Internet of Things Comes Up Short On Data Security

Tech-giant Hewlett Packard has released a revealing report on Internet of Things (IoT) and data security. Products such as thermostats, televisions, webcams and home alarms – we haven’t been told the exact manufacturers – were analyzed to determine their vulnerability to online threats.

If It Connects to the Internet, It’s Gotta Be Secure

The results are slightly disturbing. While these gadgets are designed to make your life more convenient, HP’s findings tell us they can potentially bring on more harm than good. Most run on simplified versions of Linux. Therefore, when connected to the Internet, IoT devices are vulnerable to the same data security threats as a PC or smartphone.

More Holes than Swiss Cheese

Problem is, they haven’t been protected accordingly. Here’s a rundown of the most evident problems that HP discovered:

• Lack of password encryption – 8 out of 10 products accepted simple passwords like 1234. If password protection is weak, hackers are given a green light into the system.

• No Data Encryption – Basic security on PCs encrypt or conceal information being shared over a local network or the Internet. IoT devices consistently failed to perform this basic step. Encryption was absent on uploads of software as well. This means that hackers can create fraudulent software they can then use to take control. Not good.

• Poor interface security – Cross-scripting sites is when hackers inject code to pages accessed by an Internet user for the purpose of stealing information. Almost all software applications have gatekeepers to prevent this. Many IoT products interfaces do not.

Impenetrable Fortress or Hackers’ Delight?

The final piece of the report underscored the need to tighten data security in IoT. It won’t be long until IoT products are ubiquitous and change the way we live. Developers need to create security features that act as a bulwark against would-be threats. If not, it’s likely that almost everything you have can be virtual cannon fodder for those seeking to do harm.

Hackers Offered a BMW if They Can break into New Cybersecurity Technology

2014 BlackHat Conference

2014 BlackHat Conference

Hackers attending the 2014 BlackHat Conference in Las Vegas enjoyed trying to hack into the latest encryption technology suite from Secure Channels, Inc. Richard Blech, CEO of Secure Channels, was so confident in the new Cloud Services Suite that they offered a prize of a 2014 BMW 320i sedan to anyone who could break through the new security technology. Secure Channels, Inc., a California company, under exclusive license from Secure Channels SA in Switzerland, is a leader in the field of patented encryption technologies, providing to a variety of clientele with the highest level of data protection. The new Secure Channels Cloud Services suite fully protects data whether in storage or in transmission.

Dropcam: Not Just Another Silicon Valley Cinderella

Google’s Nest recently announced acquisition of Dropcam in a $555 million cash deal is more than just a classic Silicon Valley Cinderella story. The two developers of this popular improvement on the traditional webcam are Greg Duffy and Aamir Virani, veterans from Xonbi. Yahoo paid $30 million for Xonbi, an email inbox app in 2013, but the Dropcam deal is significantly bigger. Who would have thought that the Dropcam dream began with the misbehavior of a local dog?

Security Camera

Image courtesy of nipitphand / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dropcam on Dog Patrol

Dropcam’s very humble origins began as an effort to assist Duffy’s father in determining which of the local dogs was leaving its manure on the family’s yard. He used several webcams in an effort to catch the culprit, but these webcams were difficult to coordinate, and he found it inconvenient to store the prodigious files on his hard drive. Duffy along with Virani came up with the idea to design a web camera that would be activated by motion and store video files in the cloud.

Seed Money from Kapor Capital Produces Dropcam’s Bumper Crop

Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital provided the seed money for Duffy and Virani’s project which the two engineered and launched as Dropcam in 2009. Mitch Kapor is the founder of Lotus Capital, which produced game-changing technology that helped power the now historic personal computer phenomenon. From the initial investment, Dropcam was able to secure more funds and eventually created a half a billion dollar company. While Dropcam does not release information about its revenue, Dropcam is the best-selling security camera on Amazon and generates a large number of sales in Apple retail stores and in Best Buy. This is a huge leap from the early days, when Duffy and Virani had to package and ship every Dropcam they sold by hand.

Want to Know What’s Funny About Saving the Rainforest?

The Three Types of People in the World
When it comes to the environment, there are three types of people in this world -

Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance Logo

  1. People who don’t care about the carbon footprint that they’re leaving behind.
  2. People who are conscious of the damage that they’re causing to the environment, but feel too overwhelmed to do anything about it.
  3. People who devote time and effort to making sure that they’re living an eco-friendly lifestyle. If asked which of these types a person would want to be, hopefully most, if not all people would answer #3. So how can a person be a #3 without feeling too overwhelmed and becoming a #2?

What is Rainforest Alliance?
Rainforest Alliance is just one of many great organizations that works to preserve this beautiful planet by saving one of its most valuable resources – the rainforests. One of the things that makes the Rainforest Alliance unique is that it tries to help people and groups find the balance between what is taken from the rainforest, and what is put back. Oftentimes this can be as simple as making sure that the methods used to harvest the rainforests’ vast resources are more eco-friendly, striking a balance between man and nature.

Saving the World, One Video at a Time
Imagery and content are powerful tools when it comes to not just grabbing a person’s attention, but holding it as well. In a day when high-definition 3D movies are having so much success, people walk out of theaters thinking about two things on both the unconscious and conscious levels – the movie’s plot, and how appealing the images were to them. Rainforest Alliance has embraced both of these factors to convey its message.

With their video posted on Vimeo, Rainforest Alliance took full advantage of the visual approach, depicting the rainforest through visually stunning and soothing images. The images are so pure that a viewer will want to just jump through the screen, and directly into the locations where it was filmed.

They took a different approach with their “Follow the Frog” video. With this video, it was more about the content. Of the many content methods available such as drama and action, Rainforest Alliance used comedy to get the populations’ attention. For almost all of the three minute video, Rainforest Alliance keeps you amused and paying attention as they list all of the extreme things that a person SHOULDN’T do to save the rainforest. After showing a wealth of extreme, comical scenarios, Rainforest Alliance then says what should be done. The balance the video strikes shows how easy it is to help the rainforest, simply by purchasing Rainforest Alliance approved products. After truly exaggerating the overwhelming aspects of saving the rainforest, a person sees just how easy it is to help. 

Google vs. Deforestation

Google Forest Watch

One of Heather Clancy’s recent posts on Forbes.com brought to light a fabulous effort to quell the problem of deforestation. Google, in conjunction with the World Resources Institute (WRI), as well as over 40 other organizations, should be credited for developing a way to submit data used for the monitoring of deforestation.

Deforestation Running Rampant

Anyone who has been monitoring the level of deforestation in the first part of this century knows how horrifying and upsetting the statistics are. The issue of deforestation is one that will continue to get worse and worse unless more efforts such as this one are developed.

How Anyone Can Help, Or Be Helped

The initiative allows governments and businesses, as well as the average Joe within local communities, to contribute to the data entry. This is the embodiment of utilization on a global scale – putting the power in the hands of people that are being directly affected by this issue, whether they know it or not. Through the help of their communities, it wouldn’t be at all shocking if this gets armchair ecologists out of their homes and outside, where they can influence matters for themselves through the contribution of basic data. The fruit of everyone’s labor becomes apparent when it results in the high accuracy rate – falling within 30 meters annually.

The way this will benefit businesses is also a crucial aspect. The data that is essential for them knowing the problem areas in their individual industries will help them guarantee that they’re not contributing to a problem that will come back to affect them in the long run.

Visualization is Key

This global map can be used as a tool to educate people about the chaos that carelessness is reaping around the world. Sometimes it’s easier for people to visualize the effect they’re having on the world, whether intentionally or not, by seeing it for themselves. The more that people and businesses are aware of the problems of deforestation, the easier it will be to suppress this growing problem before it gets too far out of hand.