IOT

The IOT, WTF!

If you don't keep up, you're not going to understand the world around you, says Patricia Stuthridge, MD of LucidView.


Johannesburg, 20 May 2019
Read time 5min 50sec

Did that headline mean anything to you? If you're a millennial, you got it all. If, like me, you're not, you got the last part. This is the new English; purists hate it, people judge people by it. It doesn't matter; if you don't keep up, you're not going to understand the world around you, says Patricia Stuthridge, MD of LucidView.

The IOT is simply an acronym for the Internet of things. Sound like a SciFi novel? Well, it's not, it's real, it's here, it will (if it isn't already) impact your life and it's pervasive. You're not even aware of how much it already plays a role in your life, in your communication, in the news you read, your worldview.

It came to you wrapped in convenience; after all, the Internet got us out of bank queues, allowed us to book trips without leaving our seats. Now it delivers our takeaways, sends cars to collect us when we have had one too many. It's convenient, we like it, we chose it, it's not Orwellian, there is no big brother, 1984 has come and gone. Or has it?

In a sense, it's just morphed into a technical version that is chosen by a society that has been transformed by technology. It's not the oppressive propagandist regime Orwell wrote about; it wasn't forced onto us by some government trying to control us; but, like it or not, it is everywhere, and we can't live without it anymore. It shapes us, gives us what we want, and controls our thoughts to the point where the 'flat earth society' is making a comeback.

So, what is it? A brief definition for those who are not familiar with the IOT:

"The Internet of things is the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with electronics, Internet connectivity, and other forms of hardware, these devices can communicate and interact with others over the Internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled." Wikipedia

In this simple paragraph, put very neutrally, there are a number of things that leap out at me, and the reason is because I have spent a large part of my working life among cyber security experts. I am not one, but things have a way of implanting in your unconscious when you're subjected to them so often. So for those of you who haven't spent 20 some years around these experts, let me point out the words in that paragraph that you need to know and you need to plan for, or you need to insist your IT service provider does this.

1. The extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects

In other words, lighting or alarm systems connected to the Internet, for example, and then using a device like your smartphone to control it. Sounds convenient, even adding security to your life, doesn't it?

2. These devices can communicate and interact with others over the Internet and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.

So, these devices, whether they're cameras, lighting or heating systems, baby monitors, or turning on your appliances en route home for that convenient coffee, can all be controlled remotely.

Sounds great, doesn't it? You can sit at your office desk or while a having a glass of wine with your friends and ensure that your children are home and safe with the nanny, observe that she is not beating them, listen to your baby in its crib via the baby monitor that is now connected to the Internet, order groceries, book a holiday, and pay for this all without ever leaving your chair. Why wouldn't you embrace this? You'd be mad not to.

Something, though, is gnawing at you. You can't quite put your finger on it, but your instincts are telling you that nothing this easy comes without a price, and you're right, you need to be concerned.

Your family, your life, that convenience all made possible by the IOT, comes with risks, serious risks. People much more technically apt than you or I are also on this Internet and they simply need to implant malicious code, misdirect you to a phishing site or simply socially engineer the information out of you and, bam, some madman now controls your house, your alarm system, your kettle, toaster, baby monitor, television, laptop and cellphone cameras and recording devices, GPS tracking systems and whatever else is included in your IOT. You may not even know he has remote access, he may just be watching your life. Creepy!

So, what's the answer? You could throw out the baby with the bath water, but that's never a good solution, hence the proverb.

No, now is the time to call your IT service provider, the guy or the company you pay monthly for your fibre or ADSL or whatever your home or business network is running on, and you ask him how he knows your life is not about to implode due to IOT you have running in your home or business.

If he can't show you what content is allowed into your network and what content is being filtered, how your bandwidth (the Internet line you're paying for) is being used, who is connecting to it, where they are going and for how long on that line and how many known risky connections have been made and thwarted, and how many may have got through and on which device, ie, your cellphone, your daughter's tablet, your husband's laptop, etc, if he can't provide you with reporting that you can understand and offer you choices as to what you let into your home or business network, when and for how long, who is using it, where on the Internet they are spending their time, or are they connecting to risky sites, then you need to review who you buy your Internet from, because this technology is available to IT service providers at costs that are more than affordable.

The LucidView Enforcer Solution is a solution designed for your IT service provider, giving that provider the ability to secure the Internet connectivity he provides to you. He is the expert, this is his role. If he doesn't have this, you need to ask why or change to a provider who does.

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