Even a silly device can cause a lot of harm when connected to the internet
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Even a silly device can cause a lot of harm when connected to the internet

Miikka Lääkkö, Product Manager, Tosibox Oy

Nappies, shoes, and forks already exist in the Internet of Things, but do you want a machine to tie your shoelaces?

According to some estimates, the year ahead will be marked by introducing nearly four billion new devices to the internet. It is to be expected that especially the fields of manufacturing industry and healthcare will deploy IoT solutions with sensors and remote control systems to an increasing extent. Also the consumer market is on the rise, even though various smart devices from phones and cars to washing machines and other smart home solutions have existed for quite some time already.

As more and more people found different kinds of IoT devices in their Christmas presents, I began to wonder during the holidays how many things are actually already connected to the internet. A little surfing online produced surprising, if also slightly bewildering, results.

Unfortunately, in all the zeal of product development, security is still getting way too little consideration.

That’s not to say, however, that all the devices are unsafe or prone to being connected to various bot networks for additional boost. Usually a bot network consists of computers that have been hijacked illegally. These extra computing powers are harnessed for launching denial-of-service attacks and spreading spam, for example.

The IoT botnet, in turn, is made up of internet-connected things, like routers, security cameras, smart TVs, and pretty much anything imaginable with an internet connection. They can be remarkably efficient, which was proven by Mirai, the bot network case from 2016. With its help, a series of denial-of-service attacks with the volume of one terabyte a second targeted the systems operated by the DNS provider Dyn. As this incident shows, the importance of protecting IoT devices continues to go unrecognized.

Many devices showcase such resourcefulness and human creativity that they make you laugh, and that’s why I want to share a few of them here. I do argue, though, that alongside with such innovation, security is actually not that hard to achieve. After all, security is also something that needs to be focused on, and it doesn’t have to happen at the expense of other pros.

And yet, doubt creeps in at the same time: do we really need a smart phone app for everything? Is it absolutely necessary to talk with voice guidance at every single turn?

Hairbrush. The hairbrush has a microphone, an acceleration sensor, and a gyroscope for measuring angular velocity. With their help, you won’t accidentally brush your hair too hard. The brush communicates with the mobile app, and, as you might expect, the app contains the manufacturer’s ads.

Fork. This Japanese invention focuses on a locally significant problem: the sounds of slurping when enjoying noodles. The fork serves as an instrument, which uses the phone microphone via the mobile app to identify noisy slurping. When the sounds of slurping are detected, the fork plays other sounds to cover up the slurping sounds.

Sneakers. The settings of Nike’s new sneakers can be adjusted even in the middle of a basketball game if you like. The mobile app allows you to either tighten or loosen the laces, and naturally, besides distance the shoe measures humidity and temperature, among other things. The shoes also have a self-lacing system. 

Shower. With the mobile app, the smart shower can keep track of the consumption of water, and you can adjust the temperature of the shower beforehand. On top of that, the use of water can be optimized based on where in the shower cubicle the user is standing. There are several manufacturers already.

Toilet. Among its many features, the toilet has an adjustable lighting, a heated toilet seat, an inbuilt sound system, and the Amazon Alexa voice-control system, which can be used to order more toilet paper online if needed while nature calls. The company’s product family also includes a smart mirror and a smart bathtub.

Wood panel. Dubbed as the minimalist’s dream come true, one has to admit that this piece of wood fits modern décor nicely. In reality, the panel is a smart home controller. Developed by a Japanese company, the wooden panel features controls at least for weather forecasts, thermostat adjustment, smart light operation, and Spotify. At the time of writing this article, the product has not as yet been launched on the market.

Electric kettle. With the mobile phone, the user can remotely monitor the kettle and set a timer to have boiled water ready when they wake up in the morning. The sensor lets them know how much water there is in the device. If needed, you can switch it on even if the kettle is at home and you are still at your working place.

Nappy. A sensor attached to the bottom of a regular nappy pings the mobile app when the baby has delivered a number one or number two. The device measures moisture and temperature, giving alerts in four phases when it’s time to change the nappy. The app can actually be quite useful if the wearer of the nappy happens to be in the company of a babysitter instead of a parent.

With the help of the TOSIBOX® solution, you can create completely safe remote connections easily and quickly, and it doesn’t require any specific IT skills. Read more about the IoT security and our solutions for it.

“I do argue, though, that alongside with such innovation, security is actually not that hard to achieve.”

Miikka Lääkkö, Product Manager, Tosibox Oy