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Unsafe IoT safes

I have been saying that one of the challenges with securing IoT is that IoT device makers don’t have the necessary security background, and the security industry does not do enough to make cyber-security more accessible to manufacturers. We should therefore not be surprised that 150 years of experience in making robust safes and transferring money securely, did not help Brinks once they introduced a USB slot into one of their new models.

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Why secure e-voting is so hard to get

A few days ago I gave a lecture about innovation and one topic that came up was the security of e-voting. It is widely accepted by the security community that e-voting cannot be made secure enough, and yet existing literature on the topic seems to lack high level discussion on the basis for this assumption.

Following is my opinion on why reliable fully digital e-voting cannot be accomplished given its threat and security models.

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Top challenges of securing IoT

As much as there is hype about the Internet of Things (IoT) and protecting it, there is no such thing as “IoT Security” per se. There is just the usual security engineering that is applied to IoT. Security engineering is about determining assets, threats to assets, and cost-effective means of mitigation. There are many models and ways for carrying out such analysis, but for the most part they all boil down to those key elements. Such security analysis applies to networks, it applies to servers, it applies to cars, and it also applies to IoT. That said, security engineering in IoT does pose a few unique challenges, which I would like to discuss now.

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Prime numbers and security

Without much relation to anything, I wrote this short essay about the role prime numbers play in Internet security. In a nutshell, security relies on the ability to form leverage for the defender over the adversary. Such leverage can be of one of two types:

  1. Leverage through the ability to code the system behavior.

  2. Leverage through math, where the good guy knows something that the adversary does not.

Prime numbers are used as part of at least one mathematical mechanism that serves #2.

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Poodle flaw and IoT

The Poodle flaw discovered by Google folks is a big deal. It will not be hard to fix, because for most systems there is just no need to support SSLv3. Fixing those will only imply changing configuration so not to allow SSL fallback. However, this flaw brings to our attention, again, how the weakest link in security often lies in the graceful degradation mechanisms that are there to support interoperability. Logic that degrades security for the sake of interoperability is hard to do right and is often easy to exploit. Exploitation is usually carried out by the attacker connecting while pretending to be “the dumbest” principal, letting the “smarter” principal drop security to as low as it will go.

All this is not new. What may be new is a thought on what such types of flaws may imply on the emerging domain of the Internet-of-Things.

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