SOGETI UK BLOG

Last week I had dinner with a friend who works for Amazon who just purchased a new home in the Seattle area. Being that were both technologists, the topic turned to home networking. My friend told me in the top level of his house, he wasn’t getting a good Wi-Fi signal. He was looking at buying a new wireless router, but since there was nothing wrong with the one he had he just couldn’t bring himself to throw it away and purchase a new one. Eventually he told me the one he had was four years old, and he was just looking to reposition it in the house to get a better signal instead of buying a new one.

I also built a new house in the Seattle area in 2013. I was able to get my wife to agree that we would include Internet connected devices where possible, to try to make our lives easier. So far we have six Internet connected devices in the house and it’s starting to become a showcase for the Internet of Things. They are:

Internet Connected Garage Door Opener: This device lets us check the status of the garage door from our phone (I’m really bad about forgetting to close the garage door) without going to the lower level to open the door. It also sends us notifications to our phone when one of us comes home.

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Internet Connected Refrigerator: This one has a 7 inch screen, runs apps that tell the weather, news, family events, music while cooking and we can update the shopping list whenever we run out of something.

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Amazon Echo: One of Amazon’s fastest selling gadgets, Amazon Echo is a voice controlled search engine and virtual assistant. We use it mostly to play music from our Amazon Prime account, and the kids ask “Alexa” for daily jokes and help with their homework. There are additional gadgets that can connect to Amazon Echo and control your lights, thermostat and other internet connected devices.

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Ring, the Internet Connected Door Bell: The ring doorbell has a motion sensor and camera and can ring your phone when someone pushes the button. You can answer the door when you are not at home, and start the video and speaker from the phone and talk to them. All the video is stored in the cloud, so you can reference it later if needed.

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Internet Connected Robot Vacuum Cleaner: I purchased this to help around the house because we have two little kids and we are constantly vacuuming. It is programmable and can be activated from my phone and I can check the status or call it when needed.

5-iRobotVacuum

 

Internet Connected Washer and Dryer: They have 5 inch touch screens and an app that lets you start them remotely or check the status from your phone. The touch screen is very nice because you can check the status of the washer or dryer at a glance and have a much finer control on the cycles than dials can provide. Since they are internet connected, they update the firmware over the internet automatically.

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I haven’t been able to bring myself to install an internet connected keyless entry system on the house yet, and it’s a good thing too. What is the one thing that makes all these things work together? The internet router. Each one of these devices needs your router access point name and password. Here is the problem. If your ROUTER is compromised, so potentially are all your devices on it.

Last fall, we had an issue with our washing machine. The screen, which is run by a small computer inside running Android, starting displaying everything BACKWARDS. The screen functioned as though the screen was correct, meaning the buttons appeared on left side, but you had to push the right side of the screen to make it work. I thought it was a glitch and looked up on the internet to reset it to factory settings. All devices have a factory settings switch you can use a paperclip to reset right?  Wrong. There is one on the refrigerator, but not on the washer. We put in a service call, since it was still under warranty, had an engineer come out to fix it.

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The engineer told me he would have to replace the entire computer unit. There was no way to reset it to factory settings, and it is a good thing that it was still under warranty because to replace the control unit with a new one would have been very expensive. He said he had worked on a couple of these, but had never seen this happen, it was as though someone had hacked the control unit and didn’t or couldn’t put it back.

Hacked. A Washing Machine? Seriously?

How could someone had gotten through the firewall on my router to see the washing machine to hack it?

I started doing some research on how to bypass the security on a home router and was surprised by what I found. In September of 2015, Arstechnica.com reported that hackers had installed back doors in cisco routers.  The rumor was that the routers were leaving the factory already compromised. It made me wonder, if this could happen to Cisco, who most of the internet runs on, what about other manufacturers? I discovered that a report was released in 2013 (the same year I bought my house) that most of the top internet routers had vulnerabilities that were easy to exploit. Even my trusted Netgear N Series router had a backdoor issue.

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It turns out that most all home routers produced 2 or more years about had some security vulnerabilities, including open ports, that would allow someone on the same network (read on your ISP) to take full control of the router, even perform a reset, without the password. Many technical sites reported this issue, which continued to be an issue throughout 2015. While most of these issues have been patched in the updated firmware for the router, and new devices have been released with the fixes implemented, many people could still be running compromised devices. If you have an older router, make sure you have updated the firmware, and then test it for vulnerabilities. If your router fails at any point. It’s time to invest in a newer router. I did, and promptly loaded the latest firmware.

After testing all our internet connected devices, and resetting the access point name and password on all these devices, I think we are in the clear and can start enjoying our connected home again. I did mention to the wife that since the only other device that is always on is our home media center, I should probably rebuild it too and she agreed. I had been wanting to upgrade that thing for a while now. I was able to build a completely new Media Center with an Intel NUC.

9-IntelNUCMediaCenter

Since the NSA published a map of the United States showing major cyber attacks in the United States, and since I and my friend from Amazon live in an area considered to be one of America’s industrial centers and have a 4+ year old router, I think I was able to convince him to spend the money to purchase a new one. Your home deserves technology updates too, if you haven’t updated your router in the last 3 years, it’s probably time.

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Darren Baker AUTHOR:
Darren Baker is the business development manager for Sogeti, focusing on Windows based SMART Desktop Solutions. He helps customers evolve their “Optimized Desktop” vision into the new world of work. He manages Sogeti Windows Rangers, and travels throughout the 13 Sogeti operating countries and conducts training for the consultants to ensure Sogeti can deliver cutting edge technology solutions.

Posted in: Cloud, communication, Developers, Digital, Digital strategy, Infrastructure, Innovation, Internet of Things, IT strategy, Microsoft, mobile applications, Quality Assurance, Research, Robotics, Security, Software Development, Transformation      
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touchscreen1It isn’t possible to force a market to choose a specific type of device or service, but it is possible to offer options and alternatives. The market today has more choice for the types of devices than ever before. Whether you choose devices like the Apple iPad, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy and Microsoft Surface, they all have something in common, portability and touch. The industry has even created an acronym “BYOD” Bring your own device to describe the scenarios in which people use these devices today. There is a wide variety of devices that you can adapt and incorporate into your lives, work or personal.

Companies are now dealing with how to manage the variety of portable, touch enabled devices that people are bringing into the workforce. Recently there was a partner meeting at Microsoft where they listen to individuals concerns and ideas and act on them. During that discussion Microsoft  stated they see 5 states of BYOD acceptance:

  1. 1. Denial (There’s no way you’re connecting that to my network!)
  2. 2. Anger (You did what? Do you know how vulnerable you just made the company?) 
  3. 3. Bargaining (Okay, I get BYOD, and we’ll support it *IF* I can wipe it when I need to, and you promise not to use external file services)
  4. 4. Depression (Now the whole place is in complete chaos and I’ve got devices everywhere that I don’t manage in the same way)
  5. 5. Acceptance (This is an opportunity to do some rationalization and transformation projects, and our workforce is happier and more productive)

It is interesting to note that many companies are still in the state of DENIAL. Organizations state “I won’t allow Windows 8 devices on my network” when they already run Windows XP and Windows 7 in their environment. Meanwhile, their users are sneaking iOS and android devices on their network, devices which are fundamentally different types of devices than the Windows / intel based devices that they currently use. The enterprise must wake up and realize that they can’t stop the influx of consumer devices. When a user discovers a device that is easy to use and conforms to the way they want to work, they are more productive.

Look at the impact of small form factor tablets and phones, all with touch interfaces. The adoption of these device has skyrocketed. Nielsen just released a report that states more people are using the internet on smartphones and tablets than on PCs. Gartner just released a report stating Android Tablets Outsold iPads for the first time. That same report goes on to state “Microsoft tablets exhibited the highest growth. About 4 million Microsoft tablets were sold during 2013, which is up 247% from the 1.1 million sold in 2012.”

Clearly people have adopted touch based devices that are easy to use and integrate into their lives. Tablet sales grew 68 percent in 2013, over 195 Million devices sold, including 121 Million Android Tablets, 70 Million iPads and 4 Million Microsoft Tablets. The enterprise can no longer afford to ignore this trend.

Microsoft’s Place in the New World Order of BYOD and Touch Devices

Microsoft’s 4 million tablets may seem small compared to the Android and Apple powerhouses, yet people are starting to adopt these devices as well. Whether you believe it is a perceived threat from Android, or increased production in Intel processors to create competitive tablets, Windows 8 devices are growing in availability and reducing in cost.

Many don’t understand this change in interface direction and have called for Microsoft to lose the “Windows 8” interface. Microsoft won’t reverse course now, as they drive touch and consistency across their device ecosystem. You will start to see Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Tablets, and other devices converge into one consistent experience as Microsoft tries to maintain their presence in the enterprise through devices that allow the end user the use their existing software on touch enabled devices that the enterprise can manage.

To understand why the radical change, you will need to think back to the devices in the marketplace prior to the release of Windows 8.  Apple had the standout device with touch while the PC OEM Manufacturers had become stagnant and un-innovative. Apple and Android gained and maintained a significant market share by creating extremely desirable devices.

The Changing Device Eco System

Touch changed the market, and now it’s hard to find devices that doesn’t have touch today. There are 8” form factors, touch based e-readers, convertible notebooks, 2 in 1 devices and transforming devices. Combined with the new line of Atom and Core processors from intel, the battery life is now equivalent if not better than the iPad.  Even Google has caught on, introducing a line of Touch Based Chromebooks.

While the iPad had touch first, the rest of the Apple eco system still does not. The Windows ecosystem of devices has now completely caught up and arguably driven the competition in new types of devices and form factors with touch. It begs the question, why hasn’t Apple added touch to the Macbooks? As Microsoft criticizes Apple for Macs being behind, the Apple loyal are now arguing over whether all Apple devices need touch at all. It’s already been decided that touch devices are the Future of Mobile Computing.  It’s time to move on to a state of ACCEPTANCE and embrace Bring-your-own-IT.

Darren Baker AUTHOR:
Darren Baker is the business development manager for Sogeti, focusing on Windows based SMART Desktop Solutions. He helps customers evolve their “Optimized Desktop” vision into the new world of work. He manages Sogeti Windows Rangers, and travels throughout the 13 Sogeti operating countries and conducts training for the consultants to ensure Sogeti can deliver cutting edge technology solutions.

Posted in: BYOD, Microsoft, Mobility, Technology Outlook, Uncategorized, User Experience      
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