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posted by on Friday June 02 2017, @08:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the looming-global-IoT-shitstorm dept.

TechDirt reports

In the wake of the Wannacry ransomware, University of Pennsylvania researcher Sandy Clark has proposed something along these lines: firmware expiration dates. Clark argues that we've already figured out how to standardize our relationships with automobiles, with mandated regular inspection, maintenance and repairs governed by manufacturer recalls, DOT highway maintenance, and annual owner-obligated inspections. As such, she suggests similar requirements be imposed on internet-connected devices:

A requirement that all IoT software be upgradeable throughout the expected lifetime of the product. Many IoT devices on the market right now contain software (firmware) that cannot be patched even against known vulnerabilities.

A minimum time limit by which manufacturers must issue patches or software upgrades to fix known vulnerabilities.

A minimum time limit for users to install patches or upgrades, perhaps this could be facilitated by insurance providers (perhaps discounts for automated patching, and different price points for different levels of risk)."

Of course, none of this would be easy, especially when you consider this is a global problem that needs coordinated, cross-government solutions in an era where agreement on much of anything is cumbersome. And like previous suggestions, there's no guarantee that whoever crafted these requirements would do a particularly good job; that overseas companies would be consistently willing to comply; or that these mandated software upgrades would actually improve device security. And imagine being responsible for determining all of this for the 50 billion looming internet connected devices worldwide?

That's why many networking engineers aren't looking so much at the devices as they are at the networks they run on. Network operators say they can design more intelligent networks that can quickly spot, de-prioritize, or quarantine infected devices before they contribute to the next Wannacry or historically-massive DDoS attack. But again, none of this is going to be easy, and it's going to require multi-pronged, multi-country, ultra-flexible solutions. And while we take the time to hash out whatever solution we ultimately adopt, keep in mind that the 50 million IoT device count projected by 2020--is expected to balloon to 82 billion by 2025.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Justin Case on Friday June 02 2017, @10:05PM (1 child)

    by Justin Case (4239) on Friday June 02 2017, @10:05PM (#519594) Journal

    mandated software upgrades

    No, no, a thousand times no! Sigh. The ocean of stupidity is astounding, and things are getting worse.

    First, every time you install software you increase your risk, because there is a chance the software will do something you don't want. You do the research to reduce your risk, but it is never zero. Adding or changing any software you didn't write (and maybe some you did) should be regarded as a dangerous operation to be performed rarely, only when absolutely necessary, with care, including a back-out plan.

    From this principle, obvious to any computer professional, it is apparent that downloading and executing software on the fly from unknown untrusted sources is, well, terminally moronic. Yes, I'm looking at you EcmaScript and your ill-begotten peers. Likewise for installing every random "app" that promises new shiny for your phone.

    Those who understand computing warned about this from day one but were obliviously dismissed.

    And now, somehow, we have evolved to a world where crap software is not only tolerated but expected, even to the point where it is allegedly a good practice to update your software frequently! Automatically, even!!!

    Oh, but that's not enough; now we are going to pass a worldwide law (good luck with that) that requires updates which never should have been needed in the first place? Hey, if you do pass that worldwide law, why not require some minimum level of quality, and liability for defects, instead of just assuming everything will be vulnerable from the factory and there's nothing that can be done about that.

    Face it: every Windows Update or other security patch regardless of platform is proof of FAILURE by whoever wrote the junk! Get it right the first time. Or leave the job to somebody competent. And yes, maybe it shouldn't be so complicated that nobody can understand what it does.

    Now get off my lawn. For that matter, I wish these clueless "developers" and their managers would get off my planet.

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  • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday June 02 2017, @11:07PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday June 02 2017, @11:07PM (#519617) Homepage

    1. Sell IOT garbage with bug-ridden firmware with expiration date to lazy rubes
    2. Firmware expiration date arrives
    3. Change only a few comments in the firmware code and release it as V 2.0
    4. ???????? []
    5. Profit!