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The Internet of Insecurity: Can Industry Solve It or Is Regulat

Added by David Hill on April 4 2017, at 1:11 pm
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  • No matter how you think about the Internet of Things, it is clear that it captures a vision of mind boggling opportunities. Suddenly everything around is being connected. Security cameras, thermostats, fridges, and cars turn into connected computers. The speed of the changes by which the Internet of Things changes our lives is unprecedented. Speed and impact amplify the challenges that we face on the Internet today: Challenges with security and privacy. Companies that used to build appliances or toys are now suddenly, and often without realizing it, IT companies. They often make the same mistakes that earlier generations made. The Mirai botnet – which exploits network-attached cameras and DVRs - relies on the same vulnerabilities that the Morris worm in the 1990s exploited. Suddenly we are faced with questions that we didn’t have before: Am I OK with my television listening to my conversations and sending them to the cloud? Or, is my daughter’s toy doll a spying device?


    What happens if our conversation data is uploaded to the cloud and then is stolen during a data breach? Or, will that data then be used to influence our behavior in ways that we may, as a society, not find acceptable?


    Collective Responsibility and Accountability


    Let’s focus primarily on the security questions.


    To face the security challenges, we need an approach that takes into account the nature of the Internet. The Internet does not have a central control. Internet security is distributed and is enforced at the edges - in your home or in your company. The Internet is not built from one gigantic blueprint. Rather, it developed organically out of interoperable and interconnected building blocks.


    In an environment where everything is interconnected, the approach that works is Collaborative Security. Different players collectively assume responsibility over those aspects of the Internet which they can influence. They take into account whether their action or inaction poses a threat on the Internet as a whole. It’s like living in a giant apartment building: we expect everybody to lock the front door to the building. If you forget, your neighbor may be in trouble. And the best way to get solutions is bottom-up. To continue the analogy, the tenants of the apartment building are probably more effective in developing building access policies than the state legislature. Sometimes they address the problem by hiring a doorman, sometimes the social agreement is sufficient. They understand their local environment. But their decision about security has broad implications for the whole neighborhood and, eventually, the entire village or city.


     


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