In thinking over the last DDos involving IoT devices, I think we don't have a good technical solution to the problem. Cutting off people with defective devices they they don't understand, and have little control over, is an action that makes sense, but hurts the innocent. "Hey, Grandma, did you know your TV set is hurting the Internet?"
It's the people who foist bad stuff on the people who need to take the responsibility. Indeed, with enough moxie, we could avoid the net saturation problem in the first place.
My proposal, as I sent it to my US House Representative:
Fixing the security of the Internet of Things: Now we have had
several distributed denial of service attacks — generating
eye-popping amounts of network traffic to bury a web site or gamer —
arguably traced to botnets-for-sale of "hacked" common devices with
Internet connectivity. It's time to look at the problem bad product
design can cause. Not being "computers", many of those devices —
cameras, televisions, light bulbs, to name a few — don't have
tough-enough security moxie baked in. And it's not enough to solve
today's attacks, they have to survive new attacks down the road.
Some of these household items didn't conform to today's Best
Practices, taught in Security 101, with the rules learned (painfully)
over the last 30 years. And then there is the question of installing
security fixes: "Hey, Joe, you have to install an update to your
thermostat and washing machine." Right.
This is nothing new. What is new is the tsunami of Internet-capable
devices hitting the market and the Internet...and doing it badly. By
sheer numbers, the situation rises to a whole new level of risk to the
nation's communications infrastructure. The magnitude of the problem?
Think how many light bulbs are in the typical house or apartment, and
you get the idea.
This note comes a little late to the game, but I thought that one
wayto stem the flood of garbage from compromised household stuff is to
treat vulnerabilities that cause spew as design defects, defects as
serious as the exploding batteries in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. So,
looking at the procedures already in place for dealing with merchandise
that can cause harm, this suggestion.
* any Internet-connected device,
* "pwned" by cybercriminals,
* that cause significant harm,
* the manufacturer received notice of the defect, and
* did not, or cannot, provide a timely, zero-cost update
THEREFORE the Consumer Product Safety Commission shall require that
the manufacturer provide a security update to the device within 30 day
of first notice; or failing that, to issue a complete recall of the
I don't care if it's a television, camera, refrigerator, light bulb,
thermostat, washing machine, wireless access router, smart phone,
desktop computer, server, you-name-it...if it's broke, and can't (or
won't) be fixed, it gets recalled.
That's the only way manufacturers will take Internet security
seriously. If they have to upgrade the stuff they sell, without
exception, the manufacturers will find a method that will keep their
expense for upgrades down. Upgrades should not be charged to the
customer — the manufacturer screwed up, they should fix the problem, at
their expense. I further suggest that security testing should be
specifically permitted under law, not be considered part of "reverse
engineering", or other shrink-wrap or copyright restriction.
The CSPC should develop guidelines for product with embedded computers
that connect to the Internet at large, either directly or indirectly.
There are a number of things to consider, when building such a
regulation, that come into play that complicated things
* orphaned devices,
* devices made by companies that have gone out of business,
* imported stuff,
* methods of notification, and
This is an off-the-top-of-my-head idea. I think it's worth
consideringover other "solutions" I've seen proposed.
There is precedent for this with radio and the FCC. According to current law, the owner/operator of the radio equipment is ultimately responsible for non-interference by any transmitter used in the United States. This includes so-called unlicensed transmitters. To help the people who are not radio gurus, the FCC also has a type acceptance program, in which radios have to meet certain requirements as built by the manufacturer.
There is another possible wrinkle: if there were legal consequences with selling IoT equipment, businesses making the stuff would take out insurance against claims against them. The underwriters would then take notice, and require that policyholders meet some minimum standards. Remember, we are talking about the "underwriters" who form the first part of the name "Underwriters Laboratories". From UL's web page:
UL is a global independent safety science company with more than a
century of expertise innovating safety solutions from the public
adoption of electricity to new breakthroughs in sustainability,
renewable energy and nanotechnology. Dedicated to promoting safe
living and working environments, UL helps safeguard people, products
and places in important ways, facilitating trade and providing peace
We could build on these existing frameworks to the advantage of the Internet by mandating certain minimum requirements for equipment sold to the general public. I would suspect that the IETF would need to become involved in this effort, because the standards would have to come from SOMEWHERE. Which is why they are included in the header. There are other people on the Cc: list that might be interested...or might not.
Why not nip the IoT problem in the bud?