February 26, 2024

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Ensuring the Security of IoT Devices

Security of IOT Devices

Engineers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are exploring how Internet of Things devices can change lives for the better.

Dr Hassan Habibi Gharakheili, a lecturer at the University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, is reportedly excited about the potential that the Internet of Things (IoT) can offer.

However, he is equally aghast at how insecure some IoT devices many people already have in their homes are.

Background

IoT is commonly associated with smart home and building automation, wherein several devices are linked together on a common wireless network that can be controlled remotely over the internet with the use of a mobile phone or PC.

The lecturer is part of a program called Smart Campus, which is examining low-cost and accessible ways to provide information about how public and commercial spaces are being used at any given time using real-time information.

Using the UNSW campus as a testing ground, his team is looking at patterns of how people use and move through the various campus spaces.

The use of lecture theatres, for instance, reveals a typical pattern of being chock-a-block full of keen students at the start of a term and then sparsely attended by the term’s end.

The spaces could potentially be managed more proactively if there are live records that were continually updated about the numbers of people using the theatres over time

The team discovered fairly cheap, ‘beam counter’ sensors that do the job perfectly.

These were mounted on the frame of each door, which counts how many people come in versus how many go out.

Similar technology can also be used to enable users to make planning decisions. Dr Gharakheili demonstrated this by installing sensors, built by his students from scratch, near a notoriously overcrowded bus stop.

With the availability of live data on the number of people waiting for the bus, decisions on whether extra buses are needed during those peak times become much more responsive.

The Problem

IoT undoubtedly makes life easier for all. However, they discovered that popular IoT devices marketed at the home consumer are insecure, which means they can be hacked easily.

The reason behind this is the manufacturer’s primary concern of putting together something fancy that comes at a low price.

Security was not much of a priority as it entails additional parts, which is costly and takes time.

Unsecured IoT devices are accessible from anywhere on the globe, according to the lecturer. Hackers can launch cyber-attacks on companies by recruiting people IoT devices leaving their owners without a clue.

These devices communicate using plain text, which is not encrypted. Aside from being used as a launchpad for a cyberattack, these devices can also give away some of the personal data used to set up those devices.

The Solution

Dr Gharakheili is working on software that can be used to address these serious flaws of IoT devices. It can be introduced to the home and business network, thereby making IoT devices safe.

The first thing it does is an audit of all the IoT devices on that network, learning how many there are and which are still operational.

Unlike a laptop or smartphone, IoT devices have very distinct and unvaried ways of communicating that make them easy to identify.

They have prescribed functionalities by the manufacturer. If they are behaving differently, then something is definitely wrong.

With the use of AI and machine learning, this behaviour can be picked up which can lead to the isolation of the device that has been compromised.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

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SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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