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Should the Government Regulate IoT Devices?

Should the government regulate IoT devices?As security concerns rise about Internet of Things (IoT) devices, so does the debate about the necessity of government regulations. Should the government regulate IoT? Many Internet of Things devices on the market today have little to no security built in, which can compromise the privacy and even personal security of consumers.

Many consumers today are not (yet) clamoring for more regulation. A lot of them do not realize that their smart devices may be compromising their privacy in significant ways. Yet there is a growing concern from those in government and industry that something must be done. The question is, however, whether more secure devices will arise through government regulations imposed by governments that are often hacked themselves, or by the Internet of Things industry itself.

Should the government regulate IoT?

Proponents of government regulations see the following benefits to having the government regulate IoT devices:

  • Standards applied to every device that help to protect the security of consumers
  • Requirements for patches that take new security concerns into account

Opponents take a different view. Should the government regulate IoT devices, they are concerned about:

  • Regulation and bureaucracy stifling innovation
  • Expensive regulations eliminating smaller companies, reducing consumer choice and competition
  • The government lacks the expertise to effectively regulate these devices

What are lawmakers doing today?

Several countries are already proposing regulations related to this issue. For example, in Australia, lawmakers have proposed a certification for IoT devices with requirements such as:

  • Changeable, non-guessable, non-default passwords
  • Not to expose ports to the wider internet
  • Software updates to fix known vulnerabilities

In the United States, lawmakers are working on a bill related to devices purchased by the federal government that includes requirements such as:

  • Devices must be patchable, rely on industry standard protocols, and be built without hard-coded passwords and known security vulnerabilities
  • Alternative network-level security requirements for devices with limited data processing and software functionality
  • Cybersecurity coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies will be required of all contractors that provide connected devices to the U.S. Government

It is essential that Internet of Things devices become more secure in order to protect consumers, governments, and organizations alike, while complying with international data privacy regulations. Whether that is done through government regulation or industry self-regulation remains to be seen. Likely it will be a combination of both. As consumers and organizations alike become more aware of the security risks of IoT devices, the market demand for more secure devices will grow, increasing the supply in a market-driven economy. Likely we will see the government regulate IoT devices, while the market demand increases.

What do you think?

Should governments regulate Internet of Things devices? Or can the industry self-regulate? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

And if you’d like to learn more about the Internet of Things, check out our newest course program: IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things.

 

References:

List, J. (2017, 16 Oct). Aussies Propose Crackdown on Insecure IoT Devices. Hackaday.

Corsec. (2017, 27 Sept). IoT Security Facing Government Regulation. Corsec blog.

Thierer, A. and O’Sullivan, A. (2017, 12 June). Leave the Internet of Things Alone. US News & World Report.

Thomson, I. (2017, 15 Feb). You Know IoT Security is Bad when Libertarians Call for Strict RegulationsThe Register.

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Corporate Hacking: Are You a Target?

Corporate Hacking: Are you at risk?Corporate hacking stories are a staple of the news. Whether a small business or large international corporation, if you use the internet to do business, you are susceptible to having your network hacked, customers compromised, and your reputation ruined.  How can you protect yourself from being a target of corporate hacking? Sometimes it is just about being proactive, and thinking smart.

Here are five strategies to defend against corporate hacking:

  • First, Think Passwords: Are yours strong and unique? Do you change them often? Usually, a hacker steals passwords. By regularly changing yours, you make it harder for hackers to use stolen data. If the hacker doesn’t have access to stolen passwords, they will try combinations of easily guessable alternatives.   There are ways to make cracking your passwords more difficult, including using spaces and characters in your password and increasing the length. And whenever possible, use Two-Factor Authentication, which adds another layer of security. (2017, Symantec)
  • Second, Look at web URLs:   Your information is not encrypted if you do not see an “s” after the “http.”  Encryption is necessary for any business, especially when financial transactions, credit card information, or other critical data is shared.
  • Third, Software Updates:   Keep abreast of the updates pushed out by software providers.  They are created to counter software flaws.  Updates, also known as patches, are developed and pushed to users for upload.  It is important to keep up with the updates in order to stay ahead of malicious hackers who could use the flaws to hijack your system.
  • Fourth, Encrypt, Encrypt, Encrypt:  Use road blocks to make it difficult for your corporate information to be collected and shared.  Encrypting data is key to this process. Learn more about how to encrypt files in this post from Lifehacker.
  • Fifth, Employ White Hat Hackers:   Sometime you need to have someone on the inside working to find the cracks in your armor.  Employing cyber security specialists, or training your existing employees in ethical hacking techniques, can wind up saving your company money in the long run. After all, cyber attacks can be incredibly expensive. Finding and patching the vulnerabilities yourself costs a lot less.

These are just a few of the many steps your company can take to make doing business more secure in the digital age and help build a defense against corporate hacking.   One last tip: education.  Stay ahead of trends by constantly educating your employees on best practices.

Why not learn more about cyber security and ethical hacking?

Check out the IEEE online course programs: Cyber Security for Today’s Environment and Hacking Your Company: Ethical Solutions to Defeat Cyber Attacks. These courses provide you and your employees with the foundation you need to put a sensible cyber security strategy in place for your organization.

 

Resources

Nixon, Sam. (2017, September 8). Are you an easy hacking target? Cybersecurity tips for small business. The Guardian.

Symantec. (2017). How to Choose a Secure Password. Norton Security Center.

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Tips for Cyber Security Awareness Month

Are you #CyberAware? Cyber Security Awareness MonthAre you #CyberAware? October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. It’s a great time to review the online security practices you use at home, as well as at school or at work. When we all work together to prevent cyber attack, the internet as a whole can get safer.

Individuals can protect their computers and networks by following some of these simple tips:

  • Apply patches and updates as soon as they are available. Sure, it can be annoying to continually run updates on your computer. But take a lesson from the massive WannaCry attack. It took advantage of a system vulnerability in the Windows operating system. Updating Windows prevented the attack. Yet many outdated computers were affected for lack of an upgrade. (2017, Saito)
  • Never click on links that seem suspicious. Sometimes the email may be from someone you know. But if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. When in doubt, reach out to the person who sent you the link another way to make sure the link is legitimate before clicking.
  • Practice good password hygiene. Make sure your passwords are long, use a combination of symbols and letters, and are changed frequently.

In addition to the above tips, businesses should also keep in mind the NIST Security Framework. This framework includes:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recover

Learn more about the framework, and how to apply each of these steps for your business, at StaySafeOnline, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Everyone needs to do their part to prevent cyber attacks, and Cyber Security Awareness Month is a great time to start. The number one key is to educate yourself on the tricks cyber criminals use, so you can defend against these attacks.

Ready to learn more about cyber security, or even considering a cyber security or ethical hacking career? Check out the IEEE online course programs: Cyber Security for Today’s Environment and Hacking Your Company: Ethical Solutions to Defeat Cyber Attacks. These courses will give you a solid foundation in the basics of cyber security to prepare you to defend your company’s network from cyber attack.

How do you defend against cyber attack? Please share your tips in the comments below.

 

References

Saito, W. (2017, May 18). 9 Ways to Stay Safe from Cyber Attacks.  World Economic Forum.

Stay Safe Online powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance. (2017) https://staysafeonline.org/

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Millennials, Ownership, and the Internet of Things

Millennials, Ownership, and IOT PrivacyMillennials are concerned, and rightly so, about connected devices and security. Nearly 75% of Millennials surveyed by KPMG indicated they would be likely to “use more IoT devices if they had more confidence that the devices were secure.” (Strother 2017) As developers of IoT devices consider the market viability of their devices, this creates a two-fold challenge. Not only must they develop more secure devices. Developers also need to convince Millennials that these devices are more secure, and worth adopting.

As digital natives, Millennials potentially have greater exposure and access to devices. As a result, this is one area Millennials can offer some insight and guidance to older generations. While Millennial use of IoT products is lower than other generations, one considerable factor is because they are not yet homeowners. (Strother 2017) Many of the developments in IoT devices are in smart home technology, which Millennials may just not need yet. Yet there are also other concerns, most notably IoT privacy.

The Millennial reaction to privacy concerns and adoption of IoT devices can lead the way in how other generations should view these devices. Perhaps because they are digital natives, they have a different understanding of ownership, and having control over your things continues to evolve in our digital world.

Those in Gen X and Baby Boomers were raised during times where the definition of ownership was simple. You bought something and it was yours. Today, however, we are more likely to rent access than own anything. And often times that access comes at the cost of the information collected by our devices. Today an individual’s private information is currency, one we often give up in exchange for the convenience of digital devices. Since IoT devices generate and pass a great deal of personal information, the cost of these devices can be high, paid in the currency of privacy. IoT privacy is a pressing concern.

So, how can one build and develop IoT devices that consider the new ideas of ownership and take into account growing privacy concerns?  There must be a fundamental understanding of how standardization will play a role in IoT privacy and ownership, as well as plans to evolve as quickly as technologies and questions arise.

Could your organization benefit from a more comprehensive understanding of the Internet of Things? IEEE offers courses to help businesses prepare through the online course program IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things.

 

References

Strother, N. (2017, March 24) IoT and Millennials. Forbes.

Michels, D. (2017, September 12) Today’s Property Rules Don’t Work in our IoT World. Network World.

 

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Medical Device Cyber Security is Essential

medical device cyber security

No one wants to imagine that their pacemaker or insulin pump can be hacked when their life depends on the proper functioning of these medical devices. However, a recent Ponemon Institute survey discovered that 67 percent of medical device manufacturers and 56% percent of Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) think an attack on a medical device in use is likely to occur over the next 12 months (2017 Trip Wire). That information provides an added layer of anxiety for patients, medical providers, and manufacturers, and makes medical device cyber security more important than ever.

There is good news, though. In the last 5 years, healthcare providers and manufacturers have made an effort to include cyber attacks in their contingency plans, and put into place resources to mitigate a potential breach. (2017 TripWire)

These well designed security plans for medical device cyber security include:

  • Dedicated budget for cyber security
  • Cyber security professionals included in the staffing headcount
  • Risk assessments regularly performed by healthcare providers
  • Regularly conduct penetration testing
  • Security awareness and training programs made available
  • And much more…

The US Food and Drug Administration has been making inroads to mitigate any potential attacks with updates to security measures and by seeking to formalize guidelines. As with all guidelines, they do not have to be followed. However, if a provider adopts the recommendations, medical device cyber security can be improved, making the industry and the patient less apprehensive. (2017 TripWire) Not to mention the fact that the provider can use these security measures as a competitive advantage.

Want to learn more about cyber security and how it can affect the healthcare industry? IEEE offers both cyber security and ethical hacking training to help corporations prepare. Learn more about institutional pricing and request a quote here.

References

Newman, L. (2017, March 2) Medical Devices Are the Next Security Nightmare. Wired

(2017, August 27) Highs & Lows of Cyber Security in Healthcare. TripWire

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10 of the Largest Corporate Hacks in Recent History

Corporate hacks and cyber attacks directed at organizations large and small have increased in both frequency and severity over the past few years, affecting billions of consumer accounts and costing companies from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet while the news continues to provide a steady stream of coverage detailing large-scale corporate hacks across all industries, cyber security remains underfunded by many organizations.

The timeline below highlights 10 major organizations hit by significant data breaches over the past five years. Although by no means an exhaustive list, these attacks serve as stark reminders of the importance of preventative measures to ensure cyber security.

10 of the Largest Corporate Hacks in History Infographic

Is your organization prepared to handle a cyber attack? Are you looking for ways to strengthen your organization’s cyber security? IEEE offers both cyber security and ethical hacking training to help organizations prepare. Learn more about organization pricing and request a quote here.

Reference:

Roberts, J. & Lashinsky, A. (2017, June 22). Hacked: How Business Is Fighting Back Against the Explosion in Cybercrime. Fortune.

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Easy Ways to Improve Your Organization’s Cyber Security

Easy Ways to Improve Cyber Security from IEEEThe Internet touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life, according to the US Department of Homeland Security. However, with access to so much information comes an increase in cyber-attacks that can affect people and companies on a global scale. In 2016, there was a 38% increase in phishing security attacks year over year according to a report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The techniques that attackers use is also evolving, with attacks that continue to affect more computers and devices than ever before. (2017 Revision Legal) Every organization wants to improve cyber security, but the prospect can sometimes seem overwhelming.

The news in 2017 has been equally daunting with reports of serious cyber breaches that effect individuals and companies. Some of the more serious instances include a recent security breach to credit-reporting agency Equifax, a Gmail phishing campaign, US IRS data breach, and the British health system shutdown that affected administering medical attention to patients all over the UK.

With such widespread attacks, how do you protect yourself? How do you protect your company?

Sometimes it is the most basic steps that will improve cyber security for your organization, and make it harder for the hackers to be successful. (2017 Wired)

  • Training
    • Stay sharp on techniques hackers are using. Training will help you identify and avoid the traps and improve cyber security.
  • Always Think Before Clicking
    • Sometimes it is as simple as trust your gut. Many times, we notice something that bothers us, but we cannot identify what it is. Always trust your instincts. If it does not feel right, do not click on the link or open that email.
  • Consider the Source
    • Have you received information from this sender before? Is the offer too good to be true? Sometimes taking a few moments to read the full email address or researching who the sender is will help you sidestep a pitfall.
  • Use Security Back-Ups
    • Take advantage of security options when available like enabling multi-factor authentication on accounts, using a password manager or other system to help in maintaining strong passwords, and backing up your data.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Why not use this as an opportunity to have your staff become more aware of their cyber surroundings and in turn protect themselves and the company as you improve cyber security throughout the organization.

Does your organization need cyber security training? IEEE offers both cyber security and ethical hacking training to help organizations prepare. Learn more about organization pricing and request a quote here.

References

(2017, Aug 11) National Cyber Security Awareness Month. US Department of Homeland Security.

Newman, L. (2017, Mar 19) Phishing Scams Even Fool Tech Nerds—Here’s How to Avoid Them. Wired.

DiGiacomo, J. (2017, Jun 21) 2017 Security Breaches: Frequency and Severity on the Rise. JD Supra.

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Study Reveals Most Organizations Are Unprepared for Cyber Attack

Study Reveals Most Organizations Are Unprepared for Cyber Attack

A recent study released by Arctic Wolf Networks (2017) has found that many organizations are completely unprepared for cyber attack, and Internet of Things (IOT) devices are only making the problem worse. In the wake of attacks such as the one on Equifax, it has become clearer than ever that every organization needs a comprehensive cyber security strategy in place.

The study revealed that 100% of the companies that were included use at least one IOT device. Because these IOT devices often do not have the necessary security infrastructure built in, they are easy targets. While nearly every company had a firewall and antivirus system in place, that is unfortunately just the beginning of what is needed. The advanced threats seen today easily bypass these measures and many organizations are unprepared for cyber attack.

The Equifax attack, for example, was an attack on a web application. (2017, Wolff-Mann) This type of attack tricks an interactive web page, such as a form, into giving up far more from the database accessed than requested using a SQL Injection Attack. So for example, rather than just providing the requested information, any information stored in the database could be captured by hackers, and used for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, many organzations focus on network security instead of software security, resulting in data breaches such as the one experienced by Equifax. Rohit Sethi, COO of Security Compass, believes that the automated testing and scans that many organizations rely on cannot measure up to what a trained human being can do.

Several industries have found themselves subject to attacks on IOT devices, with transportation leading the way. 29% of transportation companies have reported being subject to an attack, followed by 22% of energy, oil and gas; utilities, construction and property; and IT, Technology and Telecoms. And this number is expected to rise as cyber criminals become more sophisticated in their attacks. The infrastructure maintained by these industries is critical, and organizations cannot ignore the necessity to put trained personnel and advanced systems in place to protect the people that they serve. As hackers become more sophisticated, ignorance is no longer an excuse to be unprepared for cyber attack.

It is up to every organization to get the training and put the systems in place needed to defend against cyber attack, and protect their organizations and customers.

Does your organization need cyber security training? IEEE offers both cyber security and ethical hacking training to help organizations prepare. Learn more about organization pricing and request a quote here.

 

References:

Wolff-Mann, E. (2017, Sept 8). Equifax hack exposes a major cybersecurity gap. Yahoo! Finance.

Arctic Wolf Networks. (2017, Sept 7). Ransomware of Things: When Ransomware and IoT Collide. arcticwolf.com.

 

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Ethical Hacking Infographic: A Day in the Life of an Ethical Hacker

Ethical hackers can be a valuable resource in a company’s overall cyber security program. Is ethical hacking a segment of the cyber security industry that interests you? The following ethical hacking inforgraphic from IEEE takes a look at what ethical hackers do, how ethical hackers are different from malicious hackers, and the earning potential of experienced ethical hackers.

Want to start your education in ethical hacking? Check out the IEEE Continuing Professional Education online course program called Hacking Your Company: Ethical Solutions to Defeat Cyber Attacks.

IEEE Ethical Hacking Infographic: A Day in the Life of an Ethical Hacker

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When It Comes to Cyber Security, Consider Physical Cyber Security Defenses

When It Comes to Cyber Security, Consider Physical Cyber Security Defenses from IEEE Innovation at WorkThese days, tips on how to strengthen your cyber security seem to follow every announcement of another cyber attack: don’t forget to back up your data, apply patches over vulnerabilities, monitor firewalls, etc. It can be easy to get caught up in just the digital defenses, however. It’s helpful to remember that software is not your only weapon when it comes to cyber security. Physical cyber security defenses are another tier in your line of defense.

According to Goldstein (2016), physical security is critical, “especially for small businesses that do not have as many resources as larger firms to devote to security personnel and tools.” Implementing physical cyber security defenses will help secure critical assets such as IT infrastructure and servers.

Below are some precautions Goldstein suggests considering outside of your computer:

  • Foster a culture of security: Personnel are an organization’s first line of defense, so it is important to train employees in security awareness and build an enjoyable workplace to equip and motivate employees to protect the organization (Harkins, 2016).
  • Secure entry points: Companies can improve their cyber security by investing in security gates and doors. Requiring access cards helps restrict access, and deploying “smart locks” allows companies to add additional barriers with wireless unlocking mechanisms (Covington, 2016).
  • Use surveillance cameras: Inexpensive yet invaluable, surveillance cameras can detect potential threats as well as provide solid evidence for forensic review after incidents (Covington, 2016).
  • Install alarms: Intrusion systems go without much explanation, though they are crucial security elements for warding off intruders.
  • Guard the server room: Small businesses often maintain their data center in a small room, in which case monitoring and even securing access with security gates is especially important.

Taking these physical cyber security defense measures gives an organization a solid security foundation on which to build its cyber security defenses. When it comes to protecting yourself from cyber attacks, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Would you like to provide a foundation in cyber security techniques for your organization’s technical professionals? Check out the IEEE online course Cyber Security Tools for Today’s Environment.

Reference:

Goldstein, P. (2016, Oct 11). Why physical security should be as important as cybersecurity. BizTech.

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