Internet Of Things And The Role It Plays In Our Lives

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The International network or the Internet today has become a vital part of our lives. Back in the 1900’s we could not have possibly even imagined the extent to which the internet would develop. In 2019 about 4.422 billion people or approximately 57.3% of the world has an access to the internet. Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, first mentioned the internet of things in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999. Wanting to bring radio frequency ID (RFID) to the attention of P&G’s senior management, Ashton called his presentation ‘Internet of Things’ to incorporate the cool new trend of 1999: the internet. MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld’s book, When Things Start to Think, also appearing in 1999, didn’t use the exact term but provided a clear vision of where IoT was headed. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microservices and the internet. The convergence has helped tear down the silos between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), enabling unstructured machine-generated data to be analyzed for insights to drive improvements. Although Ashton’s was the first mention of the internet of things, the idea of connected devices has been around since the 1970s, under the monikers embedded internet and pervasive computing. The first internet appliance, for example, was a Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1980s. Using the web, programmers could check the status of the machine and determine whether there would be a cold drink awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip to the machine. From simple algorithms used in a Coke machine to algorithms in smart phones we have come a long way. Internet is no more just about connecting people. Today internet is even capable of connecting things. Given the right algorithms and right methodology things can be connected to one another and be operated using a single host device which can be your laptop, smart phone or any other device that you would like. Using this smart host device, you can regulate the temperature of your house or know the fruits missing in your refrigerator or whether the gate of your garage is closed or not and many other things, anytime and from any place. We have evolved to an extent where the simple smart band that we wear is capable of recording our heart beat, the kind of sleep we had and, in a situation, where the heart beat is unusual, the smart band is also capable of sending this information to your desired doctor and call for an immediate help. With the help of the vitals sent by the band, the doctor would know exactly the kind of medication you would need before you reach the hospital, helping one avoid any major injury. There is also a concept of smart homes coming up, in which all the things in the smart home will be able to sense and communicate to one another. The curtains will draw itself upon sunrise and communicate to the lamps that it is sunrise and that the lamp needs to switch itself off, the air conditioner will know when the user woke up and that now it needs to switch itself off. The air conditioner will also know when the user is in the room and when he is not.

Internet of things (IoTs) are devices that record and time stamp data in successive intervals and transmit them to storage to have them analyzed. Depending on the machine, IoTs can allow for higher precision in recounting facts. When we talk about internet of things, we not only talk about how it simplifies the lives of an individual but also about the ways in which it helps in conserving energy, water and other resources. Conservation of resources is a much-needed factor in the modern era where we are running out of our resources. For instance, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), six billion gallons of water are lost per day due to undetected leaks from aging water infrastructure. Many of these leaks occur because 30 percent of pipes (serving over 100,000 people) are between 40 and 80 years old. Additionally, outdoor irrigation makes up about 60 percent of watering, and about 50 percent of it is wasted. To combat this waste, AT&T uses smart irrigation solutions enabled by Internet of things technologies within their office buildings and facilities. These solutions save millions of gallons of water annually by watering only when there’s no rain and when the soil moisture level indicates a need. Here is another instance, Around one third of all food produced for human consumption every year is lost or wasted somewhere along the supply chain, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. That’s 1.4 billion tons of lost nutrition for a growing planet. The Internet of Things can minimize crop losses and increase productivity. For example, through a combination of advanced cameras, sensors, weather stations and artificial intelligence, Israeli startup Prospera can help farmers respond quickly to problems while also boosting productivity by as much as a third. Shrini Upadhyaya, a professor at the University of California, Davis, devised a wireless sensor system to continuously monitor leaf health, which helps farmers know exactly where and how much they need to irrigate. And throughout rural Africa, startups such as Farmerline and ArgoCenta are using mobile technology and Big Data platforms to empower smallholder farmers who need access to market data quickly in order to cut waste, improve operations and digitize their supply chains.

Internet of things is a technology for the people, by the people and about the people. With this we can conclude that Internet of things can help us save our time, energy and resources in ways unimaginable. With the help of internet of things, we can produce much better results in the fields of energy conservation, water conservation and several other fields which otherwise would have been distant.

Most large firms were founded in a time where lawyers kept their notes written on legal pads, not typed on a keyboard and entered into a laptop. Ask most law firms what they know about biotechnology, nanotechnology or other scientific advances and all you’ll receive is a blank stare and an invoice for the meeting. Understandably, it would be foolish to expect a law firm to be experts in every area. However, law firms must be familiar with the technology to a degree that they can effectively deal with expert testimony, communicate findings to a jury and represent their clients in a court of law. Sadly, most law firms are no more familiar with emerging technologies and scientific advances than the juries they are trying to convince. As scientific and technological issues advance, the education of the legal community must advance as well.

One firm that positions itself on the forefront of scientific and technical litigation is Markland Hanley. Billing itself as “a law firm for the twenty-first century”, the Dallas firm specializes in legal representation where scientific and technological issues are of particular significance. Founded by Dale Markland and Tara Hanley, this firm is an expert example of legal representation at the forefront of technological advances. Because the firm focuses their practice on limited specific legal niche areas, their knowledge of the law in these areas is extremely deep and well organized. A side benefit is that unlike other law firms, Markland Hanley does not need to be educated on the client’s dime. As new technologies emerge and corresponding legal issues arise, law firms such as Markland Hanley will be best positioned to meet the needs of firms in those industries. Advances in new technology demand a new breed of lawyers and law firms—ones that understand the complexities in science and technology and can effectively represent companies over a variety of complex issues. Firms that either do not understand the technologies in question or require education at their client’s expense are foolish to expect favorable results in a court of law.

Moving onto how exactly the internet of things works. How do human beings communicate? Using their different sense organs, the ears, the nose, the skin and others. Similarly, we give the power to sense and communicate to things using a device which carries algorithms to enable them to do the same. It is simply a concept that includes connecting an IoT device to a sensor or controller and/ or connecting various IoT devices to one another. It includes almost all the devices like the cell phones, air conditioners, laptops, vehicles etc. IoT devices follow the principle of being a simple measurement signal chain that connects and extends to the cloud. The sensing/measuring piece of an IoT setup transforms an analog signal into a digital data stream. This digital format can then be taken, processed, transferred, analyzed, and then decisions can be made based on the outcome. The concept of transferring physical phenomena such as light, sound, pressure, and temperature into digital data is old. The evolution of IoT has transformed the decisions made based on this digital data by using metapatterns and the power of computation modeling that is enabled by the cloud and its massive storage and processing capabilities. Some traditional sensing capabilities like temperature measurement techniques are well understood and used as both a standalone measurement and a factor for other sensing. For example, in electrochemical sensing, temperature affects measurement and needs to be accounted for. Alternatively, there are also newer exciting sensor developments that can make a huge impact on the world of IoT. One example of this is the MEMS accelerometer. These sensors form the basis for vibration detection over multiple axes and allow stabilization in systems such as drones, portable gaming devices, or cameras. Vibration is also used in health tracking devices to measure personal health. Health and fitness wearable sensors need to be permanently on, providing high accuracy body movement detection that can be analyzed accordingly—for example running, cycling, or walking—and deliver real-time data to a wide variety of portable health and fitness applications. These devices are programmed as per ones needs and demands. Once the device is connected to the thing say for example a refrigerator, it will enable the refrigerator to sense its environment and communicate. The refrigerator will be able to sense when the door is open or closed, or when the milk is missing and even when the refrigerator needs repair. This smart refrigerator is connected to a host device, say your phone, using which you get all these information’s from the refrigerator. This conserves a lot of time and energy of a man. In case, when there is nothing in the refrigerator you can turn the refrigerator off, saving a lot of electricity as well. The data of every minute of the refrigerator is collected by the device. Intelligence (or data processing) can be added at any stage along the IoT chain. For example, in vital signs monitoring (VSM), there is no need to send data on body temperature just to the cloud, when an immediate alert that body temperature is at a dangerous level can happen directly at the sensor. However, the same temperature may also be used in other biomedical data computations so it could also be used at the gateway or in the cloud as well. When signal processing happens at a node, it has several advantages including enabling tight, integrated feedback control loops. The benefit of being tightly coupled to the sensor and/or actuator allows for immediate decisions to be made. For example, a vibration reaching a predetermined level enables an immediate power-down of a machine or motor or a rise in temperature in a greenhouse can actuate a motor to open a window. While the requirements at the node need to have both a small footprint and the lowest power consumption for a potential long battery life, components such as integrated analog microcontrollers like the ADuCM360 from Analog Devices, which combines an ARM® M3-MCU and 24-bit analog-to-digital converters, can realize these needs. In the future, energy independent devices that can use harvested energy will be key to success here. The limitations of node processing are in the very same space and power limitations. Additionally, it is difficult to aggregate data from other sources. Low power at the node limits data transmission ranges and payloads. With difficult node management to monitor status and perform upgrades, there are associated network edge physical, software, and data security risks. Gateway-based signal processing uses an IoT gateway device that has a short-range wireless sensor network (WSN) link on one side and a LAN or WAN link on the other. It is similar to a router and can also be a sensor hub. In addition to WSN network management and security functions, it is often used as a compute resource for local processing and analytics (which is commonly known as edge computing). The advantages of gateway-based processing are that potentially large processing resources are available with the ability to aggregate data from other sensors/sources. So combining the ability to run analytics close to the network edge with the development of these analytics by using off the shelf development tools make for a more IT friendly solution. It has the potential of being full stack OS capable and uses LAN/WAN network technologies with standard remote management tools with better security (although physical security can be a risk). Conversely, it is not typically low power, requiring a source of wired power and it has limited data storage.

When the data of each second of an IoT device is tracked, it leads to a huge amount of data. Usually, this data is stored in the cloud network. The main issue attached with the IoT devices is the security of this data. These data include some of the very personal information of the user. In cases when the smart device is a CCTV, it would contain the information such as when the user is at home and when he is not. If this data goes into the wrong hands it can ease the work of a thief or any other person with malafide intentions. Breaking into one of the IoT device is not very difficult if the device is not properly secured. Once a hacker breaks in an IoT device he can then access the host device and hack it. This makes him accessible to all the information in the host device. All the email id’s and the passwords, the bank account details as well the internet banking applications. The hacker can easily commit a crime using someone else’s account and it becomes impossible to track them. Breaking into a host device is just one of the ways to commit crime via internet of things. Here’s another, the data that these devices record is saved into cloud network as mentioned earlier. If these data are not protected using passwords or encryption, a hacker might as well use this information to commit a crime. For e.g. The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, suffered a security incident recently that saw hackers make off with sensitive data relating to the agency’s Mars missions, including details about the Curiosity rover. The breach, which affected NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), went undetected for 10 months, reads a report by the NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG). “In April 2018 JPL discovered an account belonging to an external user had been compromised and used to steal approximately 500 megabytes of data from one of its major mission systems,” reads the report, attributing the intrusion to an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group. But just as notable is how the breach occurred. It turns out that the hackers exploited a Raspberry Pi, which was attached to the JPL network without authorization, as a launch pad for getting inside and moving laterally across the network. There have been numerous such instances of data loss and identity theft.

There have also been cases where stolen data is sold without the permission of the customer. Usually, this data is then used to target customers and advertise for various things.

Ukraine’s power grid has been attacked twice in the last two years (Condliffe, 2015). The 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid was as a result of BlackEnergy malware found on the computer systems of the affected power companies and caused power outage for several hours. The hackers had used malicious firmware to replace the legitimate firmware in the serial-to-Ethernet converters at many substations which gave them access to SCADA network through the hijacked Virtual Private Network. This allowed the hackers to successfully launch commands that disabled the Uninterruptible Power Systems they had earlier reconfigured while rendering the converters inoperable and unrecoverable. The DHS attributed the malware as being directed to attack Ukraine’s obsolete and vulnerable industrial control systems. The damage could have been worse and Ukraine’s saving grace was the antiquated technology was not Internet connected, allowing companies to restore power within a short period of time. The second Ukraine attack in 2016, which also resulted in power disruption was allegedly masterminded by Russian hackers who compromised some computers at an electricity control center to plunge parts of the city of Kiev into darkness. The hackers were said to have sent malware to the employees via e-mail which in turn facilitated the stealing of the login credentials to shut down the substations. Internet of thing although very useful, if not protected, can lead to major mishaps.

A reason why data manipulation is easy is because the IoT industry is still growing. It is growing very rapidly but the controlling of the data and maintaining of the services remain concentrated in the hands of few people. If there is a single main server, controlled and accessible to one person, data manipulation becomes easy. If the data is shared and owned by multiple storage points, manipulating them includes more barriers of entry. Making the data safer and the possibility of data theft decreases. There should not be just one server collecting all the data.

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We expect to see 20 billion internet-connected things by 2020. These “things” are not general-purpose devices, such as smartphones and PCs, but dedicated-function objects, such as vending machines, jet engines, connected cars and a myriad of other examples. Meaning that it will be easier to recreate moments of the past by linking data from various devices. In the sector of law IoT devices are helping in recreating evidences as well. there have been instances when one of the IoT devices linked in the family has helped solving the case. Despite the lack of specific laws, IoT evidence is already showing up in courts. In a domestic violence homicide case, evidence from the victim’s FitBit helped prosecute her husband. The increased use of IoT technology is leading to new information that may prove indispensable in proving cases.

Technology is developing every minute. There are new applications hitting the market as well as new devices being made by companies every day. It is expected that everyone, on an average would be using more than 6 IoT devices by 2020.

Technology is ever changing and so is law. But the question is at what rate?

Technology is changing rapidly. There are new devices being developed at an enormous speed. With the development of technology and availability of the same, people find loopholes and ways to commit various crimes. We take years to make one law. The rate at which laws are made are far slower than the speed at which technology and crimes over internet are coming up. Making a common law for all the crimes over the internet is practically not possible. Another problem is that the judiciary in most of the countries is taken care of by elderly judges, who have either no or very little idea about technology. They face all the more problems in understanding and tackling the crimes over internet. Due to their ineptitude in understanding the technology and the correct means to tackle it there have been instances where they have come up with an insufficient law. For example, in the UK, there was a law limiting powerful transmitters from being sold. A transmitter being defined (roughly) as a device that can transmit. So, people came up with a “trans” and separately a “mitter” (which they would sell on the left and right pages of a double page spread). As neither could transmit on its own, both were legal to sell separately. It was not illegal to plug the two together once you had bought them. a lot of time is invested in making laws. If not made with proper knowledge of the crime it can lead to above mentioned laws, loopholes for which can easily be found and then there would be no meaning of the law. All the time and energy invested in making the law would go in vain.

There are hundreds of people involved in making a law but there are millions searching for a loophole. Not just speeding up the law-making process is important, it is important to rely on the youth when it comes to technology.

Police is another factor that can help in maintaining the pace of law with technology. Latest technological developments are needed to trace the latest technical crimes. If the cops have the right technology and program they can trace the criminals and ease the work of the courts. Today, every police training system in America has at least some form of computer and technology training, with many law enforcement (and private) personnel finding a lot of reward in investigating tech crimes. Using technology to face the threat posed by the same, in my opinion, is the best way to combat it.

Another issue that we can face while making laws for IoT devices is the decision of jurisdiction. If a person from Britain files a complaint against a person from America for hacking his IoT device, In this case which country will have the jurisdiction over the case? Such question need to be answered. Common norms and jurisdiction needs to be decided for the upcoming IoT related crimes.

For law to keep pace, speeding up and involvement of youth is important, but another important factor is making laws for the companies that have the access to this information. If the companies are bound by laws and are forced to abide by the same then there would be less instances of internet crime. As it is said that prevention is better than cure, and most of the privacy breaches occur because data is being collected and stored without the permission of the user. If there are laws that bound the companies to collect data only with the permission of the user, and only store the data that is needed by the company, then, this would keep the customer aware of the kind of information that he is sharing and would reduce the instances of privacy breach. Another reason why privacy breaches are taking place is because the data collected by the companies or the cloud network is not secured. In order to save money and time companies do not secure the data they collect making it vulnerable to even the newbie hackers. A law that makes the companies secure all the cloud networks and data using end to end encryption should be modeled. If data and the networks are encrypted then only the companies would be able to access it, making it almost impossible for the hackers to hack it.

Not only privacy breach is a problem. When a device hits the market, it is rapidly bought by the people and within months becomes a part of their daily routine. We cannot have constant laws for such variable technologies. There are drones, driverless cars and so many other devices for which we do not have any law. What happens when a driverless car mal functions and hits a pedestrian? Or a drone catches someone bathing or changing? There can be countless situations like that. This sector of law-making needs attention. To cope up with changing technologies there needs to be a proper team that takes care of the internet crimes. A team of technical and legal experts that deal with the internet crimes. A team that is aware of all the nitty-gritties of both law and technology. Law would have to develop at the pace of technology. The least we could do is stop a crime from repeating itself. At least we can make laws that keep up with the already made mistakes and stop them from happening further.

Spreading awareness about what is happening when people agree to the terms and conditions of an IoT device is much needed. If people know about the what can happen with the information the make accessible to the companies, users will remain vigilant. People need to be informed as to how important it is to have a strong password protected network or internet of things device. They should be made aware that their passwords should be different everywhere. Maintaining different passwords everywhere might be difficult but, in a case, where one of the devices gets hacked, having different passwords will protect them from getting other devices hacked too.

The can by itself cannot keep pace with the ever-increasing pace of technology. Every aware adult is helpful and will count. Legal systems all around the world will have to work together on the matter of technology. Deciding and making laws together. Taking into consideration all the cases that have happened before and all the cases that might possibly happen in the future. This is not easy and will require enormous hard work.  

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