Nest on a Bumpy Road After Google Acquisition?

Sounds like Nest is having some problems after its acquisition by Google. “The smart-home company has been touted as the model for the new Alphabet corporate structure, in which subsidiary companies operate autonomously with their own CEOs and processes. But the company’s track record since it was acquired by Google two years ago shows many reasons to wonder about the direction of what it sees as the next moonshot.”

Using Social Media and Remote Sensors To Detect Flooding

Interesting: using social media and remote sensors to detect flooding. “Twitter and Flickr, along with remote sensor data, can be used to identify flooded areas, a team of university researchers say. It’s faster than using publicly available satellite images on their own. That imaging can sometimes take days to become available, the researchers say. It’s also easier to identify the flooded streets.”

Nest Was Leaking Location Data

Hoo-boy. My instance to my husband that we replace our ancient CRT television with a dumb TV (instead of a “Smart TV” like the nice man at Tiger Direct was trying to sell him) is looking better and better considering this latest about Nest. “The Nest thermostat is a popular smart device that supposedly helps users to save money on heating and cooling, and also have a cool-looking round electronic device on their walls. Yet two researchers at Princeton University pointed out a problem that should terrify most Nest users: their thermostats were broadcasting their location, unencrypted, over WiFi.”

New Research Hub for the Internet of Things

There is a new research hub for the Internet of Things (IoT). “Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, has today confirmed a new interdisciplinary Research Hub to drive forward UK research in the Internet of Things (IoT). The PETRAS consortium of nine leading UK universities will work together over the next three years to explore critical issues in privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security. Funding for the Hub includes a £9.8 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which will be boosted by partner contributions to approximately £23 million in total.”

Building a Search Engine Of Insecure Things

Launched in October: Censys is a search engine for the “Internet of Things. The Internet of INSECURE things. “Censys collects data on hosts and websites through daily scans of the IPv4 address space – the internet protocol that routes most internet traffic today, despite the ongoing deployment of a successor protocol, IPv6. The search engine uses two companion tools: an open-source network scanner, known as ZMap, that probes every computer online in mere minutes, and the application layer scanner ZGrab.”

IFTTT Adds a Honeywell Channel

IFTTT has a new channel: Honeywell Total Connect Comfort. Channel. “Honeywell Total Connect Comfort allows users of supported North American and Middle Eastern thermostats to remotely control their devices and manage their home’s comfort and energy usage anytime, anywhere.”

Walt Mossberg: Google Should Make Its Own Hardware

Walt Mossberg says Google should be making its own hardware. “Yes, I know that Google briefly owned, and then sold, an entire phone manufacturer, Motorola. Yes, I know that Google has dabbled in hardware with products like the Chromecast and the Chromebook Pixel, and had to kill another internal hardware venture, a home media player called the Q. But it’s perfectly possible for a company with Google’s clout and resources to hire more hardware engineers and designers, create unique devices, and outsource its manufacturing.”

Fitbits Can Get infected, Spread Malware

When you think of security vulnerabilities, you think about things like browsers and smartphones. But with the Internet of Things, all kinds of things can get infected. including Fitbits. “The malware could spread to your PC/Laptop if you’re using the syncing dongle, or to other Fitbit trackers. From what I’ve read of it though, it’s mostly theoretical. It could work under some circumstances, but there’s no real live code out there infecting Fitbit devices and spreading itself.” Since we’ve already had a refrigerator sending spam, I don’t think it’ll be long before someone makes something out of this.

FBI Issues Warning on IoT

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released a warning/alert on the “Internet of Things” (IoT). “As more businesses and homeowners use web-connected devices to enhance company efficiency or lifestyle conveniences, their connection to the Internet also increases the target space for malicious cyber actors. Similar to other computing devices, like computers or Smartphones, IoT devices also pose security risks to consumers. The FBI is warning companies and the general public to be aware of IoT vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit, and offers some tips on mitigating those cyber threats.”

Google Updates Its Nest Thermostat

Google has updated its Nest thermostat. “The thermostat’s screen is now 40 percent larger and higher resolution at 229 PPI. Overall, the device has a slightly thinner profile so it doesn’t stick out from the wall. That’s along with an updated interface to make it easier to read the temperature.”

Maybe You Ought Not Trust Your Fridge With Your GMail Password

I know I’m in the 21st century because I have to worry about my fridge leaking my password. “While Samsung’s shiny new refrigerators connect to the Internet, can display your Google Calendar and implement SSL, hackers during a challenge at the recent DEFCON found the refrigerators fail to validate those SSL certificates. That opens the door to all kinds of man-in-the-middle attacks, potentially allowing your neighbor to steal your Gmail login information while sitting on his couch next door….”

Google, Universities Working Together on Internet of Things

A group of universities are working with Google to develop a platform for the Internet of Things (IoT). “Carnegie Mellon researchers will work with colleagues at Cornell, Stanford, Illinois and Google to create GIoTTO, a new platform to support IoT applications. Initial plans for GIoTTO include sensors that are inexpensive and easy to deploy, new middleware to facilitate app development and manage privacy and security, and new tools that enable end users to develop their own IoT experiences.”