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VOLUME 68

   ISSUE 68

28 March 2017

Article of the Month Around the World

A Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Internet of Things

 

 

Smart locks, smart thermostats, smart cars — you’ve probably heard some of these terms lately, and you’re going to hear them even more as the year goes on. But what are these things exactly — and what makes them so smart?

These devices are all part of an emerging category called the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. At its very basic level, IoT refers to the connection of everyday objects to the Internet and to one another, with the goal being to provide users with smarter, more efficient experiences. Some recent examples of IoT products include the Nest Protect smoke detector and August door locks.

But as with any new technology, IoT can be confusing and intimidating for the average consumer, especially as debates swirl around standardization, security and privacy, and company after company piles on to this fast-growing trend. I’ve compiled an FAQ on IoT to better explain how it works, how these products are being used in the real world, and some of the issues and challenges facing the category.

I spoke with a number of companies and groups working on IoT products and standards, including Apple, SmartThings, the Internet of Things Consortium, AllSeen Alliance, the Open Interconnect Consortium and the Thread Group.
 

What exactly is the Internet of Things?


My colleague Walt Mossberg gave a great, succinct overview of IoT when he described it this way: “The broad idea behind these buzzwords is that a whole constellation of inanimate objects is being designed with built-in wireless connectivity, so that they can be monitored, controlled and linked over the Internet via a mobile app.”

The types of objects span a wide range of categories, from wearables to light bulbs to home appliances (like the coffee maker, washing machine, and even your car) — really, anything. IoT is also being applied to vertical markets like the medical and health-care industry and to transportation systems.

Okay, I think I get it, but can you give me an example of how it’s being used today, and how does this actually make things easier for me?

One of the better-known examples is the Nest thermostat. This Wi-Fi-connected thermostat allows you to remotely adjust the temperature via your mobile device and also learns your behavioral patterns to create a temperature-setting schedule.

The potential value is that you can save money on your utility bill by being able to remotely turn off your air conditioner, which you forgot to do before leaving the house. There’s also a convenience factor. Nest can remember that you like to turn down the temperature before going to bed, and can automatically do that for you at a set time.

Another company, SmartThings, which Samsung acquired in August, offers various sensors and smart-home kits that can monitor things like who is coming in and out of your house and can alert you to potential water leaks, to give homeowners peace of mind.


 


As the IoT category expands and the products become more sophisticated, one can envision a scenario where your fitness tracker detects that you’ve fallen asleep and then automatically turns off your TV and lights. Or, before hitting the road, your car could pull up your work calendar and automatically provide the best route to your meeting, or send a note to relevant parties if you’re running late.

On a broader scale, it is being used by cities to monitor things like the number of available parking spaces, air and water quality, and traffic.

How does IoT work?

I’ll try not to get too technical here. First, there’s the underlying technology, the various wireless radios that allow these devices to connect to the Internet and to each other. These include more familiar standards like Wi-Fi, low-energy Bluetooth, NFC and RFID, and some that you’ve probably haven’t heard of, like ZigBee, Z-Wave and 6LoWPAN (have your eyes glazed over yet?).

 

Then there are the things themselves, whether they’re motion sensors, door locks or light bulbs. In some cases, there may also be a central hub that allows different devices to connect to one another.

Finally, there are cloud services, which enable the collection and analysis of data so people can see what’s going on and take action via their mobile apps.

 

What companies are working on IoT?

At this point, the easier question might be who isn’t working on an IoT product. Big names like Samsung, LG, Apple, Google, Lowe’s and Philips are all working on connected devices, as are many smaller companies and startups. Research group Gartner predicts that 4.9 billion connected devices will be in use this year, and the number will reach 25 billion by 2020.

 

So, can all IoT devices talk to each other?


This is where things get a little more complicated. With so many companies working on different products, technologies and platforms, making all these devices communicate with each other is no small feat — seamless overall compatibility likely won’t happen.

Several groups are working to create an open standard that would allow interoperability among the various products. Among them are the AllSeen Alliance, whose members include Qualcomm, LG, Microsoft, Panasonic and Sony; and the Open Interconnect Consortium, which has the support of Intel, Cisco, GE, Samsung and HP.

While their end goal is the same, there are some differences to overcome. For example, the OIC says the AllSeen Alliance doesn’t do enough in the areas of security and intellectual property protection. The AllSeen Alliance says that these issues have not been a problem for its more than 110 members.



It’s not clear how the standards battle will play out, though many believe we’ll end up with three to four different standards rather than a single winner (think iOS and Android).

In the meantime, one way consumers can get around the problem is by getting a hub that supports multiple wireless technologies, such as the one offered by SmartThings.

These products seem to be collecting a lot of data. Should I be worried about security and privacy?


The various amounts of data collected by smart home devices, connected cars and wearables have many people worried about the potential risk of personal data getting into the wrong hands. The increased number of access points also poses a security risk.

The Federal Trade Commission has expressed concerns, and has recommended that companies take several precautions in order to protect their customers. The FTC, however, doesn’t have the authority to enforce regulations on IoT devices, so it’s unclear how many companies will heed its advice.

Of the companies I’ve talked to, all said that security and privacy were of the utmost importance. For example, Apple requires that companies developing products for its HomeKit platform include end-to-end encryption and authentication and a privacy policy. The company also said it doesn’t collect any customer data related to HomeKit accessories.



I’m digging the sound of this IoT thing. Is now a good time to buy?
 


While the idea of IoT has been around for years, it’s just beginning to enter the consumer space, and the category has yet to mature. But there are good products out there. If you’re looking to buy now, as with anything, do your research, buy from a company you trust, and make sure you’re getting a solution that is actually going to solve a problem. After all, making sure your kids get home safe from school is one thing, but cooking a pot roast in a Wi-Fi connected crockpot is another.

 

 

This article was first published in:https://www.recode.net/2015/1/15/11557782/a-beginners-guide-to-understanding-the-internet-of-things
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

1 Statistics on the Internet growth in Sri Lanka
http://www.trc.gov.lk/images/pdf/
statis_sep_2012.doc
2.The Dragon Research Group (DRG)
http://www.dragonresearchgroup.org/
3.TSUBAME (Internet threat monitoring system) from JPCERT | CC
https://www.jpcert.or.jp/english/tsubame/
4.Shadowserver Foundation
http://www.shadowserver.org/wiki/
5. Team Cymru
http://www.team-cymru.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
  
  DIGITAL RIGHTS GROUP PLANS TO PUBLICIZE LAWMAKERS WHO OPPOSE INTERNET PRIVACY RULES
  

  

"....A digital rights advocacy group that has launched unconventional public relations campaigns to defeat controversial internet legislation in the past plans to purchase billboards publicizing which lawmakers voted to remove new internet privacy rules imposed on service providers....."

 

APAC accounted for majority of botnet detections globally

  

"...Asia-Pacific is proving to be a haven for botnets, accounting for more than half of all detections worldwide, but remains somewhat unscathed from ad fraud, adware, and ransomware...."

  Toshiba's US nuclear power unit throws in the towel
   

'...Toshiba has filed for bankruptcy protection for its ailing nuclear power unit Westinghouse Electric in a move that could cost the tech giant billions of dollars to implement.

Toshiba could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US as early as Tuesday this week, which would start the proceedings and help Toshiba stem the financial damage being caused by the unit.....'

HACKERS LEAK JOB SEEKERS' INFO, CUSTOMER DATA AND DISCOVER CISCO BUGS

   

  

'....In case you missed our coverage this week in ThreatWatch, Nextgov’s regularly updated index of cyber breaches:

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers......'

Build a safer smart home: 4 tips to sidestep hacking

  

'....Today, smart homes are all the rage, especially from a security standpoint. Many people believe that by installing digital locks, security cameras and other high-tech devices, they can make their homes safer.

Unfortunately, as more people install smart home devices, users are discovering that their systems are vulnerable to hackers and other criminals. How can we help these tools do their jobs more effectively?...'

Month in Brief
Facebook Incidents Reported to Sri Lanka CERT|CC in February 2017
     
  Statistics - Sri Lanka CERT|CC

Data storage goes from $1M to 2 cents per gigabyte

'...When Computerworld was founded in 1967, a 1-megabyte hard drive would have set you back by $1 million.

Today, that same megabyte of capacity on a hard disk drive (HDD) costs about two cents......'

Attackers target dozens of global banks with new malware

"...Organizations in 31 countries have been targeted in a new wave of attacks which has been underway since at least October 2016. The attackers used compromised websites or “watering holes” to infect pre-selected targets with previously unknown malware. There has been no evidence found yet that funds have been stolen from any infected banks......"
Google proposes revoking Symantec certs

“...In a dramatic criticism of one of the biggest suppliers of HTTPS credentials, Google Chrome developers said they would be restricting transport layer security certificates sold by Symantec-owned issuers effective immediately. The reason: "a continually increasing scope of misissuance," said a statement from Ryan Sleevi, a staff software engineer at Google, writing in a Google forum......”
Over 70% of Android Devices Don’t Have Latest Security Patch Installed

...According to recent research, the majority of Android devices are running security patches that are months old, leaving users vulnerable to attacks.

Mobile security company Skycure released the findings of its Q4 2016 Mobile Threat Intelligence Report, revealing that over 70 percent of Android phones lack the latest security patches.

The company evaluated Android devices running on the five largest U.S. carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and MetroPCS....

 
Notice Board
  Training and Awareness Programmes - March  2017
  
DateEventVenue
06-03-2017 Meeting on Smart class room introduction Board Room - 3rd floor Development Programme
02-03-2017 -10-03-2017 National ICT Hub project Mission ICT Branch MOE
06-03-2017 - 08-03-2017 G.C.E.A/L Content Development for Tab project CHPB
13-03-2017 & 15-03-2017 Workshop for ICT Master plan Development "Ape Gama" Premises

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