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Afternoon Cyber Tea: Cybersecurity & IoT: New risks and how to minimize them

July 2nd, 2020 No comments

Recently, Microsoft announced our acquisition of CyberX, a comprehensive network-based security platform with continuous threat monitoring and analytics. This solution builds upon our commitment to provide a unified IoT security solution that addresses connected devices spread across both industrial and IT environments and provides a trusted, easy-to-use platform for our customers and partners to build connected solutions – no matter where they are starting in their IoT journey.

Every year billions of new connected devices come online. These devices enable businesses to finetune operations, optimize processes, and develop analytics-based services. Organizations are clearly benefiting from IoT as shared in the IoT Signals research report produced by Microsoft. But while the benefit is great, we must not ignore the potential security risks. To talk about how companies can reduce their risk from connected devices, Dr. Andrea Little Limbago joined me on Cyber Tea with Ann Johnson.

Dr. Andrea Little Limbago is a cybersecurity researcher, quant analyst, and computational social scientist at Virtru. With a background in social science, Andera has a unique perspective that I think you’ll find interesting.

Andrea and I talked about the role of automation in attacks and defense and how privacy and security advocates can come together to accomplish their overlapping goals. We also talked about how to safeguard your organization when you can’t inventory all your IoT devices.

It isn’t just businesses that are investing in connected devices. If you have IoT devices in your home, Andrea offered some great advice for protecting your privacy and your data. Listen to Cybersecurity and IoT: New Risks and How to Minimize Them to hear our conversation.

Lack of visibility into the devices currently connected to the network is a widespread problem. Many organizations also struggle to manage security on existing devices. The acquisition of CyberX complements existing Azure IoT security capabilities. I’m excited because this helps our customers discover their existing IoT assets, and both manage and improve the security posture of those devices. Expect more innovative solutions as we continue to integrate CyberX into Microsoft’s IoT security portfolio.

What’s next

In this important cyber series, I talk with cybersecurity influencers about trends shaping the threat landscape and explore the risk and promise of systems powered by AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging tech.

You can listen to Afternoon Cyber Tea with Ann Johnson on:

§  Apple Podcasts—You can also download the episode by clicking the Episode Website link.

§  Podcast One—Includes option to subscribe, so you’re notified as soon as new episodes are available.

§  CISO Spotlight page—Listen alongside our CISO Spotlight episodes, where customers and security experts discuss similar topics such as Zero Trust, compliance, going passwordless, and more.

If you are interested in how businesses across the globe are benefiting from IoT, read IoT Signals, a research report produced by Microsoft.

In the meantime, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity. Or reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter if you have guest or topic suggestions.

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Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments

June 22nd, 2020 No comments

Today, we’re excited to announce that Microsoft has acquired CyberX, a comprehensive, network-based IoT security platform with continuous threat monitoring and sophisticated analytics that addresses IoT security in a holistic way across the enterprise. CyberX will complement the existing Azure IoT security capabilities, and extends to existing devices including those used in industrial IoT, operational technology, and infrastructure scenarios.

To learn more, head over to the official Microsoft blog.

The post Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments

June 22nd, 2020 No comments

Today, we’re excited to announce that Microsoft has acquired CyberX, a comprehensive, network-based IoT security platform with continuous threat monitoring and sophisticated analytics that addresses IoT security in a holistic way across the enterprise. CyberX will complement the existing Azure IoT security capabilities, and extends to existing devices including those used in industrial IoT, operational technology, and infrastructure scenarios.

To learn more, head over to the official Microsoft blog.

The post Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments

June 22nd, 2020 No comments

Today, we’re excited to announce that Microsoft has acquired CyberX, a comprehensive, network-based IoT security platform with continuous threat monitoring and sophisticated analytics that addresses IoT security in a holistic way across the enterprise. CyberX will complement the existing Azure IoT security capabilities, and extends to existing devices including those used in industrial IoT, operational technology, and infrastructure scenarios.

To learn more, head over to the official Microsoft blog.

The post Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments

June 22nd, 2020 No comments

Today, we’re excited to announce that Microsoft has acquired CyberX, a comprehensive, network-based IoT security platform with continuous threat monitoring and sophisticated analytics that addresses IoT security in a holistic way across the enterprise. CyberX will complement the existing Azure IoT security capabilities, and extends to existing devices including those used in industrial IoT, operational technology, and infrastructure scenarios.

To learn more, head over to the official Microsoft blog.

The post Microsoft acquires CyberX to accelerate and secure customers’ IoT deployments appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Cybersecurity best practices to implement highly secured devices

May 20th, 2020 No comments

Almost three years ago, we published The Seven Properties of Highly Secured Devices, which introduced a new standard for IoT security and argued, based on an analysis of best-in-class devices, that seven properties must be present on every standalone device that connects to the internet in order to be considered secured. Azure Sphere, now generally available, is Microsoft’s entry into the market: a seven-properties-compliant, end-to-end product offering for building and deploying highly secured IoT devices.

Every connected device should be highly secured, even devices that seem simplistic, like a cactus watering sensor. The seven properties are always required. These details are captured in a new paper titled, Nineteen cybersecurity best practices used to implement the seven properties of highly secured devices in Azure Sphere. It focuses on why the seven properties are always required and describes best practices used to implement Azure Sphere. The paper provides detailed information about the architecture and implementation of Azure Sphere and discusses design decisions and trade-offs. We hope that the new paper can assist organizations and individuals in evaluating the measures used within Azure Sphere to improve the security of IoT devices. Companies may also want to use this paper as a reference, when assessing Azure Sphere or other IoT offerings.  In this blog post, we discuss one issue covered in the paper: why are the 7 properties always required?

Why are the seven properties applicable to every device that connects to the internet?

If an internet-connected device performs a non-critical function, why does it require all seven properties? Put differently, are the seven properties required only when a device might cause harm if it is hacked? Why would you still want to require an advanced CPU, a security subsystem, a hardware root of trust, and a set of services to secure a simple, innocuous device like a cactus water sensor?

Because any device can be the target of a hacker, and any hacked device can be weaponized.

Consider the Mirai botnet, a real-world example of IoT gone wrong. The Mirai botnet involved approximately 150,000 internet-enabled security cameras. The cameras were hacked and turned into a botnet that launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that took down internet access for a large portion of the eastern United States. For security experts analyzing this hack, the Mirai botnet was distressingly unsophisticated. It was also a relatively small-scale attack, considering that many IoT devices will sell more than 150,000 units.

Adding internet connectivity to a class of device means a single, remote attack can scale to hundreds of thousands or millions of devices. The ability to scale a single exploit to this degree is cause for reflection on the upheaval IoT brings to the marketplace. Once the decision is made to connect a device to the internet, that device has the potential to transform from a single-purpose device to a general-purpose computer capable of launching a DDoS attack against any target in the world. The Mirai botnet is also a demonstration that a manufacturer does not need to sell many devices to create the potential for a “weaponized” device.

IoT security is not only about “safety-critical” deployments. Any deployment of a connected device at scale requires the seven properties. In other words, the function, purpose, and cost of a device should not be the only considerations when deciding whether security is important.

The seven properties do not guarantee that a device will not be hacked. However, they greatly minimize certain classes of threats and make it possible to detect and respond when a hacker gains a toehold in a device ecosystem. If a device doesn’t have all seven, human practices must be implemented to compensate for the missing features. For example, without renewable security, a security incident will require disconnecting devices from the internet and then recalling those devices or dispatching people to manually patch every device that was attacked.

Implementation challenges

Some of the seven properties, such as a hardware-based root of trust and compartmentalization, require certain silicon features. Others, such as defense in-depth, require a certain software architecture as well as silicon features like the hardware-based root of trust. Finally, other properties, including renewable security, certificate-based authentication, and failure reporting, require not only silicon features and certain software architecture choices within the operating system, but also deep integration with cloud services. Piecing these critical pieces of infrastructure together is difficult and prone to errors. Ensuring that a device incorporates these properties could therefore increase its cost.

These challenges led us to believe the seven properties also created an opportunity for security-minded organizations to implement these properties as a platform, which would free device manufacturers to focus on product features, rather than security. Azure Sphere represents such a platform: the seven properties are designed and built into the product from the silicon up.

Best practices for implementing the seven properties

Based on our decades of experience researching and implementing secured products, we identified 19 best practices that were put into place as part of the Azure Sphere product. These best practices provide insight into why Azure Sphere sets such a high standard for security. Read the full paper, Nineteen cybersecurity best practices used to implement the seven properties of highly secured devices in Azure Sphere, for the in-depth discussion of each of these best practices and how they—along with the seven properties themselves—guided our design decisions.

We hope that the discussion of these best practices sheds some additional light on the large number of features the Azure Sphere team implemented to protect IoT devices. We also hope that this provides a new set of questions to consider in evaluating your own IoT solution. Azure Sphere will continue to innovate and build upon this foundation with more features that raise the bar in IoT security.

To read previous blogs on IoT security, visit our blog series:  https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/iot-security/   Be sure to bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity

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Managing risk in today’s IoT landscape: not a one-and-done

April 28th, 2020 No comments

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The reality of securing IoT over time

It’s difficult to imagine any aspect of everyday life that isn’t affected by the influence of connectivity. The number of businesses that are using IoT is growing at a fast pace. By 2021, approximately 94 percent of businesses will be using IoT. Connectivity empowers organizations to unlock the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT)—but it also introduces new cybersecurity attack vectors that they didn’t need to think about before. The reality is, connectivity comes at a cost: attackers with a wide range of motivations and skills are on the hunt, eager to exploit vulnerabilities or weak links in IoT. What does it take to manage those risks?

The cybersecurity threat landscape is ever evolving so a solution’s protection must also evolve regularly in order to remain effective. Securing a device is neither a one-time action nor is it a problem that is solely technical in nature. Implementing robust security measures upfront is not enough—risks need to be mitigated not just once, but constantly and throughout the full lifespan of a device. Facing this threat landscape ultimately means acknowledging that organizations will have to confront the consequences of attacks and newfound vulnerabilities. The question is, how to manage those risks beyond the technical measures that are in place?

A holistic approach to minimizing risk

Securing IoT devices against cyberattacks requires a holistic approach that complements up-front technical measures with ongoing practices that allow organizations to evaluate risks and establish a set of actions and policies that minimize threats over time. Cybersecurity is a multi-dimensional issue that requires the provider of an IoT solution to take several variables into account—it is not just the technology, but also the people who create and manage a product and the processes and practices they put in place, that will determine how resilient it is.

With Azure Sphere, we provide our customers with a robust defense that utilizes the evidence and learnings documented in the Seven Properties of Highly Secured Devices. One of the properties, renewable security, ensures that a device can update to a more secure state even after it has been compromised. As the threat landscape evolves, renewable security also enables us to counter new attack vectors through updates. This is essential, but not sufficient on its own. Our technology investments are enhanced through similar investments in security assurance and risk management that permeate all levels of an organization. The following sections highlight three key elements of our holistic approach to IoT security: continuous evaluation of our security promise, leveraging the power of the security community, and combining cyber and organizational resilience. 

Continuous evaluation of our security promise

All cyberattacks fall somewhere on a spectrum of complexity. On one side of the spectrum are simple and opportunistic attacks. Examples are off-the-shelf malware or attempts to steal data such as credentials. These attacks are usually performed by attackers with limited resources. On the opposite side of the spectrum are threat actors that use highly sophisticated methods to target specific parts of the system. Attackers within this category usually have many resources and can pursue an attack over a longer period of time. Given the multitude of threats across this spectrum, it is important to keep in mind that they all have one thing in common: an attacker faces relatively low risk with potentially very large rewards.

Taking this into account, we believe that in order to protect our customers we need to practice being our own worst enemy. This means our goal is to discover any vulnerabilities before the bad guys do. One proven approach is to test our solution from the same perspective as an attacker. So-called “red teams” are designed to emulate the attacks of adversaries, whereas “purple teams” perform both attacking and defending to harden a product from within.

Our approach to red team exercises is to try to mimic the threat landscape that devices are actually facing. We do this multiple times a year and across the full Azure Sphere stack. This means that our customers benefit from the rigorous security testing of our platform and are able to focus on the security of their own applications. We work with the world’s most renowned security service providers to test our product with a real-world attacker mentality for an extended period of time and from multiple perspectives. In addition, we leverage the full power of Microsoft internal security expertise to conduct regular internal red and purple team exercises. The practice of constantly evaluating our defense and emulating the ever-evolving threat landscape is an important part of our security hygiene—allowing us to find vulnerabilities, update all devices, and mitigate incidents before they even happen.

Leveraging the power of the security community

Another approach to finding vulnerabilities before attackers do is to engage with the cybersecurity community through bounty programs. We encourage security researchers with an interest in Azure Sphere to search for any vulnerabilities and we reward them for it. While our approach to red team exercises ensures regular testing of how we secure Azure Sphere, we also believe in the advantages of the continual and diverse assessment by anyone who is interested, at any point in time.

Security researchers play a significant role in securing our billions of customers across Microsoft, and we encourage the responsible reporting of vulnerabilities based on our Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD). We invite researchers from across the world to look for and report any vulnerability through our Microsoft Azure Bounty Program. Depending on the quality of submissions and the level of severity, we award successful reports with up to $40,000 USD. We believe that researchers should be rewarded competitively when they improve the security of our platform, and we maintain these important relationships for the benefit of our customers.

From a risk management perspective, both red and purple team exercises and bug bounties are helpful tools to minimize the risk of attacks. But what happens when an IoT solution provider is confronted with a newly discovered security vulnerability? Not every organization has a cybersecurity incident response plan in place, and 77 percent of businesses do not have a consistently deployed plan. Finding vulnerabilities is important, but it is equally important to prepare employees and equip the organization with processes and practices that allow for a quick and efficient resolution as soon as a vulnerability is found.

Combining cyber and organizational resilience

Securing IoT is not just about preventing attackers from getting in; it’s also about how to respond when they do. Once the technical barrier has been passed, it is the resilience of the organization that the device has to fall back on. Therefore, it is essential to have a plan in place that allows your team to quickly respond and restore security. There are countless possible considerations and moving parts that must all fit together seamlessly as part of a successful cybersecurity incident response. Every organization is different and there is no one-size-fits-all, but a good place to start is with industry best practices such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Computer Security Incident Handling Guide. Azure Sphere’s standard operating procedures are aligned with those guidelines, in addition to leveraging Microsoft battle-tested corporate infrastructure.

Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) has been at the front line of security response for more than twenty years. Over time we have learned what it means to successfully protect our customers from harm from vulnerabilities in our products, and we are able to rapidly drive back attacks against our cloud infrastructure. Security researchers and customers are provided with an easy way to report any vulnerabilities and MSRC best-in-class security experts are monitoring communications 24/7 to make sure we can fix an issue as soon as possible.

Your people are a critical asset—when they’re educated on how to respond when an incident occurs, their actions can make all the difference. In addition to MSRC capabilities that are available at any time, we require everyone involved in security incident response to undergo regular and extensive training. Trust is easy to build when things are going right. What really matters in the long term is how we build trust when things go wrong. Our security response practices have been defined with that in mind.

Our commitment to managing the risks you are facing

The world will be more connected than it has ever been, and we believe this requires a strong, holistic, and ongoing focus on cybersecurity. Defending against today’s and tomorrow’s IoT threat landscape is not a static game. It requires continual assessment of our promise to secure your IoT solutions, innovation that improves our defense over time, and working with you and the security community. As the threat landscape evolves, so will we. Azure Sphere’s mission is to empower every organization on the planet to connect and create secured and trustworthy IoT devices. When you choose Azure Sphere, you can rely on our team and Microsoft to manage your risk so that you can focus on the true business value of your IoT solutions and products.

If you are interested in learning more about how Azure Sphere can help you securely unlock your next IoT innovation:

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Defending the power grid against supply chain attacks—Part 2: Securing hardware and software

March 23rd, 2020 No comments

Artificial intelligence (AI) and connected devices have fueled digital transformation in the utilities industry. These technological advances promise to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of energy generation, transmission, and distribution. They’ve also created new vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals, nation state actors, and hackers have demonstrated that they are capable of attacking a nation’s power grid through internet-connected devices. As utilities and their suppliers race to modernize our infrastructure, it’s critical that cybersecurity measures are prioritized.

In the first blog in the “Defending the power grid against cyberattacks” series, I walked through how the accelerated adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) puts utilities and citizens at risk of attack from nation state actors. In this post, I’ll provide guidance for how utilities manufacturers can better protect the connected devices that are deployed in the energy industry.

Protect identities

If your organization supplies the energy industry, you may be targeted by adversaries who want to disrupt the power supply. One way they will try to access your company resources is by stealing or guessing user credentials with tactics like password spray or phishing. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 80 percent of breaches are the result of weak or compromised passwords. Attackers target multiple people at a time, but they only need to succeed once to gain access.

Securing your company starts with safeguarding your identities. At the bare minimum, you should apply multi-factor authentication (MFA) to your administrative accounts. A better option is to require all users to authenticate using MFA. MFA requires that users sign in with more than just a password. The second form of authentication can be a one-time code from a mobile device, biometrics, or a secure FIDO2 key, among other options. MFA reduces your risk significantly because it’s much harder for an attacker to compromise two or more authentication factors.

Figure 1: You can use Conditional Access policies to define when someone is promoted to sign in with MFA.

Secure privileged access

In a supply chain attack, adversaries attack your organization to gain access to data and applications that will allow them to tamper with your product or service before it reaches its intended destination. Bad actors want to infiltrate your build environment or the servers that you use to push software updates. To accomplish this, they often target administrator accounts. Securing your administrative accounts is critical to protect your company resources. Here are a few steps you can take to safeguard these accounts:

  • Separate administrative accounts from the accounts that IT professionals use to conduct routine business. While administrators are answering emails or conducting other productivity tasks, they may be targeted by a phishing campaign. You don’t want them signed into a privileged account when this happens.
  • Apply just-in-time privileges to you administrator accounts. Just-in-time privileges require that administrators only sign into a privileged account when they need to perform a specific administrative task. These sign-ins go through an approval process and have a time limit. This will reduce the possibility that someone is unnecessarily signed into an administrative account.

Figure 2: A “blue” path depicts how a standard user account is used for non-privileged access to resources like email and web browsing and day-to-day work. A “red” path shows how privileged access occurs on a hardened device to reduce the risk of phishing and other web and email attacks.

  • Set up privileged access workstations for administrative work. A privileged access workstation provides a dedicated operating system with the strongest security controls for sensitive tasks. This protects these activities and accounts from the internet. To encourage administrators to follow security practices, make sure they have easy access to a standard workstation for other more routine tasks.

Safeguard your build and update environment

Bad actors don’t just target user accounts. They also exploit vulnerabilities in software. Many attacks take advantage of known vulnerabilities for which there are available patches. Keep software and operating systems up-to-date and patched to reduce your risk. Retire any technology that is no longer supported by the publisher and implement mandatory integrity controls to ensure only trusted tools run.

You also need to protect the software that your team writes. A proven and robust Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL) will guide your developers to build software that includes fewer vulnerabilities. Microsoft’s SDL includes 12 practices. For example, Microsoft SDL recommends that security and privacy requirements be defined at the beginning of every project. The guidelines also provide tips for managing the security risk of third-party software, performing threat modeling, and penetration testing, among other recommendations. By building security into the entire software process, the software you release will be more secure and less vulnerable to attack.

Assume breach

My recommendations will reduce your risk, but they won’t eliminate it entirely. To protect your company and customers, you’ll need to adopt an assume breach mindset. It’s not a matter of if you’ll be breached but when. Once you’ve accepted that you can’t prevent all attacks, put processes and tools in place that enable you to detect and respond to an incident as quickly as possible.

Endpoint detection and response solutions, like Microsoft Threat Protection, leverage AI to automate detection and response and correlate threats across domains. When incidents are detected, you will need an appropriate response. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides an incident response guide. You can also learn from Microsoft’s Security Response Center (MSRC), which shared how it developed an incident response plan.

Figure 3: An overview of an incident in Microsoft Threat Protection.

A good communication plan is an important component of a response plan. You will need to let customers know there was an incident and how you plan to address it. As the MSRC notes, “Clear, accurate communication builds confidence in the incident response process, maintains trust with customers, protects your brand, and is essential for fast effective response.”

Centralized IoT device management

In addition to operating a number of generation plants, utilities operate a network of thousands of substations and hundreds of thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines. This requires them to deploy a large number of IoT devices to safely and efficiently deliver electricity to their customers. To effectively manage this network of IoT devices, suppliers should provide their customers with centralized IoT device management to update firmware, install security updates, and manage accounts and passwords.

Build trust

Protecting critical infrastructure from a destabilizing attack will require collaboration among utilities and suppliers in the industry. Device manufacturers and software publishers have a vital role to play in protecting critical infrastructure. By instituting and maintaining the security practices that I’ve recommended, you can dramatically reduce the risk to your organization and to the power grid.

Stay tuned for the final post in this series, “Part 3: Risk management strategies for the utilities industry,” where I’ll provide recommendations specifically for utilities.

Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Defending the power grid against supply chain attacks—Part 2: Securing hardware and software appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Defending the power grid against supply chain attacks—Part 1: The risk defined

February 18th, 2020 No comments

Most people don’t think about electricity. If the internet works, their food is refrigerated, and their debit card is approved, why should they? Its ubiquity and reliability render it invisible—a bit of magic that powers much of modern life. That is, until a large storm passes through. Localized outages can be quite disruptive to those impacted, and the utility industry has learned to respond rapidly and effectively to these events. But what happens if service interruptions become more unpredictable and affect large geographical regions with huge populations?

This is a risk that utilities and their supply chain must continue to address. Nation state actors and other adversaries have demonstrated that they possess the ambition and the skills necessary to launch cyberattacks that could cause widescale and continuous power outages. Whether your organization is a utility or a supplier of the industry, you may be vulnerable.

This blog series, “Defending the power grid against supply chain attacks,” analyzes how these attacks are conducted and the steps utilities, device manufacturers, and software providers can take to better secure critical infrastructure.

Why it matters

Modern warfare is no longer conducted exclusively on the battlefield. Nation-state actors also deploy sophisticated cybercampaigns to disrupt daily life or sow confusion. The power grid is one such target. The financial system, sewer and water lines, transportation networks, computers, cellphones, kitchen appliances, and more run on electricity. Several hours of disrupted power can grind economic activity to a halt in the affected areas. An outage of days or weeks could incite greater unrest.

Accelerated adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) compounds the risk. IoT innovations allow the utility industry to harness the power of the internet, data, and artificial intelligence to optimize its operations and deliver energy more efficiently and reliably to its customers. But these devices can introduce new vulnerabilities. Existing sensors often don’t have security or centralized management built into them. Some devices are so small, it’s difficult to place traditional protections on them. Manufacturers, who feel pressured to deliver solutions quickly, may fail to incorporate critical security controls and safeguards in their products. Bad actors are skilled at uncovering these weaknesses and exploiting them.

How attacks are executed

A typical cyberattack includes lengthy reconnaissance to uncover all the vendors that serve a utility and their vulnerabilities. Bad actors even go after suppliers who exist outside the software and hardware space but have vital access. A few examples:

  • Software libraries and frameworks—Modern software relies on open source and industry libraries and frameworks to reduce time to market and take advantage of pre-tested solutions. This is fertile ground for hackers to insert malware that wreaks havoc once the software reaches its destination.
  • Digitally signed software—Much software is digitally signed by the vendor to prove its legitimacy. Hackers who break into servers may be able to infect software before it’s digitally signed or spoof the signature after altering the software.
  • Software update servers—Bad actors hack into the servers that distribute software updates. This can be very effective since many applications auto-update.
  • Hardware interdiction—While hardware and parts are in-transit, a cybercriminal intercepts the shipment and inserts malicious code in the hardware or firmware.
  • Hardware seeding—Cybercriminals infect IoT devices, such as phones, cameras, sensors, drones and USB drives, with malware inserted on the manufacturing floor.
  • Onsite vendors—Companies that come on site to provide services may not be as security focused as software and hardware companies. Attackers exploit this vulnerability and then use the relationship to gain access to the ultimate target.
  • Remote servicing vendors—Bad actors also attack the companies who provide remote support to the systems at the target organization.

Looking ahead

The next two installments of the Defending the power grid against supply chain attacks series will offer practical advice for both the utilities and their vendors.

Stay tuned for:

  • Part 2: Secure the hardware and software used by utilities
  • Part 3: Risk management strategies for the utilities industry

In the meantime, whether you are a utility or one its suppliers, you can begin to address these risks by inventorying your vendors. Where do you buy software, what processes do you use to select software libraries? Who builds your hardware? Where do your hardware manufacturers source parts?

Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Defending the power grid against supply chain attacks—Part 1: The risk defined appeared first on Microsoft Security.

How to secure your IoT deployment during the security talent shortage

December 17th, 2019 No comments

Businesses across industries are placing bigger and bigger bets on the Internet of Things (IoT) as they look to unlock valuable business opportunities. But time and time again, as I meet with device manufacturers and businesses considering IoT deployments, there are concerns over the complexity of IoT security and its associated risks—to the company, its brands, and its customers. With the growing number and increased severity of IoT attacks, these organizations have good reason to be cautious. With certainty, we can predict that the security vulnerabilities and requirements of IoT environments will continue to evolve, making them difficult to frame and address. It’s complex work to clearly define a security strategy for emerging technologies like IoT. To compound the challenge, there’s a record-setting 3-million-person shortage of cybersecurity pros globally. This massive talent shortage is causing the overextension of security teams, leaving organizations without coverage for new IoT deployments.

Despite the risks that come with IoT and the strain on security teams during the talent shortage, the potential of IoT is too valuable to ignore or postpone. Decision makers evaluating how to pursue both IoT innovation and security don’t need to steal from one to feed the other. It isn’t a binary choice. There is a way to augment existing security teams and resources, even amidst the talent shortage. Trustworthy solutions can help organizations meet the ongoing security needs of IoT without diminishing opportunity for innovation.

As organizations reach the limit of their available resources, the key to success becomes differentiating between the core activities that require specific organizational knowledge and the functional practices that are common across all organizations.

Utilize your security teams to focus on core activities, such as defining secure product experiences and building strategies for reducing risk at the app level. This kind of critical thinking and creative problem solving is where your security teams deliver the greatest value to the business—this is where their focus should be.

Establishing reliable functional practices is critical to ensure that your IoT deployment can meet the challenges of today’s threat landscape. You can outsource functional practices to qualified partners or vendors to gain access to security expertise that will multiply your team’s effectiveness and quickly ramp up your IoT operations with far less risk.

When considering partners and vendors, find solutions that deliver these essential capabilities:

Holistic security design—IoT device security is difficult. To do it properly requires the expertise to stitch hardware, software, and services into gap-free security systems. A pre-integrated, off-the-shelf solution is likely more cost-effective and more secure than a proprietary solution, and it allows you to leverage the expertise of functional security experts that work across organizations and have a bird’s-eye view of security needs and threats.

Threat mitigation—To maintain device security over time, ongoing security expertise is needed to identify threats and develop device updates to mitigate new threats as they emerge. This isn’t a part-time job. It requires dedicated resources immersed in the threat landscape and who can rapidly implement mitigation strategies. Attackers are creative and determined, the effort to stop them needs to be appropriately matched.

Update deploymentWithout the right infrastructure and dedicated operational hygiene, organizations commonly postpone or deprioritize security updates. Look for providers that streamline or automate the delivery and deployment of updates. Because zero-day attacks require quick action, the ability to update a global fleet of devices in hours is a must.

When you build your IoT deployment on a secure platform, you can transform the way you do business: reduce costs, streamline operations, light up new business models, and deliver more value to your customers. We believe security is the foundation for lasting innovation that will continue to deliver value to your business and customers long into the future. With this in mind, we designed Microsoft Azure Sphere as a secured platform on which you can confidently build and deploy your IoT environment.

Azure Sphere is an end-to-end solution for securely connecting existing equipment and creating new IoT devices with built-in security. Azure Sphere’s integrated security spans hardware, software, and cloud, and delivers active security by default with ongoing OS and security updates that put the power of Microsoft’s expertise to work for you every day.

With Azure Sphere, you can design and create innately secured IoT devices, as well as securely connect your existing mission-critical equipment. Connecting equipment for the first time can introduce incredible value to the business—as long as security is in place.

Through a partnership with Azure Sphere, Starbucks is connecting essential coffee equipment in stores around the globe for the first time. The secured IoT implementation is helping Starbucks improve their customer experience, realize operational efficiency, and drive cost savings. To see how they accomplished this, watch the session I held with Jeff Wile, Starbucks CIO of Digital Customer and Retail Technology, at Microsoft Ignite 2019.

Learn more

With a secured platform for IoT devices, imagination is the only limit to what innovation can achieve. I encourage you to read Secure your IoT deployment during the security talent shortage to learn more about how you can build comprehensive, defense-in-depth security for your IoT initiatives, so you can focus on what you’re in business to do.

Also, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters and follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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A comprehensive IoT security solution—including hardware, OS, and cloud components—to help you innovate with confidence.

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The post How to secure your IoT deployment during the security talent shortage appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Categories: Azure Security, IoT, Threat protection Tags:

Welcome to the second stage of BlueHat!

October 24th, 2019 No comments

We’ve finished two incredible days of security trainings at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle. Now it’s time for the second part of BlueHat: the briefings at ShowBox SoDo. We’ve got a big day planned, so head on down. Please join us for breakfast (we have doughnuts! and bacon! and cereal!) when the doors open …

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The post Welcome to the second stage of BlueHat! appeared first on Microsoft Security Response Center.

Building the Azure IoT Edge Security Daemon in Rust

September 30th, 2019 No comments

Azure IoT Edge is an open source, cross platform software project from the Azure IoT team at Microsoft that seeks to solve the problem of managing distribution of compute to the edge of your on-premise network from the cloud. This post explains some of the rationale behind our choice of Rust as the implementation programming …

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The post Building the Azure IoT Edge Security Daemon in Rust appeared first on Microsoft Security Response Center.

Top security trends in IoT

The continuous connection of smart devices across networks, commonly called the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving a transformation in how enterprises all over the world manage network infrastructure and digital identities.

With such rapid change comes new cybersecurity challenges. Many organizations are hesitant to tap into the power of the IoT due to the complexities and risk associated with managing such a diverse – and sometimes unclear – environment. But it is possible to secure your networks, enhance productivity, and protect customers in this evolving digital landscape.

IoT security doesn’t have to be overwhelming. But it does require a proactive and strategic mindset, and the first step is to understand IoT security trends.

Top trends

IoT offers an expanding horizon of opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored due to security concerns. With foresight into these current trends, practical planning, and persistence implementation, you can move your organization vision for IoT forward with confidence in your security practices.

For insights to help you improve your security posture, visit us at Microsoft Secure.

Categories: cybersecurity, IoT, security, Trends Tags:

Managing cloud security: Four key questions to evaluate your security position

As cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to transform the global economy, businesses recognize that securing enterprise data must be viewed as an ongoing process. Securing the ever-expanding volume, variety, and sources of data is not easy; however, with an adaptive mindset, you can achieve persistent and effective cloud security.

The first step is knowing the key risk areas in cloud computing and IoT processes and assessing whether and where your organization may be exposed to data leaks. File sharing solutions improve the way people collaborate but pose a serious point of vulnerability. Mobile workforces decentralize data storage and dissolve traditional business perimeters.

SaaS solutions turn authentication and user identification into an always-on and always-changing topic. Second, it’s worth developing the habit—if you haven’t already—of reviewing and adapting cloud security strategy as an ongoing capability. To that end, here are eight key questions to revisit regularly, four of which we dive deeper into below.

 

Is your security budget scaling appropriately?

Security teams routinely manage numerous security solutions on a daily basis and typically monitor thousands of security alerts. At the same time, they need to keep rapid response practices sharp and ready for deployment in case of a breach. Organizations must regularly verify that sufficient funds are allocated to cover day-to-day security operations as well as rapid, ad hoc responses if and when a breach is detected.

Do you have both visibility into and control of critical business data?

With potential revenue loss from a single breach in the tens of millions of dollars, preventing data leaks is a central pillar of cloud security strategy. Regularly review how, when, where, and by whom your business data is being accessed. Monitoring whether permissions are appropriate for a user’s role and responsibilities as well as for different types of data must be constant.

Are you monitoring shadow IT adequately?

Today, the average employee uses 17 cloud apps, and mobile users access company resources from a wide variety of locations and devices. Remote and mobile work coupled with the increasing variety of cloud-based solutions (often free) raises concerns that traditional on-premises security tools and policies may not provide the level of visibility and control you need. Check whether you can identify mobile device and cloud application users on your network, and monitor changes in usage behavior. To mitigate risks of an accidental data breach, teach current and onboarding employees your organization’s best practices for using ad hoc apps and access.

Is your remote access security policy keeping up?

Traditional remote access technologies build a direct channel between external users and your apps, and that makes it risky to publish internal apps to external users. Your organization needs a secure remote access strategy that will help you manage and protect corporate resources as cloud solutions, platforms, and infrastructures evolve. Consider using automated and adaptive policies to reduce time and resources needed to identify and validate risks.

Checklist

These are just a few questions to get you thinking about recursive, adaptive cloud security. Stay on top of your security game by visiting resources on Microsoft Secure.

Categories: Cloud Computing, IoT, SaaS, security Tags:

ABB Automation & Power World 2015 – Cybersecurity in the evolving threat landscape

March 12th, 2015 No comments

In early March, I had the fortunate opportunity to speak at the ABB Automation & Power World 2015 conference in Houston, TX. This event is like a “Disneyland” for critical infrastructure providers (CIPs)!

This was my first time attending the bi-annual event and I was blown away by the innovative power and automation technologies that ABB and others had on display on the show floor—everything from electric cars to the latest in robotics.

ABB Event

Markus Braendle and Tim Rains being introduced at the ABB Automation & Power World 2015 event.

I was also impressed with the level of interest that so many CIPs had around cybersecurity and the adoption of cloud services. The general session I spoke to had a couple thousand people in attendance. During this lunchtime presentation, I spoke about the impact of cybersecurity in the ever-evolving threat landscape, and how we think the Internet will transform over the next 10 years. I showed the audience how the Microsoft Digital Crime Unit uses big data analytics to take down botnets, helping make the Internet a safer place for everyone, including CIPs. Markus Braendle, Group Head of Cyber Security at ABB, moderated audience questions and provided his own great industry insights. Questions around the threat landscape, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and risk management proved to me that cybersecurity is top of mind for this critical industry.

Key themes I heard from the audience during the session included:

  • How adopting cloud services increases the security protections for most organizations and helps them maintain compliance,
  • The security considerations for IoT,
  • How a risk-based management approach helps minimize the emotions that often accompanies security conversations,
  • Best practices for working with security researchers, and
  • Today’s attackers, their evolved motivations, and the difficulty of attribution.