Difference between revisions of "Trust and Security"

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|{{Dirk Slama|Title=AUTHOR}}
|{{Dirk Slama|Title=AUTHOR}}
{{Pablo Endres|Title=CONTRIBUTOR}}

Revision as of 10:05, 5 October 2020

Ignite AIoTArtificial IntelligenceInternet of ThingsBusiness ModelProduct ArchitectureDevOps & InfrastructureTrust & SecurityReliability & ResilienceVerification & ValidationIgnite AIoT - Trust & Security

Ignite AIoT: Trust & Security

Digital Trust – or trust in digital solutions – is a complex topic. When do users deem a digital product actually trustworthy? What if a physical product component is added, as in smart, connected products? While security certainly is a key anbler of Digital Trust, there are many other aspects which are important, including ethical considerations, data privacy, quality and robustness (including reliability and resilience). Since AIoT-enabled products can have a direct, physical impact on the well-being of people, safety also plays an important role.

Safety traditionally is closely associated with Verification and Validation, which has its own, dedicated section in Ignite AIoT. The same holds true for robustness (see Reliability and Resilience). Since security is such a key enabler, it will have its own, dedicated discussion here, followed by a summary of AIoT Trust Policy Management. Before delving into this, we first need to understand the AI and IoT-specific challenges from a security point of view.

AI-related trust and security challenges

As excited as many business managers are about the potential applications of AI, as sceptical are many users and citizens. A key challenge with AI is that it is per-se not explainable: There are no more explicitly coded algorithms, but rather „black box“ models which are trainined and fine-tuned over time with data from the outside, with no chance of tracing and „debugging“ them the traditional way at runtime. While Explainable AI is trying exactly this challenge, there are no satisfactory solutions available yet.

One key challenge with AI is bias: While the AI model might be statistically correct, it is being fed training data which includes a bias, which will result in – usually unwanted – behaviour. For example, an AI-based HR solution for the evaluation of job applicants which is trained on biased data will result in biased recommendations.

While bias is often introduced unintentionally, there are also many potential ways to intentionally attack and AI-based system. A recent report from the Belfer Center describes two main classes of AI attacks: Input Attacks and Poisioning Attacks.

Input attacks: These kind of attacks are possible because an AI model never covers 100% of all possible inputs. Instead, statistical assumption are made and mathematical functions are developed to allow creation of an abstract model of the real world, derived from the training data. So-called adverserial attacks try to exploit this by manipulating input data in a way that confuses the AI model. For example, a small sticker added to a stop sign can confuse an automous vehicle and make it think that it is acually seeing a green light.

Posioning attacks: This type of attack aims at corrupting the model itself, typically during the training process. For example, malicious training data could be inserted to install some kind of back-door in the model. This could, for example, be used to bypass a building security system or confuse a military drone.

IoT-related trust and security challenges

Since IoT is dealing with the integration of physical products, one has to look beyond the cloud and enterprise perspective, including networks and physical assets in the field. If a smart connected product is suddenly not working anymore because of technical problems, users will lose trust and wish back the dumb, non-IoT version of it. If hackers use an IoT-connected toy to invade a family`s privacy sphere, this is a violation of trust beyond the normal hacked internet account. Consequently, addressing security and trust for any IoT-based product is key.

The OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project, a nonprofit foundation) project has published the OWASP IoT Top 10, a list of the top security concerns which each IoT product must address:

  • Weak Guessable, or Hardcoded Passwords
  • Insecure Network Services
  • Insecure Ecosystem Interfaces (Web, backend APIs, Cloud, and mobile interfaces)
  • Lack of Secure Update Mechanism (Secure OTA)
  • Use of Insecure or Outdated Components
  • Insufficient Privacy Protection
  • Insecure Data Transfer and Storage
  • Lack of Device Management
  • Insecure Default Settings
  • Lack of Physical Hardening

Understanding these additional challenges is key. However, in order to address them - together with the previously discussed, AI-related challenges - a pragmatic approach is required which fits in directly with the product teams DevOps approach. The result is sometimes also referred to as DevSecOps, which will be introduced in the following.

DevSecOps for AIoT

DevSecOps augments the DevOps approach, integrating security practices into all elements of the DevOps cycle. While traditionally many security teams are centralized, in the DevSecOps approach it is assumed that security is actually delivered by the DevOps team and processes. This starts with Security-by-Design, but also includes integration, testing and delivery.

From an AIoT perspective, the key is to ensure that DevSecOps is addressing all challenges presented by the different aspects of AIoT: AI, cloud/enterprise, network, and IoT-devices/assets. The figure below provides an overview of the proposed AIoT DevSecOps model for AIoT.

DevSecOps for AIoT

DevSecOps needs to address each of the 4 DevOps quadrants, as defined in the Ignite AIoT section on DevOps and Infrastructure. In addition, Security Planning is added as a fifth quadrant. The following will look at each of these 5 quadrants in detail.

Security Planning for AIoT

Security Planning for AIoT must first determine the general approach. Next, Threat Modeling will provide insights into key threats and mitigation strategies. Finally, the security architecture and setup has to be determined. Of course this is an iterative approach, which required continuous evaluation and refinement.

DevSecOps Approach

The first step towards enabling DevSecOps for an AIoT product organization is to ensure that key stakeholders agree on the security method used, and how to integrate it with the planned DevOps setup. In addition, clarity must be reached on resources and roles:

  • Is there a dedicated budget for DevSecOps (training, consulting, tools, infrastructure, certification)
  • Will there be a dedicated person (or even team) with the security hat on?
  • How much time is each developer expected to spend on security?
  • Will the project be able to afford dedicated DevSecOps training for the development teams?
  • Will there be a dedicated security testing team?
  • Will there be external support, e.g. an external company performing the penetration tests?
  • How will security-related reporting be set up during development and operations?

Threat Modeling

Threat Modeling is a widely established approach for identifying and predicting security threats (using the attacker’s point of view), and protecting IT assets by building a defense strategy that prepares the appropriate mitigation strategies. A threat models provides a comprehensive view of an organization’s full attack surface, and helps to make decisions on how to prioritize security-related investments.

There are a number of established threat modeling techniques available, including STRIDE and VAST. The figure below describes the overall threat modeling process.

Threat Modeling

First, the so-called Target of Evaluation (ToE) must be defined, including security objectives and requirements, as well as a definition of assets in scope.

Second, the Threats & Attack Surfaces must be identified. For this, the STRIDE model can be used as a starting point. STRIDE provides a common set of threats, as defined in the table below (including AIoT-specific examples).


The STRIDE threat categories can be used to perform an in-depth analysis of the attack surface. For this purpose, threat modeling usually uses component diagrams of the target system, and applies the threat categories to it. And example is shown in the figure below.

Analyzing the attack surface

Finally, the potential severity of different attack scenarios will have to be evaluated and compared. For this process, an established method like the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) can be used. CVSS uses a score from zero to ten in order to help rank different attack scenarios. An example is given in the figure below.


Next, the product team needs to define a set of criteria for dealing with the risks on the different levels, e.g.

  • High risk: Fixed immediately
  • Medium risk: Fixed in next minor release
  • Low risk: Fixed in next major release

In order to manage the identified and classified risks, a risk catalog or risk register is created, in order to track the risks and the status. This would usually be done as part of the overall defect tracking.

Security architecture & setup

Securing an AIoT system is not a single task, and the results of the threat modeling exercise are likely to show attack scenarios of very different kinds. Some of these scenarios will have to be addressed during the later phases of the DevSecOps cycle, e.g. during development and testing. However, some basic security measures can usually already be established as part of the system architecture and setup, including:

  • Basic security measures, such as firewalls and anti-virus software
  • Installation of network traffic monitors and port scanners
  • Hardware-related security architecture measures, e.g. Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for extremely sensitive systems

These types of security-related architecture decisions should be made in close alignment with the product architecture team, early in the architecture design.

Secure AIoT Dev

In DevSecOps, the development teams must be integrated into all security-related activities. On the code-level, regular code reviews from a security perspective can be useful. On the hardware-level, design and architecture reviews should be performed as well from a security perspective. For AI, the actual coding is usually only a small part of the development. Model design and training plays a more important role, and should also be included in regular security reviews.

Secure AIoT and Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration has to address security concerns specifically on the code level. Code-level security tests/inspections inlucde:

  • Before compilation/packaging: SAST can be used for Static Application Security Testing.
  • IAST (Interactive application security testing) uses code instrumentation, which can slow down performance. Individual decisions about enabling/disabling it will have to be made as part of the CI process.

Secure AIoT and Continuous Testing

Security testing includes tests with a specific focus on testing for security vulnerabilities. These can include:

  • Applications, e.g. DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing)
  • Hardware-related security tests
  • AI model security tests
  • End-to-End System, e.g. manual and automated penetration tests

Secure AIoT and Continuous Delivery

Secure Operations has to include a number of activities, including:

  • Threat Intelligence
  • Infrastructure and Network Testing (incl. Secure OTA)
  • Security tests in the field
  • RASP: Runtime Application Self-Protection
  • Monitor/Detect/Response/Recover

Security Standards and Regulatory Compliance for AIoT

This is still an emerging area. Examples include:

Trust Policy Management for AIoT

In addition to the security-related activities, an AIoT product team should also consider taking a proactive approach towards broader trust policies. These trust policies can include topics such as:

  • Data sharing policies (e.g. sharing of IoT data with other stakeholders)
  • Transparency policies (e.g. making data sharing policies transparent to end users)
  • Ethics-related policies (e.g. for AI-based decisions)

Taking a holistic view on AIoT trust policies and establishing a central trust policy management can significantly contribute to creating trust between all stakeholders involved.

The Digital Trust Forum (DTF) is working on Trust Policy Management for AIoT-based smart, connected products

Authors and Contributors


Dirk Slama is VP and Chief Alliance Officer at Bosch Software Innovations (SI). Bosch SI is spearheading the Internet of Things (IoT) activities of Bosch, the global manufacturing and services group. Dirk has over 20 years experience in very large-scale distributed application projects and system integration, including SOA, BPM, M2M and most recently IoT. He is representing Bosch at the Industrial Internet Consortium and is active in the Industry 4.0 community. He holds an MBA from IMD Lausanne as well as a Diploma Degree in Computer Science from TU Berlin.
Pablo Endres, Founder of SevenShift GmbH. Experienced security consultant and Professional Hacker. Pablo’s career has taken place mostly doing security in a variety of industries, like Cloud Service providers, Banks, Telecommunications, contact centers, and universities. He holds a degree in computer engineering, as well as a handful security certifications. Pablo has founded multiple companies in different continents and enjoys hacking, IoT, teaching, working with new technologies, startups, collaborating with Open Source projects and being challenged.