Tuesday, August 23, 2016

IoTA 26 - IT leads the way

Show Notes:

Patrick Gray in TechRepublic reports that IoT success is more about focusing on strengths, less about creating an ecosystem. For years, most trainers were fairly "dumb" devices that might allow for a resistance adjustment and little else. With cyclists generally being a group with disposable income that appreciates technology, eventually a company called CompuTrainer created a "connected" trainer and associated computer program that allowed the cyclist to integrate the trainer with a personal computer. This allowed the cyclist to create a workout on their PC, and have the computer control the resistance level and monitor the cyclist's performance during the workout. CompuTrainer provided the entire package of hardware and software, achieving a vaunted state that many companies claim they aspire to: that of an ecosystem provider where an entire "experience" or process is designed, delivered, and integrated by a single provider.

The trouble with ecosystems

Ask nearly any executive in a product company about the benefits they see in IoT, and they'll likely cite becoming an ecosystem provider as the consummate position in a market. Apple is the prime example of a successful ecosystem provider, where the company delivers hardware, software, services, integration to other vendors, and even a marketplace for third parties, happily deriving revenue from each element of the ecosystem.

What's not to like? The trouble with ecosystems is that it's amazingly difficult to succeed in each unique discipline required to "own" an ecosystem. Your company may have a storied history of developing well-engineered products, but has minimal competence with the software and integration side. Certainly these services are available from a variety of third parties, but the other major challenge to building an ecosystem is the potential for disruptive alliances.
In a PRNewsWire report, SIMCom becomes the number 1 IoT Module vendor. According to ABI Research SIMCom moved into the number one spot for 2015 module shipments. "SIMCom has engaged in some very high-profile partnerships to develop some of our new products and features," said Mrs. Wendy Wang, general manager of SIMCom wireless solutions. "More and more customers are starting to realize the quality of SIMCom products," she continued. "The module is not only meant to function at the highest level and to push new features into the market, but to be easy to use -- a major demand from the developers and researchers in particular."

About SIMCom:

Founded in 2002, SIMCom Wireless Solutions has been fully committed to providing a variety of wireless modules and IoT applications for customers around the world. With a constant focus on innovation and research, SIMCom has risen to become a globally recognizable brand and a serious contender for the industry.
A favorite type of article is the What's inside type. William Wong of Electronic design outlines the basics of what should be in an IoT Chip. You'll need to read this one on your own.http://electronicdesign.com/iot/what-inside-iot-chip
Nathan Eddy in Information Week reports that IT is leading the charge when it comes to IoT deployments. The top five perceived benefits of IoT adoption include cost savings from operational efficiencies, better streams of data to improve decision-making, staff productivity gains, better visibility and monitoring of assets throughout the organization, and improved customer experiences.

According to the research, the CIO, CTO, or other IT staff are leading the way for most IoT initiatives, though 46% of businesses reported the involvement of the CEO or president, and 31% reported the involvement of business unit leaders such as chief marketing officers (CMOs) or chief operating officers (COOs). However, there are still several risk factors giving organizations pause, according to the report. Factors most likely to inhibit adoption of IoT technologies are upfront cost, lack of skilled workers with the necessary expertise, and ongoing fees and maintenance costs.

Rounding out the top five roadblocks were new cyber-security risks and interoperability with existing systems and devices.

The research also revealed that 57% of companies believe their organization is well-equipped to manage the security component of IoT, which might be surprising considering how little is known about IoT security.
David Bisson reports that Smart IoT Socket suffers from dumb security vulnerabilitites. Bitdefender recently came across a serious flaw in the Edimax smart power switch. After successfully connecting to the network, the device registered with its vendor's servers and sent various pieces of information - such as its MAC address, IP address, and firmware version - to the app for storage.

That little communication exchange marked the end of setup. At that point, the researchers could use the smart socket to schedule an electronic device to turn on and off from their smartphone.

Simple enough... but deeply flawed.

Researchers found the setup process suffered from the following vulnerabilities:

The device's hotspot, which the mobile app uses to connect with the socket, is protected by a weak username-password combination.
Users receive no alerts for deciding to stick with the product's default credentials.
The socket transmits the user's Wi-Fi credentials in cleartext.
All device-to-application communication is encrypted but not encoded, meaning an attacker can easily reverse the encoding scheme.
Users can configure the socket to send them notifications to their email, but for some reason, the device requires access to their email username and password to fulfill that functionality. "This type of attack enables a malicious party to leverage the vulnerability from anywhere in the world. Up until now most IoT vulnerabilities could be exploited only in the proximity of the smart home they were serving, however, this flaw allows hackers to control devices over the Internet and bypass the limitations of the network address translation. This is a serious vulnerability, we could see botnets made up of these power outlets."

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