SiteOwl

Security, Privacy, and the Internet of Things

Security, Privacy, and the Internet of Things

Is the convenience of a connected world worth the potential trade-off between security, privacy, and innovation? 

According to a report by the Internet Society and Consumers International, 53% of consumers distrust IoT devices’ ability to protect their privacy and handle data responsibly, while 28% of non-owners refrain from purchasing IoT devices due to security concerns. 

Physical security professionals understand the trade-offs between convenience, security, and privacy and often find themselves caught between these competing concerns. While the IoT is here to stay, connectivity doesn’t have to come at the cost of security and privacy. 

Here’s what you should know. 

First internet-connected device

Believe it or not, the first smart device came online nearly 40 years ago.

In 1982, David Nichols, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, got the idea to connect a Coke machine to a networked computer to report its inventory and temperature. This scheme wasn’t nefarious or conniving. The machine was a long way from his office, and he didn’t want to walk to discover that it was out of stock or (worse) freshly stocked with warm soda. 

And just like that, the first internet-connected device came to be. 

Heading into 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices comprise comprise what’s known as the Internet of Things. From soda machines and ovens to security cameras and card readers, these internet-connected devices empower us to do incredible things while collecting data and quantifying our lives.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that describes the system of computing devices and digital machines (all with unique identifiers) that can transfer data over a network without human interaction. 

Your smartphone is a great example. It uses an internet connection to send and receive data on your behalf. Sometimes, it sends data because you ask (when you search for something or send a text message); sometimes, it sends data to function properly (keeping the clock updated).

Thanks to growing network connectivity, IoT has become a revolution. Using IoT devices, consumers can leave a store with purchases in hand without stopping at a cash register. Your refrigerator can order food for you, and cities can even use networks of cameras to track and manage traffic. The IoT professional services market is expected to grow from USD 79.0 billion (2018) to USD 189.2 billion by 2023 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 19.1% over the term. 

Industrial and transportation sectors are big drivers behind this growing connectivity as factory automation, smart transport, and logistics engage in what’s been hailed as the 4th Industrial Revolution. 

From an operational perspective, this makes sense. IoT-connected devices have become more sophisticated over the years, and the cost required to manufacture them and keep them connected to a network has steadily decreased. With such factors at play, some estimates put the number of connected devices as high as 1 trillion by 2025. 

IoT devices will give us a more connected world, but that might not be great, depending on your perspective.  

The Dark Side of IoT

Some IoT devices are technological wonders. Your smartphone is essentially a pocket-sized computer that connects you with the rest of the world from nearly anywhere 

But that connectivity comes at a cost. Automation and smart logistics are direct results of internet-connected and devices. The race for efficiency will cost jobs and force us to reevaluate how we think about work and productivity. 

Mikko Hyppönen,, one of the top computer security experts in the world, equates the Internet of Things with a carcinogen: 

“Asbestos was such a great innovation. It looked like a miracle material originally. Such a great innovation, which then decades later turned out to be the worst innovation.”

He believes that anything that uses electricity will eventually be online whether we like it or not. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Hyppönen likens IoT to the “asbestos of the future”, pointing out that so much connectivity is dangerous to our personal privacy and security.  

Vulnerabilities in IoT

Hyppönen’s comments have some merit, especially if you consider that the Internet of Things has developed far faster than the technological infrastructure needed to support it.

In 2014, HP reported that “70 percent of commonly used IoT devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks and breaches.” This is driven home by the slew of high-profile breaches involving IoT devices, exposing the security and privacy issues the industry faces:

  • Samsung smart TVs were found to have significant vulnerabilities: “A relatively unsophisticated hacker could change channels, play offensive content, or crank up the volume… This could be done over the web from thousands of miles away.
  •  A flaw in D-Link webcams allowed hackers to view unencrypted video streams. Workers for Ring, the IoT doorbell company, were caught watching customer video feeds. Orvibo, a Chinese smart home solutions provider, found they were “leaking billions of logs from devices… exposing a range of sensitive information about their users” (the hacked server was sitting in Amazon Web Services with no password protection).
  •  Researchers at UTSA discovered security vulnerabilities in smart light bulbs that could allow hackers to “send commands via the infrared invisible light emanated from the bulbs to either steal data or spoof other connected IoT devices on the home network. ”These security issues should justifiably worry us. It seems we’re connecting everything we can to the internet without thinking about what threats it will expose us to.  

If you’re worried, you’re not the only one. A report by the Internet Society and Consumers International found that 63% of consumers distrust IoT devices to protect their privacy and responsibly handle data, and 28% of people who do not own a smart device will not buy one due to security concerns. 

Some IoT devices are technological wonders. Your smartphone is a pocket-sized computer connecting you with the rest of the world from nearly anywhere. 

But that connectivity comes at a cost. Automation and smart logistics are direct results of internet-connected and devices. The race for efficiency will cost jobs and force us to reevaluate how we think about work and productivity. 

Mikko Hyppönen, one of the top computer security experts in the world, equates the Internet of Things with a carcinogen: 

“Asbestos was such a great innovation. It looked like a miracle material originally. Such a great innovation, which then decades later turned out to be the worst innovation.” 

He believes that anything that uses electricity will eventually be online whether we like it or not. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Hyppönen likens IoT to the “asbestos of the future”, pointing out that so much connectivity is dangerous to our personal privacy and security. 

Defending Against Threats and Physical Attacks in the Connected World

In light of the growing prevalence of IoT systems, addressing the security challenges and potential security threats that arise is critical. As IoT systems gain momentum, physical attacks like tampering and unauthorized physical access to devices and control systems become viable risks, necessitating vigilant security teams and robust security solutions to counter such threats. 

To mitigate these security risks, stringent security measures are paramount, including:

  • Establishing comprehensive security protocols
  • Implementing secure APIs
  • Deploying firmware with strong certifications,
  • Ensuring data protection through robust authentication mechanisms
  • Collaborating across sectors to enhance the resilience of IoT systems

Additionally, IoT devices operating on network edges require heightened defense against physical attacks and firmware tampering due to the potential for a single compromise to trigger a chain reaction of vulnerabilities. 

Solving IoT Security

Consumer concern has led to some government action. 

The FCC is working to reduce cybersecurity risk by forcefully regulating internet security at the network level, as they’ve found that a “large and diverse number of IoT vendors…hinders coordinated efforts to build security by design into the IoT voluntarily.” 

On January 1, 2020, California’s new Internet of Things Security Law also goes into effect. The law is the first IoT-specific security law in the United States and requires all IoT devices sold in California to be equipped with “reasonable security measures.” For example, each device needs to have a unique password. Most new IoT devices will have to be built to conform to these standards or the manufacturer may be unable to sell their product in the California market. 

While these strides are encouraging, the billions of IoT devices already in the wild are vulnerable. Companies and individuals who purchase and implement these devices must take precautions to minimize their data privacy and security vulnerabilities. 

The Department of Justice suggests some of the following tactics:

  • Research to ensure that devices being bought and used don’t undermine your network security.
  • Secure devices by changing default passwords, ensuring passwords are complex enough to be hard to hack, and downloading security patches. 
  • Ensure the network your IoT device runs on is also secure. 
  • Isolate IoT devices on their network to minimize the “attack surface” available to a potential hacker.
  • Don’t connect devices that don’t need to be connected to the internet.

Creating and maintaining a secure environment for IoT devices seems daunting. Security can’t be an afterthought; it has to be taken into account at every step to prevent lapses in privacy and safety. 

If you don’t feel comfortable securing yourself, find someone who can help you. Consult a local tech expert for your smartphone and/or personal laptop. A security operations consulting firm can guide your company or organization. 

Don’t ignore the vulnerabilities that surround you every day.

IoT physical security solutions are here to stay

Without a doubt, there are upsides to IoT. They’re a low-cost replacement for labor, rarely malfunction, and don’t need to rest or take breaks. IoT devices in the physical security space (cameras, alarms, etc.) provide real-time. The rewards far outweigh the risks for a forward-thinking security system owner who wants state-of-the-art protection at a low cost. 

Elevate your IoT physical security strategy with SiteOwl, the world’s first unified lifecycle management platform for the security industry. Utilize purpose-built mobile and web apps to streamline design, installation, service, and vendor oversight. Gain actionable insights for optimized security investment. Embrace the future of security management with SiteOwl. 

Request a demo today!

Related Posts

Streamline CTPAT Physical Security Compliance with SiteOwl!

Are you a part of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program or considering joining it? If so, you’re on the path to strengthening your supply chain security and reaping the rewards of a risk-based program. But there’s a crucial piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked—your physical security infrastructure. The SiteOwl CTPAT Infographic is designed to help you navigate the intricacies of CTPAT compliance with ease and confidence, this infographic is your gateway to complete visibility and control over your security infrastructure. From CTPAT Physical Security Requirements to Actionable Implementation Tips, this resource empowers you to ensure your physical security measures align seamlessly with CTPAT standards. 

CISA Insight: Bridging robust physical security and lifecycle management

In today’s interconnected world, the line between physical security and cybersecurity is increasingly blurred. This convergence has brought new challenges and complexities, particularly with protecting critical infrastructure. While Physical Security Convergence (PSC) has long been a topic of discussion, it’s now gaining momentum, shifting from theory to practical application. Highlighting this shift, a recent industry report indicates that 66% of physical security professionals aim to move their system management to the cloud by 2024. CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between robust physical security and effective lifecycle management. CISA offers a wealth of resources to support organizations in this endeavor, ranging from frameworks and guidelines to incident response and recovery tools. Table of Contents CISA’s Call for an Integrated Approach Strengthening Physical Security CISA’s Support for Strengthening Physical Security Enhancing Lifecycle Management CISA + SiteOwl = A winning formula! 1. CISA’s Call for an Integrated Approach CISA emphasizes that physical and cybersecurity are not siloed entities. Threats can exploit vulnerabilities in one domain to compromise the other. For instance, a physical breach could provide access to IT systems, while a cyberattack could manipulate physical equipment. To address this growing concern, CISA advocates for an integrated approach that considers both physical and cyber threats throughout the entire lifecycle of critical infrastructure, from design and construction to operation and maintenance. This includes implementing security measures that address both physical access control and cyber hygiene practices. 2. Strengthening Physical Security It’s one thing to emphize the importance of physical security, but it’s another to actually implement effective security measures. CISA recommends employing a layered defense strategy for physical security. This involves implementing multiple controls, such as: Perimeter security Access control systems Intrusion detection and prevention systems Video Surveillance cameras to deter, detect, and mitigate threats. The challenge for many physical security teams is that they may not have the necessary expertise to implement these controls, and that’s where CISA’s guidance comes in. 3. CISA’s Support for Strengthening Physical Security CISA provides a wealth of resources and assistance to help physical security teams of all sizes and across various sectors strengthen their defenses. Here are some specific ways CISA can help physical security teams overcome their expertise challenges: Guidance on selecting and implementing appropriate security controls: CISA’s resources help teams understand the different types of controls available and choose the ones best suited to their needs and threat landscape. Expertise and training: CISA’s training programs and technical assistance provide teams with the knowledge and skills needed to implement and manage effective physical security measures. Risk assessment and mitigation: CISA can help teams conduct risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and develop mitigation plans to address them. Staying updated on evolving threats: CISA tracks the latest physical security threats and vulnerabilities and regularly updates its resources and guidance to help teams stay ahead of the curve. Keep in mind that physical security is an ongoing effort, and without a strong lifecycle management strategy, security teams are only one incident away from significant issues. 4. Enhancing Lifecycle Management Physical security is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. It requires continuous effort and a robust lifecycle management strategy to truly be effective. Without such a strategy, even the most well-intentioned security teams can be vulnerable to significant gaps and weaknesses that could be exploited instantly. CISA encourages organizations to conduct regular risk assessments to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities across the entire lifecycle of their infrastructure. This helps allocate resources and implement appropriate security measures. A Strong Lifecycle Management Strategy Includes: Planning and Design: Integrating physical security considerations into the initial planning and design stages of infrastructure projects ensures a holistic approach from the outset. Implementation and Deployment: Implementing chosen security measures effectively and ensuring proper training and procedures are in place during deployment is crucial. Operation and Maintenance: Routine maintenance, patch management, and system updates are essential to keep your security infrastructure functioning properly and addressing vulnerabilities. Monitoring and Assessment: Continuously monitoring activity, conducting regular risk assessments, and analyzing operational data allows you to identify potential issues and adapt your security measures proactively. Incident Response and Recovery: Having a well-defined incident response plan and practicing recovery procedures helps minimize damage and downtime in case of a security breach or other incident. All of this can seem overwhelming, but there are many tools and resources available to help you develop a robust lifecycle. SiteOwl’s Lifecycle Series is a great resource for understanding each of these phases and how to effectively execute them into your security strategy. 5. CISA + SiteOwl = A winning formula! By leveraging CISA’s insights and resources, organizations can strengthen their physical security posture and improve their overall security strategy. However, since CISA is primarily an information-based program, security teams need a platform to design, manage, and maintain their physical security infrastructure and assets. SiteOwl’s award-winning platform empowers security teams to centrally and collaboratively design, manage, and maintain their physical security infrastructure. This means no more relying on spreadsheets or other manual processes. SiteOwl’s intuitive user interface and powerful features are changing the way security teams approach physical security management and putting an end to the traditional siloed approach. Ready to enhance your security strategy? Explore SiteOwl today!

Elevate Your Physical Security: An Actionable Guide to CISA’s Website

If you’re in the physical security field, there’s a good chance that you know about the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA). However, what’s often overlooked is the invaluable support they offer to professionals who manage, operate, and maintain physical security systems. Considering the resources and tools that CISA provides, it’s vital physical security professionals become familiar with the agency’s impressive reach, including: 600+ partnerships with critical infrastructure owners and operators across the US. 500+ CISA employees dedicated to physical and cyber infrastructure security. 18,000+ stakeholders engaged in CISA exercises annually. 18,000+ stakeholders engaged in CISA Millions of users are reached through CISA’s cybersecurity awareness campaigns and resources. With this guide, you’ll learn how to harness the full potential of CISA’s resources and tools to elevate your physical security operations. Let’s get into it! Table of Contents CISA’s Role in Physical Security CISA’s website is a goldmine for security pros Navigating CISA’s Website like a Pro CISA Resources for Security Directors Leveraging CISA Resources for Effective Physical Security 1. CISA’s Role in Physical Security While cybersecurity might be its first name, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) plays a crucial role in safeguarding the physical security of critical infrastructure and public spaces. Instead of thinking of CISA as just a cybersecurity agency, it’s helpful to imagine it as a two-sided shield, standing strong against a myriad of physical and cyber threats. CISA provides free tools, training, info, and more to help everyone prevent, protect, respond to, and deal with security issues, and yes, that includes physical security! The challenge is navigating the vast amount of information on their website and figuring out what you need. But as security professionals, we know that the best way to learn about something is to get your hands directly on it. 2. CISA’s website is a goldmine for security pros CISA’s website is brimming with free tools and resources designed to empower security professionals on every front. In this way, CISA is more like a command center, where cutting-edge technology and actionable knowledge combine to equip frontline defenders. While the cybersecurity side might seem dominant at first glance, there’s a hidden treasure trove waiting for those focused on the “physical half” of the shield. Here are some gems you can find: Publications: Dive into guides like “Physical Security Performance Goals for Faith-Based Communities” or the “K-12 School Security Guide” for actionable steps and recommendations. Best Practices: Learn from experienced professionals through curated documents like “ISC Best Practices for Planning and Managing Physical Security Resources.” Tools: Utilize resources like the “Unattended vs. Suspicious Item Postcard and Poster” to raise awareness and build protocols within your community. Stay Informed: Access the “Homeland Threat Assessment” and other reports to stay informed about evolving physical security threats and trends. Connect with CISA: Explore regional CISA resources and attend relevant events to engage with specialists and build professional networks. CISA’s website is like a treasure chest filled with information, but without a handy filter, it can quickly turn into a noisy attic. 3. Navigating CISA’s Website like a Pro Navigating CISA’s treasure trove of resources can be daunting, but fear not because, with a few pro tips and tricks, you’ll navigate the website like a seasoned CISA champion in no time. Here are five practical steps to navigate CISA’s website effectively:  Know Your Quest Before diving headfirst, take a moment to define your objectives. Are you seeking intel on the latest security threats? Maybe you’re searching for best practices to secure your critical infrastructure. Knowing your target will help you zero in on the most relevant resources.  Chart Your Course CISA’s website is vast, so a roadmap is essential. Utilize the handy navigation bar at the top to explore key sections like “Topics,” “Resources,” and “Events.” Each section unfolds a treasure chest of subcategories, so refine your search as you delve deeper. Leverage the Search Bar Sometimes, the most efficient path is a straight line. The search bar at the top right corner is your trusty map and compass. Type in keywords or specific resource names, and CISA will point you directly to your destination.  Befriend the Filters Many sections offer handy filtering options to narrow down your search. Refine your results by date, topic, format, or audience to curate a list that’s laser-focused on your needs. Bookmark Your Treasures Stumbled upon a goldmine of information? Don’t let it get lost in the digital abyss! Bookmark valuable pages, reports, or tools for quick and easy access later.Bonus Pro Tip: CISA offers a handy “My Toolkit” feature where you can save and organize your favorite resources for future reference. 4. CISA Resources for Security Directors Now that we have a good grasp on CISA and its powerful website let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how it can be a valuable resource for security directors. Security directors know firsthand the value of having access to actionable information. In their roles, they often oversee multiple sites, and in a landscape where threats are ever-evolving, staying ahead is paramount. CISA understands the challenges faced by security directors and works diligently to provide them with the tools, knowledge, and expertise they need to succeed. If you’re a security director, manager, or coordinator, you owe it to yourself and your organization to know about CISA’s resources, programs, and initiatives Here are some key ways CISA can empower security directors: Identify Vulnerabilities: Leverage CISA’s publications and best practices guides to conduct comprehensive risk assessments, pinpointing potential security weaknesses in your organization’s infrastructure, policies, and procedures. Tailored Mitigation Strategies: Utilize CISA’s tools and guidance to develop and implement targeted mitigation strategies addressing identified vulnerabilities. This could involve deploying specific tools, enhancing physical security measures, or implementing new training programs for staff. Stay Ahead of the Curve: Regularly consult CISA’s threat intelligence reports and advisories to stay informed about evolving threats and adapt your mitigation strategies accordingly. While CISA’s website is a powerful tool, remember it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Security directors

Physical Security Playbook 101-What is it and Why You Need One

Ever wondered what makes an effective physical security playbook? With 88% of U.S. businesses now experiencing more physical security threats, the stakes are too high to operate your physical security program reactively. A well-crafted physical security playbook can proactively address these challenges and strengthen your security posture. In this article, we explore physical security playbooks and how they improve teamwork, vendor collaboration, and continuous improvement. Table of Contents What is a physical security playbook? Why is a playbook essential for your security team? What makes a good physical security playbook? How do you ensure your playbook meets your team’s needs? The Essential Physical Security Playbook 1.What is a physical security playbook? A  physical security playbook is a comprehensive guide outlining the steps, protocols, and best practices for designing, deploying, and managing a successful physical security program. Think of it as your trusty guide for regular operations, collaborating with vendors, and maintaining consistency throughout your physical security infrastructure. But a playbook is more than just a collection of rules; it’s a powerful framework for building and maintaining a robust security posture. It’s a roadmap for protecting your infrastructure and assets, with defined strategies and procedures for every step of the way. There are many benefits to developing a well-defined physical security playbook. Rapid and efficient response: The playbook allows your team to react quickly and efficiently, minimizing service disruptions and data loss risks. Optimized communication: Clear communication protocols and designated channels ensure timely and accurate information exchange, reducing confusion and maintaining control. Reduced risk of error: Pre-defined procedures and contingency plans guide decision-making, minimizing the likelihood of human error and costly mistakes. Improved confidence and preparedness: Your team operates with confidence knowing they have a reliable guide and support system in place. 2. Why is a playbook essential for your security team? Security teams across organizations, regardless of size or industry, benefit immensely from having a playbook in place. Beyond the obvious benefit of having a single source of truth for security policies and procedures, a physical security playbook can help guide your security team in all aspects of their daily operations. But like most things in security, the value of a tool is best understood by seeing how it’s used. Let’s say you’re responsible for physical security at a large manufacturing company producing critical components for various industries, with multiple facilities across regions, each presenting unique security challenges. Here’s how a security playbook can streamline your operations: Without a playbook With a playbook Security practices vary widely: Each facility follows its security protocols, leading to inconsistency and potential vulnerabilities. Standardized security: The playbook provides consistent security protocols for all facilities, ensuring a unified and robust security posture. Emergency response confusion: In the event of an incident, different sites react differently, causing confusion and delays.  Efficient emergency response: With predefined procedures, all sites respond cohesively, minimizing confusion and improving incident resolution time. Vendor collaboration issues: The company collaborates with various security vendors, but without standardized procedures, communication with vendors is often disjointed. Streamlined vendor collaboration: The playbook outlines vendor communication protocols, ensuring smoother interactions and quicker issue resolution. Training gaps: New security personnel struggle to adapt quickly because there’s no centralized training resource. Effective training: New hires receive comprehensive training based on the playbook, enabling them to integrate seamlessly into the security team.. 3. What makes a good physical security playbook? A good security playbook strikes a delicate balance between effectiveness and practicality. It should offer a structured and prioritized approach without becoming overly complex to implement. Here are three essential elements to keep in mind when creating or updating your security playbook: Comprehensive Guidance: Your physical security playbook should offer detailed steps, protocols, and best practices, encompassing everything from general expectations to testing and commissioning procedures. Vendor Collaboration: If you work with security vendors, the playbook ensures that all parties are on the same page. It sets expectations and communication protocols, promoting effective partnerships. Continuous Improvement: A good playbook is a living document that evolves with the changing security landscape. It should be regularly reviewed and updated to incorporate new challenges and emerging best practices. However, without teamwork and commitment, a playbook may end up as nothing more than another file on a shelf or drive. Effective teamwork is a crucial element of a robust physical security playbook. 4. How do you ensure your playbook meets your team’s needs? Making sure your playbook meets your team’s needs requires a proactive and iterative approach. It’s important to engage team members at all levels to understand their challenges, needs, and information gaps. Get individual and group feedback through interviews and surveys. Ask targeted questions about: Challenges: What are their biggest frustrations or concerns regarding current security procedures? Needs: What information or resources would make their jobs easier and more effective? Gaps: Are there any areas where the current procedures are unclear, confusing, or incomplete? Observing workflows and processes is also critical to identify any roadblocks or areas where the playbook could provide better guidance. The process can be quite a rabbit hole, so using proven models and frameworks is important to help structure your analysis. 5. The Essential Physical Security Playbook Crafting a playbook can be a challenging endeavor, especially when you consider all the variables like site policies, team and vendor coordination. But it’s also a rewarding one, knowing that you’re building a roadmap to a more secure future for your organization. SiteOwl simplifies the challenging task of creating a physical security playbook by offering a customizable template that allows you to tailor it to your organization’s specific needs. This playbook template comprehensively covers a wide range of aspects, providing guidelines and best practices for your security team’s functioning, including: Project Planning Excellence: Steps to efficiently design and execute security projects. Advanced Communication Protocols: Ensuring seamless interaction among teams and stakeholders. Responsibility Matrix Framework: Clear role definitions to enhance team coordination. Vendor-Client Collaboration: Strategies for fostering effective partnerships in security projects. Maintenance and Evolution: Guidelines for the long-term upkeep and