The Industrial Internet of Things

industrialiotThe world is constantly changing. The technology in a factory today is far different from what was there even a decade ago. Today, the industrial internet of things has already had an impact on how effectively a factory is run and how its equipment runs.

With a network of devices directly linked in the industrial internet of things, there are a few benefits. First, there is a local level of intelligence among these devices. Each can communicate with other items in the factory and help production to run more effectively. If there is a jam in machinery, a device connected to the internet of things can halt production around it. A message can be sent to maintenance to address the issue and there is less downtime and a reduction in product loss as a result.

Equipment have a shared API they use. This means they can continue to communicate in other ways also. Scanners can help you to keep track of the number of inventory being produced in seconds. You can also determine production times on specific products and have monthly data downloaded to a spreadsheet and review the statistics it includes.

Because of this, the industrial internet of things is allowing businesses to operate more effectively. There are fewer surprises on the production line and a factory can better utilize their resources in order to supercharge production and deliver better results. In fact, there are fewer limitations on the things you can do with this application.

In the future, the industrial internet of things will continue to evolve. New factory machines will be better equipped to handle the internet as part of operations and to ensure that data is been effortlessly mined. This will include new supply chain integration. In fact, with everything streamlined, we’ll find there are fewer production concerns that we encounter.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns to be had. On the internet, there are security concerns and vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. What happens if a malicious application installs or a disgruntled employee makes adjustments to the program? What solutions are there? If there is a global internet outage, how does that impact factory equipment and other items that are attached through the network that is running the industrial internet of things?

While there are some concerns, that doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t consider the industrial internet of things as a solution. However, they should take the time to understand the applications and software they are considering to ensure that it delivers the best results possible for their company.

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Connected Motorcycles and IoT

Connected Motorcycles and IoT The Internet of Things

Connected cars are becoming more common these days, but only in the past few years has the IoT expanded its horizons to other vehicles. A California based company, Zero Motorcycles produced a prototype of its first electric motorcycle in 2006 and began marketing them in 2008. In 2013 the company produced a mobile app enabling communication with the bike using Bluetooth; effectively using the Internet of Things to connect owner, motorcycle, and service facility.

The app allows the rider to configure his or her motorcycle in a number of different ways. For example, it can be configured for a more energy efficient ride or for a higher performance using only the app. One of the rider benefits is that the app can also tell you your current battery capacity as well as an estimation of how far you can travel on the charge.

Another boon to riders is that the motorcycle can communicate directly to the manufacturer, dealer, or repair shop. Most vehicles today can communicate with the mechanic by being plugged into a computer, but it entails a trip to the garage. The available app allows the motorcycle to send that diagnostic information directly to the mechanic over the internet no matter where you are. Anyone who has ever paid to have a vehicle diagnosed via a garage computer can appreciate the value of this particular feature.

In addition, if a rider experiences mechanical problems with the motorcycle, all they need do is to tap the help button located in the app. The information is transmitted and the rider can get troubleshooting advice on location as well as having the company schedule a service appointment if desired. Rather than taking days to get your motorcycle into a mechanic for diagnosis, it is all done in minutes. The company currently has four models of connected motorcycles on the market, including bikes that are designed specifically for law enforcement and military use.

With all of the information being passed back and forth online, many potential users (myself included) will have concerns about security, and rightly so. According to Zero’s director of customer experience, Aaron Cheatham, security is always the company’s top priority. To ensure the privacy of both customer and data, access to the bike is curtailed through the use of a short range Bluetooth connection. In Cheatham’s own words, “A user must have physical access to the motorcycle to pair the mobile device to the bike and enable the communication.” The logs that are taken from the motorcycle are then sent in a format that is proprietary and to review them requires a decoder.

As more of our daily life is handled by computers, it’s easy to dwell on the things that could potentially go wrong. While those things are always possible, you should also think of the benefits that we as a society can reap. This single application of the Internet of Things may provide benefits that range from a reduction in motorcycle fatalities to a more energy efficient future.

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Big Growth in Data Security Provides Consultant Opportunities

By 2016, the worldwide data security market is expected to approach almost $90 Billion in total value. This means that security is big business, and it should be. Data security has become increasingly critical as businesses utilize increasingly complex technology. Likewise, businesses that are directly involved in technology, such as IoT startups, cloud service providers, and even internet service providers, all have a vested interest in maintaining the security of their data.

Three Core Influencers on the Security Market

Security as a concept

Security as a concept

There are three core areas of influence that are driving the key players in data security consulting. Market influencers, according to Gartner Research, include BYOD (Bring your own Device), big data, and the security threats themselves.

BYOD is changing the way that SMBs and enterprise clients think about security. In the past, security solutions could be rolled out and controlled across a limited number of devices that were usually owned and maintained by employers. Today, it is more common for executives and staff at all levels to bring their own devices, which can then connect to company applications and networks. This creates the challenge of implementing robust security policies and technologies that can cover a range of devices and access methods.

Increased connectivity has led to increasing levels of ‘big data’ in business. Considering all of the channels where data is collected, whether it be through software, customer interactions, or even data that comes from IoT connected devices, it is becoming critical that big data is not only collected, identified, and categorized, but that it is kept secure. Security in the future will be essential for protecting IP, trade sensitive information, and maintaining privacy.

Finally, the increasing number of security threats that are present, are reshaping the market, and will continue to do so in the future. In addition to the attacks and exploits that have been common in the past, data security consulting professionals now have new technologies where compromises must be patched and anticipated. IoT devices, SaaS solutions, and an increasingly widespread cloud adoption will be major factors that shape the needs of future data security.

Data Security Consulting: What is Hot?

Recent graduates, professionals looking for new opportunities, and even CIOs within existing organizations can anticipate the opportunities and needs, by identifying current roles and niches in the data security consulting market.

A data security role may be completely specialized, or in some cases, generalized and more leadership based, depending on the size of an organization.

Information security can be broken down into two main areas. These areas are hardware, and software. A data security consultant may be expected to have a wider understanding of their industry, but in reality they will only specialize in some key areas. This means that employers need to be specific about who they’re looking for and the technologies that they use. It also means that jobseekers need to be upfront about their expertise, or they may risk finding themselves in a position that is beyond their current skillset, which could lead to career impacting underperformance.

As a consultant, the role is to advise, develop, and implement change. This change is usually to address a problem that already exists. In the case of data security, this could mean that a security threat has already been identified, or it could be to mitigate possible threats with new technologies.

Consultants need superior application and network penetration skills. This means that they should be able to break down, and analyze the way that software works within any environment. This includes input and output channels. Networks need to be understood in the same way. The purpose of this knowledge, is to identify where risks exist, or where existing security breaches are occurring.

Software algorithms are known to provide false positives, so a consultant needs to be able to identify these, and should have skill in determining viable threats. This will help the consultant to allocate resources where they are most necessary, which can benefit their employer, financially.

Consultants should build an understanding of the technologies used by their employer. Whenever working on a contract, a consultant will deal with systems that they are unfamiliar with. Understanding the underlying technologies will be critical to implementing successful security solutions. This may require knowledge of cloud computing and infrastructure, IoT protocols and industry practices, or even specifics of networking or programming languages.

Successful consultants will be experts in risk management. This should not just include software and hardware, but also their employer’s strategy when it comes to risk management. Some companies are willing to accept higher levels of risk, while some have more stringent expectations. Understanding the culture of any particular company will be critical.

As Data Becomes More Important, Security Consulting Becomes a Necessity

It doesn’t matter whether a business processes EPS payments, collects consumer information for a large retail operation, or even if they’re dealing exclusively in cloud technology and the Internet of Things, the fact is that as long as they are collecting and storing data, they will need dedicated security professionals.

Protecting that data for commercial and privacy reasons, will best be achieved with the right candidates, who have the skills and experience to deal with security threats in the modern business landscape.

For more information about information security and the cyber treats faced today, visit the Gartner Research Security and Risk Management page. [http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/na/security/]

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BYOD, IT Security, and The Internet of Things

byodiotsecurityLast year, the number of smartphones in the world hit a new record. Out of the 4.55 billion cell phone users worldwide, 1.75 billion of those were using smartphones. Users are rapidly switching to smartphones as these devices become more affordable, and as 3G and 4G networks are introduced into key markets, allowing faster than ever data transfer rates. For businesses, this increasing smartphone penetration has significant implications. As more businesses adopt BYOD (Bring your own Device), IT security professionals and CIO leaders will need to address the issues of security that are introduced as business data is taken on the road, and exposed to external networks.

How Does BYOD Impact IT Security?

Data security consultants, and anyone involved in information technology or management, will need to be clear on the risks that are introduced with BYOD.

A company that allows BYOD is able to receive great benefits from doing so. Systems that allow for users to bring their own devices mean that staff are able to use devices that are familiar to them, which can reduce training time and increase efficiency. At the same time, businesses can save significant amounts of money on IT procurement, because users are bringing their own cell phones, tablets, and even laptops, from home.

Even with these key advantages, there are some problem to overcome. The biggest challenge with BYOD, is security. A BYOD device would be almost worthless if it didn’t have sufficient access to a corporate network, so that a staff member can easily obtain the information and run the applications that they need to perform their jobs. This means opening up access to systems which would have previously been protected by closed networks accessed by in-house devices, with security enforced through strict and robust security policies.

Another challenge exists when employees leave a company. Because they take their devices with them, there needs to be a mechanism in place that prevents access from devices that are no longer associated with an authorized staff member. Compared to a model without BYOD, this adds another layer of security, and a number of process layers within the organizational structure of a business. Without addressing this type of situation, businesses would be putting themselves at significant risk.

Security Is Even More Important than Ever with IoT

The Internet of Things has been called the future of business, computing, and entertainment. Indeed, IoT covers all of these areas, whether you look at a smart TV, an internet capable MRI machine, or even the cloud services that deliver email, streaming video, or music, to devices that will work from anyplace where there is an internet connection.

IoT exists in complex industries, too. Consider a production line that utilizes networked sensors along the line, which then transmit data in real time between ordering systems, packing robots, and even dispatch centers, to coordinate logistics. Considering the data that is collected using IoT sensors, and then the possibilities there are to interface with this data by using BYOD devices, it becomes clear that a system utilizing IoT technologies and BYOD access policies, needs to be secured to the highest industry standards.

Security breaches could mean that an unauthorized party is able to gain access to production data or even sensitive manufacturing secrets, or that a previous employee is able to take data and learnings to a competitor, using their own device that was once legitimately authorized through BYOD policies.

Similar risks exist in any industry. If you are an IT data security consultant within a contact center business, you could be tasked with protecting CRM systems, billing information, payment gateways, and other critical systems. Sales reps, telephone agents, and remote staff could all be using BYOD devices to connect to a decentralized cloud solution. Ensuring that access control and other security measures are present, will be a core aspect of the solutions that you design and implement.

Who are The Big Players in IT Security Today?

You only need to look at the world’s largest information security consultancies to see that data security is a big business.

Deloitte, currently the biggest player in IT security, made over $2 billion in revenue from security consulting in 2014. Other leading companies are seeing similar growth, with all of the top five, including IBM and KPMG, seeing revenue growth in security consulting. All of the top five exceeded 5% growth between 2013 and 2014.

This means that not only is there a clear growing need for security consulting, but also that there will be an increased demand for IT security consultants who are experienced in the latest technologies, including cloud and IoT technologies. The demand has been partially spurred on by high profile data security breaches, especially those at government level.

Businesses and Professionals Should Prepare for a Growing Market

Not only do businesses need to assess and respond to their needs regarding BYOD, IT security, and overall risk management, but they will need to begin to seek the most qualified consultants to lead their security initiatives.

Likewise, qualified candidates who are entering the job market need to seek out the most promising opportunities. Such as those that exist with businesses where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise in new and emerging IT technologies.

Moving forward, the businesses and professionals who recognize the importance and opportunity within data security consultancy, will be the ones who benefit the most in the next five years, when both IoT and IT Security are expected to experience drastic market growth.

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The Impact of Smart Machines on the Workforce

Ever since the industrial revolution, there are those among the working class who have held a fear of machines, and their potential to take away the jobs of humans. With the advent of the Internet of Things, connected smart machines have advanced to a stage where similar fears are resurfacing and some of them may be valid. Many are asking themselves, could a machine do their job? Perhaps the question that is much more appropriate, is whether machines will be taking jobs, in the near future?

What Do Industry Insiders Think About Smart Machines and Their Potential?

Smart machines that are connected to IoT infrastructure are becoming more common in every industry. Whether we look at automated checkouts at supermarkets, self-serve check-in machines at airports and train stations, or even ATM machines, we are seeing examples of how smart machines have, at least in some part, taken over functions previously performed by human workers. Does this mean that people would naturally be accepting of an automated, machine driven future? It’s possible, but not necessarily the case.

Gartner Research surveyed influential CEO’s in 2013, asking whether they considered that machines would be capable of taking over millions of jobs within the next 15 years. Surprisingly, 60% of these CEO’s said no, and referred to the situation as a ‘futurist fantasy’. (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2605015)

Two years later, and we’re seeing more acceptance for the role that smart machines will play. The researchers at Gartner believe that machines will have a widespread and profound impact on the market, even as early as 2020. Gartner even predicts that due to the rising intelligence of machines, job losses will be present within highly skilled industries.

IBM’s Watson, an advanced artificial intelligence machine, is already working with doctors at UT MD Anderson, helping to provide treatment plans for Leukemia patients. The computer program can diagnose therapies based on genetic footprints, and it can do so in minutes, where it might take doctors weeks to devise similar treatment plans. Of course there is still room for error, but the technology is rapidly advancing, and has left some in the medical field, stunned. (http://www.businessinsider.com/r-ibms-watson-to-guide-cancer-therapies-at-14-centers-2015-5http://www.businessinsider.com/how-ibm-watson-is-transforming-healthcare-2015-7)

Impacts of a Machine Driven Future

It looks increasingly likely that smart machines and computer algorithms will disrupt traditional job markets in the near future. What does this mean for employers and for those in employment?

Gartner suggests that CIO’s, professionals, and executive stakeholders must begin to investigate smart machines today, for a number of reasons.

The adoption of smart machines and technologies will be key to competitiveness, by driving down costs and increasing efficiency.

Decision makers will need to investigate the impact on human resource. Likewise, professionals may need to diversify or seek other opportunities as they are forced to compete in machine driven industries.

The loss of human jobs will lead to social issues, union issues, and possible political fallout.

(http://www.zdnet.com/article/smart-machines-will-they-take-your-job/)

Are Smart Machines a Negative or Positive Trend?

While it is easy to view the loss of skilled and labor intensive jobs as a negative, there are also benefits to a future that is largely driven by a computerized and robotic workforce. Product prices may fall as companies are able to produce more efficiently, at lower cost. New jobs will also be created. Programmers and engineers will be in high demand, to design and maintain smart machines and infrastructure.

It is yet to be seen whether the analyst’s predictions will become reality. The evidence however, suggests that industries will need to adapt to smart machines and technology, even if it is on a small scale. Analyzing the risks and benefits should be a key strategy for any business that wants to be prepared for a future where machine procurement and implementation might be just as, or more important than talent recruitment is today.

Are you ready for an IoT revolution? Get a ten minute consulting call and explore your IoT options!!

Wearables – Continuous Growth in the Internet of Things

 

The Internet of Things encompasses a wide range of connected services, technologies, and hardware devices. For consumers, it is the growing number of portable and wearable devices that will be their main interface with IOT. The wearable device market is rapidly evolving, especially when it comes to smart watches and fitness monitoring devices.

As opportunities grow, the wearables dominating the market are also changing. What does this mean for those involved in the development, marketing, and sales of these IOT connected devices?ni36 NewIndustry - internet of things IoT - 16zu9 g3735

How Big is the Wearable Market in 2015?

International Data Corporation (IDC) has predicted that wearable device shipments in 2015 will rise to 173% of the total sales achieved in the previous financial year. This translates to over 72 million devices, including smartwatches and health trackers. This growth has been largely driven by high profile releases such as the Apple Watch in April of 2015, and also by widely publicized financial opportunities, Fitbit’s recent IPO being a prime example.

With the potential to move over 72 million units across the market, it is no surprise that leading technology companies like LG, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, and Motorola are starting to increase their focus on wearable technology.

Future growth will be an incentive for further investment. IDC figures suggest that by 2019, global sales of wearables could exceed 150 million units.

Do these figures mean success for all involved in the wearable market? Not entirely.

Challenges for Businesses to Adapt

Although the overall market has grown, recent trends show that wearable fitness devices are losing out to increased smartwatch sales. Gartner’s latest research suggests that the dip could largely be associated with the increasing crossover in functionality between fitness devices and the latest smartwatches. 50 percent of those seeking a fitness wearable will end up choosing a smartwatch instead.

Fitness devices collect information relating to distance covered, physical location, and even heartrate. Smartwatches can now do most of the same. Combining a Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch with a phone like the Galaxy Note 4 or Galaxy S6 would provide users with GPS tracking, information on calories burnt, heart rate monitoring, and even blood oxygen levels. The technology is advancing year on year.

Because of this, companies like Fitbit and Nike, which are focused on fitness tracking, will need to lower prices to compete with integrated smartwatches. With screen and technology prices expected to drop in 2016, Gartner predicts that the fitness wearable market will be able to bounce back. By 2016 there could be as many as 19 wristband type devices for every 24 smartwatches sold.

Who are the Key Players in Wearables?

Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike make up 97% of the wearable fitness device market. In smartwatch territory, it is Samsung and Apple that lead the market.

Fortune performed a survey of industry observers and found that the average prediction was for Apple to move 22.47 million smartwatches in 2015. Current estimates (June 2015) place Apple Watch sales at 2.79 million for the two months that it has been available. Compare this to Android Wear devices (Sony, Samsung, LG etc.) which have sold less than 800k since December, and it is clear that the allure of the Apple brand is as strong, if not stronger than ever.

Apple was relatively late to market, but they innovated with the digital crown (providing a more natural and familiar interface), haptic feedback to alert users of notifications, and a pressure sensitive touch display. It is rumored that Apple’s next iteration will include a high definition camera, which would be a first for wearable devices.

Whatever new innovations companies bring to market, they will be heavily reliant on technology from Qualcomm and Intel. Intel is already working in partnership with Google and Tag Heuer to develop the world’s first smartwatch/Swiss mechanical hybrid. Investors and anyone interested in the luxury product market will be eager to see this partnership develop.

Where is the Money in Wearables?

Even with staggering sales numbers, wearables are not in themselves a key revenue stream. Instead, it is the associated value that provides the biggest benefit to manufacturers.

Smartwatches, in particular, are seen as accessories. They are paired to smartphones and in turn can help to drive sales. They are also showpiece items. Even if Samsung, Apple, Sony etc. only manage to sell wearable technology to 10% of their smartphone customers (a speculative number), they will generate brand marketability, and logically would experience knock-on sales.

When it comes to companies like Nike, Fitbit, and Jawbone, the profit can come from connected services. Examples include subscription based exercise plans, analytics software, and in the case of Nike, a wearable can lead to increased apparel sales.

As with all IOT technology, the wearable device is only one part of the experience, and therefore only one part of the business model. It is the way in which data is collected, analyzed, and presented that provides the true value of any smart device. Smartwatches already have an advantage because they are highly integrated into their respective smartphone operating systems. Wearable fitness device companies have the opportunity to provide fitness tracking as a service, and must find new ways to monetize the service to generate direct revenue on top of initial hardware sales.

What does the Future Hold For Wearable Technology?

Over a billion smartphones were sold around the world in 2014. Global wearable sales make up less than 10% of that number. The challenge for manufacturers is to develop wearables that easily integrate with daily life, and these products should also be something that consumers want to use on a daily basis.

While wearables are high in consumer mindshare, they are relatively low in actual penetration. Smartwatches are now able to integrate a fitness device with a smart device in a way that is both compelling and practical, but is it enough? Those in the industry will need the best ideas, the best strategies, and the best talent to ensure that in-demand products are developed in line with business goals, and that they result in strong financial growth.

The Latest in Wearable Tech News

http://www.bna.com/wearable-tech-tool-b17179927671/ – Wearable Tech to Monitor Productivity

http://www.afr.com/technology/fitbit-shows-pull-of-wearable-tech-with-us732-million-ipo-20150618-ghrak1 – Fitbit’s IPO

http://www.intelligent-aerospace.com/articles/2015/06/accenture-and-airbus-deliver-wearable-technology-proof-of-concept-for-improving-airplane-cabin-assembly.html – Wearable Technology in Manufacturing

Amazon Echo: A Prime Example of IoT in the Home

Amazon is a company that has gone from being an innovative online book retailer, to one of the largest ecommerce retailers in the world, and is now the largest cloud computing provider and a major player in IoT.In addition to their core ecommerce website, Amazon has a line of internet connected ebook readers, personal tablets, a smartphone, a smart TV device, and now their latest, an intellig

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

ent personal assistant for the home.

Their new product is the Echo. It’s a small, relatively discreet IoT connected speaker that works in much the same way as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Now services. Are there enough compelling features with the Echo to make it a breakthrough device in IoT mass adoption? More importantly, are there risks with having an always on, always listening, IoT device in the home?

Why Amazon Echo is Good for IoT

Although IoT devices around the world have now exceeded 5 billion, there are still billions of consumers that haven’t seen the value, or even recognized the potential of a more connected home. The consumer market is still in the early adopter stage, which means two things;

  • The products going to market have the responsibility of championing the argument for IoT.
  • These products should address concerns and reservations that people have in regards to a connected home.

While there are numerous devices available, such as wirelessly connected garden sprinklers, smart smoke alarms, smart power switches, and even IoT lighting systems, there’s nothing quite like Echo on the market.

Echo is at heart, a voice controlled personal assistant. It has much in common with the aforementioned Siri, Cortana, and Google Now. The benefit of an Echo, is that you don’t need to talk to your smartphone to use it, and it’s completely hands free. It is also always on.

The Echo will allow users to,

  • Receive daily news reports in natural language, including audio clips from leading media companies.
  • Ask for the weather.
  • Ask for recipes, information on people, places, and things, and get help for all kinds of research using results from Amazon and Wikipedia.
  • Set appointments, alarms, memos, and input text into compatible smartphone apps on iOS or Android.
  • Listen to music through internet streaming services.
  • Control other IoT devices in the home, such as Philips Hue lighting.
  • Order products from Amazon.com

From the eyes of the consumer, it is a compelling device, but there are reasons why the Echo is potentially beneficial to the entire consumer IoT market. Whereas other personal assistants are tied to smartphones, the Echo can operate independently. This allows users voice control over devices in their homes, and all they need to do is speak. The echo is always listening for the trigger phrase ‘Alexa’. So there’s no cumbersome opening of apps or removing a phone from a pocket etc. The fact that it easily integrates with other IoT devices will make it even more compelling, and could lead to complementary sales of other products such as smart lights, fans, and smart TV peripherals.

Should Users be Cautious of a Cloud Based Recording Device in their Home?

For all the positive press that has surrounded the launch of the Amazon Echo, there has been almost as much concern raised. Although users aren’t always completely aware of their privacy (or lack of) when it comes to the cloud, a number of leading tech publications have published articles which at least mention the downsides of having an always on recording device in the home. ZDNet and The Inquisitor, are just two of the leading tech coverage sites that raised security concerns along with their standard feature pieces.

As IoT technology becomes more prevalent, security is becoming a hot topic. Veracode and HP are two companies that have studied security on popular home devices. HP found that 70% of the top home IoT devices had an average of 25 security holes. These ranged from unsecured data transfer, to outdated remote access methods.

Considering that the Echo is constantly listening, it has the potential to store any audio it hears, on the cloud. This could be used for something mildly intrusive, like building an advertising profile for a user’s Amazon account, but in the wrong hands the uses could be more sinister. Imagine that criminals were able to illegally obtain data and perform identity theft, target individual houses for robberies, or even stalk individuals who are using the Echo. Consider all of the private things that are said in the average home, and it becomes obvious how dangerous that information could be in the wrong hands.

What are the Main Security Concerns Relating to the Amazon Echo?

  • Although it is not always listening in the sense that it is recording, it always has the potential to listen. It requires a keyword to interact with it, but it is always listening for that key word. Security compromises, or even future malware could enable the Echo to listen and mine data continuously.
  • Users are not informed how long it takes the Echo to stop recording, after interacting with it. Amazon has so far not commented on this.
  • At this stage, Amazon has not commented on the type of information that is retained, how long it is retained for, how it is used, and where it is stored. This has obvious security implications. Logically it would be stored in the Amazon cloud. Is that data anonymized, is it encrypted during transfer, and who has access to that data? (http://www.inquisitr.com/1593742/amazon-echo-interests-many-raises-privacy-concerns-for-many-more/)

While it is obvious that the Amazon Echo is an exciting piece of technology that makes it easier for consumers to get connected to IoT, there are still concerns when it comes to security and privacy.

The aim for businesses invested in IoT, should be transparency. Amazon can say that their system is secure and that user privacy is taken seriously, but without details and facts, this is hard to quantify or put into context.

This is one particular product that should be watched by observers and industry insiders alike, because it could well have implications for future releases from other companies. Most interesting will be how the Echo performs commercially, and how it holds up when it comes to security and user privacy in the cloud.

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How Secure are Home IoT Devices?

home IoT devicesThe Internet of Things (IoT) is a phenomenon that is currently experiencing huge year on year growth. One of the fastest growing areas within the industry, is in the market of home IoT devices. These are devices designed to make life easier, such as connected garage door openers, smart switches, smoke alarms, and even IP surveillance cameras. There are almost 5 billion connected devices being used today, and according to Gartner Research, that number is expected to grow by 500% in the next 5 years.All of this shows a promising industry, but unfortunately the risks are never covered as much as the growth figures. IoT devices are often designed without a necessary focus on security or user privacy, and this is something that the industry needs to address.

Security Risks for IoT in the Consumer Space

Although IoT can be found in industries as diverse as medical and even manufacturing, it is the home markets that garner the headlines and consumer mindshare. People have come to expect that their security cannot always be maintained online. But the difference with IoT is that we’re not simply talking about passwords, emails, and social media accounts. Instead, we’re talking about access to the garage door, the front door, or even knowing whether or not somebody is home.

There are plenty of examples where common IoT devices have been found to be unsecure, or at least at risk of being compromised with relatively little effort.

The Fortify Security Software Unit at HP released case studies last year where they compared ten of the most popular devices used in home IoT. They found that seven out of ten devices had significant security issues. An average revealed 25 security risks in each individual product. The most prevalent problem was that IoT data was unencrypted as it was transferred through wireless networks. Worryingly, six of the devices didn’t even download firmware from encrypted sources. This leaves a possible risk where malicious firmware could be directed to home devices, providing external access for malicious parties.

HP isn’t the only company to have taken an interest in IoT security. Veracode recently published a report that was based on a similar survey of consumer devices. While the HP survey focused on devices like thermostats and lawn sprinklers, the Veracode study included critical devices, such as the Chamberlain MyQ Garage door opener, and the Wink Relay wall control unit. Veracode’s study looked more at risk than actual vulnerabilities, but the results were still significant.

The Wink Relay, if compromised, could allow external audio surveillance inside a user’s home. Information could be used for blackmail, to aid identity theft, or even for industrial espionage in relation to the resident’s employer. The Chamberlain garage door opener, if compromised, could mean that a third party could tell whether a garage door was open or not, allowing opportunities for easy, unauthorized entry.

Even if these devices connect to a relatively secure cloud platform, there’s always a risk that a home network could be compromised, and the fact is, few consumers are even aware of the dangers.

As we move forward, it is clear that security needs to be a top priority within IoT. Which means that stakeholders need to;

Understand the security risks involved with connecting home control devices to the cloud.
Provide necessary security on their platforms.
Educate consumers about security risks, and how they can protect themselves.
Focus on building a talent pool of network security professionals to complement their core IoT development teams.

IoT represents an exciting time in the evolution of consumer, corporate, service based, and industrial technologies. It is important that key developers and manufacturers don’t lose sight of security during times of rapid innovation. With the right talent, and the right approach, the industry can build highly secure infrastructure and devices. This will ensure trust and desirability remains high, with the potential to drive adoption and overall market growth.

How IoT has the Potential to Improve Healthcare

IoT medical devicesThe Internet of Things has applications that range all the way from automated manufacturing, to controlling the temperature of residential air conditioners. One particular area where IoT is hugely beneficial, is in the medical equipment industry.With IoT devices expected to reach 25 billion by 2020, it’s almost guaranteed that a large number of these sensors will be embedded in medical equipment. What benefits are connected sensors bringing to the medical industry, and are there still concerns to be addressed?

How IoT is Improving Healthcare

According to Digi-Key Electronics, a worldwide distributor of key IoT sensors and technologies, the benefits can be found in a number of areas.

  • Dynamically collecting patient data from remote sensors can aid in preventative care by detecting early warning signs of health problems.
  • These same sensors could be used in long term care situations, and especially in post-operative care.
  • The type of signals that sensors can detect are almost endless. Blood oxygen levels, pulse, insulin levels, blood pressure, temperature, and even chemical balances are just a few examples.
  • IoT medication pumps are effective at adequately dosing medications, without the risks of overdose or missed doses that are present when medications are administered manually.
  • With properly designed sensors and monitoring tools, patient input can be kept to a minimum. This means that there is less room for error, but also little learning required by the patient. This offers convenience which is especially beneficial for the elderly and disabled.

(http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2014/jul/the-role-of-sensors-in-iot-medical-and-healthcare-applications)

Challenges for IoT Medical Device Manufacturers

Although there are millions of IoT medical devices in use today, there are numerous opportunities for improvement. Before these high tech devices can truly become the standard for in-patient and out-patient care, these opportunities should be met, and all concerns should be alleviated.

  • There is no worldwide standard for wireless connectivity for IoT connected medical devices. The FDA has put forth some strong recommendations, including wireless protocols to use, and what to consider when it comes to interference and data loss. However, robust global standards are necessary for widespread adoption and implementation.
  • Security is still a major concern for IoT devices. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the most popular IoT medical pumps in the United States were vulnerable to hacking, and could even be controlled from a remote source. (http://www.zdnet.com/article/hackers-can-control-medical-pumps-to-administer-fatal-doses/)

Benefits to Non-Reporting Equipment

Although patients will always be the priority in medicine, there are other ways that IoT will help to improve the healthcare system. IoT will benefit even the devices that aren’t required to collect data. Electronic sensors can be built in to critical equipment and can be used to collect usage statistics, and even track and schedule maintenance. With all of the data coming to a central location, it could increase the efficiency of hospitals and clinics, which in turn could reduce operating costs. The obvious knock on effect is that patients would receive better care, from equipment that is maintained to a higher standard. (http://www.msidata.com/internet-of-things-for-the-medical-equipment-industry)

Connected Devices Simply Make Sense

There is perhaps no other industry that could benefit as much from IoT as healthcare. Connected medical devices will free up much needed resources in clinics, reduce the stress and cost for those undergoing care, and will improve the service in hospitals and other health care facilities. Medical IoT recruiting can help to assure that development continues and that good security is in place for medical IoT.

If equipment designers and manufacturers can overcome key security and standards challenges, there is little doubt that IoT devices will be the norm within the next decade, and will be on the leading edge of innovation among the wider Internet of Things. Medical IoT recruiting will be an absolute necessity if we are to keep the IoT area of medicine moving forward.

The Internet of Things and the Right to Record

Right to RecordToday there are over 5 billion connected devices in the world that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). Research firms like IDC and Gartner predict that within five years’ time, this number will skyrocket to 25 billion. Although we often think of the ways these IoT devices can make our lives easier, make our homes smarter, improve manufacturing, and even revolutionize healthcare, there are some uses for IoT that aren’t as straightforward.

One of these, is how IoT has changed our ability to record the world around us, and immediately share what we capture. Combined with social media, this ‘right to record’ has brought into question when it is appropriate or not appropriate to record. More importantly, is it legal?

The Legalities of Recording in Public

Smartphones, tablets, and even connected eyewear are all part of IoT, and they’re all capable of recording pictures and video. The most obvious example to look at is the phenomenon of members of the public recording law enforcement officers, performing their duties.

  • There are a number of states that have an ‘all parties consent’ law, requiring that subjects be made aware of video, image, or audio capture that is taking place.
  • There is a clause, however. There should also be a reasonable expectation of privacy on behalf of the subjects. This means, with interpretation, that filming in public places, without consent, would be acceptable and legal.
  • Illinois and Massachusetts have ‘all parties consent’ laws, however they don’t allow for the provision regarding the expectation of privacy. In 2010, Tiawanda Moore was arrested for attempting to record law enforcement personnel with a cell phone. She was later acquitted of all charges (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-25/news/ct-met-eavesdropping-trial-0825-20110825_1_eavesdropping-law-police-officers-law-enforcement).
  • It is not legal to record on private property, to make commercial gain from recorded material of another person’s likeness, or to use recordings to commit libel.

The Right to Record is a Two Way Street

Tech Republic, a leading trade publication for IT professionals, recently ran an opinion piece on how IoT and smart devices can cause controversy when it comes to the right to record. (http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-right-to-record-is-not-a-question-of-technology-but-rather-power-and-policy/).

The article not only discussed the recording of law enforcement by private citizens, but also how it can be beneficial for law enforcement officers to constantly record their daily duties. Doing so would add a layer of transparency, and would serve to protect the interests of officers and their relevant governments, as well as the general public. This recording would be in addition to the already present police vehicle dash cams, and the surveillance cameras in most urban centers.

The questions then, are not as much about recordings been made in the first place, but rather about how they are used. Two key questions are;

  • Should law enforcement agencies have the right to publish footage or images of suspects before they have been convicted of crimes?
  • Should individuals have the right to publish police activity when footage or an image doesn’t portray an event or incident within its full context?

The Internet of Things is hugely dependent on constant information, easy accessibility to information, and the almost instant distribution of that information. IoT has changed the way that people expect services to work. Almost one third of those surveyed by the American Red Cross in 2012 would expect law enforcement or emergency assistance if they posted a request for help on a public social media website. Would those who are embracing social media be happy to post controversial images or videos of law enforcement agents in the line of duty? What if they were the ones being featured on a law enforcement social media account?

As more connected devices are able to easily record and share the world around us, lines will become blurred when it comes to rights. The ‘right to record’ could be considered a civil liberty under the right to free speech, so does the government share that same right? As IoT devices become more commonplace, and the internet of everything becomes a part of daily life, these questions will be answered, laws will be tested, and new precedents will be set.

20 million more IoT devices will be installed, carried, or worn by people at all levels of society, by 2020. Users and creators of IoT technologies will need to keep a close eye on ‘the right to record’, and how it impacts the industry and public perception of these devices in the years to come.