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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Internet of Things

Recently, the natural gas supplier informed me that my gas meter would be replaced by a modern, internet connected, smart meter. That new smart meter would monitor my gas usage (and adjust billings) more frequently. The letter suggested a mandatory replacement.

A Google search and a 21 March 2017 TV program learned that these new smart meters reveal anomalies in usage that were subsequently declined and rejected by the gas supplier. Upon delivery of the meter, the suggestion in the letter appeared to be false and I declined delivery.

The Internet of Things is slowly but gradually taking over our lives and efficiency is its main USP. Some examples of WiFi connected household appliances a.k.a. home automation:
1. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): eg, Google Nest thermostats
2. Lighting control system a.k.a. smart lighting: eg, Philips Hue
3. Appliance control & integration: eg, Netflix, indoor positioning systemssmart refrigerators
4. Safety: leak detection, smoke detectors and CO detectors
5. Security: security alarms sent to various parties (eg, owner, police, security firm).

A few years ago, the cyber hacking of cars was considered big news. Wired, 2015: "Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country." (eg, Wired 2016)

Some day in the near future, the cyber hacking of homes, houses, and office buildings will also be big news. Early March 2017, WikiLeaks revealed that "televisions, smartphones and even anti-virus software are all vulnerable to [] hacking" which "potentially takes surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of users worldwide" (eg, WP).

Cyber-attacks on bank accounts, banks, and even central banks are common. Probably the most feared cyber-attack is on electricity plants. It was the central theme of a 2015 book by journalist Ted Koppel: "Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath". 

On 23 December 2015, "the first confirmed hack to take down a power grid" happened in Ukraine. Wired 2016: "The power wasn’t out long in Ukraine: just one to six hours for all the areas hit. But more than two months after the attack, the control centers are still not fully operational, according to a recent US report".

The combination of the Internet of Things and cyber-attacks on electricity plants and/or power grids are frightening as nearly everything depends on electricity. An internet outage may hurt us but an electricity outage is far worse (eg, airco, computers, food, heating, internet, lightning, phones).

The Internet of Things is about efficiency and interconnectedness rather than about safety and security. Ransomware on our homes, houses, offices and plants may bring back awareness. Johan Cruyff, famous Dutch soccer player, once said: “Every disadvantage has its advantage”.

Mr. Robot Soundtrack DDoS Hacking Song - IMDb, USA TV, videoWiki