What is the Internet of Things (IoT)

What is the Internet of Things?

When your eyes pass these few saturated pixels on the screen, there is an element that has already read the whole article and defined the characteristics of the whole page: your Device (Smartphone, Laptop, Tablets). Internet of Things (IoT), is the concept of connecting any device which can be turned on and off to the Internet — and via the Internet, connect the devices to each other. Such devices include everything from your computers to wearable devices, coffee makers, smart TV, thermostats, refrigerators, smart cars, light switch and many more.

While the number of people browsing the internet is increasing, it is not growing as quickly as the number of connected devices. These devices navigate in their own way by exchanging data and information. This navigation is quite different from how we humans navigate. In a way, it is similar to animals that look for food in nature — working more by instinct rather than by intellectual skill. This analogy could be very interesting in the future, because we see many parallels between the animal world and the new world of intelligent devices. This includes the risks of toxic habitats, viruses and malicious people who are constantly trying to hack devices for personal gain.

To be able to protect ourselves and our data and devices, we will first need to understand the wide range of connections that these devices make to the internet. From your USB key to your autonomous car, there are different security and functionality problems, which makes the solutions very different depending on each situation.

Development of Smart Devices

“We live in the era of smartphones and stupid people” — a quote stated by Ziad K. Abdelnour — does not hold sway these days; as there are evidence that the new generations are smarter, more versatile and more flexible than their parents. However, it is also true that more and more tasks fall on our devices, giving the impression that human skills are getting a little closer to stupidity.

Although the definition of a smart device is somewhat vague, the popular idea is that these devices are capable of doing things and performing tasks, without humans having to give them direct instructions on what they must do. To take the most basic example of smart devices, you want your USB drive to connect as a storage device to your computer without having to tell it expressly which port it should take, how to connect, and how to communicate with the device you are plugging in. The built-in USB system does it all without you having to take action, allowing you to enjoy the contents with ease.

More sophisticated hardware and software do much more than that. The smartphone is one of the most commonly used Internet of Things (IoT) devices on a daily basis. It connects to the internet regularly for updates, new protocols, new data, and application information. In developed countries, most homes are filled with IoT devices such as Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ ,Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri; that handle most of the mundane tasks — such as the running refrigerator, running a search query, printing, and even monitoring security cameras within a home and many more activities.

IoT connectivity projection

IoT connectivity projection

Launch of Internet of Things

What is the Internet of Things? The Internet of Things, or IoT, was a theory formulated in the late 1990’s, regarding the inter connectivity between technological devices and how these devices will be able to communicate between themselves without human input. This vast network of devices is the result of an increasingly connected world, where everything must be constantly updated in order to have the best possible features. This concept, where everything has its own spirit, is not so new, since it has been a fundamental element of dystopian science fiction for some time. But it was unimaginable that as consumers, we would not only want this kind of artificial intelligence in our homes, but we would demand it as a fundamental part of good service. We would like our devices to do as much as possible on their own.

The risk of connecting our devices to the internet is similar to the risk we run when we do the same. A malicious entity, a hacker, an identity thief and even the government can use the device as a sensor and data source or as a gateway from which they can attack other devices in our house, all of which are connected by the same IP address.

Interdependence of various activities and devices

Interdependence of various activities and devices

Hacking and Spying Opportunities for Different Types of IoT Devices

With technological advancement happening at a rapid pace, we as a consumer must understand that each device has different capacities. Each device’s unique capabilities considerably changes the nature of the risks incurred online. The levels of protection we use on our devices depend on the importance of their role in our daily lives. But on this point, humans generally underestimate how much they trust their devices and how interconnected these devices are in the home. You may not care that someone can see how cool your fridge is — as the fridge tells you that you are running out of Milk or running low on Sodas or need to buy groceries. But it can be a springboard for a malicious entity to invade your phone, laptop, and ultimately gain access to all of your sensitive data.

Hacking of Data via Internet of Things

Hacking of Data via IoT

Although the use of sensitive devices such as microphones and cameras to spy on people is not very common, this problem became important when a scandal broke out in 2013, when the United States National Security Agency (NSA) used personal devices to spy on leaders around the world.

This has sparked a new awareness of the security of the IoT and of the security measures we should put in place to protect ourselves from anyone who wants to spy on us or access our data. Currently, most sophisticated smart devices have protection installed by the manufacturer. However, since some more basic devices are not as secure as your PC or phone, you will need to provide a few additional layers of protection to ensure the security and reliability of all of your devices. For this, we need to review the types of smart devices and their protections, focusing mainly on the most common devices in modern homes.

Protecting Your Data and Information on IoT Devices

In a world of limitless connectivity, it is very important to ensure that your private information remains so. This does not only prevent a hacker from copying your social security number, but also prevents businesses and other authorities from spying on you when you order online or print something wirelessly.

Protecting Internet of Things with proper security measures

Protecting IoT with proper security measures

To protect your personal information, you will need to do three things and repeat them as often as possible. It’s about keeping your operating system and drivers up to date, installing spyware and malware protections, and last but not least, having a good Virtual Private Network (V.P.N). Once you’ve covered these three points, and you’re covered by good software, you can be sure your information is safe.

Conclusion

As always, prevention is better than cure. In a world where devices are always connected, we must remain vigilant and protect them from people who wish to damage or use them against us. Although it is very strange to speak of your refrigerator as a pet, this correlation is real, because our smart devices are as useful to us as pets were to our ancestors, and it is our duty to protect them.

Keep your systems up to date and your VPN connected, and you’ll be sure your information will always be under your control.

Suraj Aryal
Suraj Aryal helps businesses expand their digital footprint, devise engagement plans, and handle escalation of customers' marketing issues. For Suraj, helping the company grow and helping its clients realize their digital dream is the most rewarding part of the role. Outside of the office, Suraj enjoys reading books, travelling, cooking, watching movies and series and rocking out to some sick tunes.

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