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IOT – Internet of Things

Internet Of Things

Internet Of Things

I stumbled onto and watched an intriguing cable network channel containing programs about Cyber-warfare. As all these specialized channels have become, they are more about drawing in viewers such as myself, than presenting impartial reporting. They all have an agenda, that suits their purpose.

That understood, it still presented a story, many stories , that  need to be heard. Most people will not understand what was shown, but people like myself, raised in a developing world of embedded computing, and have worked in the industry, know exactly what was being said.

Many and perhaps most of the electrical appliances or devices we buy today can communicate via Bluetooth and eventually the Internet via WiFi. Doorbells, coffee pots, televisions, our cars and alarmingly, many of our children’s toys are capable of this today. My wife’s Equinox sends her an email when it needs an oil change.

All this connectivity has very loose if any security. All of it is available and vulnerable to hackers. The hacker doesn’t much care what a device may be saying. What they have (already) done is to command thousands of on-line devices to start communicating to a target internet address. This flood of mindless data transmission causes an overload of the target server called a DOS attack (Denial of Service) There are more “things” talking to a server than it can manage, so nothing gets through.

This has been done to Netflix and other big name financial industry targets. My personal web sites have been victim to DOS attacks on shared servers.

The point is, it is being done by nation states (foreign national governments) and just as easily by 13-year-old domestic (USA) kiddie hackers. Just because they can. Those Russian hackers, blasted on U.S. news,  could just as easily be a Russian 13 year-old… or not.

The TV and Movie industry has played up the ease of cyber snooping and DOS attacks. Just start typing on a computer anywhere and gain control and access to anything. Everything shown is technically possible, just not as seamless and easy as they portray. The problem is almost nothing shown is impossible.

I just purchased and installed a Ring (brand) video doorbell that uses my home WiFi to connect itself to servers on the Internet. That same action has created an access point into my home network and possibly an access to everything else on my network. The question in my mind is, I have no idea or control of that connection except to uninstall the device. Most customers don’t even consider the vulnerability present in a world of interconnected Internet devices. Tim (on the TV program NCIS) could be checking my front door for packages.

I am thinking of what all this means. I am not sure of the action I will take. It could be nothing, or it could be to pull the plug. At least I am aware.

RING Issues

Ring Pro Confidence

Ring Pro Confidence

At first, the RING doorbell looked like it would do exactly what I expected. Be there to monitor activity at my front door. But it has fallen seriously short of expectation in only the first week since installation.

The hardware is fine. It works. The problem is the Internet servers used by RING to process and store the video. On the afternoon of October 31 (Halloween eve) the servers quit working. The error messages made it look like it was my hardware. I checked with my son who has a RING installation miles away and his system was off-line also. It was not my hardware.

The service did come back on-line about 6:00 PM local time, just before the kiddies started “Trick or Treat” visits. The gap in security, when security is what RING is all about, is a bad breach of confidence.

I was thinking the sudden surge of door visits and video recordings as Halloween visitors began their rounds may have overloaded their servers. An indication of inadequate expansion of server processing power for the surge of activity.

Last night, November 1, at 9:00PM the servers went totally off line again. At midnight they continued to be off. When I retired for the night, the RING servers remained off-line.  This doesn’t bode well for a tool that is supposed to be a video security system.

This morning the video recordings are back on-line. It appears to be functioning as it should. Faster than it has ever been operating in making new video recordings accessible. I was noticing considerable lag between the time an alert sounded, and when I could view the recording, Usually 5 -10 minutes after the RING alarm. Again, not good for a security system. Perhaps the down time was for making corrections.

I was testing my Wi-Fi coverage and signal strength on my rear porch with my cell phone, when the service went off for the first time, on October 31. At that time, I was considering adding a second camera to cover the rear porch, backyard, and lake area. I had a Wi-Fi signal but no video. Reason, the servers were off.

Now that I am experiencing the unstable and unreliable internet service, the expansion plan is on hold. I am going to have to see at least a month of solid internet up-time service before I spend another quarter grand of retirement money on a flakey security system.

RING is on the verge of total confidence failure.

Sign of the Times

I had to spend some of my hard-earned retirement funds on a new doorbell button. It’s a bit more than a button. It is the “Ring” video monitor doorbell button.

Halloween is here, and it will be fun capturing the visitors, but that is not the reason I made the investment. We are in an age of front door delivery. A lot of services leave packages at the door. Some ring the bell and some just drop and run. A few will knock. There is no consistency, not even with the same carrier.

Amazon and UPS are […] Continue reading » Sign of the Times

Facebook Does It Again

Built on the Love Canal

I just quit Facebook for the third time. Maybe the charm? Possibly forever.

I was browsing some pictures in the main column of Facebook.

A full screen computer takeover warning popped up with loud audio voice over. “Don’t try to quit!” “Don’t shut down your computer.” “You will lose all your personal files if you do.” We have taken control of everything.” Listen to the following to unlock your… “

I killed everything and rebooted the computer. Then I forced WIN10 to do a security scan. Nothing found. I am hoping it was a fake alarm, but no way […] Continue reading » Facebook Does It Again

Hurricane Irma

How much can you say about a natural phenomenon like weather? Not enough it seems if you are a news channel. It certainly gives the media something to do when it is bad weather. It’s good they are doing their duty. It IS important.

However, weather prediction is not an accurate science. It’s an educated guess, mostly. That’s why there are dozens of “tracks” where a storm like Irma MAY be going to travel. But the storm is not paying attention to those predictions.

When there is a dangerous situation, people must make decisions. In the case of Irma, it is a stay or flee choice. […] Continue reading » Hurricane Irma