Observing the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes apparent that the Internet radically extends its usability from the traditional access points, such as computers and mobile phones, to a plethora of smaller, independent devices affecting users’ daily life experience and augmenting their dependence to data processing.
An ever-increasing network of devices communicate with each other over the Internet, allowing for remote monitoring and control offering users conveniences in a big range of cases. For example, the so-called smart home is based on hubs that control smart devices and appliances such as lighting, heating, media and security systems. IoT finds even more applications in helping with users’ health progress, or even assisting them with possible disabilities. From smart watches tracking fitness, measuring blood pressure and analyzing sleep patterns, to devices detecting falls and seizures offering immediate emergency response, smart devices already ameliorate the quality of life of millions of users worldwide.
But this convenience comes in the expense of data exchange over the Internet. How secure are smart devices and to what sort of danger can IoT expose users? The dependence on data processing and exchange through the Internet makes users vulnerable to security breaches and data mishandling. It is not hard imagining the consequences on users’ safety of someone being able to gain control of home devices including security systems, or the implications on user’s privacy of someone accessing personal information such as health issues or disabilities over the internet. As technology becomes even more attached to our daily life offering personalized services to every single one of us particularly, the data exchanged through the internet become even more valuable.
Can we trust IoT?
Smart device manufacturers are not always keen on establishing maximum data protection on their devices, and even when they do they might be interested in acquiring information for themselves taking advantage of the data transferred through the devices they produce. On the other side, many users assume that their devices are set by default to protect their personal data when, instead, they should take sufficient time configuring their smart device environment in terms of security and privacy.
Horizon 2020’s GHOST Project, is set to increase user confidence safe-guarding home and health IoT environments with personalized real-time risk control. This is achieved through a smart home network gateway supporting a wide range of wired and wireless technologies providing user-centric cybersecurity.
Besides the comprehensiveness of the solution provided by the initiative, smart home security relies heavily on user awareness. Cybersecurity is a multifactorial system that requires more than a single approach to be addressed. The GHOST solution provides the technology needed to address the challenge and the Intelligence required to create a personalized user-centric ecosystem able to be applied to a wide variety of situations but it is not able to enforce cybersecurity by itself without an engaged audience.
GHOST network gateway provides easy-to-find settings, clear feedback, understandable language and explanation of user choice consequences making the configuration process user-friendly and informative, becoming a groundbreaking tool in the hands of a concerned user.
But are all users engaged? The lack of customer awareness of IoT security and privacy consequences could prove to be a crucial parameter in users’ security and GHOST device’s successful channeling, increasing the need for targeted communication of safety and privacy implications linked to smart devices’ personal data handling. Investing in users’ awareness is the only way to ensure widespread adoption and unobstructed implementation of smart devices’ technology. Addressing the challenges this new technology brings along, will pave the way for the enrichment of users’ daily life through IoT in a data-secure environment.