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Australia releases a new code of practice for IoT device manufacturers

Ranine Awwad

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Australia releases a new code of practice for IoT device manufactures

IoT devices have poor cybersecurity features which expose Australia’s families, the national security, and the economy to crucial cyberattacks. As the use of the IoT technology has seen significant growth in the country, authorities have been taking serious moves aiming to provide better protection to users. On September 13, 2020, the Australian Government published the code of practice for IoT manufacturers as a key deliverable of the Government’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy.

The new code entitled “Code of Practice: Securing the Internet of Things for Consumers” contains 13 principles and aims to provide the industry with the best tools to design IoT devices while maintaining cybersecurity.

According to the Department of Defense Minister’s website, Minister for Defense Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said, “The Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has today also released quick and easy tips to help Australian consumers protect themselves against cyber threats when buying and using internet-connected devices. “Boosting the security and integrity of internet-connected devices is critical to ensuring that the benefits and conveniences they provide can be enjoyed without falling victim to cybercriminals,” she said.

The Code of Practice will also help raise awareness of security safeguards associated with IoT devices, build greater consumer confidence in IoT technology, and allow Australia to reap the benefits of greater IoT adoption. Under this code, IoT manufacturers must make sure that personal data are protected according to the Australian legal framework such as the Privacy Act 1988, and the Australian Privacy Principles.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton sheds light on the importance of considering cybersecurity features when buying an IoT device.  According to ZDNet, Dutton said, “Internet-connected devices are increasingly part of Australian homes and businesses and many of these devices have poor security features that expose owners to compromise”. 

Back to November 19, 2019, the Australian Government has released a draft of the code of practice. Aiming to ensure that the Australians’ expectations are met regarding cybersecurity, a public consultation has been set to take place until March 1, 2020.

Recently, Australia co-signed a Statement of Intent regarding the security of the internet of things (IoT) with the Five Eyes nations – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States – in London.

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Ranine joined Inside Telecom as an Investigative Journalist. Her extensive fieldwork and investigations shed light on many socio-economic issues. Over the past few years, she has transformed her key findings into in-depth analytical reports. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication.

Iot

E-scooters to benefit from Ericsson-Arkessa partnership

Karim Hussami

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E-scooters Ericsson Arkessa

After using the internet to keep people connected for quite some time, many devices nowadays have the capability to be connected to each other by the internet of things technology (IoT) which can work directly through a smartphone.

From small devices to cars and houses, IoT is the main driver to create a new ecosystem by having objects engineered to seamlessly communicate with each other, and especially with the user, to support all day connectivity across the ecosystem.

According to Ericsson, the number of cellular IoT connections will grow from 1.7 billion in 2020 to 5.9 billion in 2026, while the manufacturing IoT managed services segment is estimated to hold approximately 27.5% of the market share in 2026, according to Persistentmarketresearch.

New partnership for IoT connectivity

As such, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Arkessa reached a deal to provide a secure, managed global connectivity solution that supports the rapid and efficient deployment of Voi e-scooter fleets around the world.

According to Ericsson, that partnership will help increase micro-mobility in cities by having global SIMs supplied by Arkessa, allowing Voi to easily provision, activate scooters and manage its fleet of connected scooters worldwide, regardless of their location.

Arkessa’s global connectivity offers Sweedish Voi the flexibility to deploy its growing fleet of e-scooters in various countries while minimizing costs and optimizing coverage.

One SIM can connect to different service providers without the need for physical replacements, offering significant cost savings in fleet management. Voi gains full global connectivity management benefits powered by Ericsson IoT Accelerator.

These IoT-enabled devices contain sensors that constantly collect and react to data, and this vast level of data can be used to unlock new levels of intelligence.

Fredrik Hjelm, CEO and co-founder of Voi, says, “We are excited to work with Arkessa to provide superior IoT connectivity in our scooters and ensure an even higher level of service for our riders and partner cities. By leveraging Arkessa’s secure and resilient global network connectivity, Voi can continue to deliver fast, reliable e-scooter services as we expand into new markets and roll out our next-generation vehicles and IoT hardware.”

Benefits of IoT scooters

In parallel, these scooters which are activated by the smartphone now ubiquitous in every country in Europe and the United States, giving citizens, tourists and locals an alternative and convenient option to move around the city.

On the other hand, the data is collected from the scooter directly  via integrated sensors which are transmitted via cellular connectivity to the systems of the companies that own them.

Information – which includes the location of each connected  bicycles and scooter, how long each ride takes, which docks need to be restocked, and which ones are full – is always available in real time.

For example, New York’s Citi Bike makes its system data publicly available and invites developers, engineers, and statisticians to use it for analysis, development, and visualization. These measures are taken for the purpose of making better decisions related to transportation and municipal infrastructures.

The idea is that the continuously streamed data collected from connected bikes and scooters will become a crucial components of a fully functional and responsive interconnected grid that can process big data      .

Enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of cellular IoT to deliver new services, derive new revenue streams and improve operational cost-efficiency.

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Tips to increase and maintain IoT smart home security

Karim Hussami

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IoT smart home security

From the thermostat and television to lights, curtains, and security systems, the Internet of things (IoT) turns any home into one connected cell controlled by the single touch of its owner.

Once a home is transformed into a smart one, all connected devices can be controlled remotely through the Internet. However, as with every technology, it is subject to various cybersecurity risks.

According to a report by Statista, the global market revenue in Smart Home technology is forecasted to reach a value of US$77,386 million in 2020, and more than 141 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.

“A global comparison reveals that most revenue is generated in the United States (US$23,328m in 2020),” the report highlighted.

Ways to improve IoT security

Before purchasing any IoT device, users should primarily research the different devices available as well as their related security level to select the safer option in terms of security and privacy.

Thus, to benefit from the efficiency of these smart devices whilst shielding them from attacks, there are several measures that should be taken by the smart homeowners:

 1- Update the software:

According to U.S.-based cybersecurity software developer Norton, software updates related to IoT devices should not be neglected and updated frequently when notified on their smartphones.

In parallel, users should manually follow up for software updates by regularly checking online for update availability and launch dates.

Taking a step backwards, homeowners should ensure the availability of security on IoT devices to begin with, since security isn’t on the manufacturers’ top priority list, as some devices are not designed with a mechanism for updating software, leading to vulnerabilities putting it under potential risk.

2- Use strong passwords:

The second most important security measure for IoT devices after software updates, according to an article published by Forbes Technology Council, is the use of the strongest authentication possible.

In other words, passwords are to be long, complex, and hard to guess.         

“To gain control of a device, the hacker needs certain information from you. Many of these instances come when default passwords or simple phrases are used,” Richard Davis, Katalyst Data Management said.

Davis recommends using a password manager and a second-factor authentication app (rather than mobile phone SMS) to control access. These will deter the drive-by hacker by increasing the amount of work they have to put into hacking you.

3- Set up the router securely:

First off, changing the routers’ default name after purchase to a unique name that cannot be traced to the user’s home address is key to preventing unauthenticated access by cybercriminals.

Likewise, using complex and long passwords, including upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers, and special characters will help secure it even further. In addition, strong encryption protocols are highly recommended to protect Wi-fi access and network security.

The highest level of encryption is currently WPA2, which will be soon succeeded by WPA3.

“Home routers are primary IoT targets for hackers. Thus, a secure router translates to a substantially more secure smart home,” Travis Goodreau, a home Security & Safety Expert at SafeHome, was quoted as saying.

Each IoT device is to have a separate login credential so that if one device is hacked, the others remain unaffected. A password manager tool can be used to store the passwords for all the devices since there can be many passwords, one for each device, and easily forgotten users.

In parallel to that, a separate network is to be set up for IoT devices, granting sole access to the homeowner, to add an extra layer of security, whilst giving access to other networks for family, friends, and visitor use.

4- Install a next generation firewall:

The traditional firewall system may not be sufficient to secure IoT devices from cyberattacks, thus, the introduction of next generation firewall – which is an integrated platform that combines the traditional firewall with other functionalities such as virtual private network (VPN), malware protection and intrusion prevention system (IPS). 

Although next generation firewalls are quite expensive, having the right security measures in place is worth their weight in gold.

The threat of cyberattacks on digital homes is on the rise, and the importance of safeguarding smart home security is increasing as consumers acquire more developed IoT devices, and become even more connected.

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Smart cities: exploring citizen benefits

Karim Hussami

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Smart cities

The dynamic shift brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crucial for countries to adopt emerging technological trends to facilitate daily life, work and the economy. Smart city development has accelerated in response to change and urbanization, as digital solutions pave the way toward a more liveable future.

The smart city landscape is expanding with the emergence and rising adoption of connected technologies and increasing government initiatives. “The global smart cities market size is expected to grow from USD 410.8 billion in 2020 to USD 820.7 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.8% during the forecast period,” according to Research and Markets.

Smart cities will proliferate as 5G/IoT-powered solutions gather valuable information and improve the overall connectivity of citizens and enhance governance and participation.

In addition, as long as the aging population increases, technological provisions are required to help ease the growing pressure on global healthcare systems and community-based services.

Smart cities can have a significant impact on business development by engaging community business owners and municipalities. In order to encourage the greatest level of efficiency, companies tend to have a continuous flow of information with lawmakers about new policies, regulations, taxes, benefits and credit schemes that may be applicable to them. The exchange of data made possible by AI-powered IoT can help support long-term customer relationships and strategic partnerships.

Some of the services that can be offered to citizens include matters like payroll, medical compensation, provision of funding, pension schemes, and bank information. This method conserves resources in services that often require HR involvement or outsourcing.

Smart government initiatives can produce reports and publish data for businesses to make better-informed decisions when forecasting. Higher levels of digital engagement encourages more business transactions which in turn promotes economic development.

In daily life, smart city sensors can be utilized for public lighting, air quality monitoring, localized parking assistance, watering of public parks, among other use cases. For example, the city of Santander in Spain has been recognized for its progressive smart city vision. Parking solutions were implemented in the city as early as 2013. Electronic information and mobile apps keep drivers informed about parking space availability and traffic flow which prevents traffic congestion and accidents in busy commercial spots.

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