5 things to know about the Internet of Things

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5 things to know about the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has become a buzzword that you’ve probably seen in the news over the past few years. As more and more people buy smartwatches, autopilot cars, smart TVs, game consoles or even smart refrigerators, the Internet of Things is growing in breadth and depth, with billion electronic devices online at any time.

These rapid technological developments are enough to make your head spin as a consumer. IoT Secure demystifies the Internet of Things and the most common electronic devices and networks associated with it.

You can now buy virtually any device with “smart technology”, usually some type of small transmitter, ranging from an RFID tag to smartphones and tablets connected to cellular networks. The communications of these devices range from a simple ping verifying location to a full user interface with built-in GPS, like a smartwatch. Their defining characteristic is that they can not only communicate with each other, but also transmit data to a central hub like a company or manufacturer. Then there are devices designed for constant interaction with humans. For example, a smartwatch that not only records your exercise heart rate and calories burned, but also the number of hours slept.

Read on to find answers to some of the most common questions about IoT devices. We’ll demystify the technology and introduce some of the risks you may have heard of by connecting your Alexa thermostat or home thermostat to the internet.



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Where to find IoT devices in everyday life

In 2022, it’s hard to overstate how common it is to find devices that are part of the Internet of Things, or IoT. Smartwatches are the most popular IoT, with Apple shipping 31 million Apple Watches in 2019 alone. Smartwatches are usually tied to your cellular provider so they can stay online while you’re away. while roaming. Much of the information they collect is the same data that you would find constantly collected by your smartphone.

Game consoles are the second most popular type of IoT-related device, with high-speed internet connections downloading new games and keeping others constantly online. Smart TVs are the third most popular as more and more people opt for large screens that can stream all their favorite shows. The fourth most popular type of IoT is voice-enabled devices like Alexa, which also raises a host of questions about privacy and security.

The fifth most popular IoT category is scanners and printers. You’ll still find plenty of these in home offices, although smartphone camera apps have recently replaced their functions. The sixth and most important type of IoT for home security is also the most potentially problematic for privacy: video cameras. This applies in particular to cameras in laptops and tablets equipped with microphones capable of detecting and recording conversations.



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How IoT devices communicate

IoT devices are all connected to the Internet and designed to form systems to communicate with each other as part of an interconnected network. This interconnectivity allows them to automate or remotely control different processes, such as turning off the lights or monitoring your garden. IoT devices can collect and transmit information, just like almost any other electronic device.

The simplest type of IoT is radio frequency identification, or RFID, which occurs when devices ping back and forth to indicate their location. Other devices grow in complexity as they use more bandwidth, streaming over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks.



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The types of information that IoT devices collect and transmit

IoT devices collect data for automation, like when you tell your smart thermostat what times you’re away from home and when to warm up your room. All collected data forms an impression of how you use your devices so that devices can begin to predict behavior patterns. This can enable better predictions, as well as highly targeted marketing, which represent the highest and often controversial value captured by Amazon and other companies that leverage IoT products.



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How IoT data is used

Various industries use data from IoT devices. Businesses can use continuous location data from devices like smartwatches to create profiles of users’ daily commutes, as well as locations that commuters avoid due to service outages or construction work.

Logistics companies can use RFID and GPS container data to identify efficiencies and sell shipments at lower costs. Electric utilities can use data from consumers’ thermostats to help adjust the network to reduce energy consumption based on time of day, seasonality, and large swings in temperature. As robots and other devices incorporate improved RFID technology, manufacturers hope to combine the IoT with artificial intelligence to revolutionize the way they measure and improve the performance of their machines.



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Risks to your device network

We’ve seen how the IoT can improve consumer experiences and change industries, but what about the security risks? In general, the more IoT devices and networks that interact with your life, the greater the chance that one of them can be targeted by hackers. Despite precautions such as Wi-Fi router encryption and network password changes, it is still possible for hackers to intercept data transmitted by smart devices.

There’s also an added risk of hackers sending fake or malicious data to the devices themselves, like changing the thermostat to overheat your home or reprogramming your in-car GPS that you use for directions. In an example of IoT security vulnerabilities, a teenage hacker recently claimed to have infiltrated dozens of Tesla electric vehicles in 13 countries because the owners failed to protect their settings.

News reports in recent years have highlighted how data collected by worn devices and smartphones can reveal sensitive sites, protective protocols for high-profile figures, or even locations of military troops on the battlefield. In 2018, Wired and the Washington Post reported that FitBit smartwatches worn by deployed U.S. special forces personnel during training were a big concern for the Pentagon, after data linked to a fitness app for smartwatches revealed sensitive base locations in Afghanistan and Syria.

This story originally appeared on IoT Secure
and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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