Internet of Things

IoT and the security challenges that tech companies face

Cisco's Michele Guel, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Security Architect, discusses IoT and how tech enterprises are working to secure the IoT infrastructure.

Cisco's Michele Guel spoke with TechRepublic and CNET Senior Producer Dan Patterson about how companies need to defend for the future, but they need to also make sure to handle all the "old school'' ways to interact. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Dan Patterson: What's happening in the space that you find intriguing or new and different relative to your experience?

Michele Guel: From a purely technology standpoint?

Dan Patterson: Yeah.

Michele Guel: With the Internet of Things, which has been around for a while, or sensors, whatever, more connectedness, we've seen the threat landscape exponentially increase. I mean, sitting here, you could have a sensor in your glasses. We know you have about 10 sensors in our watches. You could have them in your buttons, they could be your shoes. There's a lot of sensors in here. They're probably not all that well secured, because IoT has some challenge spaces. So, exponential threat landscapes increase. The industry as a whole is learning how to, how do we secure IoT, for one, because that's the focus now. And Cisco and other large enterprises have had a focus on that in consortiums on how do we secure IoT infrastructure. And so, it's just... Not that it's more complex. In a way it is, but a couple of weeks ago in September at Grace Hopper, I was on a panel where our topic was everything that's old is new again. So, attacks that worked in the Morris Worm experiment still happen today, because companies still are not doing basic block and tackle. So you need to defend for the future. But you also need to make sure that you're handling all the old school ways to interact.

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So, to me it's not that the game is changing that much. It's like there's more stuff that's connected. And now that you add in, however you want to call it, machine learning, AI, natural language processing. There's a whole lot more data that we need to worry about. And you add in the newer technologies like blockchain, and all the privacy issues. There is complexity in mixing them all. And the way I look at it is, lots of interesting problems to solve, and we just need to focus on that. But it's the, gotta take care of old school, and secure for the future is at scale. How do we do it at scale, and how do we automate it to the best of our ability. From an industry not just Cisco, talking about all enterprises.

Dan Patterson: So, we think about scale often in technology, and especially in cyber, as the attack surface expands. But I like that point you made about the one or two problems that could be particularly interesting. So, when you think about cyber, what gets your brain thinking? What's one problem that you wish you could solve?

Michele Guel: I want to say, more diversity in cyber. More women. But we're working on that. I would have to say, really getting people... Two parts to that. One is, from an enterprise perspective, having all the enterprises, big or small, understanding that basic block and tackle still applies. That's how we refer to it in the security, like, basic generic hygiene stuff that everybody should do. So you don't have the thing with the IoT cameras and stupid passwords here that compromise the infrastructure. And then on the other side of it is really, how do you embed security into the future, right? And part of that is with diversity. You have better perspectives, it's better for the business, it's better all around. You're bring diverse thoughts into how to do that. So to me, that solves the technology problem. And it solves getting more women in cyber, because we're bring more brain share, and more diverse brain share to the table, to look at those problems. There are some challenging ones. And I'm the kind that's not... I don't give up. It's like, we're going to continually try to find solutions, or new creative ways, or innovate a new space, to have something that's going to solve that problem.

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About Dan Patterson

Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.

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