Smart security camera. Safe or Unsafe?

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The world gets more and more connected, people buy and bring more smart devices into the home. These devices provide the consumer with many benefits and enhance consumer’s life in a convenient way. However there is a dark-side, the security of the internet as a whole does not improve. With the internet of things, we introduce the vulnerabilities of the digital world into our own lives.

In October 2016, because of a DDoS attack, many large websites were inaccessible at the east coast of the United States. It wasn’t the first time that such an attack paralyzed websites, however the source of the attack was new: thousands of hacked ‘things’ from the internet of things, such as routers, smart security cameras and hard-disk recorders. Thus, things that normally should provide protection are now being a possible threat for your privacy.

The internet of things includes all kinds of devices that are able to make a connection with the internet. These are more than smart appliances such as, thermostats, fridges and lamps. For example smart toys do exist, such as a smart Barbie, that are able to make connections with the internet. And precisely these devices are prone to malicious parties.

According to manager Robert den Drijver of security company Symantec, the reason that cyber criminals increasing the search for unsecured IoT devices, is because they are easier to hack than smartphones and personal computers. Most of the time these are devices with minimal protection, but are offering a particular type of bandwidth. This bandwidth is necessary to send large amount of data traffic with a DDoS attack.

Designing smart devices often lack the priority of security. You could ask yourself what a hacker could do with your smart lamp, how can they benefit from it? These devices do not hold any valuable information. So you think. According to safety experts, it is possible to use insecure smart devices to send a flow of internet traffic to a random server. Possibly, criminals can use these attacks to infiltrate deeper into the network and still capture any valuable information.

Another threat is that ransomware makes it entrance into the internet of things. Ransomware  is a malicious software that hostage a device and asks for a payment. Currently this does not have yet occurred, however it is reasonable to think that criminals will use this method to trick out money from the consumer. Therefore it is important that the security of smart devices will be improved or that insecure smart devices will be banned from the market if it does not live up to certain security standards. Because if your Tesla got infiltrated by ransomware while you are driving. “Transfer now 100 dollars, otherwise we won’t unblock your brakes.”

Measures to defend

At first, it is important to change standard passwords of routers and other smart devices. Is it possible that a device can be reached at a distance, but you do not use that functionality? Disable it. An even better recommendation is to make use of a special Wifi-network for guests, in which you can connect all smart devices. According to Robert den Drijver, such a network can be shut down from the main network, which holds many sensitive data. However, there are not many ways for consumers to protect themselves. These steps can be taken and you can be careful with buying smart devices and toys. The consumer is not responsible to a lot of these insecurities. Many smart devices, in particular cheap devices developed by smaller companies, are abandoned once they are sold in stores.

Therefore it is necessary that governments takes action and set international industry standards for the security of smart devices. Minimal security standards, which should be included in the development before market entrance. Just like there are particular standards in the car industry (ABS or belts), there should be standards where it is for example possible to change the password or set reliability labels for IoT devices.

For such a regulation an international approach is necessary. It won’t be useful if just one country has more strict rules about the security, while other countries are still vulnerable to hackers. There are no borders for cyber criminals.

Greenberg, A. and Zetter, K. (2015) How the Internet of Things got hacked, available online from: https://www.wired.com/2015/12/2015-the-year-the-internet-of-things-got-hacked/ [7 December 2016].

Kraan, J. (2016) Die slimme deurbel is gevaarlijker dan je denkt, available online from: http://www.nu.nl/weekend/4342541/slimme-deurbel-gevaarlijker-dan-denkt.html [7 December 2016].

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The Smartification of Society

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From the advent of the Apple Watch, smart cars like the Tesla model S (not self-driving cars), the IoT, 3D printing, VR, Wearables and all the amazing tech trends we see it can be difficult to differentiate hype from reality. Here are some examples

 

What is certain is that everything in our lives is going to become smart the same way everyone in 1996 said the internet is going to change the world in 2000 but it really changed the world something like 2010. The deployment of accurate, easy to consume information from all things and objects around us to make our lives easier is going to hugely disrupt some industries forcing them to change the way they do things.

Let’s take the current education system for example as it is relevant to all of us and hypothesis how the combination of such trends might affect it. The descriptions that follow post might make you think I am not a fan of the current education system although these are just some observations and predictions meant not to offend but only to generate discussion. 

The university system is slowly losing its value proposition in face of the speed and intensity in the current business marketplace. Unfair debt structure of college loans can severely set a young person back. This brings to question whether college degrees are appropriate for everyone? It’s a hard conversation to have because the college dream has been so well branded. Yet it is fascinating how little parallel can be made between one’s level of education and success (financial) in the modern business world.

We can’t be so naive or misguided to suggest that time spent in a top university can’t help one get closer to financial success and diplomas are entry level requirements for thousands of jobs. If one wants to be a lawyer or doctor or many of the other professions that take a college degree to become that thing, then going to the best possible college that will help one get the job of their dreams is wise. If you want to run a business, be a photographer, an artist of any kind or a designer a degree is not necessary, though it will help. Many of us are lucky enough to go to university to soak up the experience, network and most importantly learn about ourselves (self-awareness).

The free education that will be available on the internet will be incredible and the current 10 year old’s may be the last generation that holds university to such high esteem. Online courses such as Khan Academy, Creative Live, Udemy, Udacity, Skillshare and tons of other startups are putting out incredible platforms that acquire incredible talent teaching courses on these platforms. Is this a better ROI than the college professors that have been out of the game for 5-10 years? There is definitely lots of money to be made within this industry as shown by new suppliers such as Masterclass entering the market where experts regardless of whether they went to university or not their work speaks for itself. Signs of a steady decrease in the quality university education are showing themselves as illustrated in a recent article published by the Guardian. It says “an Oxford graduate is suing the university for £1m claiming the “appallingly bad” and “boring” teaching cost him a first-class degree and prevented him from having a successful career”.

This brings to question is studying at home on the internet any different from going to a class with 400 students where you barely remember the lecturer’s name and education is standardized to make it efficient and very profitable.?

In addition, with coworking spaces and incubators slowly becoming a common denominator in many cities where one can network in combination with traveling to expand one’s horizons, why incur debt that you can’t even declare bankruptcy against.

One thing is for certain, university alone will not properly train you to be a prime time player in today’s business environment and many of the theories you might learn there about marketing or economics will already be too obsolete. The ENTIRE market moves at such a speed that even great entrepreneurs or experts have a hard time keeping up with it. Within a month of one’s graduation there will always be a new app, new platform or new channel or way for doing business that didn’t exist before.

How people judge anything is what brings value to the equation. Because decision makers in business today highly value a diploma from Harvard or MIT or Yale young students opt to go there and find it valuable. As soon as big companies or key players/individuals in the market such as Google come along and start valuing actual data and work to prove if you’re good at something the diploma will lose its value because whoever is judging dictates the rules of the game. Being a practitioner and student or teacher is very very different. We are slowly moving to a Post-GPA world.

Lazlo Bock the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google says “The academic setting is an artificial place where people are highly trained to succeed only in a specific environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.

However, the thought that we can switch the entire system; government, history, infrastructure etc is just not going to happen because the machine is too broken in the modern information world, it’s too big.. What could happen is what happens in business. Something comes along and disrupts it. A car was invented which disrupted the horse. Uber disrupted taxi services. All of a sudden taxi services are doing all these great things because they are forced to. They didn’t want to innovate.

Students are being taught information to regurgitate it from their heads using mostly short term memory, yet it is literally at their fingertips on their phones. If you really care about education you should not care how it’s being deployed, but instead about the accuracy and impact and how they execute that information. One can be informed in any way and that’s what we should focus on. Universities should pivot on putting young people in the best position to succeed in 2020, 2030 and not 2010.

“What you know doesn’t mean shit. What do you do consistently” Tony Robbins 

Inspired by the book #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness.

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Internet of Things – Does it live up to the hype?

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Most people are familiar with the concept of Internet of Things (IoT): the concept that all everyday objects use built-in sensors to gather data and take action on that data across a network. Some people call it the future of technology that has the potential to make our lives more efficient, while others are more skeptical, mostly in relation to data security and privacy issues.

According to Gartner (2016), platform revolution is one of the three distinct technology trends that form the digital business innovation in the coming years. An important innovation trigger in this is the IoT platform, where data from all data-gathering devices can be collected, managed, and monitored. However, IoT is quickly reaching towards the peak of inflated expectations. This indicates that the trend will take between 5 and 10 years to be adopted by the mainstream (Gartner, 2016). This kept in mind, the hype has a long way to go to be considered a sustainable competitive advantage in the digital world.

Perhaps the best query being googled about IoT, is the question whether it is ‘real’. Although technology is full of marketing and hype and therefore difficult to determine whether to be truly groundbreaking or not, it is unquestionable that more devices and people are connected to each other. One business in which you can already see IoT type of implications is the healthcare industry (Kobie, 2015). Smart pills and connected monitoring patches are already widely available and are collecting tons of valuable data as we speak. On example is Intel, who made a smart band that tracks how much patients with Parkinsons shake, thereby collecting real-time, accurate data that potentially could save lives (Kobie, 2015).

Time can only tell if IoT truly lives up to its hype, but one thing is sure, it is a concept that has the potential to truly shape the world that we live in. And as more devices are connected to each other and tons of data are being collected, stored and analyzed, it is reasonable to state that IoT is already here. The question is therefore not whether IoT is the next best thing; it to what extent it will influence our lives and the way we do business.

 

References:
Gartner (2016). Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Identifies Three Key Trends That Organizations Must Track to Gain Competitive Advantage. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3412017

Kobie, N. (2015). What is Internet of Things? https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/06/what-is-the-internet-of-things-google

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The Netherlands: the first country with a nation-wide Internet of Things network

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Since July 2016 the new LoRa network of KPN is available everywhere in the Netherlands. With this network, it is the first country in the world with a country-wide LoRa network for Internet of Things applications. The process of launching this network took around eight months. Before discussing the added value this network provide to companies, lets first take a closer look to what the LoRa network exactly is.

The LoRa network is a telecommunication network suitable for long-distance communication with low power. The advantages of LoRa above other networks (e.g. 3G and 5G) are that it has a wider range and consumes less power. This results in a significant cost reduction in monitoring large objects, for example the status of the Afsluitdijk. With this network, KPN provide companies with an excellent infrastructure to launch Internet of Things applications. Devices can get connected to each other easily. For companies it would be unfeasible to set-up such a network themselves.

triangulationCurrently, KPN already contracted 1.5 million devices. The expectation is that this amount of devices will increase rapidly, due to its nation-wide availability. KPN is still working on improving the network, driven by requests from companies. One of the functionalities that will be added to the network, is the localization functionality. This is a feature that is frequently asked for. Currently localization is one of the main applications of the Internet of Things. The localization functionality is done using the triangulation method. This is a method in which the data of three transmission towers is combined, to determine the exact location of certain devices (or objects). The image alongside represents this method. At this moment localization is already possible, but the accuracy is not precise enough for the applications interesting for companies (i.e. 25 meters). An example of such applications is tracking luggage during a flight. KPN is testing this at Schiphol as we speak.

The Netherlands, a knowledge based economy, strengthening its innovative image with the LoRa network. KPN is already talking with foreign telecom providers, to extend the network to other European countries. This will make Internet of Things opportunities for companies even bigger. But for now, as many times before, the Netherlands proves themselves a precursor in the field of innovation.

 

Sources used throughout the article:
https://www.corporate.kpn.com
https://www.lora-alliance.org/what-is-lora/technology
https://www.link-labs.com/lora-localization/
http://www.doctordisruption.com/design/design-methods-19-triangulation/ (image)

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Rotterdam: Smarter and Future-Proof

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Join me in the journey to digital business. We are heading to an autonomous world with a connection between people, business and things, also known as the Internet of Things. This world has to do with smart components and an ecosystem of platforms that are connected to each other. It will only take 5 till 10 years till Internet of Things platforms will be mainstream adopted.

 

The city of Rotterdam is on its way to become a smart city by using technology and innovation to make life for Rotterdam citizens more efficient. With the largest port in Europe, the city developed several smart projects in the harbor, for example AquaDrone. These smart drones with remote-control eyes are created for surveillance and inspection of the water surface, previously done by manned patrol boats using dangerous or inefficient methods. The drone transfers visual data to the inspectors at the quay. Second, a pilot project is designed to create ‘Waste Sharks’, floating drones, that will collect waste in the harbor.

 

Together with Philips, Rotterdam made their city safer with smart lighting. Now it is possible to control city lights and fully switch on lights in areas with high-level activity and partially switch on lights in more quiet areas.

 

Rotterdam has installed wireless sensors that connect via cloud servers to monitor the level of waste in collection containers. The sensors also track the location and temperature, so fire could be detected in an early stage. The gathered data is used to predict the level of waste and necessary waste collections to ensure the most efficient collection route.

 

Since Rotterdam is situated below sea level and urbanization and climate change will lead to more problems in water management, the city has implemented urban water systems to collect rainwater and remove dirt and leaves. Innovative solutions for water storage and collecting are developed in order to deal with excessive rainfall and provide the city with extra water during dry seasons. For instance, Green Roofs that are installed on private and public properties, absorb rainfalls and reduce the pressure on the sewerage system. The installation of Green Roofs requires minimal space and can be routed to any location at high altitude roofs. Water Plazas, or Watersquares, will serve as public recreation areas during dry seasons and as water storage spaces during periods of high rainfall. With the RainGain project, Rotterdam tries to predict rainfall floods with rainfall data obtained with radar techniques to improve water management and operations.

 

By stimulating the creation and implementation of smart city projects with for instance the CityLab010 platform, Rotterdam is ready to become a smarter city and future-proof.

 

On what kind of projects should Rotterdam focus to become more future-proof?

 

Sources

Heck, van E. (2016), ‘Business Architecture and Consultancy – Session 1: Digital Mastery’, Rotterdam School of Management, 24th of October

Heck, van E. (2016), ‘Business Architecture and Consultancy – Session 4: Digital Transformation’, Rotterdam School of Management, 14th of November

https://www.enevo.com/how-rotterdam-city-Improved-their-waste-management-schedule/

http://www.philips.com/a-w/innovationandyou/article/extended-story/city-lighting.html

https://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/news-and-press-releases/aquasmartxl-an-extra-pair-of-smart-eyes-on-the-water

https://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/news-and-press-releases/waste-shark-this-shark-eats-plastic

http://www.waterworld.com/articles/wwi/print/volume-25/issue-5/editorial-focus/rainwater-harvesting/rotterdam-the-water-city-of-the-future.html

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