I always have a little laugh to myself when I hear a sales person whom I met 3 minutes ago tell me to trust them. Sadly I’m skeptical, for good reason and practically I’d suggest the exact same for anyone in the same situation.
Now I find myself in a dilemma, new technologies are about the scariest purchases anyone can make. If I digress for a second – buying a car that costs 100 times more takes a tenth of the time. I’m finding trust in technology is lacking and I’m finding I’m telling my customers to trust me – should you? Well, I think yes, because I know the industry but practically you should rather look at the facts.
Here are some of the important facts.
There are a number of concerns customers regularly have;
Hacking and Security
I have no doubt that everyone reading this article has a story of their own about hacking or some sort of cybercrime. Hacking, in most cases, is not done like the movies portray where a genius software guru writes code while sitting in a van outside. Most hacking is done by spreading knowledge about a known vulnerability. For example, if a popular software system has a small bug that is discovered and then shared hackers can search for computers that have that known vulnerability and exploit it. How do you solve that problem? Very easy, just keep all your software up to date. Right, now that’s where it gets tricky. How many devices do you have? Quite a few – if you’re thinking of your phone or computer then you are like most. You also need to think of your IP phone and even your security cameras.
The other very common form of hacking is simply guessing a username and password – amazingly many thousands of devices get placed on the internet with the same default username and password.
Some numbers: Over 90% of hacks involve either outdated software or a default username and password. You can protect yourself significantly just by doing those two basics right.
How does this affect current IoT devices? Any device connected to the internet needs to have some protection. Since we are very aware of the security issues we implement various important security enhancements.
Updating software is probably the biggest problem. We take advantage of over the air updates allowing devices to update themselves when new software is available. This significantly improves security but also improves our devices operations as new features are introduced.
Default passwords…. are a thing of the past. We link the device ID’s to a database which ensures only authorised people can access their device’s data. Even if you were to guess the device ID you still wouldn’t be able to gain access to it.
Connectivity. Context first! Sensing devices have limited connectivity from the outside world to the device. They are designed to send information (from the device to the data center) and not receive information (from the data center to the device). It is impossible to hack a device you can’t connect to.
Our engineers have considered all threats and factored them into the device design.
Quality of data
IoT is all about data. Do you trust the data that you get? Internet of things is new. Measuring/sensing is not.
IoT is a new term to describe devices connected to the internet. There is a long chain of events that eventually resulted in IoT becoming a reality. Two key components – longer batteries life and more effective networks. The sensors are not new and haven’t really driven IoT implementation.
Let’s look at a simple sensor – temperature. Temperature probes have been around for a long time – we have them almost everywhere including our cars. IoT devices simply connected the same temperature probe to an internet connection allowing us to know for example what the temperature of our car is while we are away from it.
In an industrial sense, sensors are much more useful. They have been deployed successfully throughout manufacturing lines, right through to mission-critical components like a life support system in a hospital.
The quality of data measured by IoT devices is certainly reliable. The only other breakdown point is how your data is treated! No one wants their company data tossed around like it’s a consumable object. Here’s how we do it.
All data from our devices are encrypted. On the server side, it’s decrypted and stored in a secured data center. Our software retrieves the data only when required from authorised accounts – accounts are protected twice as you need to know the outside device ID and it needs to be linked to your account.
Trusting the specifications (promises made on the box)
Promises are big with IoT. The biggest issue with small devices is;
1. Does it do what it says
2. Is it’s battery life really that long.
Technology has come along way. This is great news for people like us who want to make tiny devices. Every sensor type has been shrunk substantially. The size of a GPS unit is a new millimeters, while a temperature probe is even smaller. Not all sensors are made equal – better quality components get better results. Most devices will publish the standards that their components meet.
In our case, we have carefully chosen our components to reach the right balance between quality and cost.
What about the battery? The battery indicator is normally under ideal circumstances so will always be a little worse in the real world. That said it’s important to note that many new generation IoT devices boast a really long battery life (some say up to 10 years) yet older technologies only last a few days. Older technologies use cellphone technology which keeps the connection alive constantly. Newer IoT devices go into a deep sleep mode, only waking when they need to do something – so, in reality, a device with the same sensors and battery size could last for a number of years compared with older technologies.
In conclusion, we encourage you to spend a little time familiarising yourself with the technologies we use and understanding what can be done with IoT. You are also very welcome to have a chat with us on 010 007 1717 or firstname.lastname@example.org because you can trust us :).