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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: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Saturday June 03 2017, @01:39AM (1 child)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 03 2017, @01:39AM (#519674) Journal

    IoT crap comes in two flavors, Google / Amazon stuff to bind you to an ecosystem, generally produced by IT savvy companies.

    Actually, that's completely wrong.

    Products from Google and Amazon themselves have, by and large, NOT been responsible for any the botnets or malware storms. Amazon and Google actually have something of a clue about their own products.

    The crapware that is responsible are the IOT devices deployed by Cities and Governments to watch every intersection and street corner, most of it on publicly route-able IPs, easily found by a simple scan, most of it deployed with default passwords.

    Joe User has his webcam and his ip-addressable light bulbs behind a firewall and are generally not exploitable.

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    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
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  • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Saturday June 03 2017, @02:38AM

    by jmorris (4844) on Saturday June 03 2017, @02:38AM (#519691)

    Products from Google and Amazon themselves have, by and large, NOT been responsible for any the botnets...

    Reread, that is what I said. They aren't selling you crap they are getting you to buy into their ecosystem and the device is the door through which they hold you in a long term business relationship. They have every reason to invest in maintaining it. Random IoT lightswitch or webcam maker has no such motive. They sell it and are done with you and they will not issue a single update beyond production ending. And the option of renting a light switch forever to provide an incentive to update its firmware will find few takers, even if they provide a cloud service and an app to control it over the Internet. People will want Alexa to control their stuff if they went into Amazon's ecosystem, otherwise Google, Apple or Microsoft, etc. But not ChingChiongChinaman's skeevy cloud or not even Leviton's Internet Light Switch Hub or Whirlpool's Internet Air Conditioner App / Website. They don't want to be oppressed by just any megacorp, it must have the right hip image.