As we know it today, our world is inter connected with another in many ways, shapes, and forms. Probably the best example of this, as I have described before, is the use of our Smratphones. This device has literally become a leash on our lives, and we simply cannot live without it, it seems like. Every where I go, every where I visit, it seems like that somebody as a Smartphone either in their hands or in their back pocket (hopefully that individual remembers that before they sit down).
We use our Smartphone not only for our personal reasons, but even for professional reasons as well. Heck, the day of even going to the office to get work done may be outnumbered as well. Just do it all on your iPhone! I have before also! Well, with all of this interconnectedness going on, there is a new concept going on, and that is called the “Internet of Things”, or ‘IoT” for short.
Essentially what this is that everything we do in our daily lives is connected with the objects that we touch and experience everyday – this includes both the virtual and the physical world. A specific definition of ioT is as follows:
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” (SOURCE: https://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things-IoT).
That definition says it all. Even you, and I, whom I have never met before, are also connected on some sort of virtual level (yes, if you are reading this blog, it means that you are connected to me). One of the fundamental goals of the IoT is to provide a means, or another avenue, in which to confirm our identity. True, we have hundreds of ways that we already do this, but the notion is that if we can confirm ourselves both with a virtual and a physical object, then there is no question as to whom we really are (even a level better than Biometrics???)
Now, even the major wireless carriers, and even all of tech giants (big players in this include Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Cicso, etc.) are jumping up on the bandwagon to make all of this connectivity make our lives better, and more convenient. One of the best examples of this I can provide is that of Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. These are the Virtual Personal Assistants that have been created by Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively. Not only can they help us find our way on the road, but they can even find the best eateries for us as well.
But, this just apply to when we are the on road. These major players (as just described) also want to apply the concepts of IoT when we are at home as well. So for example, if I say: “Siri, turn on my TV and stereo”, “she” will automatically do so. Or another idea is that when we clap our hands, all of our home gadgets that are connected with another will also magically just turn on.
But again, with all of this connectivity, there is the real fear (and in fact, it is a reality) that this just leaves more open holes for the Cyber attacker to launch a massive hack. Remember, in the world of IoT, we are not just talking about one point of failure, we are talking about multiple points of failure that can occur. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no Cyber attacks yet against an IoT framework, but there has been strong fear in both the scientific and the technological communities that something like this can happen.
As a result, many of the major educational insitututions, MIT in particular, have come up with a possible solution to this threat. This makes use of a novel concept of what is known as “Frequency Hopping”. To get really technical about this, they have invented a transmitter that can secure billions of IoT products by various frequency hops that each individual 1 or 0 bit of a data packet that a device sends out. As a result, a unique, random frequency is sent out every microsecond, thus preventing attackers from intercepting and manipulating the data that is generated by an IoT infrastructure.
Also, bulk acoustic wave (BAW) resonators are used to enable the rapid switch between a wide range of Radio Frequency channels. As a result, a random channel is sent out every microsecond. To make matters even safer, the researchers at MIT have even created a new wireless protocol which is different from those being currently used.
Wow, this is sort of above my head, but the best that I can surmise is that an IoT Infrastructure makes use of what are known as “RFID” radio signals for all of the devices in our homes to communicate with another, and even with Virtual Private Assistant that is being used. RFID signals are not encrypted, thus they are very prone to a Cyber attack.
So, the ultimate goal here is not to just have just one static RFID signal that is being transmitted, but rather a rotating series of them of on the second of differing frequencies so that the Cyber attacker cannot guess the exact frequency. If this value is known, the Cyber attacker then has a way to get through and further penetrate an IoT infrastructure.
It is important to keep in mind that all of this is still in theory, I don’t think of this has actually been deployed in a commercial setting, at least not yet. But if this does prove viable, it can even be used to protect the medical devices that patients use (in particular insulin pumps and pacemakers) which are also prone to a Cyber attack. Also, this solution could even be potentially used in a Botnet style attack, where one home that has an IoT Infrastructure can be used as a central location in which to launch attacks against other homes.
Finally, the researchers will be presenting their paper on the breakthrough transmitter at the IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits Symposium later this year.
So, until then, stay tuned on this blog site for new developments on this!!!