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 the Internet of Things Will Transform the World of Manufacturing Automation

Manufacturing AutomationThe smart phone on your belt is dramatically different from the flip phones of a decade ago. Technology continues to move at incredible speeds and we are truly living in a golden age. But the where we are headed is unlike where we’ve been. In the future, the internet of things will be a reality in every sector. Smart systems will be released with sensors and robotics that simplify and automate manufacturing. The system will operate through wired and wireless networks and an infrastructure will help us to accomplish more during the course of a day.

This begins with physical objects having sensors and actuators being placed in them. These individual parts will send and receive information in order to complete specific tasks. They will depend on real time data and this information will affect the big picture. In fact, each device on the assembly line will connect to a central system that will orchestrate and synchronize the entire system to ensure things run smoothly and as effectively as possible.

In order for smart manufacturing to work, there needs to be systems in place that work with the smart manufacturing vision. Sensors must be placed in technology and a host system installed. This will help with logistics, order placement, procurement and other essential functions that impact the overall system.

So who does this? While your IT department could technically handle the task, it would be time consuming and cost you hundreds of man hours to develop. A better choice is to consider a vendor who can help with the effort. These individuals will help to create a functional system which is tightly integrated and allows you to effectively manage your manufacturing operations. With new industry standards being released for manufacturing all the time, it is certain the internet of things will play a pivotal role in the future of manufacturing automation.

An example of it is already seen in the food and beverage industry. Machines currently communicate sensitive information like temperature, humidity and the condition of the containers. Companies can also track shipments with identifying codes and determine where they originated from in the company and where these items were shipped to in the world. If there is a case of contamination, they can also quickly contact locations who received items that might be tainted.

When the internet of things becomes dominate on these manufacturing lines, there will be more power. There will be a central master computer that will run the entire operation. It will have an intelligent way to analyze, address concerns and to remain independent at all times, all while continuing to meet the demands of production.

There is no denying the internet of things will play an important role in the future of production. Good will be released faster and profits will spike for a company. That makes it important to embrace today and incorporate in the current structure of your business. Doing that will help you to be part of the future and to remain a visionary in the industry.

Why Should Companies Care about IoT Services?

Smart phone with Internet of things (IoT) word and objects icon connecting together,Internet networking concept.

Smart phone with Internet of things (IoT) - IoT ServicesAs with any new technology, businesses will need to find quantifiable benefits in the Internet of Things before the concept is embraced and implemented. It could be argued that IoT is already being adopted on a wide scale. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Qualcomm, IBM, and others already see IoT as a core part of their businesses. Even so, there are still some, especially small to medium sized businesses, that are weighing up the costs and benefits of ultra-connectivity in the world of IoT.

You don’t have to dig deep to see why IoT is important. Business Insider research division BI Intelligence has predicted that IoT will become the largest device market in the world over the next five years. Most analysts predict market value will reach in to the trillions, with possibly $7 trillion of total value by 2020. These figures are promising for businesses directly involved in the manufacture and design of IoT services and hardware, but what about the companies that will purchase these technologies to incorporate into operations?

Perhaps the single largest benefit will be in how IoT can lower costs. The manufacturing sector provides an ideal case scenario. Machine to Machine (M2M) systems will allow for machinery to become more efficient, and more autonomous. Take a production line that was previously labor intensive. Sensors relying on IoT can receive orders, initiate fabrication, sign off work orders, and even package products using IoT, and with little human interaction. Even non-automated manufacturing will benefit. Orders can be taken from anywhere in the world, transferred through the cloud, and delivered to remote manufacturing facilities. These systems can collect valuable analytics that can benefit accounting, inventory management, and even resource procurement.

While this type of IoT will directly benefit businesses in manufacturing, it will also create new opportunities for project managers, engineers, and IT professionals who will be necessary in designing, implementing, and supporting these systems.

Because IoT provides immediate data collection, businesses in all industries will benefit from improved decision making. Being able to analyze and distribute intelligence faster means that tedious data collection will be a thing of the past. Decisions can be made faster, and in some cases can be automated. What this means in essence; is better decisions based on better data.

Hong Kong International Airport, and other mega-airports around the world rely on RFID technology to track luggage and freight throughout their sites. This enables luggage to be delivered by machine to the correct gate, the correct passenger carousel, or to the correct airliner, train, or delivery vehicle. Items are tracked via computer, and managed from a central control point. This reduces hands on management and labor costs. HKIA spent $50 million to develop the initial infrastructure, but widespread adoption of this IoT based technology could save the industry $760 million per year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Imagine how a similar system could benefit a SMB. Goods delivery could be RFID or barcode tracked on handheld scanners. This tracking information could be uploaded to a cloud solution, from where dispatchers, couriers, and clients could track the location and progress of a delivery. These are the kind of innovations that are driving IoT, and making it a necessary technology in a market where cost and efficiency is key, and where end users and consumers demand constant, easily accessible information.

The opportunities are there for businesses who adopt IoT today. The benefits exist whether they seek to improve manufacturing efficiency, streamline logistics processes, or even provide new ways for customers to interact and receive information. In the growing world of IoT, the question is not why should we care, but is rather, can you afford not to?