Analyzing Insider Risk Within the Internet of Things (IoT)

Justin Kinney - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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Recent technological advancement has created a growing convergence of innovation. From machine learning to ubiquitous computing to wireless networks and automation, the world is seeing new technology increasingly capable of connecting with each other. Devices and systems use open communications networks to interact, process information, and react. This is called the Internet of Things (IoT) and is comprised of physical devices that exchange data over networks, creating revolutionary possibilities. The most common way most people interact with an IoT is through “smart home” products which use microphones, speakers, and phones to control a variety of devices, from lights and thermostats, to cameras, to appliances and vacuum cleaners. But the open nature of IoT networks—necessary for their ability to communicate and operate—also introduces privacy and security concerns. At a personal level, this might mean a hack into a home to steal private information, but when applied in broader industries like health care, transportation, manufacturing, or the military, this vulnerability can have serious consequences. As IoT usage and interconnectivity increases, so too does the susceptibility to malicious actors. And the entire system is only as secure as its least secure member. This creates particular risk and vulnerability to radiological material industries, as an insider adversary with a certain level of skill could utilize the IoT to potentially steal or access sensitive information about employees, sites, or systems; or sabotage security or maintenance from a more remote—and less secure—device. The IoT relies on a secure network across the entire system, especially in transport which may lack the security of more permanent locations; if one device fails, it can create a ripple effect and an insider threat may seek to exploit that connectivity. Although IoT benefits drive increased innovation and usage, there are also vulnerabilities an insider threat could exploit; this risk of an IoT to radiological material must be addressed in any mitigation effort.