By Ian Kilpatrick, EVP Cyber Security Nuvias Group
A recent survey shows 64 percent of organisations have deployed some level of IoT technology, and another 20 percent plan to do so within the next 12 months. This is an astonishing fact when you consider the lack of basic security on these devices, or any established security standards. Many companies are turning a blind eye to security issues, swayed by the potential benefits that IoT can bring.
- IoT – a cybercriminal’s dream
Any device or sensor with an IP address connected to a corporate network is an entry point for hackers and other cybercriminals –like leaving your front door wide open for thieves.
Managing endpoints is already a challenge, but the IoT will usher in a raft of new network-connected devices that threaten to overwhelm the IT department charged with securing them – a thankless task considering the lack of basic safeguards in place on the devices.
Of particular concern is that many IoT devices are not designed to be secured or updated after deployment. Any vulnerabilities discovered post-deployment cannot be protected against in the device, and corrupted devices cannot be cleansed.
- IT or OT
IT professionals are more used to securing PCs, laptops and other devices, but they will now be expected to become experts in areas such as smart lighting, heating and air conditioning systems, security cameras and integrated facilities management systems.
A lack of experience in this Operating Technology (OT) is a cause for concern. It is seen as operational rather than strategic, so deployment and management is often shifted well away from Board awareness and oversight.
Nevertheless, the majority of organisations are deploying IoT technology with minimal regard to the risk profile or the tactical requirements needed to secure them against unforeseen consequences.
- Increase in DDoS attacks
IoT devices are a perfect vehicle for criminals to access a company’s network. 2016’s high-profile Mirai attack used IoT devices to mount wide-scale DDoS attacks that disrupted internet service for more than 900,000 Deutsche Telekom customers in Germany, and infected almost 2,400 TalkTalk routers in the UK.
4…and ransomware attacks
There has been an almost 2000 percent jump in ransomware detections since 2015. In 2017, WannaCry targeted more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries, with damages ranging from hundreds to billions of dollars.
While most ransomware attacks currently infiltrate an organisation via email, IoT presents a new delivery system for both mass and targeted attacks.
- Increasing intensity and sophistication of attacks
The sophistication of attacks targeting organisations is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, with criminals leveraging the disruptive opportunities the IoT brings.
According to Fortinet’s latest Quarterly Threat Landscape report, three of the top twenty attacks identified in Q4 2017 were IoT botnets. But unlike previous attacks, which focused on a single vulnerability, new IoT botnets such as Reaper and Hajime target multiple vulnerabilities simultaneously, which is much harder to combat.
Wi-Fi cameras were targeted by criminals, with more than four times the number of exploit attempts detected over Q3 2017.
- The effects of an attack
The aftermath of a cyberattack can be devastating for any company, leading to huge financial losses, compounded by regulatory fines for data breaches, and plummeting market share or job losses. At best, a company could suffer irreparable reputational damage and loss of customer loyalty.
On top of that, IoT devices have the potential to create organisational and infrastructure risks, and even pose a threat to human life, if attacked. We have already seen the impact of nation-state attack tools being used as nation-state weapons, then getting out and being used in commercial criminal activity.
- Profit over security
It’s crazy to think that devices with the potential to enable so much damage to homes, businesses and even entire cities often lack basic security design, implementation and testing. In the main this is because device manufacturers are pushing through their products to get them to market as quickly as possible, to cash in on the current buzz around IoT.
Lawrence Munro, vice president SpiderLabs at Trustwave agrees IoT manufacturers are sidestepping security fundamentals: “We are seeing lack of familiarity with secure coding concepts resulting in vulnerabilities, some of them a decade old, incorporated into final designs,” he notes.
- Can you see the problem?
Another huge problem is that once a network in attacked, it’s much easier for subsequent attacks to occur.
Yet, recent data shows just half of IT decision makers feel confident they have full visibility and control of all devices with network access. The same percentage believe they have full visibility of the access level of all third parties, who frequently have access to networks; and only 54 percent say they have full visibility and control of all employees.
- Turning a blind eye
Despite security concerns often cited as the number one barrier to greater IoT adoption, Trustwave research shows sixty-one percent of firms who have deployed some level of IoT technology have had to deal with a security incident related to IoT, and 55 percent believe an attack will occur sometime during the next two years. Only 28 percent of organisations surveyed consider that their IoT security strategy is ‘very important’ when compared to other cybersecurity priorities.
- Efforts to standardise
In the UK, the government’s five-year National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) is looking to work with the IT industry to build security into IoT devices through its ‘Secure by Default’ initiative. The group published a review earlier this month that proposes a draft Code of Practice for IoT manufacturers and developers.
While there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, it may not be enough. Regulators won’t force device manufacturers to introduce the necessary security regulations and practices before thousands of businesses fall victim to attacks. Turning a blind eye to the IoT security risks could leave your organisation permanently paralysed.
Bio of author
Ian Kilpatrick, EVP (Executive Vice-President) Cyber Security for Nuvias Group
A leading and influential figure in the IT channel, Ian now heads up the Nuvias Cyber Security Practice. He has overall responsibility for cyber security strategy, as well as being a Nuvias board member. Ian brings many years of channel experience, particularly in security, to Nuvias. He was a founder member of the award-winning Wick Hill Group in the 1970s and thanks to his enthusiasm, motivational abilities and drive, led the company through its successful growth and development, to become a leading, international, value-added distributor, focused on security. Wick Hill was acquired by Nuvias in July 2015.
Ian is a thought leader, with a strong vision of the future in IT, focussing on business needs and benefits, rather than just technology. He is a much published author and a regular speaker at IT events. Before Wick Hill, Ian qualified as an accountant, was financial controller for a Fortune 50 company, and was a partner in a management consultancy.
Spain’s jobless hit four million for first time in five years as pandemic curbs bite
By Nathan Allen and Belén Carreño
MADRID (Reuters) – The number of jobless people in Spain rose above 4 million for the first time in five years in February, official data showed on Tuesday, as COVID-19 restrictions ravage the ailing economy.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Spain has lost more than 400,000 jobs, around two-thirds of them in the hospitality sector, which has struggled with limits on opening hours and capacity as well as an 80% slump in international tourism.
Jobless claims rose by 1.12% from a month earlier, or by 44,436 people to 4,008,789, Labour Ministry data showed, the fifth consecutive monthly increase in unemployment.
That number was 23.5% higher than in February 2020, the last month before the pandemic took hold in Spain.
“The rise in unemployment, caused by the third wave, is bad news, reflecting the structural flaws of the labour market that are accentuated by the pandemic,” Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz tweeted.
Restrictions vary sharply from region to region in Spain, with some shutting down all hospitality businesses, though Madrid has taken a particularly relaxed approach and kept bars and restaurants open.
A total of 30,211 positions were lost over the month, seasonally adjusted data from the Social Security Ministry showed. It was the first month more positions were closed than created since Spain emerged from its strict first-wave lockdown in May.
Still, the number of people supported by Spain’s ERTE furlough scheme across Spain fell by nearly 29,000 to 899,383 in February.
“These figures have remained more or less stable since September, indicating that the second and third waves of the pandemic have had a much smaller effect than the first in this regard,” the ministry said in a statement.
Hotels, bars and restaurants and air travel are the sectors with the highest proportion of furloughed workers, it added.
Tourism dependent regions like the Canary and Balearic Islands have been particularly hard hit, with the workforce contracting by more than 6% since last February in both archipelagos.
The last time the number of jobless in Spain hit 4 million was in April 2016.
(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska, Nathan Allen and Belén Carreño, Editing by Inti Landauro, Kirsten Donovan and Philippa Fletcher)
Pandemic ‘shecession’ reverses women’s workplace gains
By Anuradha Nagaraj
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The coronavirus pandemic reversed women’s workplace gains in many of the world’s wealthiest countries as the burden of childcare rose and female-dominated sectors shed jobs, according to research released on Tuesday.
Women were more likely than men to lose their jobs in 17 of the 24 rich countries where unemployment rose last year, according to the latest annual PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Women in Work Index.
Jobs in female-dominated sectors like marketing and communications were more likely to be lost than roles in finance, which are more likely to be held by men, said the report, calling the slowdown a “shecession”.
Meanwhile, women were spending on average 7.7 more hours a week than men on unpaid childcare, a “second shift” that is nearly the equivalent of a full-time job and risks forcing some out of paid work altogether, it found.
“Although jobs will return when economies bounce back, they will not necessarily be the same jobs,” said Larice Stielow, senior economist at PwC.
“If we don’t have policies in place to directly address the unequal burden of care, and to enable more women to enter jobs in growing sectors of the economy, women will return to fewer hours, lower-skilled, and lower paid jobs.”
The report, which looked at 33 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) club of rich nations, said progress towards gender equality at work would not begin to recover until 2022.
Even then, the pace of progress would need to double if rich countries were to make up the losses by 2030, it said, calling on governments and businesses to improve access to growth sectors such as artificial intelligence and renewable energy.
Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC, said it was “paramount that gender pay gap reporting is prioritised, with targeted action plans put in place as businesses focus on building back better and fairer”.
Britain has required employers with more than 250 staff to submit gender pay gap figures every year since 2017 in a bid to reduce pay disparities, but last year it suspended the requirement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj @AnuraNagaraj; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
German January exports to UK fell 30% year-on-year as Brexit hit – Stats Office
BERLIN (Reuters) – German exports to the United Kingdom fell by 30% year-on-year in January “due to Brexit effects”, preliminary trade figures released by the Federal Statistics Office on Tuesday showed.
In 2020, German exports to the UK fell by 15.5% compared to 2019, recording the biggest year-on-year decline since the financial and economic crisis in 2009, when they fell by 17.0%, the Office said.
“Since 2016 – the year of the Brexit referendum – German exports to the UK have steadily declined,” the Office said in a statement.
In 2015 German exports to the UK amounted to 89.0 billion euros. In 2020, German they totalled 66.9 billion euros.
Imports to Germany from the UK totalled 34.7 billion euros in 2020, down 9.6 % compared to 2019.
(Reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Madeline Chambers)
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