Second part of the SBS documentary on line now. Looking at the IoT this episode.
Archives For Internet of Things
Cautionary tales from the Internet of Things
A clank of botnets
More bad news for the Internet this week as a plague of BotNets launched a successful wave of denial of service attacks on Dyn, a dynamic domain name service provider. The attacks on Dyn propagated through to services such as Twitter (OK no great loss), Github, The Verge, Playstation Network, Box and Wix. Continue Reading…
It is a common requirement to either load or update applications over the air after a distributed system has been deployed. For embedded systems that are mass market this is in fact a fundamental necessity. Of course once you do have an ability to load remotely there’s a back door that you have to be concerned about, and if the software is part of a vehicle’s control system or an insulin pump controller the consequences of leaving that door unsecured can be dire. To do this securely requires us to tackle the insecurities of the communications protocol head on.
One strategy is to insert a protocol ‘security layer’ between the stack and the application. The security layer then mediate between the application and the Stack to enforce the system’s overall security policy. For example the layer could confirm:
- that the software update originated from an authenticated source,
- that the update had not been modified,
- that the update itself had been authorised, and
- that the resources required by the downloaded software conform to any onboard safety or security policy.
There are also obvious economy of mechanism advantages when dealing with protocols like the TCP/IP monster. Who after all wants to mess around with the entirety of the TCP/IP stack, given that Richard Stevens took three volumes to define the damn thing? Similarly who wants to go through the entire process again when going from IP5 to IP6? 🙂
Hannibal ante portas!
A recent article in Wired discloses how hospital drug pumps can be hacked and the firmware controlling them modified at will. Although in theory the comms module and motherboard should be separated by an air gap, in practice there’s a serial link cunningly installed to allow firmware to be updated via the interwebz.
As the Romans found, once you’ve built a road that a legion can march down it’s entirely possible for Hannibal and his elephants to march right up it. Thus proving once again, if proof be needed, that there’s nothing really new under the sun. In a similar vein we probably won’t see any real reform in this area until someone is actually killed or injured.
This has been another Internet of Things moment of zen.
The recent Cisco Internet of Things (IoT) grand security challenge is a tacit recognition that the current security problems of the connected world may not be sustainable when scaled to well, to everything. Last year of course there was the well publicized security flaws of Belkin’s WeMo, and the subsequent response is a poster child for what we can expect as the Internet of Things (IoT) turbocharges the the second great crisis of computing, i.e security.