments or serve telecommunication hubs.

There are countless types of IoT devices and how each is used inside its environment – its use case – is also unique. Each has different technical capabilities and can potentially be integrated with a number of IoT platforms. IoT environments and devices are sometimes limited in bandwidth or limited in device capacity (battery, storage, compute).  IoT device platforms also have tremendous diversity in their software platforms, as compared to desktop computing. In desktop computing you’re talking about only a handful of operating systems (OSs), whereas on the device side the number of embedded systems is much larger given the custom nature of many platforms.

Finding common standards among so much diversity is a challenge and hinders the development of universal IoT standards.

Industry leads with vertical specific standards

Despite the myriad of devices and their wide array of use cases, industry verticals are collaborating to create use case specific IoT security and connectivity standards. There are standards being proposed out there.

Sometimes those standards evolve over time. We can see that evolution if we look at PKI-based deployments within IoT and compare it to how PKI has been standardized within the web PKI world today. In web PKI we have public Certificate Authorities (CAs), the Certificate Authority/Browser (CA/B) Forum, and the web browsers themselves. There is an established and traditional use case way of securing web servers. That’s a well-accepted standard and standard use case for PKI where the CA/B Forum baseline requirements guide that. The need for a standard by browsers is driven by an open ecosystem of clients out in the environment – all of the web browsers and users need to connect to an open and broad set of servers.

As we consider PKI for IoT ecosystems, some of that changes. Whereas web PKI uses primarily public trust models, PKI for IoT tends to use more closed, private ecosystems.  In IoT ecosystems right now, the trust models in many of these ecosystems are much more closed in trust since it’s still so early in its deployment stage. Generally, an OEM will provide the entire stack from the device up to the cloud. They’re going to run the cloud or more likely, partner with someone to run the cloud, like Microsoft or Amazon. These ecosystem trust models are currently closed and siloed.

That configuration is still developing. We’re seeing evolutions of identity standards and IoT identity standards in more vertical specific ecosystems. For instance, we see standards emerging with groups that we’re members of like the Wi-SUN Alliance, an organization that drives the adoption of Interoperable Smart Ubiquitous Networks, and LXI Consortium (LAN eXtensions for Instrumentation), a group of top international test and measurement companies collaborating to develop and steer the communications standard for test and measurement instrumentation.

There are lots of other examples of these industry specific use cases that are driving consistency within their own domains, like in automotive or consumer home. This is something that we predicted would happen and something we considered when we started getting into the IoT space. We knew that we would see an initial divergence from where identity models are deployed in the web today. That it would move to closed ecosystems and then start growing into semi-private or semi-public ecosystems, and eventually grow into something that is broader and more equivalent as a general authentication or identity standard for those ecosystems. Industry verticals are helping to establish baseline standards that will likely emerge as broader standards as IoT matures.

Emerging architectural concepts

Every IoT vertical and use case has different architectural patterns. We are, however, seeing some commonality emerge there as well, which has materialized from the IEEE 802.1 AR specification and is finding traction in IoT ecosystems. It is around the broad and general conceptual components of an IDevID and LDevID.  These are applied in architectural concepts that are a bit more use case agnostic or vertical agnostic. 

An IDevID (initial device identity) is typically long lived, and ideally protected by secure hardware, and representative of the device’s core identity, like a birth certificate. An LDevID (local device identity), is a locally significant, access level certificate that is shorter duration and provides access into the environment, which could be considered akin to a driver’s license.  

This is one of the more vertical agnostic architectural identity patterns that we have used with several of our existing customers. It takes careful consideration of your supply chain to implement. First, we consider where and how the IDevIDs are securely provisioned into that device or component or chipset – at whatever level of the device platform that you want to conceive it at, as well as at what stage of the manufacturing process. Next, we consider how to potentially leverage some of those IDevID trust attributes that were ideally provisioned securely during the manufacturing into a locally significant, operational LDevID that can be used for allowing the device to connect and operate into the IoT ecosystem.  These LDevIDs are generally rotated more frequently through the device lifecycle.

This IDevID/LDevID pattern is one of those architectural identity blueprints that PKI is starting to lean on in IoT, and we’re using some of these concepts to protect devices and supply chains from emerging threats.

So, the answer to the question of “Why isn’t there a universal security standard for IoT?” is a bit nebulous and deserves more than a one-line reply. Not only is IoT too diverse to have one single standard, although that is one legitimate explanation, but it is also still emerging, growing and finding the common threads that may eventually lead to something more homogenous.

Lancen LaChance is vice president of product management, IoT solutions, and is responsible for driving overall IoT product strategy, partnerships and roadmap at GlobalSign. He joined the company in 2010 as a senior systems engineer. Prior to GlobalSign, he was an IT systems analyst for BAE Systems. He is actively involved in several IoT industry groups including the Industrial Internet Consortium.

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Precision agriculture using AI and IoT to usher in the next revolution in food security

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Micromanagement of every aspect of the field being used for your crops is called precision agriculture. It includes mapping of the field in terms of disparities within the field or with other fields around it, the sun light variation across the year, wind patterns, rain predictions and other seasonal effects. To do that, feed from weather stations, Remote sensing equipment, GIS and GPS may be used.

Another key feature of precision farming is having a trained software module on the specific crop being planned in that field. This software module has an understanding about the growth patterns of that crop, possible diseases that are related to that crop, prescriptions of specific fertilizer or pesticides depending upon the disease pattern, and prediction of disease depending upon the growth of leaves or size or colour of the plant.

It uses feed sensors, weight sensors, soil sensors, temperature sensors, intensity sensors and multiple types of cameras. All these sensors may be deployed on a machine. This machine can be a low flying drone or a small robot moving through the field. Based on the crop and the size of the plants, the robot height and size can be manoeuvred. This robot or drone will have multiple compartments full of different ingredients required for the plants. One box may contain water, another may have pesticides, another may have fertilizer and so on. Based on the real feedback of different sensors, the software module will process that information according to the trained AI model installed on that robot or drone. Depending upon the necessary trigger, instructions will follow, and the robot will discharge specific amount of pesticides or fertilizer or water etc.

This whole mechanism may look like a complex process for small and medium level farmers, but that is not the case. Just like farmers currently hire big machines for sowing and cutting the crops, they will be able to hire different kinds of robots for their specific crops. Initially the cost will be high, but eventually, when this becomes a standard practice, the cost will come down with volume and scale.

The end user will not be required to understand or learn about these complex systems. They will just employ these systems like we use washing machines without understanding the mechanical engineering behind their working. The farmer will only need to follow some simple and clear instructions and press a few buttons.

While its execution will be simple, the advantages of precision farming are many and varied. End-to-end efficiency and decrease in wastage/loss of the yield due to disease etc will lead to an increase in crop-yield. Another advantage is the huge saving in inputs: currently, farmers waste a lot of water, pesticides, and fertilizers because these are thrown all over the field, a significant portion of which is not used by the plants. With robots in the field, only the required resources will be given near the roots of the plants, which will save a lot of resources. It will also result in a lot of data inputs across the fields, regions, and geographies, which will result in better policy decision regarding which crops to be promoted, pricing of the output, availability of markets for the produce, value enhancement products in the food chain etc.

Many people may be worried about the impact of such technologies on the job market for agriculture workers. It will result in net additional jobs in this sector. Many hands will be required for maintenance, operations, storage, production, marketing of these variety of robots and drones. The only challenge is that existing agriculture workers will be required to undergo training to work on these modern machines, which will require huge efforts on the part of the trainers as well as the farmers. So, in conclusion precision farming is going to be the next big thing in the domain of agriculture which will have significant impact on economy, food reliance and modern society.



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IoT Security In The Spotlight, As Research Highlights Alexa Security Flaws | Information Security Buzz

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Last week, IoT security was in the spotlight again as researchers warned that Amazon’s Alexa is vulnerable to malicious third-party apps, or “skills”, that could leave owners at risk of a wide range of cyberattacks.

Researchers analyzed 90,194 unique skills from Amazon’s skill stores across seven countries and found widespread security issues that could lead to phishing attacks or the ability to trick Alexa users into revealing sensitive information.

For instance, developers can register skills that fraudulently use well-known company names, and leverage these fake brand names to send out phishing emails that link to the skill’s Amazon store webpage. Attackers can also make code changes after their skills have been approved by Amazon, opening the door for various malicious configurations.

VP of IoT
Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates.

Continued innovation in the Internet of Things technology has propelled us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is undoubtedly valuable for consumers and businesses alike.

However, as this research into Alexa’s vulnerabilities has shown, we can’t be oblivious to the security risks that go hand-in-hand with introducing such a large number of devices into the ecosystem. Left unchecked, this presents a huge security risk. While there are many potential threats to IoT devices, a common

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Continued innovation in the Internet of Things technology has propelled us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is undoubtedly valuable for consumers and businesses alike.

However, as this research into Alexa’s vulnerabilities has shown, we can’t be oblivious to the security risks that go hand-in-hand with introducing such a large number of devices into the ecosystem. Left unchecked, this presents a huge security risk. While there are many potential threats to IoT devices, a common thread in IoT security weakness is the lack of strong authentication.

As attack vectors continue to evolve, it is increasingly critical that organizations embrace security solutions that ensure the integrity and security of their IoT systems. Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates – ensuring only authentic code can be installed on the device. For a complex system such as Alexa’s Skills that involve the Alexa platform, third-party apps and third-party cloud services – a comprehensive approach to ensuring the security of the ecosystem is essential.

@Alan Grau, VP of IoT , provides expert commentary for “dot your expert comments” at @Information Security Buzz.
“Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates….”
#infosec #cybersecurity #isdots
https://informationsecuritybuzz.com/expert-comments/iot-security-in-the-spotlight-as-research-highlights-alexa-security-flaws

@Alan Grau, VP of IoT , provides expert commentary for “dot your expert comments” at @Information Security Buzz.
“Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates….”
#infosec #cybersecurity #isdots
https://informationsecuritybuzz.com/expert-comments/iot-security-in-the-spotlight-as-research-highlights-alexa-security-flaws

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Is Biden’s Peloton Bike an IoT Cybersecurity Risk? – Security Boulevard

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Is Every Connected Device in a Staffer’s Home an IoT Cybersecurity Risk?

Most folks are still working from home at least some of the time. That creates a number of challenges for IT departments around cybersecurity and smart devices. As our lives become ever more connected to the internet through everything from smartphones to smart bikes, it’s important to remember that even the most humble internet-connected device can be a security risk. Many business IT teams are still coming to terms with that increased Internet-of-Things (IoT) cybersecurity risk and how to mitigate it.

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IoT Devices (and Risks) Are Proliferating

During the last year, as we all spent more time at home, many folks discovered that they could make their home lives a little more pleasant with IoT devices. Experts estimate that more than 26.66 billion IoT devices are active in 2020, with 127 new IoT devices connecting to the internet every second. However, researchers also report that IoT devices face 5,200 attacks a month. That means that organizations need to keep IoT security top of mind as their security posture evolves.

Including the White House. The original work from home example, the President’s House is also home to one of the world’s most secure and sensitive networks. As new First Families with an increasing number of IoT devices move in, like President Biden and his Peloton bike, the White House cybersecurity team is faced with the same dilemma as many businesses: how to secure their IT environment against the potential risk.

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How to Mitigate the Risk

In the case of the President’s bike, the Secret Service and the National Security Agency (NSA) will make changes to both the physical structure and the IT capability as well as enacting strong access control policies and tools in order to mitigate the risk. Cameras and microphones will be removed, and a constant series of password changes will help blunt the possibility of foreign agents hacking into President Biden’s Peloton. This tracks with the advice given by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

But most companies don’t need to go that far when securing their environments against IoT risks. Businesses can keep their networks safe and employees can enjoy their IoT devices without taking drastic measures or spending a fortune. While cybercrime risks continue to climb across the board, by taking sensible precautions, organizations can secure their systems and data from many of the pitfalls that arise from remote working IoT cybersecurity risks quickly and affordably.

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Add a Universal Mitigation Now

One key to mitigating IoT risk and remaining cyber resilient as an organization is maintaining strong access point control. It’s not just a fantastic mitigation for IoT risk either. Strong access point control is essential for mitigating all types of cybersecurity risk – and secure identity and access management with a solution like Passly is an effective, cost-effective way to implement it in a flash.

Passly brings major weapons against intrusion to the fight with multifactor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), and secure shared password vaults. MFA is a must-have in today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape – it has been proven to block up to 99.9% of common cyberattacks from getting through to business systems. Back that up with single sign-on that empowers your IT team to add and remove permissions fast in case of compromise and secure shared password vaults to make sure that your team can easily respond to emergencies remotely, and you’ve added a huge amount of security strength for a small price.

Contact ID Agent’s experts today to add Passly to your security stack or watch a video of Passly in action to see why it’s perfect for every business.

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