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iot app development (5)

Your home security system. Air condition system. Your car. Why, even your coffee maker. Almost every imagine digital appliance is now connected to the Internet. The era of connected things has arrived.

IoT is no longer a science project that businesses are putting off for the future. It is a promise to a future that must be leveraged now. In fact, today, it is more difficult to find a coffee-maker or any home appliance without Wifi or Bluetooth connectivity. Not just at homes, even at corporations, connected devices has become a serious boardroom topic. According to DigiCert’s State of IoT Security survey 2018, 83% of organizations say the Internet of Things (IoT) is important to business today, and 92% say it will be in two years.

IoT can bring to businesses several benefits like improved operational efficiency, new revenue channels, business agility, and enhanced customer experience.

However, there are enterprise concerns that dwarf the possibility of gaining these benefits.

Among the top 4 enterprise concerns for IoT are security and privacy.

Source: DigiCert’s State of IoT Security survey 2018

How the Internet of Things can become the Internet of ‘Threats’

If not controlled, secured and monitored, the Internet of Things can go from smart connected things to a web of connected threats. Here are some ways how connected devices can go rogue.

#1 The connected risk of BYOD

Global corporations are losing no time in enabling their employees with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and WFH Work From Home working models. Although these working models amplify productivity, they also carry with them the risk of IoT.

For instance, an insecure connected device at an employee’s home can be hacked into by a hacker thereby gaining access to the office system. If the employee has failed to take adequate security measures for the office gadgetry, then it leaves the ground open for the hacker to seed an infectious malware, virus or anything malicious into the office network. That is the connected risk of BYOD which IoT creates.

#2 DDoS attacks

Source: DigiCert’s IoT Security Infographic

Do you know that insecure IoT devices can take down cities? IoT botnets combined with DDoS attacks can bring connected urban infrastructure to a grinding halt. This is not any sci-fi or fictional scenario. Hackers can track down IoT sensors, hack into their weak interfaces and run commands to shut down services or to hijack their functioning.

To cite a real-world example, cities like New York, Singapore, Barcelona, etc. are already running extensive public utilities with the help of IoT. IBM’s white paper - The Dangers of Smart City Hacking found more than 17 security vulnerabilities that make it “painfully easy” to take down large IoT-based urban networks. The security vulnerabilities included public default passwords, SQL injection, authentication bypass and so on.

#3 Premise Intrusion

Home security device shipments worldwide is expected to touch 700 Millions by 2019. According to Alarms.org, three-fourth of homeowners buy security systems that can be monitored through their mobile devices. While these systems saves time and provide convenience, they also become easy targets that hackers can infiltrate easily.

By hacking into the smartphone or a weak smart device, the hacker can take down the home security system thereby gaining access to the entire household. The same scenario applies to corporate offices as well, which makes IoT a certain Internet of Threats.

So, do these security threats mean that it is the end of the road for IoT app development? Not so. There are best practices that enterprises can embrace to insulate their IoT networks from vulnerabilities.

Best practices to establish security in IoT app development

IoT is a relatively new concept. The IT industry as a whole is yet to attain widespread knowledge and authority on its usage, maintenance and security. Here are some best practices that can help thwart the security risks involved in IoT app development.

#1 Review the risk involved

Having a brief idea of the risk landscape will help device a strategic security policy specifically for IoT devices. Penetration testing can be carried out to identify key vulnerabilities that should be addressed on high priority. For example, default public passwords is a vulnerability that can be resolved quickly without much ado.

#2 Setup device identity

Each device in the IoT network must be identified and tagged to grant secure access. Use secure over-the-air updates to keep the device security intact and in tune with the latest development.

#3 Encryption

More than the connected device, it is the data that it creates and exchanges that is of value. Every data exchange by the devices in the network should be secured with end-to-end encryption, code signing or with SSL certificates.

#4 Public Key Infrastructure

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) can help create the basic framework required for authenticating device identities and for establishing the integrity of security patches. It also facilitates easier management of public-key encryption thus making it a perfect choice for establishing IoT security.

#5 Plan long-term

IoT is going to be here for the long-term. It is not any short-term fad that can be easily replaced. It is got a strong hardware presence which cannot be removed easily. Hence, any security measures made for IoT networks should be planned for the long-term.

What’s next?

With the promise of IoT comes several perils as well. IoT botnets can take down large-scale and sensitive connected networks, including urban infrastructure, home security systems, etc. McKinsey Global Institute estimates the economic impact that IoT can create to be in the range of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion worldwide by 2025. But, the true economic benefit of IoT can be attained only if it is secured and insulated from security threats. To sum it up, security should be the bottom line of IoT app development. Without security, IoT can create more damage than the benefits that it can provide.

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Considerations for IoT App Development


The textbook definition: Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices connected to each other. In layman’s term, any device or appliance that is connected to other such items via the internet or any such wireless network.

You must have watched in movies devices like smart mirrors that show weather and news, and touch screen car dashboards. These things are not fantasies anymore but present-day gadgets.  IoT solutions aren't just for larger than life devices but also for normal appliances. You can convert your regular water faucet or AC into an IoT Compatible device with some simple adjustments.

There are some sensors and radio frequency tags that receive commands from your mobile or computer and follow the instructions accordingly. So you can sync your mobile’s alarm with your bathroom’s faucet so that after 15 minutes it will start heating water for your bath. And the fridge can send a message to your smartphone with the list of items running low like milk or eggs.

What is the IoT App Development?

The textbook definition: IoT App Development is an amalgamation of many different skills in the production and maintenance of app products like Native/Hybrid apps, web applications built to control consumer electronics, IoT devices. Simply said, IoT app development is the means by which we develop a platform where unconventional smart home Devices  (toaster, doorbell, etc) communicate with conventional IoT devices (computer, smartphones, tablets).

If we are talking about IoT developers then, they are working to make other unprecedented objects also networking just like present-day mobile devices.

Present day IoT facts:

  • In the year 2018, there are almost 2 billion individual devices across the world connected via IoT technology.
  • It is projected that the IoT industry will become a whopping $3 trillion business by 2020.
  • Back in 2008, there were more devices connected to the Internet than people.
  • ATMs can be considered as some of the first IoT devices that went online back in 1974.
  • The market for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, used for transmitting data to identify and track objects, is worth more than $11.1 billion.

IoT (Internet of Things) examples:

Smart Home, connected devices from bulbs, fans to TV and in some cases the entire house is Smarthome.

Business offices have adopted smart projectors, voice-enabled assistants (Alexa, Home Pod, Google Home) and other devices. Transportation has real-time responsive vehicle dashboards that warn you about traffic and even save lives by projecting possible accidents and warn the driver in the span of milliseconds. A groundbreaking example of this is the BMW i8.

The possibilities are endless with IoT web development. With more and more things joining the IoT club and that too the objects that could never have been imagined to become an Internet of Thing.

Advantages of IoT app development

Data is the currency of the future. So the more data you have, the richer you are. IoT devices like smart clothes can keep track of your skin condition and warn of possible skin conditions. This information can be sent to your dermatologists who can clearly understand your symptoms without making an error and give the right cure.

Time is the most invaluable thing; more for people who may be fighting a life or death situation. If the paramedics responding to an accident call have an IoT device that can give the vitals and relevant medical information of the patient then countless lives can be saved because of the timely response.

Money is the driving force of the financial world and IoTs are saving a whole lot of it. If your fridge knows which grocery items are running low, it can send a list of items to the home assistance device which can order the groceries from the best and cheapest source.

Tracking your daily activities will give in-depth information about almost everything. This makes medical, retail, entertainment, and many other industries to cater to your needs on a more personalized level.

IoT Product Design

If you are an IoT web developer or an entrepreneur planning to build an connected products  or IoT service then you need to learn what platforms and what languages will be used for the same. The pre-requisites before starting you IoT product design (for this blog we would consider IoT app development) are:

IoT Development Platform

IoT app development programming languages were more unique earlier but now common web and app development languages can be used. This choice in programming languages freed IoT app development from restrictions that were present with older embedded systems. The choice of programming language can be done on the basis of the knowledge of your app developer, compatibility with your IoT app development ecosystem, the speed of development, size and memory of the code, and efficiency required.

Programming Language

Advantages

Disadvantages

C & C++

Almost every programmer know this language

Code is more hardware-specific

 

Popular for Linux OS and Arduino which were used for IoT software systems

 

Java

Code is less hardware-specific, making it more portable

Requires libraries to run on different hardware

 

Write once, run anywhere type of code

 

Python

It’s an interpreted language, making it more flexible.

Compared to Java’s speed, Python is slow.

 

Codes are easy to write and read.

 

 

Perfect for data-heavy apps.

 

 

There are many other options for programming languages like Node.JS, JavaScript, Go (Google), Rust, B#, Parasail, etc. to choose from.

Back End Development

When trying IoT app development you need to consider that each device has different capabilities and commands. The way of communicating with each device will vary. So a pre-defined framework for communication should be set or each individual device that the IoT app can understand. Node.JS has emerged as the common framework for this type of communication between IoT devices.

Speed

Design strategies for slow connections should be adopted. Unlike traditional websites, where requests go to a web server which sends data back; there is another communications step involved for IoT devices. This potentially means additional latency and the user’s perception of slow response.

User Interface (UI)

The UI for IoT app should be fast, clean, and intuitive. The need for a good feedback program and user-assistance is a must to get precise data from the IoT device. Because the app will be in the mobile device and command other non-mobile IoT devices, all the standard usability practices are to be integrated for the users’ ease.

IoT app development has a bright future ahead. It is the next big thing after the Internet and if you wish to be a part of this glorious future then you need to hurry. 

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The Internet of Things is revolutionizing the retail industry, coming in it with the improved shopping experience, automated business processes, enhanced digital marketing, and optimized inventory and supply chain management.

Providing retailers with various advantages, IoT technology also enables them to boost sales and increase customer loyalty. Oracle discovered that when applying RFID tags, retail companies can achieve 99% inventory accuracy, a 50% reduction in out-of-stocks, and a 70% reduction in shrinkage.

 

The global IoT retail market is predicted to grow from $14 billion in 2015 to $36 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 20%. In its report about the Internet of Things, Verizon found that retailers believe in the IoT potential and have a positive attitude towards adopting IoT in their work:

 

  • 77% of retailers said that IoT solutions help improve the customer experience;
  • 89% of companies said they got the understanding of customer shopping habits, needs, and preferences thanks to using IoT solutions.

 

Promising to innovate and transform the retail industry, IoT solutions are becoming widely introduced for solving a wide range of issues. Here I’ve listed the main use cases describing how IoT is applied by retailers and what benefits they do receive.

 

IoT applications in Retail

 

Beacon alerts & in-store navigation

 

Customer interactions are a key success factor in all business. Through beacons, retailers can easily reach the user audience, increase customer loyalty, and raise profit. Beacons are IoT Bluetooth-enabled devices that use low-energy Bluetooth connections to automatically send push notifications directly to user smartphones once they appear in the operating area.

As beacons are small, they can be attached to almost any place, for instance, walls and counters. In the retail industry, beacons are mainly used for customer in-store navigation, sending push notifications, and collecting customer data.

In connection with mobile applications, retailers can motivate customers to make more purchases by notifying them about discounts and special offerings when they enter the coverage zone, generally near a certain shop. Also, in large shopping centers, beacons are irreplaceable for navigating customer and showing them the best routes to the place they need.

 

Customer data

 

Customer data plays a key role in any business dealing with customers. Retail companies do need to know their audience in order to make them make purchases and increase profit while delivering an amazing personalized experience. Satisfied customers are returning clients.)

IoT solutions suit great for collecting customer data, including the determination of customer buying habits, needs, preferences, favorite routes in the shopping center, and the most popular goods as well.  

By sending all these data to the analytical system, where it’s processed and analyzed, retailers can find out what they should improve. In some cases, for example, it will be better to change the placement of shelves or clothes. Also, with the audience understanding retailers can launch successful marketing campaigns and provide personalization.

 

Personalized shopping experience

 

Traditionally, customer relationships were built on the basis of face-to-face communications. For now, personalized experience takes the center stage and significantly impacts consumer purchasing decisions.

To boost sales and retain customers, retail companies are adopting IoT solutions to deliver the best shopping experience possible. By using beacons, mobile apps, push notifications, and customer analytics, retailers get the ability to understand the needs and preferences of their customers and ensure successful targeting when creating advertising campaigns.

 

Supply chain management

 

Like in many other sectors, supply chain management takes an important part in the retail too. Retailers integrate IoT solutions for load tracking, driver activity monitoring, tracing the delivery process, transportation management, as well as viewing load/driver location in real time. This way, the Internet of Things can enable a transparent supply chain management and help achieve “just-in-time” delivery much easier.

 

Optimized asset management

 

IoT applications are widely used for asset tracking and management. Using RFID tags, mobile apps, and other technologies for inventory tracking, retail companies can accomplish up to 100% inventory accuracy, minimize unexpected out-of-stocks, enable end-to-end store inventory management, and increase sales margins by up to 10% as a result.

What’s more, IoT solutions provide retailers with the ability to track the assortment of goods, analyze product popularity, and check out the information about goods any time they need, including their availability in the store, brand name, price, and description.

 

As you see, there are many useful IoT applications in the retail industry. With the use of additional devices and technologies, improvements in sensors, enhanced connectivity and machine learning tools, retailers automate operations, optimize various processes, reduce costs, and deliver the personalized experience.

 

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With the Internet of Things (IoT) connecting more and more devices with each passing day, it is expected that by the year 2020, the number of IoT devices will reach around 24 billion out there in the world.

Now, this growth is certainly going to benefit the people in more than many ways and will hugely transform how people execute day-to-day tasks & a lot of other activities. As we live in the times when “impressions” are crucial for a person’s status, hence it will be cool to have a smart-home that will draw the attention of your visitors & guests and certainly make you the talk of the town. Meanwhile, among its significant benefits, one is the smart lighting that will actually be able to largely reduce the energy consumption, thus resulting in lowering down the electricity bill.

With this new technology, linking up connected cars with smart city infrastructure is possible, thus establishing a totally different ecosystem for the car drivers, who until now are accustomed to the conventional way of covering the distance from Area A to Area B. Also, there are connected healthcare devices at the disposal giving people a fuller and deeper look at their own health.  So, what more can we ask for?

But these tons of benefits certainly invite some sort of risks and security issues and this is what we will be discussing here today.

Do you know that increased numbers of connected devices are giving cybercriminals and hackers more entry points? And why just security issues, as average customers, are genuinely sharing their concerns over their privacy, with so much of consumer life being connected.

IoT – What makes it vulnerable to security aspect?

IoT is a growth sector, and besides that, it is also a market for buyers and investors, and where consumers are willing to grab the best-possible benefit at a little amount. Quite certainly, this kind of environment encourages vendors & manufactures to economize on money, effort, time and material, hence they enroll into the cheapest ways, hastening to put their services and products out there into the money stream.

This sends a direct invitation to practices, like usage of software code and generic components, access codes, default passwords, vendor-specific PIN numbers. All of this opens a path for an ecosystem that has weak security and exploitable vulnerabilities.

A study carried on by Ponemon Institute and IBM security suggest that around 80% enterprises usually do not test their IoT apps, hence making them vulnerable from a security perspective.

Here we have categorized various areas of IoT security vulnerability that are the most common:

Vulnerable to Hacking: According to the researchers, hackers were successful in hacking these real IoT devices with enough energy and time, within a limited time. Like, a research team at Michigan University and Microsoft discovered a lot of gaps in the security of Samsung’s Smart Things smart-home platform. Unfortunately, the methods didn’t appear complex at all.

Poor On-board Web Interface: There is an onboard web server for most of the IoT devices and it does the job of hosting a web app used in device management. Now, in case, any loopholes found in the underlying code of the web apps and web servers, then that certainly makes the device vulnerable to get attacked – maybe in a remote manner owing to its connectivity to the internet.

Weak mobile security: Weak security on mobile app development often makes the IoT devices vulnerable from a security point of view. The biggest problem lies in the fact that data is being stored on mobile applications. Even though the data that is saved on iOS is less risky as compared to Android app development, still to storage of sensitive data and information on a mobile device is never considered ideal. Like, what if a worker ends up losing a smartphone which contained valuable data in it, that too with no backup.

Vulnerable Cloud & Mobile Management Platforms:  As there are a huge number of IoT devices that connect to wireless and cloud mobile networks, hence the poor security and exploitable code in the software & infrastructure, which manages these platforms, has also become a major concern. To address these issues there are management platforms embedded on these devices, but that works only to a certain extent, with there being a risk, these interfaces are not being patched or updated on a regular note. 

Concerns regarding Privacy & Data Transfer: Since IoT device comes with a constant flow of information regarding the device and its environment, it is not obvious that it will be delivered to the users. Like, depending on the device and its application, there could be financial, geographic and personal information. In case, there is poor or say no encryption at all on these data streams, then this kind of information becomes vulnerable to be used by third parties, hackers, or maybe eavesdroppers.

Often the companies are not prepared: As per AT&T’s Cybersecurity Insights Report, around 5,000 companies were surveyed across the world and it was found that 85% of them are about to or are planning on a deployment of IoT devices. Still, there are just 10% of companies, which as per the survey, are confident about security infrastructure attuned to devices against hackers.

Weak Authentication protocols: Often it happens that in the manner devices speak to their controllers and each other links them to an open channel. The reason could be the mechanisms used for authorization or authentications of legitimate communications. Perhaps insecure default device settings are deployed automatically, about which users are unaware, or maybe not given the opportunity to reconfigure weak security settings for themselves.

To stay realistic about IoT security risks is the key to combat this problem

Today more and more security researchers are focusing on the IoT, with few of their researchers posing kind of a theoretical risk instead of an actual one – at least for now. Like, one researcher came across this concept where smart lighting was used to filtrate data by compromising an internal network. Now is it possible getting a light in a room fluctuate enough such that it is able to transmit data? It is very doable in the test environment, whereas in the real world it is yet to be proven.

Even though more and more security researchers today are focusing on uncovering a range of IoT security concerns, but Deral Heiland, a veteran penetration tester, stresses the significance of having a realistic perspective. Sharing his experience, he said people keep asking him what to do with all these vulnerabilities that are coming out. His answer to them is quite logical. He states these vulnerabilities are being uncovered and the researchers and testers are making efforts to find a solution in order to combat such situations.  This says it all, doesn’t it?

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IoT and Smart Home has become an important part of every aspect of our lives. In addition to these, Internet of Things applications are also introduced to enhance our comfort by giving us more control to simplify routine work life.

Internet of Things and Smart Home technology, enables owners to customize and control their home environments. It is now proving to be a powerful enhancement in technology. There are already hundreds of IoT apps development companies available to monitor and build smart homes.

When we think of the next step in technology evolution, Smart Homes and IoT always comes in the picture as it has a major hand in technology enhancement. The trend began in 1920’s, by introducing machines like vacuum cleaners, food processors and sewing machines highlighting the convenience and time savings.

Major evolution was in 90’s with an announcement of internet refrigerators or smart refrigerators installed with calendar updates, emails, television and personal finance terminal, which failed to satisfy consumers as the similar services were being used on different devices also.

Later in 2010, Nest (Acquired by Google later) announced smart thermostats and smoke alarms which gained huge acceptance due to its fine-tuned design and ability to control temperature as per human behavior and trend without many efforts. Moving to next, smart home category incorporated with Smart Things (Acquired by Samsung) having capability of connecting nearly all the connected gadgets at home gained quite enough popularity.

The giants like Google (Google Home), Amazon (Amazon Echo), Microsoft (Lab of things) and Tesla (Smart wall and solar tiles) also put their efforts into investing and researching heavily in the hope of making smart homes a possible dream with smart products. These Smart Home appliances are integrated with IoT, hence IoT app development is suppose to have a leading trend in apps world.

IoT has a big hand in smart home evolution. It states how technology can be used by integrating into simple everyday objects and how the objects are automated with sensors. The Market trends regarding smart homes and IoT are broad with independent household appliances. These self-sufficient devices will be integrated with the latest technology, to get a realistic ‘smart home’ experience.

The IoT apps development Companies are gaining high attention due to this massive enhancement in IoT and Smart Home technologies. Considering the major role of IoT apps in Smart Home appliances, IoT app development will be a leading trend in apps world.

According to statistics, the purchases of the smart home device are expected to grow from 83million in 2015 to 193 million by 2020. The smart home appliances like washing machines, microwaves, coffee machines etc, the smart home security solutions like sensors, locks, alarm systems and cameras, and the smart home energy equipment, like smart thermostats and lighting, are incorporated in it. The smart home controlling will lay in electricity management, lighting control and temperature control and security systems.

The three areas Home utility systems, appliances and safety devices are uncovering both individual and society wide benefits. They include financial savings, enhance convenience, and contribute to more ecological and sustainable living, sense of safety and security and more.

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