Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Who Needs the Internet of Things?

This week, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced it has sold more than 10 million Raspberry Pi boards and celebrated the milestone by releasing a new Raspberry Pi Starter Kit. While many of these Linux-driven hacker boards were used for the foundation’s original purpose -- creating a low-cost computer for computer education -- a large percentage have been sold to hobbyists and commercial developers working on Internet of Things (IoT) projects ranging from home automation to industrial sensor networks.

Linux-driven open source and commercial single board computers and modules sit at the heart of the IoT phenomenon. They are usually found in the form of gateways or hubs that aggregate sensor data from typically wirelessly enabled, sensor-equipped endpoints. Sometimes these endpoints run Linux as well, but these are more often simpler, lower-power MCU-driven devices such as Arduino-based devices. Linux and Windows run the show in the newly IoT-savvy cloud platforms that are emerging to monitor systems and analyze data fed from the gateways in so-called fog ecosystems.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be analyzing the IoT universe, with a special focus on Linux and other open source technologies used in home and industrial automation. I’ll look at major open source products and projects, IoT-oriented hacker boards, security and privacy issues, and future trends.


See more at: linux.com

Why The Consumer Internet Of Things Is Stalling

Builders of the Internet of Things (IoT) have long promised consumers a more convenient future: We will all live in “smart homes” where surveillance cameras, thermostats and garage door openers will turn on and off automatically, our groceries will order and deliver themselves into our refrigerators, and our speakers will know our taste in music. In our “smart cities,” always-on surveillance systems will crack down on crime and sensor-driven roadways will put an end to traffic.

Yet this hyper-efficient, IoT-fueled future is years away and plenty of pundits and investors are talking about consumer IoT as a too-hyped trend that’s failing to take off. According to a 2016 Accenture survey, consumer demand for smartphones and IoT devices is stalling. So why aren’t consumers snapping up the new technology?

Industry insiders say the barrier is a lack of standards: connected devices can’t talk to each other, and each device comes with its own app, rather than being managed from a single point of control. Others think jargon-y marketing is to blame: Consumers still scratch their heads when they hear “Internet of Things.”


The potential power of IoT is truly awe-inspiring, but in order to boost sales and drive demand beyond the early adopter set, we need to stop making toys no one cares about and instead work on building simple solutions to real, everyday problems for real people.

See more at: forbes.com

Friday, 2 September 2016

IoT Security Starts with Identity

There is no hotter tech sector right now than the Internet of Things (IoT). Everybody and anybody who is offering an internet connected device has an IoT story. As with many hot technology markets, there comes a lot of noise and confusion. Just in the consumer IoT market alone, there are multiple competing platforms and not all of them enable devices to interconnect with each other. In the industrial IoT (IIoT) market, not only are there competing platform vendors, but there are many industry organizations trying to define IIoT interoperability. Confused yet? Just wait…

Now, when we start to talk about security, there is even more confusion on where to get started and how to implement a security strategy. There are no fully defined or adopted standards, or security architectures for either consumer IoT or IIoT today. Many consumer IoT device manufacturers are sacrificing strong security measures to get devices to market. This could create serious issues down the road if vulnerabilities are exploited and devices cannot be secured. In the IIoT market, industry groups such as the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and Trusted Computing Group (TCG) are actively working with security vendors on frameworks for IIoT security. But, these frameworks are still in the early stages and interoperability will need to be tested and addressed before they can be fully rolled out and implemented.

Before I discuss how you can get started with an IoT security strategy today, I just want to reiterate why we want to connect things. The benefits are simple – greater access, control, efficiency and optimization. When everything is connected and communicating, things work together, we can access these things from everywhere and anywhere and collect, share and analyze data to better manage our homes, our health, our cars, the environments where we work and operations of industry. All of this connectivity leads to higher performing systems, cost savings and new revenue streams.


In order to go to market today, IoT device manufacturers need to begin implementing security in the early design phases of their products. Security can no longer be an afterthought as it has in the past with so many legacy connected device and products. Trying to retrofit security into devices already in use can be difficult, costly and a burden on the users.

Key benefits of building identity in from the start:
- Gain a Competitive Advantage – Build identity into your IoT devices and services to leverage secure functionality as a competitive advantage.
- Offer a Superior User Experience – Make security and identity easy to offer your customers provides a positive user experience.
- Brand Reputation and Integrity – Assure products and software code are legitimate. Don’t let counterfeit products and malware impact your brand.
- Privacy and Safety Ensured – Ensure sensitive data remains private and the safety of your customers and users is not jeopardized by a malicious attack.

See more at: globalsign.com

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Internet of Things -- a little person on your shoulder

You hear a lot of people talking about how great life will be when cars drive themselves and the Internet of Things is fully deployed. But while many of us dismiss this chatter as background noise, one industry is paying close attention and champing at the bit to get started.

Yes, of course, it's the advertising industry. After all, when cars drive themselves, you'll have more time to look at the ads that will be popping up on strategically located screens. Your refrigerator will automatically order almond milk, egg whites, and fat-free butter while it tries to get you to try a new kind of genetically engineered hot dog.

Right at the moment, the advertising trades are obsessing over self-driving taxis and dreaming of the contextual ad possibilities they present.


Or as Hewitt put it in his interview with the Daily:

“Not too far into the future the ads will be contextually presented and may also be served up as bite-sized services instead of just targeted display advertising.”

If everything works out as planned, it will be just like having a little person on your shoulder, constantly nagging you to do all the things your favorite brands want you to do.

See more at: consumeraffairs.com

The Internet Of Things? What Things?

For those of us Boomers who have witnessed first hand the invention, application, proliferation and ultimately the world domination of the Internet, it might all seem like sort of a blur.

Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that the nerdy guy in your office barged into your cubicle, took control of your IBM PC or Compaq or maybe even your Mac SE, and logged onto NetScape?

“This is the future of computing,” he might have said as you studied the awkwardly formatted text slowly rendering across your screen. I remember my reaction:

“Bull pucky! Where’s the sound, the music, the voice-over, the animated graphics, the color photos, the video windows?”

It must have been around 1994, and multimedia on CD-ROM, created in a popular authoring tool called MacroMind Director, was all the rage. How could the snail-paced, text-based content delivered on the NetScape browser over the World Wide Web possibly supplant the showbiz content we could deliver on CD-ROM?


Some of us, regardless of the breadth or our attack surface and whether or not we like adjusting the temperature of our refrigerator from the golf course, are donning an extra layer of protection in the form of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This service allows us to encrypt the data that travels from our devices to our Internet service provider. Corporations have employed them for years, which is what our corporate friends are talking about when they refer to information “behind the firewall.” VPNs aren’t a guarantee of complete safety, but they make our data more difficult to hack.

The net-net of it all: if we want to keep something private we’d better keep it offline, to the extent that we can. It may be a little more difficult to teach our kids, and especially our grandkids, about things like 35mm film, padlocks with real keys, checkbooks and other rapidly disappearing devices of the analog age.

Who ever would have thought that so much havoc could be wreaked with a bunch of zeros and ones?

See more at: huffingtonpost.com

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The 'Internet of Things' Is More Hype Than Reality for Many Tech Giants

As is the case with several other popular tech buzzphrases -- "big data," "cloud computing" and "cybersecurity" come to mind -- dozens of companies have talked up their investments in what they deem to be the "Internet of Things," or IoT. Big-name chipmakers, telecom service providers and cloud service providers all fit the bill here. But a look at just how much IoT exposure these companies have often shows that hype far exceeds reality.


Second, Gartner expects about two-thirds of the connected things that will be in existence in 2020 -- 13.5 billion -- to be consumer devices. This appears to include smartphones and tablets, and broadly contains a number of products that aren't likely to fuel major growth for telecom or cloud service providers angling to profit from a surge in the number of connected devices.

Welcome To Privacy Hell, Also Known As The Internet Of Things

Talk to Josh Corman long enough and the beeps and blinks of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that increasingly dot our world take on a terrifying shape.

"There are more devices and more types of devices, so this just gives you more ways for people to track you or hurt you," Corman, a long-time security expert and cofounder of I Am The Cavalry, says. "What we've done is blindly assume that [adding software and connectivity] is always good. And we're making really horrible, horrible choices."

Corman founded IATC—a cybersecurity research non-profit focused on reducing IoT-related public safety risks—with security researcher Nick Percoco at a 2013 hacker conference. Medical devices are a big area of concern for Corman and his group. Besides vulnerable insulin pumps and pacemakers, hacker-researchers have shown high-tech hospital equipment—from Bluetooth-enabled defibrillators to remotely controlled drug infusion drips—could be manipulated toward grievous, even deadly, ends. IATC is also keeping an eye on connected cars, home security and automation systems and "smart" public infrastructure, like utility grids and traffic control.


"The majority of the security industry has been focused on private sector, protecting a bank or credit cards," points out Corman. As software started springing up in insulin pumps and cars, he became more concerned. "I’m thinking, 'Guys, we can’t even secure credit cards with $80 billion of our best and brightest—why are we putting dependencies in areas that can kill people?'"

Through IATC, Corman and a network of volunteer cybersecurity experts and whitehat hackers have developed a five-point list of standards for connected cars and have started collaborating with the Society of Automotive Engineers. He plans to release similar guidelines for other "life and limb" applications of the technology, including medical devices and public infrastructure.

But security remains an optional pursuit for manufacturers. "IoT technologies in general don’t have good security," says Susan Landau, faculty member at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a distinguished scholar on cybersecurity and privacy issues. "There are no legal frameworks that demand good security. We’re racing ahead yet again without putting the security and privacy in."


Tien suggests that the fact that the well-meaning motivation that powers data collection in public places—for "smart city" initiatives, for example—helps normalize the Big Brother-esque creepiness of Big Data.

"There is a real attraction to what I would call dangerous surveillance practices when those practices are aimed at people and their everyday lives and trying to solve urban problems," he says. "If you associate the surveillance with Dick Cheney it’s bad; if you associate the surveillance with Bill de Blasio that is another thing."


President Obama’s administration has taken up cybersecurity as a national safety and security issue with a recent push to enlist the help of private industry. In January, Obama proposed legislation that would help shield companies that share online-threat data with the government from lawsuits, and last month he signed an executive order that urges (but does not require) companies to share information on cybersecurity threats more broadly, in the interest of improving threat protection systems.


Corman and other experts agree that the FTC’s broad recommendations for IoT manufacturers—build security in at the outset, implement lifecycle monitoring, train employees in security—are on the right track. But with the industry consigned to self-regulation for now, the current growing pains of data, security, and privacy within the IoT are likely to persist.

"We’ve moved into a completely new world," says Landau. "We are facing massive losses of privacy and, until we learn how to operate in it—we, the public, and we, the government—getting protection for it is going to be awkward. Or more than awkward."

See more at: fastcompany.com