Quality Progress - December 2016 - 10


KEEPINGCURRE N
TECHNOLOGY

When 'Things' Attack

T

Cyberattacks highlight security risks of a connected society

Tens of millions of electronic devices were hijacked in October
by unknown hackers and used to shut down large portions of the
internet, affecting companies such as Twitter, Netflix, PayPal and
Amazon.1-3
Using devices such as wristwatches, home-monitoring cameras
and children's toys, these attacks surfaced security vulnerabilities
in the Internet of Things (IoT)-a developing technology many
organizations see as a gateway to a brave new world of process
efficiencies, cost savings and
revenue generation.
Proponents of the IoT, which
refers to objects that are connected to the internet, cite benefits
that touch almost every industry.
These connected objects could be
water pipes that can automatically
report leaks, medical devices that
remotely analyze patients' vital
signs and report them to physicians, or tags and sensors used in
logistics that shipping organizations estimate could save global
supply chains $1.9 billion.4, 5
Experts, however, worry that the push to bring more connected
devices to market is expanding the risk of more attacks. Without
regulation to force device-makers to build better security into their
products, a more connected society could strengthen hackers'
abilities to spread malicious software (also known as malware).
These security loopholes could lead to future internet disruptions,
stolen data and other threats that could risk consumer's safety and
cost organizations millions of dollars.

A security virus
October's historic cyberattack relied on malware called Mirai that
controlled millions of devices and spread itself like a virus. Mirai
scanned the web for connected devices protected by weak or default passwords and forced those compromised products to search
for more vulnerable devices. This created a network for hackers to
carry out a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack-jamming
connectivity services from the internet infrastructure company Dyn
and affecting services in the United States, Europe and Asia.6

10 QP * www.qualityprogress.com

"It's a very smart attack," said Kyle York, Dyn's chief strategy
officer. "Literally, picture tens of millions of things attacking a single
data center."7
Newer devices from low-end manufacturers that make cheap
products without regard for security were among the vulnerable
products, said Ben Herzberg, security group research manager
at the cybersecurity company Imperva. Because some of these
devices can't receive updates against newly found security risks or
have default password protecting them, they will continue to
be exposed to attacks such as
Mirai.
DDoS attacks aren't new,
but today's volume of unsecure
connected devices made these
attacks particularly severe, said
Craig Labovitz, co-founder and
chief executive of Deepfield Inc.,
a network analytics company.8
The expansion of the IoT
market is speeding up. According
to the Consumer Technology Association, 170 million people will
receive IoT-related gifts this holiday season, and there are no regulations forcing device-makers to improve their products' security.9
"It would be great if we could say, 'If you want to produce a device connected to the internet, you must go through basic security
checks.' But we don't have that right now," Herzberg said. "These
attacks are not going away."10
Maneesha Mithal, an associate director with the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission, said IoT security is a "huge priority" and "companies are not investing as much time and effort as they should" in
this area.11

Disconnected auto security
The rise of devices such as smartphones, tablets and connected
wearable electronics have weaved internet connections into nearly
every part of society. For many organizations, this expansion offers
great potential for improving and streamlining how they do business.
Consumer demands are pressuring automakers to add connected features to vehicles, and three-quarters of new vehicles could


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - December 2016

Quality Progress - December 2016 - cover1
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Quality Progress - December 2016 - cover3
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