Sigma Z-Wave Enters the Public Domain

Business and Marketing Concepts, Illustration of Standard Deviation Diagram, Gaussian Bell or Normal Distribution Curve Population Pyramid Chart for Sample Size Determination.

If you’ve been following the various low powered networks and personal wireless networks that are used for IoT, you would have noticed that the majority of them are closed source and protected by intellectual property law. This is not only a bad thing for development, but it can also limit the functionality and interoperability of IoT devices that operate on different network protocols.

This week, Sigma has made an unexpected move by opening up their Z-Wave standard to developers, royalty-free, increasing the potential for new and innovative devices. Previously, only members of the Sigma Z-Wave Alliance had full access to the standard, and even then they were limited by a non-disclosure agreement. It is expected that by inviting more developers to explore the network and create prototypes for it, Z-Wave will have a stronger chance of becoming the leading mesh network for personal home use.

This is not the first time that Sigma has released their intellectual property into the wild. Less than half a decade ago, they made their ITU G.9959 radio design available to other developers, which means that startups and even large companies can incorporate the design, royalty-free. Of course, Sigma has reasons for sharing their technology, and clearly they want to become the key player in IoT networks. With more than 30 billion IoT devices expected to be in deployment within the next 5 years, it is no surprise the Sigma is trying all they can do to gain a strong position in the consumer, corporate, and industrial markets.

Sigma is So Far Enjoying Significant Market Penetration

So far, their strategy appears to be working. They’ve supplied more than 50 million Z-Wave microchips that are now in home appliances and other devices, and their technology is used by 90% of the security companies in the US that use IoT based systems.

Despite this latest news, Sigma can’t afford to slow down. They’ll need to continually develop new technologies and iterate on their current systems, especially if they want to remain competitive with Zigbee and Bluetooth. Bluetooth is of particular concern, especially as Bluetooth 5 is right around the corner, offering 4x the bandwidth of the previous spec, and 10x the range. Bluetooth is hugely popular in consumer electronics, and users are familiar with the name and the basics of how the technology works.

At this stage, Sigma is showing that they’re not afraid of taking risks to be competitive, but it will take up to a year before we are able to see which company is truly dominating the mesh network landscape.

The Industrial Revolutions: A Brief History

Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Image by Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com

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What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 or, as it is also known the fourth industrial revolution is the trend that is currently coming into play of automating the manufacturing processes and the use of IoT and other technologies to make industrial processes more readily accomplished. It is working hand in hand with things like the internet of things, cloud computing and cyber-physical computing.

Using Industry 4.0, we create what are called smart processes and smart computing.

According to Wikipedia, “Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.”

The term Industry 4.0 or fourth industrial revolution began in the German government with a project that they had created that was markedly high tech. It promoted computerized manufacturing and provided the reasons for that manufacturing to take place as well as how industry 4.0 would play out with other areas of manufacturing such as logistics and supply.

Industry 4.0 provides for changes in the way in which we work. It makes our work smarter and faster and in most cases will save a great deal of money for the factories and businesses which embrace it. For those that do not embrace the fourth industrial revolution, they will be hard pressed to keep up to those who have introduced smarter factories. Better manufacturing, better use of space and better safety results are just a few of the things that Industry 4.0 provides.

For those who embrace Industry 4.0 the results can be faster, better, more profitable results from their business. What’s not to love about that.

Legislating the IoT

While he Internet of Things is a relatively new concept, it does have a few years now since the inception. It is beginning to take shape and to evolve more rapidly, changing the way that we live in dramatic ways.

What is Iot?

IoT or the internet of things, very simply put is a networked set of devices and items that may not traditionally be part of what you would consider computers. IoT is the use of the internet to control objects and services that impact people’s day to day life. These devices may include fitness devices, shoes, clothing, home appliances, automation, security and even medical devices.

These devices send and receive data and may be reviewed and analyzed to assist in our day to day living.

Of inordinate concern to data experts and security personnel is how great the impact may be on our privacy. In fact there is a lot of pressure by legislators to regulate the way in which the IoT is used and to create laws forcing companies to use specific types of security, to control the people who use that specific area of IoT and to cause companies to be held liable for problems with it.

That, sadly is a double edged sword. Much like the legislation of the internet opens the door for controlling many areas of the internet such as the free exchange of ideas and the development of open source materials and software, or the Net Neutrality opens the door and sets a precedent for the lawmakers of the US to legislate other areas of the internet, so too does legislating IoT set a dangerous precedent.

While it IS necessary to control and to provide for the security of devices such as insulin pumps and other medical devices, the concern is that if heavy legislation surrounds anything that may be linked to or connected to an IoT network, the delays and the slowing in development that may result could threaten the core of the IoT movement.

Whats your take on legislating Iot and where does security begin and is legislating it going to bring innovation to an end?

Top Three Skills for Data Security Pros

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Security in IoT is also a necessity

Top Three Skills for Data Security Pros

What you need to succeed in data security? Compliance, Governance and Data Security Experts

If 2016 shapes up anything like the last quarter of 2015, data security in the IOT will continue to be a hot topic for all of us working to protect our work in the Cloud. In my last article, I discussed several trends that we are monitoring at SoftNet Search’s IOT practice area. This time, I will weigh in on the kinds of people who will fulfill the needs of companies who are staying ahead of data security trends.

IT Headcount Going Up

According to all the people that matter, IT will continue to hire data security and other pros in 2016. For example, Computerworld’s recent survey showed that “37% of the 182 IT professionals who responded to the survey said they plan to increase head count in the upcoming year — that’s a significant jump from last year, when only 24% said they planned to add new staff. Moreover, 24% of those polled this year listed “attracting new talent” as first among their business priorities for the next 12 months.”

So how will they find the data security specialists they need? They will focus on these top three skills:

1) Security (General) – General security projects rated number two in the “most important IT projects that survey respondents have underway.” General security specialists, including data security pros, will command higher salaries, with Robert Half Technology 2016 Salary Guide predicting a 5% to 7% rise this year, hitting a range of 100K to 200K on average.

2) Compliance– Small-to-medium sized businesses are racing to ensure that their compliance policies are up to speed, especially if they’re working in the IOT. Healthcare continues to head up the compliance market in this field, with financial services and consumer privacy goals (customer information safety) coming in a close second and third, respectively. Data security specialists and database analysts will continue to command higher salaries—and a track record of managing big data in the cloud – and providing compliance leadership for functional business partners—is a must. Computerworld again: “Exactly 50% of the IT professionals who participated in our Forecast 2016 survey said they plan to increase spending on security technologies in the next 12 months.” Making sure these technologies include built-in compliance gate keeping will be top of mind for data security leaders all throughout 2016.

3) Governance– Many large corporations have a lock on their governance policies because they have the headcount to ensure that Cloud and SaaS solutions across the enterprise fold into their existing governance plans. They can also pull together IT governance committees to get ahead of this issue and ensure that data security guardrails are firmly in place via smart governance plans.

Who owns your data security governance policy?

The problem is, many companies have had to institute ad hoc governance because they don’t have the time to control these policies in a centralized way. Functional, siloed IT business partners might “own” the governance policies for say, customer information, with others guarding HR or manufacturing data. Data security pros with backgrounds in IT governance can help answer IT leaders’ most pressing governance questions in an enterprise-wide manner and ensure that governance rules don’t languish in silos, making your company prone to breaches of policy. Hire someone to answer these questions:

  • How to start instituting a cohesive governance strategy that grows with the company (and its technologies)?
  • Who should we include on our team
  • How long it will take until the governance policy works on its own to cover all of our technologies and foreseeable ones?
  • Who should manage the project and become accountable from the beginning?

 

If your data security pros don’t have the answers to these questions or have not worked as a team to define governance for the IOT, chances are they will need to get up to speed—and quickly.

 

What doesn’t work as well?

We’ve watched some companies hire a consultant to help the Corporate Governance Officers (CGOs) with the IT end of their jobs. The problem with that solution is that IOT and cloud-based data security and governance should not be placed on the table in front of a bunch of lawyers that, no matter how skilled, can’t be expected to keep up with best practices in the field. Hiring internal IT governance headcount, if even on a contract basis, works better in the long run and will cost you thousands less without costing you your peace of mind.

 

If you’d like to know more about the highly-skilled data security specialists I’ve seen in my practice; or if your enterprise requires help with IT compliance, governance or data security in general, definitely give me a shout.

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What’s Coming in 2016 IoT Devices?

It’s no secret that IoT, IoT devices and data are changing dramatically. Industry experts believe that 2016 is going to be a year of action and change as trends move forward dramatically. Technology changes are happening faster than many companies can react or adapt to them. Data Security, IoT Security, Cloud computing and mobile computing are where the top changes are expected to be.

MobileIron’s VP of strategy says that we can expect to see dramatic changes in every area of computing. Ojas Rege says “2016 will be a challenging year for IT devices as mobile and cloud force CIOs to adopt a more agile model of information security, policy design, technology evaluation, and lifecycle management,” “2015 saw more mobile malware than ever before, with a string of exploits such as Stagefright, KeyRaider, XcodeGhost, and YiSpecter. In 2016, we will see hackers continue to figure out clever ways to make apps appear “trusted,” Rege believes. “As a result, expect that Apple in particular will continue to shut down untrusted ways of distributing apps to devices, such as side-loading, and become much stricter about controlling the use of private APIs.”

Nearly every security specialist believes that two things will change in IoT in 2016 that are more important than any other. These two things will pave the way forward for IoT.

Customers are going to insist on better applications for use. Customers are insisting on applications that are proven secure, rather than put together in rapid and insecure ways.

In spite of all of the attention that it’s getting, the IoT is at this moment in time more experimental than end run perfection. Every vendor is striving for IoT perfection but some of them aren’t even sure what it is.

Companies are all seeking to ride the wave of IoT but many are not sure how to accomplish that and aren’t certain whether or not they are on the right pathway. Rege believes that by the end of 2016, companies are going to change how they view IoT and realize that it is not a game, but an imperative for any company that is going to move forward. He states that “A set of high-value IoT use cases will emerge, and vendors will enter 2017 with the ability to deliver commercially useful solutions.”

Rege believes—and most companies believe along with him, that Iot energy, security, and innovation are going to be necessary parts of the computing landscape in 2016. The enterprise requires developers of IoT to completely rethink the business and IoT processes rather than just porting apps to Iot platforms that are not secure and not worthwhile. The users of today are rapidly growing tired of hearing that their application or their IoT product has been found to be insecure. It has changed their trust in the products and will continue to do so in a way that will prevent them from using IoT devices that have not been proven to be secure.

Rapid changes in technology, user demands and methodology changes and the need for more secure IoT and mobile applications mean that companies are going to need talented developers and security personnel in IoT on a level not previously seen.

Where is your company so far as IoT development and what kind of plans have you made for the changing IoT landscape in 2016?

Ten Great DIY/IoT Concepts That Are Here Now

The meaning behind the letters in DIY are readily understood by people. IoT does not immediately spark recognition…yet. IoT stands for “Internet of Things” and refers to the amazing connection between various devices as well as connecting things via the internet. Since the world is becoming rapidly more technologically reliant, it makes sense designers would develop new ways to connect various technologies together.

Can DIY and IoT be fused together? Absolutely! Here are ten truly awesome DIY IoT projects:

Build a Robot

Who wouldn’t want their own robot? Okay, but how do you build one? No one needs to dream of classic science-fiction works such as I Robot anymore to figure out the answer. Windows IoT allows for easily building a mini-robot – a start.

Drone via Voice

The uses for Amazon’s Echo technology is far more diverse than people realize. The technology can be integrated into drone’s allowing for the voice command of the flying device. Just don’t go hoarse trying to use it.

Maintain a Weather Station

Data about the weather comes from all sorts of different sources. Combining all those sources into one central data hub makes it easier to get weather stats without fishing all over the internet.

Keeping Tabs on a Car

It would be tough to steal a car if the engine was remotely shut off. A new smartphone app can control the engine ignition, air conditioner, and, in time, more. Real-time tracking of where the car is could aid in tracking the vehicle down if someone absconds with it.

Auto-Tinting for Windows

Sensors built into the windows control the tinting of the windows when a bit too much hit warms up the surface. Once the tint darkens, heat is kept out and comfort is boosted.

Facial Recognition Door Locks

Remember the talking door knocker from The Wizard of Oz? A modern high-tech version has emerged. By utilizing advanced facial recognition software produced by Microsoft, a door’s lock can open for those it recognizing. No more stumbling for keys after this system is set up.

Animal Attack Wi-Fi

This is an intriguing concept, but one people might not want to try for themselves. Adding a device capable of hacking Wi-Fi to a dog or cat’s collar is innovative, but doing so may get you in trouble.

The Magic Mirror

A fairy tale can come true in the form of a talking mirror. Building up a smart mirror allow it to display more than a reflection. The mirror can present all manner of different data including weather, news feeds, and more.

Helping Animal Life in Rivers and Streams

Microsoft Azure can track the temperatures of creeks, streams, and more allowing the system to aid in reintroducing Salmon to the waters and maintaining a proper ecosystem.

Automatic Car Wreck Response

Wow – this one could literally be a lifesaver. A communications system is hooked up to a car and, when an accident occurs, first responders are notified immediately. Such a system could help in a multitude of different serious scenarios.

These 10 are only the beginning of what is sure to be an extremely long list. A lot of DIY IoT greatness is sure to emerge in time.

2015 in IoT Breaches-Security Counts

IoT, as we all know, is not without issues–though we have become reliant upon it in many ways. In 2015, there was some very viable and tangible proof that the IoT field is fraught with real peril and that we as IoT designers, developers and companies need to be paying more attention to security. Just how many different IoT companies and arenas were breached? The answer might surprise – not to mention terrify you.

Most of us read about the car that was taken over and driven into a ditch. The ramifications of that were clear to all of us, but some even more frightening things have taken place this year..

Did you know that a flight was taken over– and the man who took over the flight bragged that he had also manipulated the space station?

In the past year, the following IoT hacks have taken place.

Medical devices
–The FDA ordered that specific drug pumps be no longer used. The software was bad enough that hackers could change the dosage being delivered to people who were using them.So we have the possibility of murder by internet?? http://www.securityweek.com/fda-issues-alert-over-vulnerabl…

The DOE–According to a June 2015 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, hackers successfully compromised U.S. Department of Energy computer systems more than 150 times between 2010 and 2014. “Records show 53 of the 159 successful intrusions were “root compromises ” “http://www.usatoday.com/…/cyber-attacks-doe-energy/71929786/

A Steel Mill –An entire steel mill was breached resulting in “massive destruction of equipment” http://www.wired.com/…/…/german-steel-mill-hack-destruction/

The US National Nuclear Security Administration–The people who are responsible for managing and securing the entire nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, experienced 19 successful cyber attacks during the four-year period of 2010 – 2014

Firearms–TrackingPoint makes a smart rifle–what it does is to digitally “tag” a target, and then locks the trigger until the gun is perfectly positioned to hit it –and it can hit up to half a mile away but… now there has been a serious flaw found in the software so that a hacker could make a law enforcement hit the hostage rather than the intended target. http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/29/technology/hack-smart-rifle/

Offshore Oil Rigs –Hackers have also shut down an oil rig by tilting it sideways..They hit another rig so hard with malware it was not seaworthy for 19 days..

Government Buildings Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed that hackers had managed to penetrate a state government facility and a manufacturing plant in New Jersey–now all they did was change the temperature, but what COULD they have done.. really think about that.

Last.. but not least.. go ahead and buy that cool toaster and refrigerator….. a funny thing happened with hundreds of kitchens in the UK. All of them were hacked and the resultant hack wouldn’t allow them to make certain kinds of food in their toaster or store it in their fridge.http://www.cbronline.com/…/iot-security-breach-forces-kitch…

IOT is a time saver and offers us incredible convenience, but as we’re beginning to find out, there are some real ramifications to the use of IoT devices that we need to be aware of. More to the point, companies and industries who are offering these devices need to take full responsibility to assure the security of the devices they are offering. IoT security workers and developers are more important than ever before..

The IoT Job Market: Who’s Getting Hired, and Why?

IoT ProfessionalsAs the Internet of Things becomes more important for companies of all sizes, Information Technology professionals are beginning to seek out roles related to this growing niche. The Internet of Things is built on many of the technologies that professionals are already familiar with. Internet Protocol (IP) experts, hardware engineers, and even GUI designers could find themselves working on IoT projects in companies ranging from startups, to the technology giants that are driving the industry.

If one were to ask; “what kind of field do I need to be in to land a job in IoT?”, the answer would not be simple. IoT works on many layers. Software plays a key role in usability and functionality. Network layers are key to infrastructure, and hardware layers define the capabilities and development opportunities involved in any IoT system. Perhaps a better way to find out what is required of IoT professionals, would be to take information from some of the opportunities that are available in the job market right now.

Take Amazon as an example. Amazon AWS is the online retail giant’s cloud services arm. Cloud systems like Amazon S3 power some of the most widely adopted cloud computing systems in use today. To be considered for a role on a team working within AWS, the qualifications are no different to most IT development roles. A Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, professional experience (4+ years is a must), fundamentals in object design, and programming proficiency in a contemporary programming language will at least ensure a candidate’s resume is looked at.

But this doesn’t paint the full picture. Businesses who engage in IoT technologies are businesses who are invested in the future. This means that they’re seeking forward thinking professionals. Meeting the requirements where it comes to academic achievement is only part of what it takes to make it in IoT.

Last year, Forbes published a number of articles on what it would take to make it in the growing IoT industry. According to Forbes, the necessary qualities go beyond academia, and incorporate more soft skills and innovative thought.

High on the list was associative thinking. Collaborators who can integrate varying strategies and concepts were also tipped to be in demand. Finally, professionals who can communicate complex ideas easily through speech, written word, and abstract methods were considered more likely to be successful in the IoT niche than those who were only proficient in their technical field.

Take a look at the job market on any given day, and you will find dozens of IoT related jobs advertised by high profile tech companies. The second quarter of 2015 has seen positions opening at Dell and IBM (Software Development), Verizon (IoT Product Management), and Accenture (IoT Delivery Consultants), to name just a few.

The reason these companies are hiring in IoT is simple; it is the next big thing. Technology firms like Dell and IBM have a vested interest. Their core products and services are built around delivering and facilitating IoT. With companies like Verizon and Accenture, it is more about preparing for the future. IoT will allow Verizon to better deliver the services that they already have. Customer billing and customer experience can be improved by incorporating IoT into the ways that customers can interact with the company, but there’s also the fact that Verizon is a cellular network leader. Their consumer and business devices (i.e. smartphones) are key to incorporating IoT into daily consumer life. Wireless payments, mobile banking, home automation, and sensor interaction can be achieved through smart devices from Verizon. The talent that these companies recruit will be actively involved in designing, maintaining, and delivering IoT in the immediate future.

Although IoT hasn’t completely changed the face of Information Technology, it has created new opportunities for jobseekers in the market. Existing professionals with transferable skills will find new challenges and progression opportunities within the Iot Job Market, and also in smaller companies that are incorporating IoT concepts into manufacturing, packing, logistics, and even medical.

International Data Corporation has predicted that IoT will be a $7 trillion industry by 2020. With growth as fast as it currently is, IoT job market is the perfect platform from where jobseekers can showcase their skills, and where companies can form relationships with the talented professionals who will take them into the future.

A Quick History of the Internet of Things

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How Did We Create Such a Rich Market?

Want to know how the “Internet of Things” became a thing at all? To do so, you must look back to the beginning: the birth of networking and the explosion of consumer technology.

The internet isn’t that old, so far as the world wide web. In 1974, the structure we know and love today was born. Just ten years later. that the first domain name system was introduced, allowing for easier networking. The first website actually came online in 1991. The “internet,” as a network of connected devices in consumer homes, was only proposed just a scant two years before that, yet it came crashing into our mainstream world.

In no time the internet took over. By 1995, multiple websites and systems came online. I remember watching crude bulletin board systems arise, then quickly be replaced by Geocities pages and early websites. The first business webpages actually came in the form of reproduced fliers, essentially scanned and put online to promote companies. All of these new ideas came from the imaginings of others that had taken place decades earlier.

The term “internet of things” or “IoT” is also not a new one. You can find references to it as far back as the idea of the Internet itself, but if you survey an IoT team, it is more than likely that few know this. The history, or at least the ideology, goes back a great deal further than most people know. This, of course, has ramifications on the marketplace, both in how older technology companies approach the space and how traditional product introduction processes operate.

Thinkers across history could be responsible for coining the term, depending on the story you read. Some point to Tesla and Edison as the first to lead connected objects. Others look at the literal applications by Tim Berners Lee and Mark Weiser, the latter of which famously created a water fountain synced to the activities of the NYSE. The founders of Nest could also make the list, one of the first truly non-computer connected objects.

Even the idealism and futurism of the 1950s and 1960s gave way to the Internet of Things thinking. Imagine a classic 60s technology ad, displaying the “home of the future.” Everything is connected and communicating, and people are never out of reach of their day-to-day technology.

Then, of course, is Kevin Ashton, a man who comes up when you Google “who came up with the Internet of Things.” Kevin is a frequent thinker in the space who is corrected attributed to a verifiable creation of the term, “Internet of Things.” Like most corporate lingo, the origin is likely impossible to pin down, but the idea that the term was born in a boardroom is not surprising. The leaders who would go on to actually take these objects to market in the 90s included “traditional” players like IBM and Sony.

The story is that, no matter what route you pick to decipher the past, the rise of Internet of Things thinking is ubiquitous. From the moment “networking” arrived into everyday life, people were thinking about how it would impact our world.

1998 itself is a turning point in many ways, when something changed. Apple returned to the market with the iMac, and the team that designed this platform would go on to design the iPhone and, most critical to IoT research, the iPod. Big name manufacturers that had for most of their development focused on the PC were now investing in everyday objects with connectivity and technological features. The smartphone era was planted, and with it would come the first real consumer-level IoT object based on existing computers.

The history of IoT is extraordinarily dense, and the reading of the history depends on who you ask. If you were to question a designer at IBM in the late 1980s, you would find ideas similar to what we now call IoT in constant use. However, if you ask an emerging startup from the early 2000s, you would find a wave of thinkers taking credit for the idea. The reality is somewhere in between: those who thought ahead about computers expected what we have today, billions of devices.

IoT has continued to grow and to evolve and projections are bright for this new methodology for using the internet. The future of IoT is now –with devices coming online every day. The world is reliant upon connected cars, connected medical devices and even connected homes.

Companies today are scrambling to get their own IoT systems online and moving and new recruits are being brought in every day to head up IoT systems in companies both large and small. How well do they know the history of the internet of things and exactly how broad it can be?