Thursday, 3 September 2015

Getting to Grips with Internet of Things (IoT) and Security Issues

“Internet of Things” or ‘IoT’ for short, is a buzz word going around the web at the moment that most of us are only just starting to hear about. No sooner has it hit the headlines and we start to hear horror stories because users and installers of devices use default insecure passwords as they make direct connections to the internet.

So exactly what is 'IoT' and how can I get to grips with it safely?

Put simply, IoT is a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. Normal, everyday objects, something like a toaster, a light switch or even a kettle for instance.

Whilst the tech-savvy amongst us know our home internet has its own IP address, many devices may exist at one IP and security firewalls are designed to stop unauthorised access.

Can IoT devices embody the best security aspects that the web has to offer if they make a direct connection to the internet? The answer is no. Security is a big issue for the easylife engineers and we'll cover this is more detail but what can IoT do for you?

Pretty much all of us want a simple and easylife. So let's take a look at how this new technology can be used with other devices around our home.

Web connected thermostats offer slight advantages over their older, more basic cousins but are still limited to the behaviour learning we used as an example earlier. A good example would be if you were on your way back from a winter holiday and wanted your home to be nice and warm for when you get there. You could tell the thermostat to turn the heating on from your mobile phone.

So at this point I can imagine that you are visualising your home and how your household devices can benefit from being web connected.

One everyday object that you might have overlooked is the humble television. Over the past few years more and more manufacturers have been building ‘Internet ready televisions’, and it has come to a point now where Smart TV’s are the norm for a majority of people.

The inexorable rise of the “Smart TV”, and the reason for it’s almost universal acceptance can be put down to to one simple thing; video-on-demand. The ability to choose what you want to watch, and to watch it whenever you want.

That ability to use a service at your leisure, wherever and whenever you want is what makes a great service. That is exactly what Hastings based company iMedia Communications Ltd. has incorporated into their Easylife service. This brand new take on CCTV and security makes use of web connected CCTV cameras, webcams, IP Security Cameras, microphones and more to offer customers one of the most modern and user friendly CCTV and security services on the market today.

Shawn Downey, the Managing Director at iMedia Communications Ltd., explains that “the service is free for anyone to use, but also has a number of subscription options allowing for a more robust, feature packed service, if and when required. You can set movement activation, record to your local hard drive, record to cloud storage and even have it notify you on your mobile phone via a suite of available apps."

"Making use of HTML5 means that everything can be done from within the browser, no need to download or install any programs, you simply go to and get stuck in. Compatibility has been based around the Chrome and Opera, support for all other major browsers, including Firefox, Windows Edge and Safari, will be rolled out in the coming months. So no matter what device or operating system you use, Easylife will be there for you.”

Shawn goes on to explain, “because the Easylife service makes use of IoT technology in a controlled environment, users are able to view and control their CCTV feeds from anywhere that they have access to the internet. Privacy”, he says, “is also something that has been prioritised. Easylife makes use of secure, video peer-to-peer connections directly between browsers or apps and the video feeds do not pass through any third party servers or services. It means that easylife takes control of your cameras security and does not allow hidden flaws to exists by accidentally setting up a security camera with insecure passwords."

"For CCTV applications this is great because you are making highly secure connections, and cameras can be added to the same browser from different locations. The technology is no different than that used by credit card companies when you make an on-line purchase." 

To login to easylife you can use two factor Authentication with existing providers or Open ID.

Two-factor authentication provides identification of users by means of the combination of two different components such as a password known only to you and a random code generator which can be a third party app. The use of two-factor authentication to prove one's identity is based on the premise that an unauthorised user is unlikely to be able to supply both factors required for access. If at least one of the components is missing or supplied incorrectly, the user's identity is not established with sufficient certainty and access to the account then remains blocked.

Easylife is set for a full release at the end of the summer (pending several patent applications with the Patent office) but the service is ready to go now using the Google Chrome browser. 

You can try out the service by visiting the website is an operation of iMedia Communications Ltd

Open ID Foundation:
Internet of Things:

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