Will the Cyber Grinch steal Christmas this holiday season?

December 3, 2020
Will the Cyber Grinch steal Christmas this year? Today’s columnist, Curtis Simpson of Armis, offers online retailers some tips on how to lock down their systems this holiday season, especially IoT devices and sensors. (Credit: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
  • Review third-party security posture. In addition to having an inventory of the third-party systems connected to the corporate network, retailers should continuously assess remote access points into the network, regularly audit the security posture of third parties, and implement safeguards to protect against third-party breaches. For instance, millions of records for Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, PayPal and Stripe were exposed after a third-party app left data exposed on MongoDB — an avoidable error.
  • Have real-time visibility into all IoT devices. Whether in-store or in distribution hubs, it’s critical that retailers are aware of and are monitoring every connected device within their network. In doing so, companies can establish baselines for device behavior, detect abnormal activity and stop IoT device attacks before they spread. Without this level of visibility, security teams run the risk of attackers leveraging blindspots to gain entry into systems and create broader network disruptions.
  • Segment networks. Security pros can’t block all attacks, so it's important to minimize the damage. Establish visibility into IoT devices, then segment them from important business assets to limit any damage. IoT devices are also used to establish segments – and they too are vulnerable. Security teams also need to aggressively monitor and patch IoT devices to ensure segments stay intact and threat actors can’t use IoT as the weakened entry point to a company’s broader network. 
  • Operationalize existing security frameworks. For retailers relying on small security teams with less expertise, leverage existing security frameworks to evaluate cybersecurity posture. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), International Standardization Organization (ISO) and MITRE ATT&CK guidelines are good places to start.
  • Implement unique passwords on new IoT devices. Don’t just onboard IoT devices with factory security settings and passwords. Take the extra step to input unique, secure passwords and if possible, change the passwords regularly for an additional layer of security.