Protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks: A critical missing piece: Page 4 of 10

August 04, 2017 //By Alan Grau, Icon Labs
Protecting IoT devices from cyberattacks: A critical missing piece
When it comes to protecting IoT devices from cyber attacks, both device hardening and security appliance approaches each has its supporters, but there are trade-offs between “device-centric” and “appliance-centric.”
flash drive and reading data directly.

Data-at-rest (DAR) protection encrypts data stored on the device, providing protection against these attacks. Many IoT devices don’t have the computing power to support full disk encryption, but sensitive data such as credit-card numbers or patient information should always be encrypted. Care must be taken to store the encryption key in protected memory on the device or in a secure location such as a USB drive or network server.

The DAR solution should ensure unencrypted data is never stored on the hard drive. Protected data should be encrypted before it is written to a file. Encrypted files should be encrypted in memory and remain in RAM, never written back to the file system without being encrypted ensuring data cannot be leaked due to a power failure.

Intrusion detection
Many embedded devices lack basic security features, making them easy targets for hackers. As a result, hackers have specifically target embedded devices. Devices such as point-of-sale systems, HVAC systems, and medical devices have been exploited.

Most cyber attacks occur in phases, beginning with hackers probing a network looking for, finding, and exploiting a vulnerable device. Once this initial beachhead is established, hackers use the exploited device to probe deeper into network. The cycle repeats with hackers gradually expanding their reach within the network. Stopping the attacks begins with early detection.

Intrusion Detection Systems and Intrusion Detection Software (IDS) are commonplace in enterprise networks and PCs. IDS, as the name implies, detects when a system is under attack or being probed. These solutions can take many forms and detect many different types of attacks, but regardless of form, are in the main, largely absent for embedded devices.

Adding IDS capabilities to embedded devices is critical to providing early warning of a cyber attack. The ability to detect and report potentially malicious activity enables system administrators to take action to block attacks, quarantine compromised systems, and protect their


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