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8th, 2014

Protecting enterprise networks from security breeches due to networked vending machines and other third-party hardware

Enterprises expose themselves to risk when third-party equipment connects to the Internet through their network. Wyconn solves this problem for OEMs, both for new equipment and retrofitting existing equipment, such as vending machines.

Today The New York Times ran a story entitled, “Hackers Lurking in Vents and Soda Machines,” which listed several ways that otherwise secure enterprise networks have been compromised, including . . .

Today this may not be the largest risk you're exposed to if you let vending machines onto your network.

Today this may not be the largest risk you’re exposed to if you let vending machines onto your network.

  • malware in the online menu of a Chinese restaurant that was popular with employees (unnamed oil company—I doubt they enjoyed the irony in this unfortunate incident)
  • heating and cooling system (Target)
  • printers
  • thermostats
  • videoconferencing equipment

A study sponsored by the PGP Corporation and conducted by the Ponemon Institute found “third-party organizations accounted for 42 percent of all breach cases.”  (Press release announcing the results.) Vincent Berk, chief executive of FlowTraq, a network security firm, is quoted as saying, “We constantly run into situations where outside service providers connected remotely have the keys to the castle.”

Arabella Hallawell, vice president of strategy at network security firm Arbor Networks, estimated that third-party suppliers played a role in  breaches  in 70% of the ones her firm reviewed.  Hallawell added, “It’s generally suppliers you would never suspect.”

 The question is why  an enterprise would allow devices that need to connect to the Internet to connect to their network.  After all, what other options are there? Now enterprises can ask their suppliers to take a different approach, one made possible with the introduction of the Wyconn 2000. When OEMs retrofit their existing equipment with a Wyconn 2000 device they gain immediate connectivity without exposing their enterprise customer to  risk.  That’s because the Wyconn 2000, which combines the functions of an access point, router, firewall, and gateway,  includes an embedded global SIM.  (A local SIM can be added.)   This same Wyconn technology can be incorporated into new equipment. In addition to providing a safer solution for their customers, these OEMs aren’t exposing their own company to the liability that might arise from a security breach  via their equipment.  And with the Wyconn Management Console, OEMs have an easy way to manage the connectivity of all their devices, whether that’s a few dozen in a metropolitan area of 10,000s around the world.   If your enterprise has third-party equipment such as vending machines, thermostats, and HVAC equipment connected to the Internet through your network, you’re exposing your company to unnecessary risk. Now you have an alternative.  Time for a security audit, perhaps?

Image MapWyconn 1000: IoT gateway for smart home bundleWyconn 2000: M2M connectivity for OEMs and retrofits.Wyconn 3000: Router and switch companionWyconn 3000E: Branch office connectivity