As we surpass 2019, it’s high time we realize that by merging the digital and physical realm, IoT is destined to change the way we live and work.

I have always been interested in the intersection between business and technology, and today it seems that the brave new technological world we have been dreaming over centuries has arrived. With everything from home appliances to smart vehicles, portable devices are connected to the internet and exchange crucial data. According to the statistics, there are 26.66 billion IoT connected devices around the globe. Which statistically leaves every citizen of the world with at least 3 devices. 

IoT in every day life

I must say the numbers are quite mind-boggling! And this leaves a lot of room for improvement by incorporating the Internet of Things in software development; whether it’s a cellphone app or web.

According to the statistics, there are 26.66 billion IoT connected devices around the globe. Which statistically leaves every citizen of the world with at least 3 devices It may interest you to know that the Internet of Things has the potential to touch every domain and nearly every aspect of human life. According to sources, impact on IoT leads to:

  • By 2020, 50 billion devices are expected to connect to the internet
  • In 2015, 3.5 connected devices per person have now reached almost 7
  • 8 billion cellphone broadband access points by 2019
  • 5 million IoT jobs by 2020
  • 70 percent a year growth through 2018 in total sales of clothing and accessories incorporating computer technology, rising from $3 billion today to $42.5 billion
  • $3.3 trillion market for ‘Smart City’ applications and services by 2025

The impact of smart homes 

Instead of saying the home is where our heart is; a home is where a bot is. However, IoT hasn’t entirely arrived in our homes. I mean, we are still required to order groceries the minute we run out of eggs and Greek yogurt. Slowly and steadily we are getting there; it seems the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and big data analytics will definitely work wonders for us.

Smart homes are no longer a dream project; we can soon expect everything to be governed by the “brain” or a central platform. Moreover, bots will be seen tackling a certain set of functions related to more difficult tasks, and lastly niche bots, in charge of single tasks such as vacuuming the house or addressing more complex duties like accounting, coaching or household managing. Tech giants, or should I call them current development frontrunners like Amazon, Google, Samsung and Apple are expected to come up with something nerve-cracking.

The benefits of IoT

Other than this, with IoT, you will be able to work smarter and not harder. Artificial intelligence and advanced analytics can help create a more intelligent work environment. For example, the right AC temperature in shared office spaces help us book the most convenient meeting room, and moreover, take into account the room preference by setting the right temperature, lighting, and can automatically restock office supplies.

This simply leads to:

  • More efficient office operations
  • Energy savings
  • Comfortable work environments
  • Consequently increased employee productivity
  • The dark side of the Internet of Things

The potential risks

Every technology indeed comes as a boom, but that doesn’t mean the grass will be greener on the other side. Furthermore, we will uncover how even after offering so much convenience why IoT poses so much risk. Like I said before, IoT can be integrated into anything from coffee machines to fitness watches leading to make our lives more convenient. But what happens if they turn bad? When being unwillingly infected or hacked, these blessings can certainly turn into huge threats.

Smart homes are no longer a dream project; we can soon expect everything to be governed by the “brain” or a central platform.
IoT can be integrated into anything, leading to make our lives more convenient

Devices, systems and the lack of security

It may interest you to know that IoT devices can become bots that blindly follow commands to commit crimes as part of a botnet. What is a botnet, you may ask? Well, it is a network of infected devices that are mainly abused by the attacker to perform tasks such as carrying out DDoS attacks, Bitcoin mining and spreading spam emails. Mainly being used to carry out DDoS attacks and to mine for cryptocurrencies, these botnets have the potential to have a larger impact by making IoT devices do much more, such as send spam messages featuring dangerous malware. Botnets can also carry out click-jacking campaigns, distribute fake advertisements, and even worse, infect other IoT devices.

Botnets can also carry out click-jacking campaigns, distribute fake advertisements, and even worse, infect other IoT devices Much like most malware, botnets can be found on dark marketplaces. The source code can be purchased and leaked, depending on the type of service. In case, an IoT device is already infected, another bot can attempt to replace the infection with its code and in some cases also "repair" the security vulnerability. But most of the time it fails! No matter how innocent these proof-of-concept attacks may seem, one cannot deny the fact that IoT devices and systems aren’t properly secured. Hackers can easily gain control of them and cause complete chaos like never before.

Collecting information at a cost

But how much information can an IoT device collect? What I mean is that by hacking a webcam, one can see what they are pointed at without you even knowing it, smart TVs and personal assistants can pick up sound, and smart cars can give clues to whether or not someone is home. Honestly, the amount of information collected on these IoT devices cannot be determined at any cost. And with everything in the cloud, such information can be intercepted or rerouted to a malicious server and be abused if not properly secured.

The more we surround ourselves with IoT devices, the more motivation cybercriminals receive to target us! With the time passing by, let’s simply hope that connected device security will dramatically improve. 

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

In case you missed it

What are the Security Challenges of Protecting the Cannabis Industry?
What are the Security Challenges of Protecting the Cannabis Industry?

The advent of a truly new market for the physical security industry is a rare occurrence. Particularly rare is a new market that is both fast-growing and provides an environment that is not just conducive to application of physical security technologies but that actually demands it. Such is the case with the market for legalized marijuana. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of protecting the cannabis industry?

Wireless Technology Is Transforming Motion Detection
Wireless Technology Is Transforming Motion Detection

Motion detection is a key feature of security systems in residential and commercial environments. Until recently, systems have relied heavily on closed circuit television (CCTV) and passive infrared (PIR) sensors, which both require significant investment and infrastructure to install and monitor. Developments in wireless technology are increasing home security possibilities. Few years ago, these developments led Cognitive Systems to discover that the wireless signals surrounding oneself can be used to detect motion. Known in the wireless industry as WiFi sensing, this technology brings many benefits that other motion detection solutions have not been able to provide. The working of WiFi sensing At Cognitive Systems, the company has used WiFi sensing technology to develop a motion detection solution called WiFi Motion™, which measures and interprets disruptions in RF signals transmitted between WiFi devices. When movement occurs in a space, ripples in the wireless signals are created. WiFi Motion interprets these ripples and determines if an action, such as sending a notification, is needed. Enabling this functionality in a space is incredibly simple. With a software upgrade to only one’s WiFi access point (or mesh router), motion sensing capabilities are layered into one’s WiFi network. Existing connected WiFi devices then become motion detectors without detracting from their original functions or slowing down the network. Using artificial intelligence (AI), WiFi Motion establishes a benchmark of the motionless environment and learns movement patterns over time, which could be used to predict trends. This allows unusual movement patterns to be detected with greater accuracy while decreasing the potential for costly false alerts. WiFi Motion requires no line-of-sight or installation WiFi sensing and other home monitoring solutions All of these capabilities are made possible by WiFi sensing and together create a motion detection system that provides unparalleled accuracy, coverage, privacy and affordability compared to other solutions on the market. PIR integration is far more complex and imposes electronic and physical design restrictions compared to WiFi sensing. In terms of placement, PIR systems are difficult to install, requiring line-of-sight and a device in every room for localization. WiFi Motion requires no line-of-sight or installation and is also a scalable solution compared to PIR. Much like cameras, PIRs can only cover so much space, but WiFi Motion can cover the entire home and even detect motion in the dark and through walls, without adding additional devices to the home. WiFi Motion detects less distinguishing context than cameras and microphones, but more context than regular PIR sensors for the perfect balance of privacy and highly accurate motion detection. Privacy solution While cameras have been the security solution for years, WiFi Motion offers a more affordable solution that can rival the privacy and coverage capabilities of even the most high-end cameras. With such a wide coverage area, one might think that WiFi sensing infringes on privacy, but actually, the opposite is true. With WiFi Motion, the contextual information collected cannot be used to identify a specific individual, unlike cameras which can clearly identify a person’s face or microphones, which can identify a person’s voice. It is different from other smart home security options that use cameras and microphones because it only senses motion using WiFi signals - it doesn’t “see” or “listen” like a camera or microphone would. This provides opportunities for added security in spaces where privacy might be a concern and installing a camera may not be a comfortable solution, such as bathrooms and bedrooms. The data collected is also anonymized and highly encrypted according to stringent industry privacy standards. Existing connected WiFi devices then become motion detectors Additional WiFi sensing applications Since WiFi sensing technology requires no additional hardware or subscription fees, it is much more affordable than other motion detection solutions. It can be used as a standalone solution, or it can be easily layered into more complex systems. This ease of integration, scalability and relatively low cost brings a lot of potential for various applications. Motion detection can trigger other smart devices in the network to turn lights on or off In eldercare, for example, WiFi sensing can be used to help seniors live comfortably in their homes for as long as possible. With the increasing aging population and high costs associated with care homes, the market for this application is considerable. Caregivers can use an app to monitor movement in their loved one’s home and be alerted about unusual movement patterns that could indicate a concern. For smart homes and other environments that have a network of smart devices, the artificial intelligence (AI) component of the technology allows for improvements to automated features. Motion detection can trigger other smart devices in the network to turn lights on or off or make adjustments to the temperature in a room. Security for the commercial sector For office buildings and other commercial properties, it is easy to see how all of these features could be scaled up to offer a highly accurate and cost-effective motion sensing and smart device automation solution. Cognitive Systems is closely involved with the development of WiFi sensing technology, working with various industry groups to establish standards and help it reach its full potential. WiFi Motion is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of motion sensing possibilities, but its applications in the world of security are undeniably compelling. It is an exciting time for the wireless industry, as one works with stakeholders in the security space to explore everything this technology can do.

Enforcing Face Masks Without Confrontation Or Bias
Enforcing Face Masks Without Confrontation Or Bias

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge to businesses. From retail stores to office buildings to warehouses and construction sites, a big question looms: how can landlords, executives, and employers ensure their facilities don’t contribute to the spread of the virus? A low-tech solution - the face mask - has become a leading preventative measure. But, a high-tech solution is necessary to ensure that everyone is wearing them. Cameras powered by artificial intelligence can now identify whether or not people entering a facility are wearing facemasks and help enforce adherence to mask mandates. This technology is proving to be a cost effective solution that reduces risks of confrontations over masks policies and gives managers the data they need to document regulatory compliance and reduce liability. Layers of security They can also be integrated into access control systems or woven into other preventative measures that create overlapping layers of security. These cameras are an ideal solution for low-traffic, remote sites, or areas that are only accessible to employees that need to monitor mask compliance but at which hiring a manned guard is just too expensive. Cameras with mask detection capabilities are especially useful when the technology piggybacks on existing autonomous devices, such as mobile security drones. The premise is simple. When a person without a mask is detected by the autonomous robotic security device, the system can generate, depending on customer preferences, audible and visible alerts to remind people to mask up. It also feeds alerts to a cloud-based data storage system so that security executives can analyze data for trends or quickly locate video of important incidents. Why masks? One study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A highlights the benefits of mask usage. If just 50 percent of people use masks, the rate of COVID-19 transmission will slowly decline. If 80 percent of people use them, the rate will plummet. Bu,t people don’t love wearing them. They’re hot. They make eyeglasses foggy. It’s hard to make yourself heard when talking to others. We’re all familiar with industries that wear masks of some type or other, on a regular basis - health care, construction, and heavy industry to name a few. But for the general public, wearing a mask for long periods of time is not a regular habit. For the general public, wearing a mask for long periods of time is not a regular habit We also know that other measures site managers have used to limit the spread of coronavirus are ineffective. For example, at least three meatpacking plants rank among the top 50 locations for coronavirus clusters. One factor driving that spread: many employees, to avoid missing a day’s pay, masked their mild fevers with ibuprofen to fool the infrared temperature scanners that employers used to protect against the outbreak. The paradox of masks, however, isn’t that they protect the wearer from infection. It’s the other way around: when an infected person wearing a mask sneezes, coughs, or breathes, they don’t spread the virus as far, and thus masks slow the spread of the virus from infected people, including those that are not showing symptoms. Prove it One of the very reasons why county and state governments have instituted mask orders is simple: it’s an easily verifiable sign that an organization is taking steps to limit the spread of coronavirus. Mask detection cameras, coupled with autonomous security systems, can provide the documentation employers need to ensure mask compliance. Imagine, for example, a warehouse full of manual laborers. The county orders everyone to wear a mask any time they leave home. A disgruntled employee, recently terminated, files an anonymous complaint to local health officials stating that the warehouse isn’t enforcing mask compliance - or worse, preventing employees from wearing masks to prevent theft. The county sends an inspector. Mask detection cameras provide site managers with the documentation they need to disprove these allegations. The autonomous systems developed by RAD will feed video footage into a cloud database, documenting not only the instances of non-compliance, but also the instances of compliance - with the mask clearly highlighted. Any inspector that arrives on a job site can see hours and hours of footage, without having to pour through hours of video. Reducing confrontation We’ve all seen the videos in which angry shoppers confront retail clerks and security guards over mask usage. In some cases, these confrontations have turned violent, resulting in injury or death. For every one of these videos, there may well be hundreds of others. While most of the videos featuring mask confrontations focus on retail settings, manned guards also face challenges in enforcement. Confrontations over mask usage have the potential to drive up workman’s compensation claims higher when guards are injured. Because autonomous security units generate alerts automatically, the chance of confrontation is minimised. It’s easy to imagine a couple of scenarios in which autonomous units can be beneficial. In health care settings, where emotions run high, autonomous devices can serve as a force multiplier for patrolling guards in parking areas. For example, roving units can identify people that are not wearing masks, and remind them to do so before they enter the building. These can also be placed in entryways that generate alerts as visitors approach doors. In many buildings, mask detection systems can be integrated into access control systems Autonomous security units can be deployed for a fraction of the cost of manned security. In healthcare, autonomous units can be used to re-allocate security spending, placing less emphasis on low intensity guards whose primary function is to observe and report - particularly those that patrol parking garages - and more emphasis on trained professionals capable of defusing confrontations inside the hospital. In other words, autonomous units outside allow facilities to hire better quality inside, where confrontations are most likely to take place. In many buildings, mask detection systems can be integrated into access control systems, which might be especially useful at entrances that are not manned by security, but accessible via key card. Changing behaviors There was a time when smoking in public was not seen as particularly anti-social. Almost everyone will stop at a stop sign, even when we can see for miles in every direction, and we know that the risk of an accident is zero. We do these things because we have been trained to. These behaviors make us safer, but we didn’t adopt them overnight. Many of us forget, but the fight over banning smoking in bars and restaurants was filled with confrontation. So, too, will it be with mask compliance. But time is short, and we all need to do everything we can to encourage good behavior. Mask detection technology can do that, and these solutions are very cost effective. In some cases, the cost may be just 5 percent of using a manned guard. They’re effective too. Autonomous systems enforce mask policies consistently and drive accountability. That can make us all safer.