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Technical Challenges of IoT Cybersecurity in a Post-COVID-19 World

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Effective management of vulnerabilities can be done only when information about supply chain dependencies is accurate and recent.

Day-to-day business activities have changed pervasively and quickly because of the pandemic, and many experts already have written about the impact on the security world. Most of those have focused on organizational and process changes, so let’s focus on the actual technical consequences and challenges.

When looking at today’s hardware and software ecosystem for manufacturers of connected products for the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s obvious that dependencies are everywhere. As recently as 10 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to write your own real-time operating system (RTOS) for embedded applications or write your own code that handles cryptographic processing, but this is rarely the case today. Developers rely on abstractions that are given to them, be it an operating system, an Internet Protocol (IP) stack, cryptographic functionality, or communications handling such as marshalling. These dependent components in turn can have dependencies on other, smaller components and so a dependency tree can typically be seen that famously and quickly can grow scarily large.

In times of economic crisis and hardship, some of the businesses that supply these components inevitably will fail. Even if suppliers continue their operation, products that are less successful economically might be discontinued. While entirely expected when viewed through a security lens, this can quickly become a large problem: If any dependency contains a security vulnerability and that dependency is not receiving patches or updates anymore, any component that relies on that dependency might also contain a vulnerability.

Usually, this is not an immediate problem because it can take months or years until such vulnerabilities are discovered — maybe by coincidence or by someone probing for exactly that kind of issue. However, because of the sheer complexity of systems, it is highly probable that such a scenario eventually will happen. For example, low-level components that are buried deep in the dependency tree can be excruciatingly painful to detect and replace while still maintaining the same functionality. For manufacturers of connected IoT products, it is key to focus on their supply chain and increase the ability to break their products down into their respective components. Effective management of vulnerabilities can be done only when information about supply chain dependencies is accurate and recent.

A second side effect of the pandemic is the massively increased reliance on cloud-based communication systems. It is unthinkable to conduct business effectively and in compliance with the current legal restrictions without holding a videoconference, sharing a document, or presenting a slide set remotely. The systems used to perform those tasks, however, are largely following the same basic principles that typical client-server architectures have been following for roughly 20 years. While the cryptographic transport protocols have improved significantly since SSLv2, there still is a disparity in the level of trust between client and server: Clients are typically considered entirely untrusted while servers hold all the secrets and relay data securely. While this is easiest for the implementors of backend infrastructure, such a design is something which is fundamentally unpleasant from a security point of view.

Ideally, a document should only be shared with the intended recipient. There is no legitimate need for the infrastructure that relays the data to be able to peek into documents, following the principal of least privilege. That ability, therefore, should also not be present in back-end infrastructure. Code is written by people, and people make mistakes. As we have seen many times, malice doesn’t need to be present for back-end providers to “lose” their customers’ data. The less back-end access to data, the less data a provider can lose if there’s an oversight.

Conclusion
We expect two developments to rise in importance in the near future. First, implementors and developers will need to thoroughly analyze their supply chains and quickly identify technical debt incurred by unmaintained software — before potential critical vulnerabilities manifest within them. Second, to protect businesses and corporate secrets, it is imperative that new systems are migrated to designs in which true end-to-end encryption is present everywhere. Neither of these issues will be easy to solve. However, when manufacturers, developers, and architects work together on these security aspects, they can help ensure that security implications of an unprecedented crisis can be mitigated before starting to cause issues in the future.

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As the Principal Security Advisor for UL in Frankfurt, Germany, Dr. Bauer has a Ph.D. in computer science and has more than 10 years of experience in the field of IT security. In particular, he has worked in both IoT and IIoT ecosystems. Dr. Bauer has expert knowledge of … View Full Bio

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Source: https://www.darkreading.com/iot/technical-challenges-of-iot-cybersecurity-in-a-post-covid-19-world/a/d-id/1338449?_mc=rss_x_drr_edt_aud_dr_x_x-rss-simple

Cyber Security

Newly Launched Cybersecurity Company Stairwell

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Chronicle

A $4.5 million seed funding round was closed by the recently launched cybersecurity firm Stairwell, which seeks to provide defence teams with more tools to detect adversaries.

Mike Wiacek, who previously formed Google’s Threat Research Division and co-founded Chronicle, Alphabet ‘s corporate security company, founded and led the new agency. As COO and general counsel, Jan Kang, former Chief Legal Officer at Chronicle, enters Stairwell.

Stairwell shared very little information about its devices, but identified them as user-centered tools designed to help security teams “understand the core relationships between their external and internal data sources,” thus helping them battle cyber attacks proactively.

Security teams today are exposed to siloed resources that are unable to detect environmental ties between their external and internal data sources to offer defence against generic risks at the baseline level only. “We began Stairwell so that security teams have a coherent view of what is good, what is evil, and why, so that they can actively protect themselves against the most advanced threats,” said Wiacek.

Accel led the funding round, but Sequoia Funds, Gradient Ventures, and Allen & Company LLC, as well as other angel investors, also participated.

Source: https://cybersguards.com/newly-launched-cybersecurity-company-stairwell/

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Cyber Security

StackRox Announced the Release of KubeLinter to Identify Misconfigurations in Kubernetes

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Kubernetes Misconfigurations

On Wednesday, Container and Kubernetes security firm StackRox announced the introduction of KubeLinter, an open source platform designed to help users find misconfigurations in implementations of Kubernetes.

KubeLinter is a tool for static inspection that tests YAML files that store configuration data for Kubernetes apps to ensure that best practises are followed for protection.

A research recently performed by StackRox found that most events linked to Kubernetes are caused by human error, with two-thirds of cases claiming misconfigurations.

Usually, checking settings is performed manually, but the company claims it’s not an easy task and it sometimes results in mistakes. The aim of KubeLinter, which is a command-line tool, is to automate the process of testing YAML files and Helm charts (used for configuration management) before they are deployed in a Kubernetes cluster.

The tool has built-in tests for typical misconfigurations, such as ensuring that the maxim of least rights is enforced, following proper hygiene of the mark, ensuring that it does not run as core, the availability of preparation probes, and the use of criteria for resources. Users will also build custom tests.

On developer computers, KubeLinter can be run, but it can also be built into the continuous integration (CI) frameworks of an enterprise.

We built KubeLinter to provide a safer, more automated way for the Kubernetes group to detect misconfigurations and deviations from best practises that restrict organisations from understanding the full potential of cloud-native applications, “said Ali Golshan, co-founder and CTO of StackRox.” Ultimately, the release of KubeLinter as an open source tool would help users of Kubernetes build hardened environments that are increasingly immune to the inherent risks created by regular changes in configuration typical in development practices.’

On GitHub, the source code for KubeLinter is available and the Kubernetes community has been encouraged to contribute to the tool, which is currently defined as being in a very early development stage.

A short video has also been published by StackRox describing why it built KubeLinter and how users can contribute to the project.

StackRox recently received financing of $26.5 million, taking the company’s overall funding secured to $61 million.

Source: https://cybersguards.com/stackrox-announced-kubelinter-misconfigurations-in-kubernetes/

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Cyber Security

How Was 2020 Cyber Security Awareness Month?

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Global corporate enterprise and indeed global society is aware of the concept of cyber security. Personally Identifyable Information (PII) data leaks, continued personal phishing expeditions and state-based adversary hacking have all brought cyber security into focus for the average person.

The average Board member is certainly more aware of the value of cyber security than in years past due in part to ransomware payments. And front-lines employees are certainly more aware of the value of cyber security due to an increased understanding of what not to do.

The state of cyber security is indeed strong. As the Cyber Security Hub Year End Report will elucidate, nearly 80% of the community feels that the overall state of cyber security, meaning operations, resiliency, compliance, awareness, etc., is improving.

But that is of course through the end of the day today. As cyber security professionals know, it’s all about tomorrow. And tomorrow is going to be a bear.

Awareness

A few years of the Mid-Year and Year End reports has shown a sustained focus and expense on Security Awareness. Cyber security executives seem comfortable with the returns to date. But we are now in a whole new world and the pre-pandemic security awareness quotient does not cut it.

Key Questions:

  • How often are you in front of the organization regarding security awareness?
  • Are you expediting security awareness the same way that you’ve always done it?
  • Is each person in the organization aware of all of the new threat vectors?

Automation

The Cyber Security Hub Automation Report is fresh out with some key takeaways. More needs to be done than there is dollars to do. Automated attacks are on the rise and the global pandemic has not been kind to budgets. That means that organizations must make choices on if they can handle any amount of cyber security automation investment.

The luckier ones are making choices on what to automate with a better understanding of the fact that while automation might eventually reduce overhead, the human resources needed to make automation work have to be found and added first.

Key Questions:

  • Do you have budget for automation?
  • If yes, do you have the talent you need for automation?
  • If no, what technical debt do you have that you could lose?

Cloud-First

We just started the Zero Trust conversation and we have to also start the SASE conversation. Our friends at Okta have a handy chart that shows four levels of a Zero Trust organization. The first level is level zero (no-relation). Common wisdom has most of global corporate enterprise at either level zero or level one. Most folks think that less than 10% are at level 3 (that’s the highest level).

The Cyber Security Hub Year End Report will showcase the fact that 75% of the community is telling us how they stopped worrying and learned to love the VPN. (That’s a reference to the title of Dr. Strangelove if you’re keeping score at home). The point being- a significant portion of the community is on the just at the front end of figuring out IAM & PAM for their organizations.

So we’ve got a long way to go on establishing a Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA). And a ZTNA is only one piece of a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). SASE is not brand new. Gartner released their first analysis of the concept at the end of last year. Solution providers do have offerings and the top of the market is buying.

Key Questions:

  • Where are you on the IAM/PAM continuum?
  • Where are you on the Zero Trust continuum?
  • Where are you on the SASE continuum?

Business Enablement

As you might know, we’ve consistently shared that cyber security has gone from the Department of No to the Department of Know ensuring that cyber security isn’t in the way of business enablement.

We’ve also covered the fact that the cyber security budget conversation with the board must no longer be based on fear but on risk. The budget conversation as we understand it is best presented by choices.

“If we implement X, spending Y, we’ll reduce risk by Z. If we don’t implement X, risk will increase by Alpha by Year End 2021.”

A significant portion of budgets for 2020 and maybe even some of 2021 were spent in March and April of 2020. The cyber crime rate is going up. To thwart the threats, cyber security executives must be tough. You’ve got threat vectors on all sides. And your budget has been shattered. (That’s a reference to Shattered by the Rolling Stones if you’re keeping score at home).

Key Questions:

  • How are you going into the budget conversation for 2021?
  • Are you able to educate the board and CEO using a risk paradigm?

Happy Cyber Security Month from Cyber Security Hub. You’ve got to be a CISO to know how much mental and intestinal fortitude is needed to get the job done. We have awareness and appreciation of how hard the job is- and the fact that it just keeps getting tougher. So take a breath, focus as you do, get back out there and keep us safe. Thank you for doing the job.

Source: https://www.cshub.com/executive-decisions/articles/how-was-2020-cyber-security-awareness-month

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