Article by Rapid7 IoT Senior Security Researcher Deral Heiland.
Increasingly, organizations are adopting smart technologies to underpin innovations that can improve safety and productivity in all aspects of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities and building management to various forms of business empowerment.
But while these technologies offer enormous benefits, as with any new technology, they also introduce the potential for unintended consequences due to technical glitches or manipulations that may not yet have been discovered and mitigated.
The very purpose of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies is to bridge the gap between our virtual and physical worlds, and as such manipulation or technical failure can result in loss of privacy, system availability and, in some cases, even physical injury.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Domino’s Pizza to evaluate an in-house designed IoT based business solution that they had designed and deployed across all of their stores. The multinational pizzeria is the perfect example of a large company that regularly leverages IoT technology for business enablement.
Domino’s IoT-based ecosystem solution is called Flex, a platform-based solution that consists of various small services. This allows stores to leverage various web experiences and digital products on a variety of kiosk screens in their stores. These are products specially designed for Domino’s that members of the store team exploit at will. The platform powers all in-store screen technologies, enabling stores and team members to be more efficient and situationally aware, so they can effectively run their respective stores. The platform also provides a centralized, cloud-managed platform with Domino’s hosted experiences, which gives stores and team members the technology flexibility they need to make stores efficient and successful.
The objective of this research project was to understand the security implications around a large-scale enterprise IoT project and the processes related to acquisition, implementation and deployment; technology and functionality; and management and support.
The project began with each of the internal teams involved in the project discussing these key areas and how security was defined and applied within each. This provided valuable new insights into how security should play into the design and construction of a large enterprise IoT solution, particularly in the planning and acquisition phases, and to see how a focused organization security as Domino’s tackles a large-scale project like this. Two takeaways emerged. First, always consider supplier security in your planning and risk modeling. Second, security “must-haves” should match your organization’s internal security policies.
It was also necessary during this initial phase to perform a comprehensive security assessment of the ecosystem, examining all critical hardware components, operating software and associated network communications.
As with any large-scale enterprise implementation, we found some security issues, which is why all projects, even those with security built in from the start, should go through a large-scale security assessment to eliminate any gap. This allowed security teams and project developers to quickly create solutions to address identified issues. Additionally, by observing and discussing the processes and methodologies used to create and deploy patches to production, the assessment ensured that Domino’s did so in a safe manner to avoid impacting the production.
During a typical security assessment of an enterprise-wide enterprise solution such as this, we are reminded of a few key best practices that should always be considered. First, when testing new technology for security, use a holistic approach that targets the entire solution ecosystem. Second, perform regular testing of documented security procedures – security is a moving target, and testing these procedures regularly can help identify gaps.
Once an idea is designed, built and deployed to production, we need to ensure that the deployed solution remains fully functional and secure. To do this, at Domino’s, they moved the deployed enterprise IoT solution under a structured management and support plan. This support structure has been designed as intended to help avoid or prevent outages and security incidents that could impact production, loss of services or loss of data, focusing on patch management , risk and vulnerability management, and monitoring and logging.
Again, it was important to sit down and talk about security with the various teams involved in the supporting infrastructure and see how it was not only applied to this specific project, but how Domino’s applied those same security methodologies. company-wide security.
During this final evaluation phase of the project, we were reminded of one of the most critical points that many organizations fail to apply (but not Domino’s). In other words, when deploying new embedded technology in your enterprise environment, ensure that the technology is properly integrated into your organization’s patch management.
At the end of this research project, I have a vastly improved understanding of the complexity, difficulties, and security best practice challenges that a large enterprise IoT project might require. However, I am happy to say that on this occasion, Domino’s rose to the challenge and successfully delivered this project to their company.