Posts in IoT Business

A Twitter feed, at its best, is like an algorithm you written to keep yourself amused and informed. At the same time it offers us direct access to the best minds and the worst bots on the planet. And in a field like the IoT, where theres so much noise and so little signal, getting new information without constantly reading "Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, growing to 20.8 billion by 2020" over and over is a bit tough. That's great information but when a "connected thing" can be anything from a kettle to car to a pacemaker, it's hard to get a sense of what matters now. So we want to know who on Twitter is giving you the most addictive IoT information. Here are the best accounts we've come across. 1. The Straight Sh*t @internetofshit Bio: Obviously the best thing to do is put a chip in it. 2. A Straight Newsfeed (tweets a lot, more B2B related) @TheIoT Bio: The most comprehensive & up to date #IoT news 3. Another Straight Newsfeed (tweets less, more product related) @wtvox Bio: WT VOX is the most trustworthy, authoritative resource in #WearableTech. Daily news in #FashionTech #Wearables #BigData #IoT #DigitalHealth #Robotics #AR #VR 4. Data Dude @AjitJaokar Bio: #Datascience, #IoT, #MachineLearning, #BigData, Mobile,#Smartcities, #edtech 5. "Long Tail"/Drones Guy @chr1sa Bio: 3D Robotics CEO, DIY Drones, ex Wired EIC, Long Tail, FREE, Makers, GeekDad, etc. 6. Tech Meets Policy @ITI_TechTweets Bio: The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) is the global voice of the tech sector. 7. The Big Picture @Doug_Laney Bio: Gartner VP & Distinguished Analyst -- Data & Analytics Strategy, Infonomics & Data Monetization, Big Data & Info Innovation. 8. Your Friendly Austrian Researcher Pal @_zeiner Bio: Researcher - interested in internet of things (#IoT, #WebOfThings - #NFC, #RFID, #robots), data analytics (#bigdata), and cloud computing (#cloud) 9. The Aggregator @IoTwatcher Bio: @_trendspotter made this aggregation account. Topics: -//- Internet of Things -//- Web of Things -//- #IoT, #WoT, #M2M 10. Fun News @JournalOfThings Bio: We cover the internet of things and big data. #iot #m2m #b2b #bigdata And, of course, there's @FSecure_Sense. Who did we miss? [Image Image by Andreas Eldh via Flickr]

April 1, 2016

It’s almost time for the annual Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. That means you’ll be hearing all about the latest gadgets, gizmos, and whatchamacallits that the tech industry has to offer over the next few days. Companies wheel out a lot of amazing stuff at MWC. Some products are just new versions of old favorites, like new or refreshed smartphone models. Others might be innovative takes on simple objects. And some of them will blow your mind. And one space brimming with innovation is the Internet of Things (IoT). Based on the Digital Agenda’s Twitter poll, it looks like lots of people are stoked to learn more about what manufacturers have in store for the IoT. F-Secure’s interested in the IoT too. But not just because of all the cool gadgets. It’s more about what it means for people’s security and personal privacy. After all, how are you supposed to keep your personal information safely inside of your home if you’re surrounded by Internet-connected cameras, thermostats, televisions, and light switches? If you’re interested in the IoT and want to know how you can keep your smart devices from exposing details about your bank account info, sex life, or other information you’d rather not share, one of the latest gadgets you’ll want to check out is F-Secure SENSE. SENSE is a brand new security and privacy product designed to protect people, smart homes, and all of the Internet-connected devices people use to get online. [protected-iframe id="e08dcfcc9034d0976fb6555ee2a36868-90277660-81725797" info="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0y9A7IlswkU" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""] SENSE was announced at last year’s SLUSH conference in Heslinki. But at #MWC16 people will be able to get up close and personal with SENSE. Maybe even get some pictures taken like these guys did at SLUSH. You can meet SENSE and learn more about F-Secure and other privacy and security products, like Freedome and SAFE, by visiting us at Hall 6, Stand B60 at MWC.

February 21, 2016

You car is not a mechanical device. Nope. Your car is "probably the most complex distributed system that you personally own," Professor Stefan Savage explained earlier this month in a talk at USENIX Enigma 2016 entitled "Modern Automotive Security: History, Disclosure, and Consequences". This is why: This are the basic computing features of most any car purchased in the last 5 years. But the computerization of cars began 45-years ago with the advent of the airbag. A typical automobile network is now vastly most complex than what most of us have in our homes. And there's a good chance that your "off-the-shelf, unmodified sedan" could be compromised by a third party. "Compromised" as in your brakes could remotely be made useless, as Professor Savage did for this episode of 60 Minutes. The answer to these problems isn't simply "hire better people and it will all be better," Savage explained. Cars are vulnerable for a lot of reasons -- including the security problems emerging in much of the Internet of Things. Savage calls it "a huge amount of pressure on feature creation." Often, in the rush to add functionality, security is often not considered or actively ignored. Additionally, there are underlying issues with code ownership and laws that deny even security researchers access to internal workings of car software. “The thing that parents need to know about smart toys is that they’re new terrain for parents and children, but also manufacturers,” our security advisor Sean Sullivan told Newsweek. And his critique of the connected toys industry is certainly true of the computing revolution that's been going on inside our cars over the past decade. From OnStar to keyless entry to electric car charging station, two-way digital communication makes vulnerabilities likely if not inevitable. Car companies seem to have changed their approach and heightened their concern for security after the Jeep hack last summer, which led to the recall of more than a million Chrysler automobiles. But recalls aren't a very effective way to update cars, given the large percentage of owners who just won't bring their cars in unless they stop working. Savage told the story of a vulnerability his team discovered in Generation 8 OnStar units that they decided not to disclose based on the low rediscovery risk. Five years later it came out that GM had updated all of the units even though Generation 8 OnStar "has no ability to do remote updates." So what happened? "I'm not saying that GM hacked millions of its own cars..." Savage mused. "But something happened." (Hat tip to Antti Tikkanen.) [Image by Day Donaldson | Flickr]  

February 10, 2016

It’s easy to be pessimistic about how the Internet of Things (IoT) could change the world. Some people might see it as just a gimmick to sell new TVs or other devices. Others might feel that it’s more of the same old thing, or just a bunch of new mobile devices. Many people are concerned about how safe these devices are, or if they’ll usher in a big brother type world where privacy is a thing of the past. But many people and companies are learning how to leverage new Internet-connected technologies in extremely positive ways. Here’s a few examples of how IoT devices are making life better for people all over the world. Keep an eye on things while you’re away Surveillance isn’t a bad thing when it’s not infringing on people’s privacy or personal space. And that’s exactly what one Australian man learned when he was able to use various smart gadgets to prevent his home from being destroyed in a bushfire. Professor Simon Maddocks from Charles Darwin University was able to spot the fire using his Internet-connected security cameras and a smartphone. Once he saw that the fire was approaching his home, he was able to use his smartphone to activate his property's irrigation system. Unfortunately, he was unable to save his crops. But his livestock and house survived the fire, which makes him quite lucky compared to some of his neighbors. Cases like these demonstrate how Internet-connected devices can help protect people. If Professor Maddocks wasn’t able to monitor his home he wouldn’t have understood the immediacy of the approaching threat – a capability F-Secure Director of Strategic Threat Research Mika Stahlberg has called the potential killer apps for smart homes. And being able to use his irrigation system to douse his property would have been much more difficult had he not been able to do this remotely. Information sharing made easy Many popular IoT devices are being developed for use in smart homes. But thinking that IoT devices are limited to innovating homes is a complete misconception. Wearables are a pretty big product category for IoT devices, and features well-known items like the Apple Watch and FitBit. One recent project, called Wearables for Good, was created with the intent to encourage companies to develop wearables that serve the needs of people in both developed and developing nations. The project was a competition that awarded two design initiatives with cash prizes, as well as support in launching the products. One of the winners was Khushi Baby – a wearable necklace designed to store immunization data to make administering vaccinations in the field easier for health care workers. The necklace can store medical data and then share it with mobile devices via NFC transmitters. Making this information more accessible to people responsible for administering vaccines will help them make informed decisions while they’re in the field, and make vaccinating large groups of people much easier and safer. The designers behind Khushi Baby are currently using the product in Northern India to prevent fatalities due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Monitoring the health of people that count on you People now have access to technologies that can help them keep track of their own daily activities, and make improvements like getting more exercise, monitoring sleeping habits, etc. And while this is a great way for people to keep themselves healthy, other manufacturers are now beginning to focus on how to use these technologies to monitor people that have trouble staying healthy without a little extra help. For example, a Boston-based company has developed a “wearable baby monitor” that allows parents to monitor things such as their baby’s breathing, heart rate, movements, etc. This gives them a more complete picture of their baby’s health so that they can take better care of newborns. Another company has developed a series of activity monitors that can be placed around the home to help monitor older adults that are living alone. These monitors can be placed throughout the home and monitor activities, and then make this data accessible online. The caveat of these home monitoring technologies is that they collect, store and exchange massive amounts of data – data that can easily be repurposed by hackers or criminals. Hacking has already been proven to be a serious risk for Internet-connected baby monitors. So everyone has a reason to be excited about what IoT devices can do, but remember to take steps to secure your new smart devices, and the data they collect and share online. [Image by Al404 | Flickr]

January 19, 2016

The growth of wearable technology has beyond exponential, beyond explosive. In 2010, U.S. consumers spent a mere $6.5 million on devices worn on your body. By 2015, sales have multiplied more than 1,000 times to over $7 billion and are expected to top $12 billion in 2018. The Apple Watch has played a crucial role in rise of the wearable and one of the key functions users are seeking are the health monitoring functions of the device, with smart watches incorporating the features that fitness activity trackers have popularized. Samsung has just announced the release of a Bio-Processor, which "measures body fat, and skeletal muscle mass, heart rate, heart rhythm, skin temperature and stress level," according to the tech giant. It is scheduled to begin to be available in new devices by the first half of 2015. Beyond self-monitoring, wearables now offer medical uses that could transform the treatment of many chronic diseases. "The healthcare industry has started to adopt wearable technology with solutions such as automated devices for asthma monitoring and management, back therapy devices to bring relief from lower back pain, battery operated knee brace to provide relief from pain for more than 40 hours as well as sensors to monitor family members with memory problems attributed to conditions such as Alzheimer’s," Glenn Blake at CloudTweaks reports. But the biggest sign that wearables have reached a crucial tipping point is the fashion industry's increasing attempts to embrace of the technology. As smartphones have become commonplace, many developers are incorporating digital text and "smart ink" as fashion statements. This year's Consumer Electronic Show is the first since the release of the Apple Watch, which Cnet's Richard Nieva called a "gateway drug for many into the habit of wearing computer chip." The show will feature its annual FashionWare show and far more wearable technologies than ever before. "Compared to last year, the square footage of the wearable tech section at CES has quadrupled to 9,400, according to the Consumer Technology Association," Nieva reports. "The number of wearables exhibitors has almost tripled to 41, not including the companies that fall into the health and fitness category, like Fitbit." If wearables do become as commonplace as many expect, the potential for secondary uses -- like cashless payments -- is massive. But the surest sign of this category's success would be the demise of the word "wearable," which is kind of terrible. It even rhymes with terrible. We won't need a special word for devices we wear because wearable technology will be in everything. [Image by Teppo Kotirinta | Flickr]  

December 29, 2015

If you're a typical consumer, you were just as likely to have bought a desktop PC as a Smart TV in the last year. A new F-Secure survey of 8,800 people around the world found that 22 percent of respondents have purchased a TV capable of connecting to the web and a nearly identical amount had purchased a desktop computer. Though they may not realize it, the millions of people bringing these TVs into their homes are joining the Internet of Things revolution, despite privacy and security worries. 70 percent of those surveyed said they are at least somewhat worried about these devices being hacked, and 69 percent said they have some fear of tracking through these devices by third parties. These worries are justified and not just because of scares like the one from earlier this year when it was reported that Samsung Smart TVs were listening to their owners. The word "smart" is excellent for marketing, as is "the cloud." But our Mikko Hypponen has been traveling around the world explaining why these terms are willingly deceptive. "...there is no cloud – it's just other people's computers – and there is no smart cars, smart phones, smart TVs, smart missiles – in this context,  smart just means exploitable," wrote SC Magazine's Tony Morbin paraphrasing Mikko's talk at IP Expo Europe. Adoption of the IoT is now proceeding at a predictable pace given recent history. Despite privacy and security worries, people adopted smartphones faster than PCs as soon as the user interface was user-friendly enough. Smart TVs have already crossed the ease-of-use barrier and are reaching mass adoption, What happens next on the IoT is when security and privacy concerns become much more significant. "After entertainment, IoT adoption is focusing on quality of life products,"Mika Stahlberg, F-Secure Director of Strategic Threat Research, said. "Products like security cameras, smart locks, and smart cars all play significant roles in physical security. So online threats will take on a real-world element as more people start using these devices, and people are right to be concerned about this." In a way the greatest enemy of IoT security is the IoT's success. "Manufacturers are focusing on ease of use and are rushing to get their products to market, which is leading to a situation where you have a wide range of devices with limited functionality, but quite a few security vulnerabilities," Mika said. Many people are rushing to make their homes "smart" without thinking about how to make them secure -- even as hacker groups like LizardSquad are already using IoT devices to build botnets. "IoT devices will become increasingly popular targets for attacks precisely because people won't think about protecting them." With PCs, it took consistent and increasingly dangerous attacks to wake people up to the need to secure their computers. But given the intimacy of our home, the potential risks and the widespread concerns, there's ample reasons to hope we'll be more proactive this time. Here's a look at what consumers are saying about the IoT as the revolution begins:  

October 8, 2015

1. You can't say the FBI didn't warn you. On September 10, the U.S. top's domestic law enforcement agency issued what may be regarded as a historic public service announcement: INTERNET OF THINGS POSES OPPORTUNITIES FOR CYBER CRIME The fact that the FBI is going public with this warning makes it clear that they're telling you something that criminals have already know. The potential for smart devices to be exploited is not unique to smartphones, of course. Here are the top threats America's top cops identified: *An exploitation of the Universal Plug and Play protocol (UPnP) to gain access to many IoT devices. The UPnP describes the process when a device remotely connects and communicates on a network automatically without authentication. UPnP is designed to self-configure when attached to an IP address, making it vulnerable to exploitation. Cyber actors can change the configuration, and run commands on the devices, potentially enabling the devices to harvest sensitive information or conduct attacks against homes and businesses, or engage in digital eavesdropping; *An exploitation of default passwords to send malicious and spam e-mails, or steal personally identifiable or credit card information; Compromising the IoT device to cause physical harm; *Overloading the devices to render the device inoperable; *Interfering with business transactions. The security advice they offer is worth reading and consistent with what experts like our own Mika have suggested. 2. Boom time for smart cities. On Monday, the White House announced $160 million would be targeted for "smart cities" initiatives, including next-generation transit systems, energy-efficiency and open source data projects. Not so coincidentally, IBM reported on the same day that it was launching an Internet of Things division based largely on its Watson's cloud computing technology that became famous for its success on the game show Jeopardy. "This includes efforts to make cities smarter, to transform automobile and electronic manufacturing and safeguard food and water supply chains," Marketwatch reported. "In March, IBM committed to investing $3 billion over the next four years in industry-specific cognitive computing technologies and cloud storage." 3. Secondary uses for IoT data are becoming big business. With Salesforce announcing IoT Cloud, a service that will monitor the billions of inputs for sensors likely to be deployed over the next few years, the Wall St. Journal took a look at the business landscape in Silicon Valley developing around the presumption of IoT adoption. In addition to major initiative from giants like General Electric, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Oracle, Intel and Hitachi, there are "dozens of startups are also hawking related services and software, including Pivotal Software Inc., Jasper, Arrayent, Ayla Networks, PubNub Inc., PTC Inc.’s ThingWorks unit and LogMeIn Inc.’s Xively." With so much data going in, the Internet of Things will only truly be smart, in the best sense, and profitable if that data can be put to use intuitively.

September 15, 2015

Would you like your own personal shopper? Your own stylist? Your own cow? All of these things are available now -- for a significant price. But in the near future they may be available to everyone affordably as the Internet of Things eliminates the need for middlemen and allows companies to form tighter, more beneficial relationships with customers. In the short-term, IoT data can help make the ads we see more relevant, which might improve your life and sales, slightly. "However, the marketers who win the customer relationships of the future will do so by personalizing their offerings to a consumer’s preferences, habits and environments, and managing that consumer’s requirements over the longer term," TechCrunch's Ray Kingman wrote. He suggests this will happen in the form of subscription-based services. If you're a "Chevy family", the car manufacturer and you could benefit from a direct long-term relationship that encompasses your entire driving life. "Rather than selling you a car, an automotive brand would be better off selling you a multi-year subscription to a service contract that includes the car, maintenance and scheduled upgrades to a new model," he wrote. "Given the totality of IoT data coming from tomorrow’s cars, it would also make sense to include fuel and insurance in the subscription." He also imagines big stores -- both online and brick and mortar -- developing these kinds of relationships to aggregate several of your needs. "If the light bulbs in my basement signal that they are near end-of-life and replacements automatically go on a virtual shopping list as part of my Home Depot service contract, then that is valuable to me as a consumer, more sales efficient for Home Depot and much more cost-effective to Sylvania and Phillips." Apple already has already announced a service where you can get a new iPhone every year for $32 a month. But F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan imagines much more disruptive uses in the merging of the IoT and subscription models. He sees the potential to improve the quality of our lives and change our relationship with companies by giving us more benefits from our data. More and more, we're the product that's being marketing to big services. Middlemen use their economies of size to secure a slice of the action coming and going. They take a slice of your purchases and and a cut from the manufacturers for providing access to the consumer. "In the current model of big data, your data doesn't work for you," he told me. "It works for someone else. Retailers sell your shopper card data to third-parties who then can target you. " Subscription services can shift the benefit of these relationships back to consumers. He notes that RenttheRunway.com already offers a clothing subscription model that could immediately benefit from the users having their data tracked consensually. "What if your clothes had RFID devices that track what you and people who dress like you are wearing? You could get exactly clothes you want to wear shipped to you monthly." IoT-driven subscription services can also create new markets directly between consumers and more artisanal products, merging the real food movement with conscious data use. "If I can give up some of my data to the actual producer of the product, I'm willing to make that deal," Sean said. "The producer probably earns more and I may even pay less with the middleman out of the transaction." What would that look like? "My grandmother had a milkman (once upon a time) – and it’s quite likely that one day, my son will too. And not just milk, but ice cream and yogurt and cream and everything dairy. And in places like Brooklyn, you’ll probably even own a subscription to your own well-cared for cow." The transparency Sean imagines cuts both ways. "We have no information about how the food we buy ends up on a shelf and why it's sitting where it's sitting where it is in the store. Did the brand pay for that endcap? Likewise, we have no idea how our data is being used and whom." If you're consciously sharing our data, we're being tracked without reducing our privacy. "The more things that are talking to each other in your home, the better. It's not that your milk will know it's empty. It's that it will know that it's next to your cheese and salsa and you might like this sausage with it. Or you can put it all in this great recipe you've never tried before but people with this same food love." He imagines a drone delivering you the food you need exactly when you need it as a potential value of the IoT. But the added benefit is that you'll need to order less food because you'll optimize what you've bought and waste less of it. There is $165 billion a year of food waste in America alone, he noted. That's more than the entire gross domestic product of Hungary. "You might have the makings of the great recipe and you don't even know it. The other day I heard a podcast that made me want to try a recipe with my leftovers. What if my refrigerator could tell me that instead?" [Image by Chris Marchant | Flickr]  

September 11, 2015