A Code of Practice for Security in Consumer IoT Products and Services

 

Today is a good day. The UK government has launched its Secure by Design report and it marks a major step forward for the UK for Internet of Things (IoT) security.
Embedded within the report is a draft “Code of Practice for Security in Consumer IoT Products and Associated Services”, which I authored in collaboration with DCMS and with input and feedback from various parties including the ICO and the NCSC.
I have been a passionate advocate of strong product security since I worked at Panasonic and established the product security function in their mobile phone division, through to the mobile recommendations body OMTPwhere, as the mobile industry we established the basis of hardware security and trust for future devices. We’re certainly winning in the mobile space – devices are significantly harder to breach, despite being under constant attack. This isn’t because of one single thing; it is multiple aspects of security built on the experiences of previous platforms and products. As technologies have matured, we’ve been able to implement things like software updates more easily and to establish what good looks like. Other aspects such as learning how to interact with security researchers or the best architectures for separating computing processes have also been learned over time.
Carrying over product security fundamentals into IoT
 
This isn’t the case however for IoT products and services. It feels in some cases like we’re stepping back 20 years. Frustratingly for those of us who’ve been through the painful years, the solutions already exist in the mobile device world for many of the problems seen in modern, hacked IoT devices. They just haven’t been implemented in IoT. This also applies to the surrounding ecosystem of applications and services for IoT. Time and again, we’re seeing developer mistakes such as a lack of certificate validation in mobile applications for IoT, which are entirely avoidable.
There is nothing truly ground-breaking within the Code of Practice. It isn’t difficult to implement many of the measures, but what we’re saying is that enough is enough. It is time to start putting houses in order, because we just can’t tolerate bad practice any more. For too long, vendors have been shipping products which are fundamentally insecure because no attention has been paid to security design. We have a choice. We can either have a lowest common denominator approach to security or we can say “this is the bar and you must at least have these basics in place”. In 2018 it just simply isn’t acceptable to have things like default passwords and open ports. This is how stuff like Mirai happens. The guidance addresses those issues and had it been in place, the huge impact of Mirai would simply not have occurred. Now is the time to act before the situation gets worse and people get physically hurt. The prioritisation of the guidance was something we discussed at length. The top three of elimination of the practice of default passwords, providing security researchers with a way to disclose vulnerabilities and keeping software updated were based on the fact that addressing these elements in particular, as a priority, will have a huge beneficial impact on overall cyber security, creating a much more secure environment for consumers.
We’re not alone in saying this. Multiple governments and organisations around the world are concerned about IoT security and are publishing security recommendations to help. This includes the US’s NIST, Europe’s ENISA and organisations such as the GSMA and the IoT Security Foundation. I maintain a living list of IoT security guidance from around the world on this blog.
So in order to make things more secure and ultimately safer (because a lot of IoT is already potentially life-impacting), it’s time to step things up and get better. Many parts of the IoT supply chain are already doing a huge amount on security and for those organisations, they’re likely already meeting the guidance in the code of practice, but it is evident that a large number of products are failing even on the basics.
Insecurity Canaries
Measuring security is always difficult. This is why we decided to create an outcomes-based approach. What we want is the ability for retailers and other parts of the supply chain to be easily able to identify what bad looks like. For some of the basic things like eliminating default passwords or setting up ways for security researchers to contact in the case of vulnerabilities, these can probably be seen as insecurity canaries – if the basics aren’t in place, what about the more complex elements that are more difficult to see or to inspect?
Another reason to focus on outcomes was that we were very keen to avoid stifling creativity when it came to security solutions, so we’ve avoided being prescriptive other than to describe best practice approaches or where bad practices need to be eliminated.
The Future

I am looking forward to developing the work further based on the feedback from the informal consultation on the Code of Practice. I support the various standards and recommendations mapping exercises going on which will fundamentally make compliance a lot easier for companies around the world. I am proud to have worked with such a forward-thinking team on this project and look forward to contributing further in the future.

Additional Resources

I’ve also written about how the Code of Practice would have prevented major attacks on IoT:

Need to know where to go to find out about IoT security recommendations and standards?

Here’s a couple more things I’ve written on the subject of IoT security:

The future of humanity depends on us getting security right in the Internet of Things



There isn’t a day that goes by now without another Internet of Things (IoT) security story. The details are lurid, the attacks look new and the tech is well, woeful. You would be forgiven for thinking that nobody is doing anything about security and that nothing can be done, it’s all broken.

What doesn’t usually reach the press is what has been happening in the background from a defensive security perspective. Some industries have been doing security increasingly well for a long time. The mobile industry has been under constant attack since the late 1990s. As mobile technology and its uses have advanced, so has the necessity of security invention and innovation. Some really useful techniques and methods have been developed which could and should be transferred into the IoT world to help defend against known and future attacks. My own company is running an Introduction to IoT Security training course for those of you who are interested. There is of course a lot of crossover between mobile and the rest of IoT. Much of the world’s IoT communications will transit mobile networks and many mobile applications and devices will interact with IoT networks, end-point devices and hubs. The devices themselves often have chips designed by the same companies and software which is often very similar.

The Internet of Things is developing at an incredible rate and there are many competing proprietary standards in different elements of systems and in different industries. It is extremely unlikely there is going to be one winner or one unified standard – and why should there be? It is perfectly possible for connected devices to communicate using the network and equipment that is right for that solution. It is true that as the market settles down some solutions will fall by the wayside and others will consolidate, but we’re really not at that stage yet and won’t be for some time. Quite honestly, many industries are still trying to work out what is actually meant by the Internet of Things and whether it is going to be beneficial to them or not. 

What does good look like?

What we do know is what we don’t want. We have many lessons from near computing history that we ignore and neglect security at our peril. The combined efforts and experiences of technology companies that spend time defending their product security, as well as those of the security research community, so often painted as the bad guys; “the hackers” have also significantly informed what good looks like. It is down to implementers to actually listen to this advice and make sure they follow it.

We know that opening the door to reports about vulnerabilities in technology products leads to fixes which bring about overall industry improvements in security. Respect on both sides has been gained through the use of Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD) schemes by companies and now even across whole industries.

We know that regular software updates, whilst a pain to establish and maintain are one of the best preventative and protective measures we can take against attackers, shutting the door on potential avenues for exploitation whilst closing down the window of exposure time to a point where it is worthless for an attacker to even begin the research process of creating an attack.

Industry-driven recommendations and standards on IoT security have begun to emerge in the past five years. Not only that, the various bodies are interacting with one another and acting pragmatically; where a standard exists there appears to be a willingness to endorse it and move onto areas that need fixing.

Spanning the verticals

There is a huge challenge which is particularly unique to IoT and that is the diversity of uses for the various technologies and the huge number of disparate industries they span. The car industry has its own standards bodies and has to carefully consider safety aspects, as does the healthcare industry. These industries and also the government regulatory bodies related to them all differ in their own ways. One unifying topic is security and it is now so critically important that we get it right across all industries. With every person in the world connected, the alternative of sitting back and hoping for the best is to risk the future of humanity.

Links to recommendations on IoT security

To pick some highlights – (full disclosure – I’m involved in the first two) the following bodies have created some excellent recommendations around IoT security and continue to do so:

IoT Security Foundation Best Practice Guidelines
GSMA IoT Security Guidelines
Industrial Internet Consortium 

The whole space is absolutely huge, but I should also mention the incredible work of the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and 3GPP (the mobile standards body for 5G) to bring detailed bit-level standards to reality and ensure they are secure. Organisations like the NTIA (the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration), the DHS (US Department for Homeland Security) and AIOTI (The EU Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation) have all been doing a great job helping to drive leadership on different elements of th
ese topics.


I maintain a list of IoT security resources and recommendations on this post.

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:

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.

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.

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!


Security and Privacy Events at Mobile World Congress 2015

We’ve listed out some interesting Security and Privacy events from 2015’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This year sees a general shift in topic focus to Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and Internet of Things (IoT). Security still isn’t a ‘core’ part of MWC – it doesn’t have a dedicated zone for example on-site, but as it pervades most topics, it gets mentioned at least once in every session!

Sunday 1st March 
1) Copper Horse Mobile Security Dinner
21:00 – Secret Location in Barcelona

Monday 2nd March
1) UKTI Cyber Security in the Mobile World lunchtime series: Securing the Internet of Things
12:00 – 12:40, Hall 7, Stand 7C40

14:00 – 15:30 Hall 4, Auditorium 3

3) Security and IdM on WebRTC
15:00 – 14:00 Spanish Pavilion (Congress Square)

3) Ensuring User-Centred Privacy in a Connected World
16:00 – 17:30 Hall 4, Auditorium 3

Tuesday 3rd March 
1) GSMA Seminar Series at Mobile World Congress: Mobile Connect – Restoring trust in online services by implementing identity solutions that offer convenience and privacy for consumers and enterprises 
09:00 – 12:00 Theatre 1 CC1.1

2) Mobile Security Forum presented by AVG 
11:45 – 14:00 – Hall 8.0 – Theatre District -Theatre D

3) UKTI Cyber Security in the Mobile World lunchtime series: Mobile Cyber Security for Businesses 12:45 – 13:25 Hall 7, Stand 7C40

4) Mobile, Mobility and Cyber Security
17:00 – 21:00 Happy Rock Bar and Grill, 373-385 Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 08015

5) Wireless and Internet Security B2B Matchmaking Event 
18:30 – 22:00 CTTI Carrer Salvador Espriu, 45-51 08908 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat

Wednesday 4th March 
1) UKTI Cyber Security in the Mobile World lunchtime series: Innovation in Cyber Security: Secure by Default 
11:40 to 12:20 Hall 7, Stand 7C40

2) The Explosion of Imaging 
14:00 – 15:00 Hall 4, Auditorium 5

3) The New Security Challenges: Perspectives from Service Providers
16:30 – 17:30 Hall 4, Auditorium 4

Thursday 5th March 
1) Everything is Connected: Enabling IoT
11:30 – 13:00 Hall 4, Auditorium 2

If you’d like a meet up with the Copper Horse team to talk mobile security, IoT or drones, please drop us an email or tweet us @copperhorseuk. We’ll also be demonstrating our progress on securing IoT in the Picosec project on the NQuiringMinds stand in Hall 7: 7C70.

 Picosec Project

Feel free to leave a comment with information on any presentations or events we may have missed and we’ll look to add them.

Note: update 13/02/15 to correct Monday time order and add Quobis event.

How could voicemail insecurity affect your Facebook, Google or Yahoo! account?

It is nearly three years since the News of the World voicemail hacking scandal erupted (a case that’s in court right now). The blog and article I wrote at the time are still the most popular posts I’ve written. I was involved in drafting a set of guidelines for network operators which was published very soon after.

I was therefore quite surprised when a friend sent me the following link which explains how web application security researcher Shubham Shah managed to use voicemail vulnerabilities within network operators to exploit two-factor authentication (2FA) for some pretty major services (e.g. Google, Yahoo!, LinkedIn and so on). The way that 2FA is setup sometimes is that it will call your mobile number. Obviously an automated system isn’t usually setup to determine if you actually answered the call, so the code can go through to voicemail. And that’s how the attack goal is achieved. If the attacker can get into your voicemail account via a vulnerability in procedures or via CLI (Calling Line Identity) spoofing (i.e. faking your phone number), then they can get access to the rest of your life. Sounds simple and it is.

Security and Privacy Events at Mobile World Congress 2014

Here’s a list of the main security and privacy related events at Barcelona (some of which I’ll be speaking at). You’ll need a specific pass to get into some of them and that is shown next to the event.

Sunday 23rd February

1) Copper Horse Mobile Security Dinner
21:00 – Secret Location in Barcelona

Monday 24th February

1) Mobile Security Forum presented by AVG
12:15-14:30 – Hall 8.0 – Theatre District -Theatre F
2) Mobile Security Forum presented by FingerQ
14:30-16:45 – Hall 8.0 – Theatre District -Theatre F

Tuesday 25th February

1) Secure all the things! – the changing future of mobile identity, web, policy and governance
10:00-12:00 (09:15 for networking) UKTI / ICT KTN seminar – in the main conference area, CC1 Room 1.2
2) GSMA Personal Data Seminar (with the FIDO Alliance)
11:00-14:30 Room CC 1.1
3) Global Mobile Awards 2014 – Category 6d – Best Mobile Identity, Safeguard & Security Products/Solutions [Gold passes only]
14:30-16:30 – Hall 4, Auditorium 1

Wednesday 26th February

1) Cyber Security Workshop: The Role of the Mobile Network Operator in Cyber Security [Ministerial Programme Access only]
15:30–16:30 – Minsterial Programme, Hall 4, Auditorium B

Thursday 27th February

1) Privacy – Mobile and Privacy – Transparency, choice and control: building trust in mobile
11:00-13:00 – GSMA Seminar Theatre 2 – CC1.1

Of course plenty of the other presentations have security aspects – all the Connected Home, mHealth and Intenet of Things talks to mention but a few! Also, if you’d like to meet me, you’ll see me at a few of these events or you can email to make an appointment out there.

Please feel free to let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any.

Shiny Expensive Things: The Global Problem of Mobile Phone Theft

I was kindly invited down to Bournemouth University the other day by Shamal Faily, to give a talk as part of their Cyber Seminar series. I decided to talk about a quite hot topic which I’m very familiar with, mobile phone theft. The slides are updated from an earlier talk, but cover some of the political involvement in 2012/13 and some information on recent industry action and what should happen next.