Rethinking Network Security in the Age of the Internet of Things

By Aaron Portnoy

The rapid onslaught of the Internet of Things poses new challenges to network security; each and every connected device is susceptible to attack. Below, Aaron Portnoy charts the evolution of data security and argues that new challenges call for new tactics, and that a “default deny” policy must become the norm.

From an attacker’s perspective, the concept of the Internet of Things conjures memories of the early 2000s – before firewalls and attack detection systems were prevalent technologies that were sure to be present on large networks. Back then, many hosts on corporate intranets were reachable externally and the Internet was a virtual playground for those who possessed the requisite skillset. The potential for abuse was most clearly demonstrated by so-called computer worms such as Nimda,1 which set propagation records by spreading across the Internet in just 22 minutes, using techniques as simple as abusing open network shares on Internet-exposed systems. Naturally, in response to this and other threats, those tasked with defending enterprises began focusing on shoring up the perimeter of their networks, giving rise to the now ubiquitous Intrusion Detection/Intrusion Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS) technologies.

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