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Europol-ENISA conference reviews the security challenges of IoT

While it has many positive effects, the threats and risks related to the Internet of Things (IoT) are many and they evolve rapidly. For this reason, ENISA and Europol joined forces to tackle these security challenges by organising a dedicated two-day conference on 18th and 19th October 2017 which was attended by more than 250 participants from the private sector, security community, law enforcement, the European Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) community and academia.

The risk of criminals ‘weaponising’ insecure IoT devices was already identified in the 2014 and 2015 editions of Europol’s Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessments and in ENISA’s 2016 Threat Landscape Report. It became a reality at the end of 2016 with several DDoS attacks of unprecedented scale originating from the Mirai botnet. It must be assumed that cybercriminals will develop new variants and enlarge the variety of IoT devices affected by this type of malware.

This joint Europol-ENISA conference, the first one on the topic, provided the opportunity for all the relevant stakeholders to come together to discuss the challenges faced and identify possible solutions, building on existing initiatives and frameworks.

The main conclusions of the conference were:

  • The need for more cooperation and multi-stakeholder engagement to address interoperability, as well as security and safety issues especially in light of emerging developments like industry 4.0, autonomous vehicles, and the advent of 5G.
  • As securing the end device is often technically difficult and expensive to achieve, the focus should therefore be on securing the architecture and underlying infrastructure, creating trust and security across different networks and domains.
  • There is a need to create stronger incentives to address the security issues related to the IoT. This requires achieving an optimal balance between opportunity and risk in a market where high scalability and short time-to-market dominate, positioning security as a distinctive commercial advantage and putting it at the heart of the design and development process.
  • To effectively and efficiently investigate the criminal abuse of the IoT, deterrence is another dimension that needs strong cooperation between law enforcement, the CSIRT community, the security community as well as the judiciary.
  • This creates an urgent need for law enforcement to develop the technical skills and expertise to fight IoT-related cybercrime successfully.
  • These efforts need to be complemented by raising end users’ awareness of the security risks of IoT devices.
  • Leveraging existing initiatives and frameworks, a multi-pronged approach combining and complementing actions at legislation, regulation and policy, standardisation, certification/labelling and technical level is required to secure the IoT ecosystem.
  • One of the key observations of the conference is the importance of baseline good practices in addressing these IoT security challenges. In the coming months ENISA will publish its ‘Baseline Security Recommendations for IoT’ report, bridging the gap in this area.


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