With sensors everywhere, how can we keep data secure?

The idea behind the Internet of Things (IoT) is that everyday objects can connect to each other and exchange data via the Internet. Even the smallest components, such as sensors for measuring temperature, angle of inclination or acceleration can send information or accept commands via the network. Current and future systems are based on the Internet protocol and will probably soon include ipv6 support. They transmit data in an open and well-known format. Depending on the application, data will most likely be transmitted via public networks. This means that data is in principle open to everyone who is connected to the network. Subject to the type of data the consequences range from unpleasant to catastrophic, which is why confidentiality must be protected and safeguarded. There are many ways of achieving this, especially through encryption.

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VPNs can ease privacy concerns

High profile data breaches at companies like Mossack Fonseca, Target, Home Depot and Wendy’s along with Government controversies like Edward Snowden and the FBI’s legal suit against Apple after the San Bernadino shootings have severely dented public confidence in the ability of business and government to keep personal data safe and secure.

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Control over our data

Anybody who uses the Internet uses, creates and leaves data behind. While in the past site visits were recorded in the depths of server log files rarely to surface again, these and related data are now the currency of the 21st century. Services are exchanged for data, this is the business model shared by Google, Amazon and many others. But people are becoming more aware that the uninhibited acquisition of their personal data may have negative consequences and no longer trust that their data is protected on the Internet.

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Smart buildings merit smarter security

Architects and city planners first began promoting the concept of Smart Buildings, or Building Automation Systems (BAS), around ten years ago. Smart buildings were meant to deliver untold benefits from energy efficiencies and greener lifestyles to cost savings and improved living standards for all. Early examples of IP-connected appliances, however, were not built to cope with the demands of an evolving threat landscape.

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Relevant security standards for Internet of Things

Virtually every study exploring the benefits of Internet of Things includes some reservations on IT security. According to an analysis by Deutsche Telekom 90% of managers are concerned about security (Cyber Security Report 2015), 70% of respondents surveyed by VDE see IT security risks (2) and a Bitkom survey reported more than 50 percent of study participants (3) were concerned about privacy and security. These concerns are well founded.

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Securing digital signage systems

The average company network has many more devices connecting to it than even just a few years ago. In addition to traditional workstations there are now smartphones and tablets alongside a wide variety of Internet-connected equipment from printers, access control systems and security cameras to digital signage, smart TVs, thermostats and even everyday appliances like coffee machines. In situations where digital signage shares the network with such a diverse range of devices and applications use of software-based site-to-site VPNs are often the best way to ensure security, signal continuity and optimize flexibility.

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More anonymity with Tor and VPN?

Tor (The Onion Router) is one of the most important tools for anonymity on the Internet. The Tor network, protocol and client, make it extremely complicated to trace user activity. However, Tor users are not completely invisible. Firstly, only the connection to the exit node – the last server before traffic leaves the Tor network – is encrypted. Whoever controls the exit node can see data traffic in plain text. Meanwhile attacks and statistical analysis methods are known which can allow an organization with access to large parts of global Internet traffic to de-anonymize users in some cases. Nevertheless, Tor can protect users against the curiosity of most unauthorized parties if it is configured correctly. And a better solution is currently not available – at least not for the average computer user.

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Connected cars: fresh safety hazards on the road ahead

Advances in connected car technology are set to radically alter the future of driving for everyone. Among the promised benefits is the ability for cars to ‘learn’ from each other, provide early warning of mechanical problems and remotely interact with other devices. They may also allow insurers to accurately build up a ‘risk profile’ for every driver, leading to reduced premiums for some. Connected cars may even allow car manufacturers to target customers individually with software updates to suit their individual tastes.

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