development programming

Botnet of things


The Internet of Things is the new hotness. It’s the source of Big Data, it’s the future of clothing and wearables and retail and your kitchen. It’s going to be everywhere. Says the hype. Smart watches. Smart fridges. Smart cars. Smart cities.

Part of my is excited, there’s a lot of possibilities, especially once you start hooking them together either with code, or via services such as if-this-then-that.

Stop for a minute though. Consider that we are talking about a heterogeneous collection of internet-connected devices in your house, on your body, on your commute, gathering a lot of data on you and controlling things around you so you don’t have to.

Do what happens when they’re not controlled on your behalf?

These devices have access to:

  • Your WiFi password
  • Your connected services
  • Whatever their sensors pick up (audio, visual, etc)
  • Other devices

Some of them happily connect on unsecured channels.

They are updated according to manufacturer policy (see Android fragmentation and the WebView vulnerability to see how well that works out).

If you accept the 3 rules of network security, and choose not to trust the manufacturer, the cloud services and the network, and want to protect yourself, how do you isolate your threat but still allow the benefits of these devices? How do you isolate the rest of your devices or services if one gets compromised? How do you protect your future data if the services get compromised? How do you protect yourself if your network gets compromised?

Possible solutions:

  • IoT DMZ for WiFi – allow devices to access your WiFI via an authentication key rather than password (similar to one-time passwords for 2FA enabled sites), which only allows them to access an authorised list of sites, and not other nearby devices, managed by your phone/companion app?
  • Direct network connection (Ethernet over power) rather than WiFi
  • Non-personal connection (built-in 4G)
  • local data hub that relays the collected information across your local network to a service you choose
  • Bluetooth, or other close-range set up (or see ChromeCast, which broadcasts an SSID for phone to pick up, then switches to the WiFi you set up)
  • Quick list/disabling of connected services?
  • Token auth rather than password auth
  • Forced updates
  • Non-network updates (my TV allows USB or OTAerial firmware upgrades)
  • Don’t connect your smart device to the network
  • Decide you don’t need internet access on your car, or your fridge.

If you aren’t scared enough yet –

Cybercrime, the security of things :

And don’t forget to patch your car :

3 replies on “Botnet of things”

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