The Thing is… How do we keep botnets at bay?

By Erdem posted 12-12-2016 03:27


Here’s my number of the week… Actually, two numbers of the week.


The first is 20 billion. The second is 1.5


The first is an estimate, widely reported in the media, of how many IoT devices are likely to be connected to the internet by 2020(1)… although it could actually be double this.


The second figure, refers to how many connected devices were hacked to create an army of botnets (devices infected with malware and controlled as a group) in the most recent DDoS cyberattack(2). That’s 1.5 million compromised internet devices, ranging from web-cams, routers and almost any IP-enabled device, including toasters, kettles and other home appliances.


In other words, ’smart’ devices that make your coffee in the morning and attack a corporate network in the afternoon.


This isn’t about ‘Project Fear’. It’s about recognizing how the interplay of the many connected technologies means the industry has to act, especially where cybercriminals now target internet-enabled appliances that have hardcoded, factory-default settings with little to no security and use them to cripple someone’s business.


This new dimension to cyberattack by proxy is already being addressed by Juniper Networks. It was recognized early on that the nature of our cloud-centric world and growth in mobile devices is making the notion of a network perimeter redundant. BYOD, IoT and smart-devices are among the many technology trends that have made the surface area for cyber threats larger than ever, and more open.


Juniper started out by re-thinking security and changing the traditional network security mindset – actually turning it on its head - by building more safeguards and resilience both into and across the network, not just at the edges. The stance now taken, using a zero-trust model, is to enable the network to protect itself. Starting at the infrastructure core and extending into the cloud, every element of the network becomes an active and automated participant in security and a policy enforcement point. Utilizing software-defined architecture, security can be distributed (both physically and virtually) across the entire network and into the cloud environment, making it not only pervasive but significantly more effective and manageable.


As organizations struggle with legacy networks and complex defense-in-depth security, the growing sophistication of malicious threats aimed at bringing business down means this traditional model is now unmanageable at best, and counter-productive at worst. And only by resetting priorities and adopting a fundamental change in security architecture can the network be made secure. The approach now needed is a software-defined, intelligent infrastructure that expands enforcement beyond the firewall, using 100 percent of the network resources to protect 100 percent of the network.


In my next blog, I’ll be discussing what could happen when someone hacks the IoT ecosystem, where all your personal data captured on smart devices is stored.


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