February 12, 2016

Self-driven cars and intelligent houses are here to stay and they´re safe

Vesa Luukkonen

Security Solutions Architect, Tieto

Does Internet of Things mean scary scenarios of big brother, who monitors every centimeter of our lives? Will our right to privacy perish? Will our identities be easier to steal or our smart houses broken into?

No it doesn´t.

Internet of Things, IoT, is coming everywhere big time. Also IoT security has been under discussion, and the scary scenarios listed above have been raised up. Therefore I would like to demystify IoT here a bit. In order to do it, I have chosen a self-driven car and an intelligent house as examples.

Self-driven cars are here already

Self-driven cars are a reality and will be a part of our everyday life in the near future.  A bunch of car companies are going to test self-driven cars already this year. Tesla, Honda and Volvo are among those companies.

If we want to prevent road accidents, human factor should be eliminated. Autonomous cars are claimed to be safer than those driven by us humans. Google for example states that their self-driving cars are designed to navigate safely through streets. They have sensors designed to detect objects and the software processes all the information to help the car navigate the road without getting tired or distracted.

However, before any self-driven cars can be used in bigger geographical areas, they need to be connected to cloud. This cloud can be either public or private, but the purpose of it is to provide anonymous information about how many cars and whereabouts they are. Information can be used to avoid crowded areas and smoothen the traffic. It also benefits reacting faster to traffic jams or possible accidents.

Of course the area where this can be done has to be limited only for those devices, which are connected to the cloud, meaning basically a city area. It also means that in this specific area all cars must be self-driven. Outside the cities, animals might affect to unexpected situations – if they don’t wear tags. Nevertheless to avoid moose accidents, it would be good to tag animals as well.

The project Aurora or the Snowbox has already been launched in the Finnish Lapland. It focuses on automated driving and digital transport infrastructure, and aims to create the world´s first arctic intelligent transport test ecosystem. So this is very much reality.

So are the smart houses

Other example of IoT and IoT security is a smart house. Smart houses would of course have smart locks, which can be opened with a phone app, a token or biometrics. Once inside the house, alarm system would go off, lights would go on or the sauna would be turned on. Or whatever your wishes would be.

Once you´re inside your home no one could access the house information, or monitor your actions, or what is going on inside the house, except you. Once you´re outside the house, you could monitor yourself, if the coffee maker is switched off or if an uninvited guest tries to enter the house.

Your fridge would of course have a screen that tells you, which ingredients are finished or soon to be finished. By ticking those ingredients you need for your supper, the order would automatically go encrypted to the grocery store, which would deliver the groceries to your home. Optionally you could order a pizza from a certain restaurant directly from the fridge screen.

Encrypted connections and legislation ensure the data safety

Using biometrics to your car or the house, will ensure the IoT safety. You would open the door with your hand (a fingerprint or a palm print), and look towards the mirror (retina scan) to set off the security system. Then you would talk to the car (voice) to start the engine and to check your alcohol level (breath).

Meanwhile your car would create encrypted one-way connection to the cloud. Encryption is needed so that nobody can read what the car is sending to the cloud and even more importantly, that nobody can tamper the data on the way to the cloud and give wrong information from and to the car.

All data in the cloud should be anonymous. Meaning that the cloud provider keeps the data safe, and only the owner of the data can see it. EU´s Privacy and Data protection ensures the data´s safety within EU.

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If you liked this blog, you might be interested in a whitepaper "Security for a hybrid, digital world" by Tieto Security Services, our new internal start-up. 

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