5 trends in IoT and smart tech from 2016 so far

Shrinking computer chips, exponential growth in processing power and improvements in broadband speeds have driven a wave of innovation in the security industry. Smart tech and the internet of things (IoT) are also bringing video surveillance, electronic access control and digital smoke alarms into the home. But if drones, remote monitoring and integrated systems create new opportunities for boosting security, they can be harnessed by criminals and terrorists to undermine it too.

And with ever more systems and things connected to the internet and to one another the vectors of attack for cyber criminals are also multiplying. Here are five observations about the security implications of recent IoT and smart tech innovation. Drones, spheres and virtual reality: video surveillance moves beyond the bullet/dome and traditional control room The Sensorsphere, which was launched at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, is a spherical surveillance camera for the consumer market that moves by shifting its centre of gravity. Controlled remotely via smartphone its mobility negates the need for having a camera in every room. You may, of course, need two or more Sensorspheres unless you live in a bungalow, with the camera presumably suffering the same limitation that hindered Dr Who s arch-nemeses, the Daleks. LG showcased its own spherical camera at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February. The Next Web s Owen Williams included Magic Bot Ball in his 9 worst Internet of Things junk at Mobile World Congress, so time will tell whether rolling cameras (not in the traditional sense of the word) have any real utility for consumers. Drone-mounted cameras, meanwhile, can for the first time offer security services and professionals a birds-eye view. The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice will apply to surveillance drones (watch out for the Drone Zone at IFSEC in June 2017), according to Kishor Mistry, head of policy and support at the Office of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner.

Optical imaging pioneer ImmerVision (an IFSEC exhibitor), which develops drone cameras, launched 360-degree panomorph front-facing cameras at the MWC. The captured footage can be viewed and shared not just on tablet and TV but also on head-mounted display devices like Oculus Rift. This raises the remarkable prospect of CCTV operators donning virtual reality headsets. Could the traditional control room whose bank-of-screens layout has barely changed in decades be set for a dramatic overhaul? embedded content Complacency abounds around cyber security even in the tech industry Avast scored a PR coup at the MWC when it exposed the naivety and/or complacency of around 2,000 tech-savvy attendees and exhibitors. That s how many connected to the rogue wireless access points set up by the makers of the world s most widely-used antivirus solution. Using broadcasting SSIDs like Starbucks, Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA and MWC Free WiFi Avast also logged more than eight million data packets and could identify which sites were being visited. Cyber security has risen up the agenda of physical security professionals too. Recent research from cloud-based surveillance company Cloudview found that both traditional DVR-based systems and cloud-based systems were vulnerable to cyber attacks.

During tests five routers, DVRs and IP cameras running the latest software were connected to the internet. One device was breached within minutes, while another two fell under the control of an unknown attacker within 24 hours. A fourth became unstable and completely inoperable. Biometric scanners more fallible than you think Many people assumed including this writer that authenticating identity through the intricate, unique pattern of lines that comprise your fingerprint would be a much harder system to cheat than cards, fobs or pin codes. Not necessarily, as President of Chinese mobile security firm Vkansee, Jason Chaikin, demonstrated at the MWC. So what was the ingenious technology that beat biometrics? Play Doh. Yes, the children s modelling clay invented in 1955 and made out of flour, water, salt, boric acid and mineral oil. Chaikin created a mould of his fingerprint into which he pressed Play-Doh.

To the crowd s astonishment he then fooled the iPhone s fingerprint scanner with the resulting mould. One would assume that expensive biometric systems installed at nuclear plants or pharmaceutical labs would be rather harder to cheat. Let s hope so. This year also saw the showcasing of an iris-authenticated ATM machine at CES. Possessing neither a screen nor pin-code buttons, the innovation promises to reduce by one the countless passwords and pin codes the average person must now remember. embedded content Smart-home challenges remain With high speed Wi-Fi now the norm, powerful smartphones ubiquitous and internet-connectable gadgets proliferating, the smart-home market appears to be blooming. And yet. Until problems around usability, reliability and interoperability are resolved, home automation will remain the reserve of the affluent and, like the internet in its early days, technophiles. Anything that confuses the consumer will be a barrier, Michael Philpott, principal analyst at technology research firm Ovum, told the BBC.

Consumers are only going to buy into the smart home if it makes their life much better or much cheaper. We re not there yet. Switching the lights on and off, for example, is traditionally a simple task. To many consumers smart lighting, dependent on learning algorithms to develop preferences and a digital interface prone to bugs, simply introduces complexity and hassle to their lives. Nest Labs recently undermined consumer trust in IoT devices when it pulled the plug on its Revolv Smart Hub, leaving customers who paid $300 with a useless device that will no longer turn their lights on and off or trigger geofenced automations. Having a device rendered useless because of a shutdown in cloud service highlights the need for open standards in IoT devices, said Cesare Garlati, chief security strategist for the prpl Foundation. Fire-Safety products no longer security s poor relation for innovation Constrained by prescriptive, slow-changing regulations fire technology has generally evolved at a glacial pace. But the IoT trend has unleashed a wave of innovation in fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detection. There has been very little innovation in the smoke alarm industry over the past 50 years, both in terms of user experience and the technology inside, Nest Labs general manager for Europe Lionel Paillet recently told IFSEC Global.

They are an unloved product, seen by most consumers as an annoyance, and we want to change that. Irritation over frequent false alarms and low battery chirp often leads to the alarm being ripped off the wall, or batteries removed completely, leaving families at risk. Paillet said the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm tackles these problems. The Nest Protect alarm uses custom algorithms and a humidity sensor to look for steam, so you can enjoy a nice, quiet shower. And our split-spectrum sensor ensures that we can quickly spot smouldering fires and flaming fires, while minimising false alarms. And smart alarms can avoid that low battery chirp, and even minimise the need to manually test, by checking the batteries, sensors and speakers up to 400 times a day. Free download covering legal requirements for responsible persons under the FSO, courtesy of the IOSH, BIFM and USHA approved UK provider of health, safety and environmental information.

Key features: A full breakdown of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 The key actions when dealing with fire precautions & protection A complete guide to maintaining procedures and requirements within your organisation.

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