Information security of the Internet of things: who is the thing and who is the owner?


    It's not a secret for anyone that in the field of the Internet of Things (Internet of Things, IoT), perhaps, there is the least order in terms of ensuring information security (IB). Today we are witnessing a developing technology, a constantly changing landscape of the industry, forecasts, sometimes leading away from reality, dozens of organizations trying to declare themselves legislators in a particular area, even for an hour. The urgency of the problem is underlined by epic incidents. Industroyer, BrickerBot, Mirai - and this is only the tip of the iceberg, and what is the next day preparing for us? If you continue to go with the flow, then the owners of the Internet of things will be botnets and other "malware." And things with an ill-conceived functional will prevail over those who try to become their master.

    November 2018ENISA (The European Union Agency for Networks and Information Security) has released a document entitled “Best Practices for Cybersecurity for the Industrial Internet of Things”, which analyzed about a hundred documents with the best practitioners in this area. What is "under the hood" of this attempt to grasp the immense? The article provides an overview of the content.

    Industrial Internet of Things (Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT), which includes, among other things, objects of critical information infrastructure (CII), stands somewhat apart from the classic IoT. Operators IIoT systems are accustomed to implement fairly mature technical solutions with a horizon of operation in decades. Thus, the introduction of upgrades and innovations using IIoT solutions is hampered by the dynamism of the market with the absence of a generally accepted system of standards and generally accepted licensing schemes.

    Another question: what to do with the sea of ​​information accumulated in the field of information security IoT for the last 3-4 years? What should be taken as a basis, and what is secondary? And if in different documents there is conflicting information, what is more important? One of the answers may be the study of analytical reports, in which the accumulated experience is summarized and harmonized, taking into account the maximum number of available sources.

    So ENISA offers a summary of experience based on best practices. To demonstrate that this approach is not the only one, consider another possibility, namely, the creation of a collection of various standards.

    A document can be found on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) website."Draft NISTIR 8200. International Cybersecurity Standardization for the Internet of Things (IoT) . " The version is dated February 2018, and while it still has the status of a draft. It analyzes the existing standards, distributed in the following 11 areas: Cryptographic Techniques, Cyber ​​Incident Management, Hardware Assurance, Identity and Access Management, Information Security Management Systems (ISMS), IT System Security Evaluation, Network Security, Security Automation and Continuous Monitoring (SACM) ), Software Assurance, Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM), System Security Engineering.

    The list of standards takes more than one hundred pages! This means that there are hundreds of titles, tens of thousands of pages, the study of which can take years, moreover, many documents are paid. This identified multiple gaps in the standardization of the industry, which, obviously, will be filled.

    I think the reader has already understood what approach the common sense and sympathies of the author are on. Therefore, back to the best practices of ENISA. They are based on an analysis of about a hundred documents already released. However, we do not need to read all these documents, since ENISA experts have already collected all the most important things in their report.

    The figure below shows the structure of the document, and we will now take a closer look at it.

    Figure 1. Document structure"The Good Practices for Internet Security of Things in the context of Smart Manufacturing"

    The first part is an introductory.

    The second part first introduces the basic terminology (2.1), and then the security calls (2.2), which include:

    • Vulnerable components
    • deficiencies in process management (Management of processes);
    • an increasing number of communication links (Increased connectivity);
    • interaction of operational and information technologies (IT / OT convergence);
    • inheritance of problems of automated process control systems (Legacy industrial control systems);
    • Insecure Protocols
    • human factors;
    • excessive functionality (Unused functionalities);
    • the need to consider aspects of functional safety (Safety aspects);
    • implementation of updates related to security (Security updates);
    • Realization of the life cycle of information security (Secure product lifecycle).

    In section 2.3, with reference to ISA, the reference architecture is given, which, nevertheless, somewhat contradicts the generally accepted ISA architecture (Purdu), since RTU and PLC are assigned to the 2nd, and not to the 1st level (as it is practiced in ISA).

    Figure 2. Reference architecture IIoT The

    reference architecture is an input for the formation of a taxonomy of assets, which is implemented in section 2.4. Based on expert data, the criticality of assets in terms of their impact on information security is estimated. We are not talking about representativeness (the report says that experts from 42 different organizations participated), and this statistic can be taken as “some opinion”. Percentages in the chart indicate the percentage of experts who rated an asset as the most critical.

    Figure 3. The results of expert assessment of the criticality of IIoT assets

    In section 3.1, a classification and description of possible threats is carried out in relation to the IIoT area. In addition, asset classes that may be affected are associated with each threat. The main classes of threats are highlighted:

    • Nefarious activity / Abuse (unfair activities and abuses) - various kinds of manipulations with data and devices;
    • Eavesdropping / Interception / Hijacking (listening / intercepting / hacking) - collecting information and hacking the system;
    • Unintentional damages (accidental) - unintended configuration, administration, and application errors;
    • Outages (outages) - interruptions in work associated with the loss of power supply, communications or services;
    • Disaster (catastrophes) - destructive external impacts of natural and man-made character;
    • Physical attack (physical attacks) - theft, vandalism and sabotage (disabling) made directly on the equipment;
    • Failures / Malfunctions (failures and malfunctions) - can occur due to accidental hardware failures, due to provider service failures, and also due to problems in software development, leading to the introduction of vulnerabilities;
    • Legal (legal issues) - deviations from the requirements of laws and contracts.

    Figure 3. Threat taxonomy

    Section 3.2 discusses typical examples of attacks on IIoT system components.

    The most important section in the document is the 4th, which discusses best practices aimed at protecting IIoT components. Practices include three categories: policies, organizational practices, and technical practices.

    Figure 4. Structure of the best practices for providing information security IIoT The

    fundamental difference between policies and organizational practices is not explained, and the procedural level is present in both cases. For example, Risk and Threat Management fell into politics, and Vulnerability Management into organizational practices. The only difference that can be caught is that the policies are applied, primarily, for developers, and organizational practices - for the operating organizations.

    The composition of policies (4.2) describes 4 categories and 24 practices. The organizational section (4.3) describes 27 practices, divided into 6 categories, and the technical (4.4) - 59 practices, divided into 10 categories.

    In Appendix A it is noted that this document ENISA continues the research declared in 2017 in the document "Baseline Security Recommendations for IoT in the context of Critical Information Infrastructure" . Of course, IoT is a broader concept than IIoT, and, from this point of view, it would be possible to take last year’s document as the basis for this review, however, you always want to deal with newer material.

    Appendix B - this is the main semantic part of the document. The list of practices from section 4 is presented in the form of tables where reference is made to groups of threats and references are given to documents supporting the use of a particular practice, alas, unfortunately, without specifying a specific page or paragraph. Here, for example, several items related to the security of cloud services.

    Figure 5. A fragment of the description of best practices for providing information security IIoT

    Appendix C gives a list of cited documents (there are about 100 of them), which were worked out and formed the basis of the best practices developed.

    Appendix D lists the most significant incidents related to information security breaches in industrial applications.


    “Good Practices for Internet Security of Things” , developed in November 2018, is by far one of the most detailed documents in the field of information security of the Internet of Things. There is no detailed technical information on the implementation of 110 described practices, however, there is a body of accumulated knowledge obtained from the analysis of hundreds of documents from leading expert organizations in the field of IoT.

    The document focuses on IIoT, takes into account the industrial architecture and associated with it, assets, threats and scenarios of possible attacks. More common for IoT is the ENISA predecessor “Baseline Security Recommendations for IoT in the context of Critical Information Infrastructures” document , released in 2017.

    “Predatory Things of the Century”and the tendency, imperceptible to us, of gaining power of things over people is currently hampered only by isolated resistance to information security measures. On how effective the IS measures will be, in many ways, our future depends.

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