The Dark Side of IoT Devices in the Workplace


On Friday October 21st, 2016 a complex and sophisticated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack led to numerous media outlets, social networks, and retailers going offline for a couple of hours in parts of North America and Europe. After realizing that they could not even tweet about it, many people freaked out. Here’s a quick summary- Certain Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like web cameras, were spewing-out ten to twenty times the normal traffic volume across a large number of IP addresses. This caused widespread server crashes within DNS providers, which many services rely on. Because of this compounding recursive traffic—yes, there’s a professional term for it, a criminal investigation has been launched to find the identity of the attackers.

This malicious attack highlighted vulnerabilities in both the security of IoT devices and infrastructure. Although the increased presence of IoT devices certainly offer new capabilities within workplaces, they also introduce security risks that have not yet been fully understood.

We will continue to live in a world that relies on smart sensors and actuators for gathering data related to human activity and the status of machines. However, with CrowdComfort’s “Human Sensor Network” approach, building managers can capitalize on existing, secure devices. Through smartphone reporting, facilities leaders can receive feedback directly from building occupants without worrying about security breaches.

The Human Sensor Network is more secure, reliable and integrated into work life than smart sensors, actuators and devices. Here are some real life examples-

  • If a parking lot is iced over, the facility manager can be called by the first person that notices it. By utilizing smartphones that are in every occupant’s pocket, facility managers receive a high fidelity report it that captures the occupant experience. At CrowdComfort, smartphones gather data that augment and provide quality control on IoT devices. This creates a full picture of office experience.
  • Let’s say an occupant reports a downed tree that is blocking an exit road from their phone. If this photo automatically alerts the real estate manager, the security office and facilities manager and friends and colleagues, won’t it get solved faster? The more venues of communication, the better. Peers can help information get to the right people at the right time. This defines the Human Sensor Network.

While malicious Internet attacks will never go away and IoT devices will proliferate, the Human Sensor Network represents a secure and more “human” way of communicating and data gathering on ambient control systems in the workplace.

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