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CableLabs Hosts “Cyber Risks in an IoT World”

Mark Walker
Director, Technology Policy

Kelton Shockey
Technology Policy Associate

Apr 10, 2018

Security provides the fundamental trust that enables the growth of broadband, and as the number of connected devices grows rapidly, all actors must make it a priority. The cable industry’s security expertise and investment positions it to play a constructive role in this rapidly evolving, global challenge. Here at CableLabs, we continue to focus on cybersecurity in our innovation and R&D work, and we recognize the interdependence of public policy and technology developments in this area.

In that spirit, we recently hosted an event at our facilities in Colorado entitled Cyber Risks in an IoT World, which was co-presented by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) and Silicon Flatirons. Our primary goal was to shine a spotlight on key elements of federal cybersecurity policy and the evolving risk faced by enterprises in light of the rapid proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The event featured Evelyn Remaley, Deputy Associate Administrator at the Office of Policy Analysis and Development of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, among other notable speakers and attracted over 60 attendees from the local and regional technology policy and legal communities.

CableLabs’ Rob Alderfer kicked off the event by laying out the broader context, including the trends that are driving increased risk to consumers and the basic functionality of the Internet.  With the constant barrage of new cyber incidents, often driven by IoT devices vulnerable to exploitation, governments at all levels are taking notice and grappling with the rapidly evolving threat. Cybersecurity is no longer the domain of the IT department, but rather a key area of governance for all enterprises. You can read more about our vision for improving IoT cybersecurity here.

Clete Johnson (Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP) provided a primer on federal cybersecurity policy that cast the Internet and enterprise networks as the battlefields, espionage platforms, and crime scenes of the 21st century. The current regulatory landscape can be subdivided into several broad areas: the threat environment, the policy environment, government activities, and the developing policy consensus across government and industry. The threat environment is characterized by the increasing number of more and more severe attacks. These attacks originate from both non-state actors (organized crime groups, proxies for nation-states, hacktivists, and, potentially, terrorists) as well as state actors (Tier I intelligence services and their allies and partners). However, the line between non-state and state actors often blurs and these groups often overlap. Johnson also detailed the developing policy consensus that centers around dynamic, flexible risk management; a shared responsibility across all stakeholders; mutually beneficial public-private partnerships; and a move beyond the “punish the victim” enforcement. This developing consensus is largely embodied in the Cybersecurity Executive Order and its implementation.

Evelyn Remaley (NTIA) delivered the keynote presentation on the Cybersecurity Executive Order, the developing Botnet Report required by the Order, and, more broadly, the NTIA’s work in cybersecurity through the multi-stakeholder process. Remaley emphasized that NTIA recognizes the complexity of the ecosystem and sees it as a multi-textured and evolving global system that requires an agile, inclusive cyber policy approach. Two truths underlay that perspective:

  1. To protect innovation, there must be stakeholder-driven policy outcomes that are flexible enough to adapt quickly to changes in technology
  2. No single industry sector or the government will be able to solve the challenges facing the Internet ecosystem, because while the Internet is largely managed by the private sector, governments, civil society, and individuals all have key roles. Successfully addressing cyber threats requires collaborative efforts from across the Internet ecosystem. The ongoing effort to produce the Botnet Report is an example of this collaborative approach in action.

Panel Discussion with Evelyn Remaley

The panel discussion following Remaley’s presentation tackled both baseline questions around the incentives at play in the current IoT ecosystem and the upcoming Botnet Report’s role in addressing the risk of distributed threats, as well as practical questions about where the policy development process goes after the final report is released. Mark Walker moderated the panel discussion between Evelyn Remaley (NTIA), Michael Bergman (Consumer Technology Association), and Tracy L. Lechner (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP). The panelists discussed the incentives misalignment that keeps a significant number of IoT providers from investing in better device security, including the perception that consumers do not place a significant value on security and that increased security comes at a significant cost (time and/or money). They also discussed the availability of effective security controls and the various industry efforts to drive increased adoption of those controls.

Panel Discussion on Risk Landscape for Enterprises

The final session entitled The Risk Landscape for Enterprises: Attacks, Recovery, Liability, and Compliance covered the cybersecurity threat landscape from the enterprise perspective. This panel was moderated by Blake Reid (University of Colorado Law School; Silicon Flatirons) who lead the discussion with Paul Diamond (CenturyLink), John Diana (LogRhythm, Inc.), Ryan Howe (Webroot, Inc.), and Deborah Shinbein Howitt (Lewis, Bess, Williams & Weese, P.C.). The discussion focused on the challenges enterprises of all sizes face when tackling the rapidly changing cybersecurity risk landscape, including limitations on resources and talent, as well as the task of understanding and complying with the numerous legal obligations coming onto the scene. Much like developing a cybersecurity program, building up the required legal policies begins with identifying the most critical data a business handles (e.g., healthcare information, social security numbers, credit card information) and then creating incident response plans that meet the most stringent obligations in those areas first. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework was highlighted as providing an enterprise with a structured approach to assessing cybersecurity risks and developing a robust cybersecurity program that matches its unique needs.

As CableLabs continues to focus on developing new and innovative security technologies, we must continue to ensure we have a sound understanding of the rapidly evolving cybersecurity policy landscape, both here and abroad. But, just as importantly, policymakers should have a sound understanding of current and developing technologies. Events like this help bridge those gaps in understanding.

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