Improving Anti-Theft Measures for Mobile Devices

I’m pleased to say that the latest version of the GSMA SG.24 Anti-Theft Device Feature Requirements has been published. Many members of the Device Security Group I chair at the GSMA have been personally committed to trying to reduce the problem of mobile theft over many years. This represents just one small part of these continued efforts.

There is no magic solution to the problem of mobile theft as I’ve discussed many times (some listed below). The pragmatic approach we’ve taken is to openly discuss this work with all the interested parties including OS vendors such as Apple, Google and Microsoft as well as to reach out to Police and government particularly in the US and the UK where the subject has been of high interest. We’ve taken their feedback and incorporated it into the work. Everyone has a part to play in reducing theft of mobile devices, not least the owner of the device itself.

 

Some extra resources:

Some previous blogs on mobile theft:

Introducing the work of the IoT Security Foundation

At Mobile World Congress this year, I agreed to give an interview introducing the IoT Security Foundation to Latin American audiences. If you’re interested in IoT security and our work at the Foundation, you should find this video interesting. Enjoy!

IoT Security from Rafael A. Junquera on Vimeo.

 

Improving IoT Security

I am involved in a few initiatives aimed at improving IoT security. My company wrote the original IoT security strategy for the GSMA and we have been involved ever since, culminating in the publication of a set of IoT Security Guidelines which can be used by device manufacturers through to solution providers and network operators. Here’s a short video featuring me and other industry security experts explaining what we’re doing.

There’s still a long way to go with IoT security and we’ve still got to change the “do nothing” or “it’s not our problem” mindset around big topics like safety when it comes to the cyber physical world. Each step we take along the road is one step closer to better security in IoT and these documents represent a huge leap forward.

IoT Security and Privacy – Sleep-Walking into a Living Nightmare?

This is my remote presentation to the IoT Edinburgh event from the 24th of March 2016. It was a short talk and if you want to follow the slides, they’re also embedded below. The talk doesn’t cover much technical detail but is hopefully an interesting introduction to the topic.

There is a much longer version of the connected home talk that goes into much more depth (and talks about how we solve it). I hope to record and upload that at some point! Slides for this one:

Victim blaming when it comes to fraud

I was quoted today in a Guardian article after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe suggested that fraud victims should not be compensated by banks in cyber crime situations.

Image of what people are being conditioned to think a cyber criminal looks like! (Or perhaps I should have gone with hacker in hoodie?!)

His point is that people use weak passwords and don’t upgrade their systems so end up as easy pickings for online criminals. Whilst of course users need to take responsibility for their own actions (or inaction) it is nowhere near as simple as that, especially when it comes to things like deliberate social engineering of people and website insecurity.

My full quote was as follows: “I think the Met Chief’s comments are short-sighted. There are many reasons consumers are defrauded and a lot of those are not really things that they can control. To trivialise these to all being about user concerns misses the point. How does a consumer control the theft of their data from a website for example? We all have a role to play and a lot of work is underway in bodies like the worldwide web consortium (W3C) to reduce the use of passwords and to increase the use of hardware-backed security. The banks are doing a good job in a difficult environment but they are ultimately responsible for identifying and preventing fraud issues when they occur.”

The W3C’s work on web authentication is underway, which will standardise the work of the FIDO Alliance for the web in order to help eliminate the password. This of course will take a while and we won’t fully eliminate passwords from the web for many years. To further protect consumers, there is another effort to bring hardware security backing to important elements of the web, this will also hopefully be chartered to do that in W3C. In the software updates world, Microsoft have led the way on desktops and Apple in mobile for ensuring people are patched quickly and effectively. We still have a long way to go and I’m leading some work in the mobile industry, through the GSMA to try and make things better.

The Met and the wider police have a key role in investigating cyber crime, something they’ve not done well at all over the past few years, so they have failed consumers repeatedly. Blaming users is something akin to throwing stones in glasshouses.

When the “Apple Encryption Issue” reached Piers Morgan

How can we have an intelligent and reasoned debate about mobile device forensics?

I woke up early this morning after getting back late from this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It has been a long week and I’ve been moderating and speaking at various events on cyber security and encryption throughout the week. It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the “Apple encryption issue” as everyone seems to have referred to it, has been at the top of the news and I have been asked what I think pretty much every day this week. Late last night, I’d seen a twitter spat kicking off between comedy writer and director Graham Linehan and Piers Morgan on the topic, but went to bed, exhausted from the week.

It was still being talked about this morning. My friend Pat Walshe who is one of the world’s leading mobile industry privacy specialists, had quoted a tweet from Piers Morgan:

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Ironically, Piers Morgan himself has been accused of overseeing the hacking of phones, something which he has repeatedly denied, despite Mirror Group Newspapers admitting that some stories may have been obtained by illegal means during his tenure and having recently paid compensation to victims of phone (voicemail) hacking, a topic about which I have written in the past.
This week I’ll be up at York St John University where they’ve asked me to teach cyber security to their undergraduate computer scientists. The reason I agreed to teach there was because they highly value ethical concerns, something which I will be weaving into all our discussions this week. The biggest question these students will have this week will be the “what would you do?” scenario in relation to the San Bernadino case.
The truth is, this is not a question of technology engineering and encryption, it is a question of policy and what we as a society want and expect.
The moral aspects have been widely debated with Apple’s Tim Cook bringing, in my view, the debate to a distasteful low by somehow linking the issue to cancer. I’ve tried to stay out of the debate up until now because it has become a circus of people who don’t understand the technical aspects pontificating about how easy it is to break into devices versus encryption activists who won’t accept anything less than “encrypt all the things” (some of whom also don’t understand the technical bits). I sincerely hope that there isn’t a backlash on me here from either side for just voicing an opinion, some friends of mine have deliberately stayed quiet because of this – I’m exercising my right to free speech and I hope people respect that.
The truth is, this is not a question of technology engineering and encryption, it is a question of policy and what we as a society want and expect. If a member of my family is murdered do I expect the police to be able to do their job and investigate everything that was on that person’s phone? Absolutely. Conversely, if I was accused of a crime that I didn’t commit and I wasn’t in a position to handover the password (see Matthew Green’s muddy puddle test), would I also want them to do it? Of course. It is called justice.

Dealing with the world as it is

The mobile phones and digital devices of today replace all of our previous scraps of notepaper, letters, diaries, pictures etc that would have been left around our lives. If someone is murdered or something horrific happens to someone, this information could be used to enable the lawful investigation of a crime. The Scenes of Crime Officer of the past and defence team would have examined all of these items and ultimately present the evidence in court, contributing to a case for or against. Now consider today’s world. Everything is on our phone – our diaries and notes are digital, our pictures are on our phones, our letters are emails or WhatsApp messages. So in the case of the scene of a crime, the police may literally be faced with a body and a phone. How is the crime solved and how is justice done? The digital forensic data is the case.
Remember, someone who has actually committed a crime is probably going to say they didn’t do it. The phone data itself is usually more reliable than witnesses and defendant testimony in telling the story of what actually happened and criminals know that. I’ve been involved with digital forensics for mobile devices in the past and have seen first-hand the conviction of criminals who continually denied having committed a serious crime, despite their phone data stating otherwise. This has brought redress to their victim’s families and brought justice for someone who can no longer speak.
There is no easy answer

On the other side of course, we’re carrying these objects around with us every day and the information can be intensely private. We don’t want criminals or strangers to steal that information. The counter-argument is that the mechanisms and methods to facilitate access to encrypted material would fall into the hands of the bad guys. And this is the challenge we face – there is absolutely no easy answer to this. People are also worried that authoritarian regimes will use the same tools to help further oppress their citizens and make it easier for the state to set people up. Sadly I think that is going to happen anyway in some of those places, with or without this issue being in play.

US companies are also fighting hard to sell products globally and they need to recover their export position following the Snowden revelations. It is in their business interests to be seen to fight these orders in order to s
ell product. It appears that Tim Cook wants to reinforce Apple’s privacy marketing message through this fight. Other less scrupulous countries are probably rubbing their hands in glee watching this show, whilst locally banning encryption, knowing that they’ll continue doing that and attempting to block US-made technology whatever the outcome of the case.
Hacking around

Even now, I have seen tweets from iPhone hackers who are more than capable of an attempt to solve this current case and no doubt they would gain significant amounts financially from doing so – because the method that they develop could potentially be transferable.

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This is the same battle that my colleagues in the mobile world fight on a daily basis – a hole is found and exploited and we fix it; a continual technological arms race to see who can do the better job. Piers Morgan has a point, just badly put – given enough time, effort and money the San Bernadino device and encryption could be broken into – it will just be a hell of a lot. It won’t be broken by a guy in a shop on Tottenham Court Road (see my talk on the history of mobile phone hacking to understand this a bit more).

Something that has not been discussed is that we also have a ludicrous situation now whereby private forensic companies seem to be ‘developing’ methods to get into mobile handsets when in actual fact many of them will either re-package hacking and rooting tools and pass them off as their own solutions, as well as purchasing from black and grey markets for exploits, at premium prices. This is very frustrating for the mobile industry as it contributes to security problems. Meanwhile, the Police are being forced to try and do their jobs with not just one hand tied behind their back, it now seems like two. So what should we do about that? What do we consider to be “forensically certified” if the tools are based on fairly dirty hacks?
How do we solve the problem?
We as democratic societies ask and expect our Police forces to be able to investigate crimes under a legal framework that we all accept via the people we elect to Parliament or Senate. If the law needs to be tested, then that should happen through a court – which is exactly what is happening now in the US. What we’re seeing is democracy in action, it’s just messy but at least people in the US and the UK have that option. Many people around the world do not.
On the technical side, we will need to also consider that there are also a multitude of connected devices coming to the market for smart homes, connected cars and things we haven’t even thought of yet as part of the rapidly increasing “Internet of Things”. I hate to say it, but in the future, digital forensics is going to become ever more complex and perhaps the privacy issues for individuals will centre on what a few large technology companies are doing behind your back with your own data rather than the Police trying to do their job with a legal warrant. Other companies need to be ready to step up to ensure consumers are not the product.
I don’t have a clear solution to the overall issue of encrypted devices and I don’t think you’ll thank me for writing another thousand words on the topic of key escrow. Most of the time I respond to people by saying it is significantly complex. The issues we are wrestling with now do need to be debated, but that debate needs to be intellectually sound and unfortunately we are hearing a lot from people with loud voices, but less from the people who really understand. The students I’m meeting next week will be not only our future engineers, but possibly future leaders of companies and even politicians so it is important that they understand every angle. It will also be their future and every other young person’s that matters in the final decision over San Bernadino.

Personally, I just hope that I don’t keep getting angry and end up sat in my dressing gown until lunchtime writing about tweets I saw at breakfast time.

 

The Future of Cyber Security and Cyber Crime

David Wood kindly invited me to speak at the London Futurists cyber security and cyber crime event along with Craig Heath and Chris Monteiro. I decided to talk about some more future looking topics than I normally do, which was quite nice to do. The talks were videoed and linked below (my talk starts about 39:29). I should add that the Treaty of Westphalia was 1648, not 1642!:

Here are my slides:

Exploring Threats to IoT Security

I was recently invited to give a talk on the threat landscape of IoT at Bletchley Park on IoT Security as part of NMI’s IoT Security Summit. Of course you can only touch the surface in 30 minutes, but the idea was to give people a flavour of the situation and to point to some potential solutions to avoid future badness. My company, Copper Horse is doing a lot of work on this topic right now and it is pretty exciting for us to be involved in helping to secure the future for everyone and every thing, right across the world.

If you’re thinking about developing an IoT product or service and need some help with securing it, do feel free to get in touch with us.

Updating the Future

Later today I’ll be speaking at B-Sides London about software updates and how they are probably the only effective mechanism that can defend users against the malicious use of discovered, exploitable vulnerabilities. Despite that, we still have a long way to go and the rush towards everything being connected could leave users more exposed than they are now.

The recent “effective power” SMS bug in iOS really showed that even with a relatively minor user interface bug, there can be widespread disruption caused and in that case mainly because people thought it would be funny to send it to their friends.

The state of mobile phone updates

In vertical supply chains that are generally wholly owned by the vendor (as in the Apple case), it is relatively straightforward to deploy fixes to users. The device’s security architecture supports all the mechanisms to authenticate itself correctly, pick up a secure update and unpack it, verify and deliver it to the user. The internal processes for software testing and approval are streamlined and consistent so users can get updates quickly. This is not the case for other operating systems. Android users have a very complicated supply chain to deal with unless they have a Google supplied device. Mobile network interoperability issues can also cause problems, so network operators have to drive test every device and approve the updates that come through. Security updates are often bundled with other system updates, meaning that critical security issues can stay open because users just don’t get them fixed for months on end.

That’s if they get an update at all. Some manufacturers have a very chequered history when it comes to supporting devices after they’ve left the factory. If users are not updated and they’re continually exposed to serious internet security flaws such as those experienced with SSL, who is responsible? At the moment it seems nobody is. There is no regulation that says that users must be updated. There seems to be a shift in the mobile industry towards longer software support lifecycles – Microsoft has committed to 36 months support and Google at least 18 months, but there is still a long way to go in terms of ensuring that patch teams at manufacturers remain available to fix security issues and ensuring that an ‘adequate’ end-of-life for products is achieved and communicated properly to users.

The internet of abandoned devices

A lot of IoT devices have no ability to be updated, let alone securely. The foundations are simply not there. There is no secure boot ROM, a secure anchor of trust from which to start from, there is no secure booting mechanism to carefully build up trust as the device starts and web update mechanisms are often not even secured using SSL. Software builds are often as not unencrypted and certainly not digitally signed.

So with this starting point for our future, it appears that many of the hard lessons of the mobile phone world have not seen transference to the IoT world. Even then, we have a lot of future challenges. Many IoT devices or elements of the automotive space are ‘headless’ – they have no user display or interface, so the user themselves has no inkling of what is going on, good or bad. What is often termed “cyber-physical” can rapidly become real issues for people. A problem with an update to a connected health device can really harm a lot of people. Shortly before Google’s acquisition of Nest, a user had tweeted complaining that his pipes had burst. Understanding that certain services cannot just be turned off to allow for an update is key to engineering in this space.

Many of the devices that are planned to be deployed are severely constrained. Updating a device with memory and battery limitations is going to be possible only in limited circumstances. Many of these devices are going to be physically inaccessible too, but still need to be trusted. It’s not simply a question of replacement of obsolete devices – digging a vibration sensor out of the concrete of a bridge is going to be pretty cumbersome. Some of this space will require systems architecture re-thinking and mechanisms to be able to live with the risk. It may be that is simply impossible to have end-to-end security that can be trusted for any real length of time. As engineers if we start from the point that we can’t trust anything that has been deployed in the field and that some of it can’t be updated at all, we might avoid some serious future issues.

10 Inspirational Women in the Mobile Industry

Today is International Women’s Day and I was thinking about the women who had influenced my thinking in the mobile industry over the past year. I have to say, I thought twice about writing this blog – I didn’t want to patronise or embarrass the individuals mentioned in this piece and that certainly is not my intention. At the end of the day, I have decided to publish as they all deserve to be recognised as the movers and shakers they are in the mobile and/or web and internet security world and after all, the theme this year is “make it happen”!

No more glass ceilings
In alphabetical order, I have included their twitter handles where appropriate, so you can follow them:
Karen Barber, Independent Mobile Business and Startup Advisor
Twitter: @KLBarber
Source: Twitter
I first met Karen at the ForumOxford event in May 2014. She has advised many mobile startups and continues to do so, helping people to productise and bring to market new mobile applications and services. Dedicated, with great connections, she is generous with time and advice.
Anne Bouverot, GSMA
Twitter: @annebouverot
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/8094137683/ (CC BY 2.0)

As Director General of the GSMA, an association of over 800 member network operators and associate companies, Anne has a huge job to herd the cats of the mobile industry whilst negotiating with the governments of the world over regulatory and policy concerns. She is one of only two women on the Board of the GSMA (Mari-Noëlle Jego-Laveissière of Orange recently joined). Only this week she highlighted that:1.7 billion women in low and middle income countries don’t own a mobile phone – a gender gap of 200 million.

Melanie Ensign, FleishmanHillard
Twitter: @imeluny

I met Melanie while I was out in Las Vegas for Blackhat and DEFCON in 2014. Determined and skillful, Melanie liaises with the media and the hacking community over security concerns on behalf of some telecom companies. This role requires a head for technology and strong people skills, both of which Melanie has in abundance.

Virginie Galindo, Gemalto
Twitter: @poulpita
Source: https://blog.html5j.org/2013/06/w3c-developer-meetup-tokyo.html

As Chair of the W3C’s Web Crypto group, Virginie has one of the hardest jobs in the web world. The recent rise in interest of encryption on the web has made this activity all the more important. In an almost entirely male group, with some extremely volatile and passionate personalities, Virginie has shown incredible leadership, leading to a seat on the Advisory Board of W3C.

Helen Keegan, Independent Mobile Marketing Specialist
Twitter: @technokitten
Source: https://t
echnokitten.blogspot.co.uk/

Helen is one of the most well known people in the mobile marketing community. She runs the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe series of events every year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona including the spectacularly popular Swedish Beers. Facilitating connections between startups, mobile companies and VCs. Another unsung heroine of the mobile industry, probably responsible for numerous collaborations between companies that previously would never have met.

Dominique Lazanski, GSMA
Twitter: @dml
Source: Twitter

A well known Internet governance expert, Dominique now advises the GSMA on policy issues and cyber security. She is also on the Board of the UK’s Open Data User Group amongst other things. A true visionary and passionate about securing the future of an open and free internet for all.

Sue Monahan, Small Cell Forum
Source: linkedin

Appointed as CEO of the Small Cell Forum in 2014, Sue has shown great leadership and has made great use of her large global network of mobile industry colleagues to raise the profile of small cells and develop the future of mobile networks.

Marie-Paule Odini, HP

An expert in NFV and SDN (she co-chairs the ETSI NFV SWA working group), Marie-Paule is a Distinguished Engineer at HP and their CTO, EMEA for Communications Media Solutions. Intelligent, resourceful and full of ideas, I had the pleasure of meeting her at ITU World in Qatar where we discussed smart cities, drones and disaster relief.

Natasha Rooney, GSMA
Twitter: @thisNatasha
Source: W3C

Natasha is a Web Technologist for the GSMA and co-chair of the Web and Mobile Interest Group at the W3C. A self-declared geek, she has thrown herself into the role and has taken leadership on quite a few critical issues for the future of the web. She has gained the respect of pretty much everyone I know in a very short space of time (oh and as of the Global Mobile Awards in 2015 is now mates with John Cleese!).

Nico Sell, Wickr
Source: ambassadorialroundtable.org

A staunch defender of privacy, Nico Sell co-founded and is CEO of the privacy and security sensitive messaging app Wickr. Personable and highly intelligent, Nico commands the respect of the hacking community and also runs the successful DEFCON kids event and the R00tz Asylum which is bringing up the next generation of security technologists. At this point, I’ll take the opportunity to apologise to Nico for “borrowing” one of the Stegocat posters at Wickr’s DEFCON party!

Let’s Make it Happen

There are many other women across the past year that have influenced me and that I have not mentioned. Some of those don’t have a public profile or keep themselves to themselves, but they’re also often unrecognised by their own companies. I’m constantly impressed by many women that are often juggling parenting responsibilities with international travel and partners who are also in busy careers.

The simple fact that I’m writing this shows that world society still has a long way to go, even in the West. Most of the meetings I go to are still populated by white middle aged suits (yes, me too!). Whilst most people in my age group have moved on from old stereotypes, you still hear some pretty shocking stories of prejudice and public humiliation towards women by bosses and colleagues.

To the male readers of this blog – I see many meetings where “he who shouts loudest” seems to be the “successful” conclusion of a lot of email discussions and meeting decisions. Next time you’re speaking in a meeting – stop and think: perhaps you should listen to someone else’s view? That person may be the woman next to you who isn’t choosing to engage in the usual testosterone-fuelled meeting argument.

The glass ceilings do still exist, but there are lots of rays of light and it is great to see so many of my friends and colleagues doing so well. Long may it continue until the point we don’t need an International Women’s Day.

If you want to mention a woman in the mobile, security or web world who has inspired you, please leave a comment below!

Edit: 08/03/14 – some small edits and tidy-ups, and to actually put them in alphabetical order!