IoT: A basic discussion

What is IoT?

IoT stands for Internet of things. This is a technology which helps us to interact with things around us in several different ways. These things can be categorized as systems, static objects or machines. IoT is used for a wide variety of applications which varies from the M2M technology where in the communication is maintained between 2 machines only.

Smart meters, home router, TV, light control, A/C control etc are few applications of IoT. IoT has covered most the industries right from energy, manufacturing, healthcare, telecom and transportation.

3 Main aspects of IoT:

The three main aspects of IoT include connectivity, remote management and security. IoT applications bring in a large number of advantages but there are many security aspects which need to be taken care by the user of IoT enabled devices.

The concept of clouds and mobile app has given an all new perspective to the existence of IoT.

How does it Work?

Things are any device, system, person that can be remotely controlled using applications running on smart device (such as a smart phone, remote controller etc.).

We need to have IP address assigned to each IoT things.

There is no common protocol stack finalized for IoT things.

The three basic layers comprise the IoT protocol stack.

  1. Physical Layer: First each of the things should have physical layer to connect with the medium either wired or wireless (wifi, WiPAN, LTE, GSM etc.).
  2. Interface Layer: Second, each thing should have layer to interface with a backhaul network as per the technology that the device is being developed for.
  3. IP Interface Layer: Third is the basic IP address interface.

Things can be either controller based or could be things directly. In the case of controller, it is controller which controls the things.

The figure below depicts IoT network comprised of Hub and things.

 

 

IoT Applications

Let us try to understand the security risks involved in having IoT enabled devices.

Home Router

The first use case of IoT is the router used in our home. The router connects us with the world of internet. It connects our system with the internet service provider. We rarely switch of the router and remains on for most of the time which leads to security concerns. User of these innovative devices needs to follow basic security guidelines. Regular check for any updates on latest software releases or patches (if any) for the devices that have been purchased from the manufacturers.

Smart meter

The second use case is that of the smart meter. These smart meter devices send the data to their service provider via local data collection hubs. These intermediate hubs need to be secured by the service provider else could lead to security risks.

Camera

People install camera in their premises for security reasons to monitor the activities to avoid thefts or other risks. Sometimes because of this, privacy could be at risk. This occurs due to faulty software installed on the camera. If the IP address of the camera id known then the feeds are viewed on the internet. There are search engines and applications which help find IP connected devices on the internet provided they have some bug in the software. To avoid this situation and help us be secure one has to be smart enough to buy genuine products of reputed company. Have a self security audit of the device you have purchased.

The following should be taken care to avoid any security risk:

  1. Provide control to things which are really necessary and automate the entire house along with all the things.
  2. If someone really wants to automate entire house involving everything then one needs to be very smart and check before things are put operational.
  3. Also need to have regular check. One has to have check for any software upgrades, patches from the manufacturers time to time.

Thus to conclude If properly managed, IoT could be a boon for mankind but if not properly managed it could become a curse for mankind

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