How does IOT affect Identity and Access Management ? 

For the purpose of the IOT, an individual device can be abstracted as a specialized service which produces and consumes data. In addition, the device has certain capabilities to act on, or transform data on a discrete or continuous basis.

Who should have access to these services and capabilities ? It could be

  • other devices in proximity to the device
  • external services
  • certain users

Who gets access is a function of the identity of the devices, the identities of the entities accessing the service and policies governing access (which can include parameters such as location, time, role or more complex rules).

To determine access, a device should be capable of

  • identifying itself , its services and capabilities
  • obtaining authorization for the services and capabilities (before exercising them), and presenting these when requested. This authorization includes a signed access policy
  • updating or invalidating the access policy as time goes on

The access policies need to be applied to the data flows based on the identities and be rich enough to capture use cases of interest.

Identity of ‘Things’ in IOT

What’s the identity of the device ? There can be multiple identities based on whether the device is identifying itself to a user, to another device of the same type, or to other devices in the ecosystem that it is a part of (say a component of a car).

Having a unique device id and leveraging it for the services that are built on the device is a design choice. Consider the choices for iPhone and Android. In the iPhone the device id permeates the application layer; the application developer and can target his application for specific devices and must register the device for developing on it. This design choice allows the device to check the applications that are run on it are valid and their associated developer is registered with Apple. It strengthens the associations in the ecosystem of devices, developers, applications and users.

In Android the security certificates were at the JVM layer which allows self-signed certificates. Here the device id is not used as a strong identifier that is known to applications and developers. This is one reason the open system is more prone to malware.

A unique hardware identity is something to look for in IOT designs. Here’s an article from Intel/McAfee discussing EPID an immutable device ID that can be used for identifying and also anonymizing.

Update: On Nov 25, news came of a number of IOT devices using the same HTTPS certificate and SSH keys. See here. Large clusters of devices on the net are exposed on the internet this way.

Biometric User Identification for IOT

Two-Factor authentication solutions are based on the premise that the combined verification of (i) a thing possessed (a card) and (ii) a piece of information known to the user (a pin or password) provides a high degree of assurance to authenticate users. For financial and enterprise transactions it gives a high level of security. But 2FA is not a seamless solution – as the number and variety of services and devices for a user increases – it requires the user to carry a number of cards/tokens/devices and remember several passwords (that are unique, complex, updated). It is also not a foolproof solution as the identity theft continues to be a problem.

With the large number of IOT applications and devices appearing, the problem will become worse. Consider a health monitoring device that needs to periodically share information of a patient with her family members and doctor, while keeping the information safe from cloud attacks. Or consider keyless entry to vehicles or homes. For such common use cases entering complex passwords would be cumbersome.

With biometric authentication methods, as present with fingerprint based authentication on Apple and Samsung phones, there is a more direct identification of the user. But the way this is commonly used is not to eliminate passwords completely – it is typically used to

  1. store existing passwords securely,
  2. reduce repeated password entry by extending session created by an existing password
  3. combined with a user identifier such as a phone number or email address
  4. combined with a password (e.g. for byod deployments where multiple users can register fingerprints)

One can imagine a two factor auth where both factors are biometric, such as multiple fingerprints, or fingerprint and iris authentication. Such a two factor biometric approach could eliminate the need to remember passwords and reduce friction in accessing services securely. An example is the combination of facial recognition and fingerprint recognition.

Biometric authentication methods being worked on include gait recognition and voice biometrics. These can be included in a continuous authentication method.

SecureAuth and BehavioSec Auth Presentation, Palo Alto

IDC gave a good security landscape overview at the SecureAuth executive luncheon today in Palo Alto.

SecureAuth provides a flexible adaptive authentication system that balances security with user experience.

BehavioSec does biometric authentication based on user behavior such as the pattern of keystrokes when entering a password. It builds a statistical profile and them determines if the password is entered anomalously. It provides collector SDKs to collect this information from mobile apps and websites.

In case of a large difference between the expected pattern and the current pattern, the SecureAuth integration forces a step up auth to a second factor.

There is adoption of this kind of technology in banking, retail and other verticals.

Security Acquisitions Oct 2015

Lancope, Viewfinity, Vormetric, LogEntries, Boxer, Secure Islands, Silanis

Lancope – StealthWatch provides a visual representation of the network to detect anomalies that could signify an attack. In the event of an infection, StealthWatch analyzes traffic between servers to determine which hosts were affected. Acquired by Cisco, $453m.

Viewfinity – Endpoint security for windows. App control features and administrative privilege capabilities to protect against zero-day attacks, malware and threats.

Vormetric – Filesystem encryption, keeping metadata in clear and enterprise key-management for third party encryption keys. Acquired by Thales Security for $400m

LogEntries – machine data search technology to help security teams  investigate security incidents deeply. Spun out of University College Dublin (UCD). Acquired by Rapid7, $68m. 3k customers.

Boxer – Android email app, acquired by VMWare

Secure Islands –  IQProtector looks at content and wraps/protects it based with policy based DRM automatically. “Secure Islands’ Data Immunization uniquely embeds protection within information itself at the moment of creation or initial organizational access. This process is automatic and accompanies sensitive information throughout its lifecycle from creation, through usage and collaboration to storage.” Acquired by Microsoft.

Silanis – e-Signatures with strong crypto algorithmic and keys

ThingWorx IOT Platform and Marketplace

The premise behind ThingWorx is that manufactured products are transforming into services. A product can be remotely monitored, maintained, and its data analyzed as part of the extended service wrapper. It is an interesting point of view on the evolution of products.

GE provides the engine not as a product but as a service, it continues to maintain it after the sale. Boeing provides the plane as a service, it continues to maintain it after the sale.

ThingWorkx claims to makes it easier for any product to be converted to such a service. It’s not clear how this works with legacy systems – whether it is an agent or a wrapper and how easy it is to add. Its security whitepaper discusses authentication, authorization, encryption, security models, audit etc.

Imagine a hyperconnected supply chain consisting of components that are tracked back by their supplier. Security and access controls would be a challenge in such a dynamic environment.

An example of a product/application on ThingWorx is Velio OBD device and Velio Webhook application.  The Webhook application displays basic data coming from OBD modules: GPS, accelerometer and OBD-II. It enables users to create customized views depicting the data that is important to them while also enabling access to both live and historical data. The application will be available in the ThingWorx Marketplace.

Some competitors include  Spark DevicesAyla NetworksCarriotsXively, Axeda, Arrayent and Berg Cloud.

Cloud Security and Compliance Standards

Cloud processing of information affects existing information processing flows, controls and compliance standards. Cloud service providers show the level to which they support diverse compliance standards that are specific to verticals such as payments, health, finance, enterprise. A reference is .

CSA-CCM Cloud Security Alliance Cloud-Controls Matrix. The foundations of the Cloud Security Alliance Controls Matrix rest on its customized relationship to other industry-accepted security standards, regulations, and controls frameworks such as the ISO 27001/27002, ISACA COBIT, PCI, NIST, Jericho Forum and NERC CIP. Part of Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) stack – CloudAudit, CCM, CAIQ, CTP.

PCI-DSS Payments Card Industry-Data Security Standards released guidelines for storing credit card data in the cloud. See

SSAE16 Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) 16. SSAE 16 reporting can help service organizations comply with Sarbanes Oxley‘s requirement. It is not limited to financial reporting; it can also be applied to other sectors, and is useful for datacentres. SSAE 16 is one of the most widely known tools for providing assurances to data center customers. See discussion at and related SOC1, SOC2.

ISO27001 Specification for an information security management system, released 2013.

FedRAMP U.S. federal agencies have been directed use a process called FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) to assess and authorize federal cloud computing products and services. See

UK G-Cloud Framework for faster procurement of IT Services over the cloud. See also CESG Communications-Electronics Security Group

IRAP Information Security Registered Assessors Program is an Australian Signals Directorate initiative to provide high-quality information and communications technology services to government in support of Australia’s security. A list of certified clouds –

HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The privacy rule ensures patients access to their health information and Protected Heath Information data (PHI) and de-identification of such data before health information being shared publicly. The security rule covers physical and technical safeguards such as control and monitoring of information against intrusions, encryption over networks etc.

DIACAP DoD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process.  United States Department of Defense (DoD) process to ensure that companies and organizations apply risk management to information systems. Aligns with NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF).

GLBA Financial Services Modernization act of 1999. Removed barriers in the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies acting as one,  allowing them consolidate. GLBA compliance is mandatory; whether a financial institution discloses nonpublic information or not, there must be a policy in place to protect the information from foreseeable threats in security and data integrity.

NIST-SP800 30 NIST Risk Management Guide for Information Technology Systems

FISMA Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. The act requires each federal agency to develop, document, and implement an agency-wide program to provide information security for the information and information systems that support the operations and assets of the agency, including those provided or managed by another agency, contractor, or other source.[

UK Data Protection Act Governs the protection of personal data in the UK

EU Data Privacy Directive Officially officially Directive 95/46/EC. European Union directive adopted in 1995 which regulates the processing of personal data within the European Union. It is an important component of EU privacy and human rights law. On 25 January 2012, the European Commission unveiled a draft European General Data Protection Regulation that will supersede the Data Protection Directive.

FIPS 140-2  Federal Information Processing Standard  Publication 140-2 is a U.S. government computer security standard used to accredit cryptographic modules.

It’s Back to the Future day

30 years out in the future seemed far out. But here we are on Oct 21, 2015 when Marty arrives back to the future.

What were some security features in the movie ?

  1. Thumbpads or fixed fingerprint scanners are used as a door locks.  They are well integrated in the life of people.
  2. Vehicle had barcode license plates that were remotely scannable. This could allow remote scanning by other vehicles or building infrastructure.
  3. Police carry mobile fingerprint scanners to identify a person – they press their thumb and obtain the name, address and date of birth.
  4. An autonomous drone walks the dog and apparently is safe enough on the roads.

How does Marty identify the characters in a different age ? It is interesting to think about identification schemes that can last for decades. He first recognizes their mannerisms and relationships. Identification mechanisms are being built to leverage such signatures.

In Minority Report, there is personal advertising scene of the future which uses face/eye recognition to flash ads to Tom Cruise.

In Mission Impossible, Rogue Nation there are several futuristic authentication schemes (gait, hand, eye) and security schemes (automatic wipe, isolation).

Integrate Conference 2015

This conference has a focus on integration between technologies and is held with API World. A dominant theme was connected cars.

ActiveScaler demonstrated its Connected Car platform and API that delivers five types of information. It had a great session with visits from a number of car companies, partners, vendors advisors, investors and interested public.

The highlight was a visit by Maria Roat, CTO, US Department of Transportation where she and her colleague shared their views on the evolution of transportation technologies with ActiveScaler team.

ActiveScaler demonstrated an app that connects the car to the cloud to provide rich vehicle and driver analytics in real time.

Privacy and Marketing Automation

Oracle bought Eloqua, and sells marketing automation as a business service.

A quote from What is Eloquoa all about : “At their core, Eloqua, and other MAPs, help you connect an email address you have (or have collected) to activities of an anonymous person (prospect) interacting with you and your brand across online channels. The fundamental value in these tools and platforms is that help you de-anonymize prospects(unknown) into contacts(known) from interactions like clicking on an email you sent them or by submitting a form, which should at the minimum collect email address and name, from your website, chat bot, landing page etc.

A Paper on privacy and marketing by Princeton CS – The web never forgets, persistent tracking methods in the wild.

How web analytics javascript reports back information from the referring url.

Difference between first party and third party cookies.

Flash cookies are shared across different browsers.

A good explanation of SSP and DSP and the mechanism and need for cookie syncing is here. The end-user supplies attention. The agency/brand demands attention.

Purpose of all this amazing tracking is to build personal profiles to personalize and market various offers, cars and credit cards (?).

Top advertisers on google and facebook indicates many top brands are paying top dollar for the ads.

In some ways it is inevitable that a better advertising medium than TV/Radio should appear.

The raw data creates linked data.  Profile data gets built up over years and hoarded  competitively to achieve a higher rate of advertising effectiveness.  Asymmetry of information between user and the ad companies grows over time. Does it have to be so ?

TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon – Safety for Connected Cars

The Ford Hackathon at Techcrunch Disrupt (San Francisco, 2015) encouraged use of the Ford SmartDeviceLink (SDL) iOS SDK to talk to their in-car head units. The apps can be submitted to Ford for cars supporting Ford Sync. Toyota was present to lend support to this open source effort. With a joint open source effort  the number of cars targetted by such apps could be higher.

The SDL SDK can be useful for insurance applications for measuring ride and driver quality. Many applications were built at the hackathon around this idea.

My team built an iOS application to synchronize brakes between two cars in real-time to prevent vehicle pileups in low visibility conditions. It alerted the driver that another car is braking ahead of his car, by acting as a virtual brake light that turns on if a connected car ahead is braking. Our goal was distraction-free safe driving, so it used voice commands to alert the driver and automatic brake detection from the SmartDeviceLink SDK, instead of manual alert generation.

A previous SDK supported by Ford was OpenXC, an open API for connected cars. Another popular SDK at the hackathon was SDK.

There was discussion of a Waze like app that is built into cars. Talking to people I learnt of the role the Department of Transportation is playing to bring Intelligent Transportation to reality.

DSRC is a communication standard for such use cases – Dedicated Short Range Communications.

Salesforce Dreamforce Conference

At the Salesforce conference were several interesting IOT demonstrations.

One of them could Docker to be run inside a Raspberry Pi. This can be used for seamless OTA upgrade of IOT software. Another allowed instant analysis of the chemical composition of a drug and the information is connected to an app.

Another interesting demo was, which is like an IFTTT for different apis and IOT flows – a virtual circuit diagram allows inputs to be cascaded together in a flexible manner to achieve a variety of outcomes.

Salesforce made the announcement of the IOT Cloud which is built on Salesforce Thunder, a massively scalable real-time event-processing engine. Business can create alerts or filters to identity important data from event streams. This can be used to send alerts from manufacturers to customers or customers to manufacturers, for instance for a malfunctioning device or for a car recall.

Marc Benioff – “The Salesforce IOT Cloud will empower businesses to build proactive 1:1 relationships with their customers to deliver a new kind of customer success”.

Here’s a review of this announcement with the opinion that it is currently more of a positioning statement than a real capability –

CAN bus attacks

A CAN is a Controller Area Network. Electronic Control Units (ECUs) are networked together in a car using a bus based on the CAN standard. A car will have one more CAN buses which are typically accessible via the Onboard Diagnostics (OBD II) port.

The CAN allows a distributed network of micro-controllers and devices to do real time messaging with each other with CAN packets, to exercise real time control. It is used in industrial control systems, vechicles such as airplanes and ships, and automotive systems.

ECU examples are Airbag, HVAC, ABS and Engine Control Unit.

Some CAN related security resources –

  1. Hopping on the CAN bus.
  2. Charlie Miller, Chris Valasek.
  3. Craig Smith, opengarages.
  4. Original Spec by Bosch.

A podcast interview with Chris Valasek:

Most cars do allow CAN access via OBD. Tesla does not, but the CAN information is still accessible via another port.

It may sound unusual that the OBD port meant for diagnostics should allow sending commands to the CAN bus, but this is in fact possible, in part because there is no source identifier or authentication build into CAN packets.

What if an ECU itself has some kind of problem or degradation ? This can increase vulnerability when combined with open CAN bus access.

For example, there were two independent recalls in early 2015 related to defective airbag deployments. The Jeep recall was due to software that detected rollover aggressively and deployed the airbags. The NHTSA recall was due to Takata airbags with faulty inflators.

As we bravely head to an IOT world where various devices and controllers are networked to external entities, such concerns will increase.

There are attacks on other car interfaces such as bluetooth, telematics unit and remote key. Recently (July) there was an attack on Jeep which caused an update to fix the bug. The Israeli media reported a couple startups, Argus and TowerSec could have prevented this attack.   Update Jan 2016: TowerSec is acquired by Harman – CES 2016 announcement.