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FCW : May 30, 2015
'Humans can't deal with the volume' With massive scope comes management trouble. The IoT's hurdles revolve around the problem of too much: too much data, too many new security holes to plug and too much guidance, not all of it useful. Even simple storage becomes an issue. The number of connected "things" is expected to balloon from around 16 billion today to 50 billion by 2020, with skyrocketing data generation spurring a need for a 750 percent expansion in data center capacity. Hall pointed to the problem of "big, large data" because both the overall volume and the size of individual les have exploded. That creates a need for pre-processing with machines rather than people. "Humans can't deal with the volume of data we're pro- ducing," Hall said. The security risks are also enormous. Each Internet-connected object could theoretically become a point of entry for hackers. At a conference in April, Martin Scott, general manager of Rambus' Cryptog- raphy Research Division, cited IDC estimates that within two years, 90 percent of all IT networks will face an IoT- based security breach. Ron Ross, a fellow in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Computer Security Division, recently labeled the IoT practically indefensible. "As we see continued innovations in information technol- ogy and that technology is increasingly connected through wireless networks in things like cell phones, cars and appli- ances, we get a simultaneous increase in complexity," Ross told FCW. "That means an increase in the potential 'attack surface' that is now an inherent part of that IT infrastruc- ture, giving adversaries more opportunities to penetrate and compromise our IT systems and cause problems." Several experts pointed to the 2013 Target breach as the classic example of that broad attack surface being exploited. Security credentials stolen from a heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor hired to remotely monitor stores' energy use gave hackers access to Target's point-of-sale systems and credit card information. Of cial instructions are of limited help. Ross said agencies are "drowning in guidance," yet clear, actionable guidelines for IoT adoption are still scarce. To remedy the situation, NIST's Cyber-Physical Systems Working Group is developing guidance to lead agencies through the process of creating resilient systems. Securing networks, handling data The consensus among IoT experts is that agencies cannot avoid the issue any longer, and those that have not started planning IoT implementations are behind the curve. Awareness is crucial. It's important to know what's on your network and how it's supposed to behave before any attack occurs, said Peter Romness, a business development manager at Cisco, at a recent GovLoop seminar. "If a sensor that's supposed to relay temperature and humidity starts to take information from your network, that's a warning sign," he said. But he added that there is no "silver bullet" defense, so agencies must prepare to both prevent attacks and manage inevitable intrusions. "It's not a question of if you're going to get hacked, it's a matter of when," he said. Even before the number of con- nected devices explodes, "you probably already have some malware in your network." Hall advocated protection at the data level and putting advanced encryption on devices. Adopting a coherent plan for normalizing data is also essential. "When you're dealing with different systems, different vendors, in different buildings, getting them to talk together was a challenge," said GSA spokesman Matthew Burrell. "As the blurry line between industrial systems and IT sys- tems becomes more clear, we are nding that it is critically important to work with industry to homogenize the data so that one system's data stream and reporting capability is the same as the next." Prepping employees for the change is also crucial, he added. "Don't wait till the end to deal with the people." Yet despite all the challenges, the IoT is a wealth of transformative potential. "The biggest lesson has been that this is not just a tech- nology tool, this is a technology 'way of doing business,'" Burrell said. "It affects process, work ow, training and even vendor contracts." "This is the next big disruption," Hall said. "It's important that we aren't so afraid of the fear of attack that we don't realize the value." For agencies that haven't yet embraced the IoT, he added, "it's not something they can avoid." n ExecTe c h 32 May 30, 2015 FCW.COM "This is the next big disruption. It's important that we aren't so afraid of the fear of attack that we don't realize the value." GARY HALL, CISCO
May 15, 2015
June 15, 2015