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Internet of Things –Challenges, Perspectives and Opportunities

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What is Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things represents a vision in which the Internet extends into the real world embracing everyday objects. Physical items are no longer disconnected from the virtual world, but can be controlled remotely and can act as physical access points to Internet services. The Internet of Things vision is grounded in the belief that the steady advances in microelectronics, communications and information technology we have witnessed in recent years will continue into the foreseeable future.

“Smart” objects play a key role in the Internet of Things vision, since embedded communication and information technology have the potential to revolutionize the utility of these objects. Using sensors, they are able to perceive their context, and via built-in networking capabilities they would be able to communicate with each other, access Internet services and interact with people.

All „Things“ connected

The digital world is expanding rapidly, doubling in size every two years according to a recent report from IDC (The International Data Corporation) and EMC (Digital Universe Study). More and more data are being generated extremely from the ever-expanding number of connected devices, i.e. “things” – from washing machines, refrigerators, and microwaves to cars and thermostats – expected to account for 10% of the 44 trillion gigabyte digital universe by the year 2020.

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We are still early in the adoption of the IoT and the disruption in its truest sense is yet to be witnessed.  However, economic and technological barriers are receding, and with the increase of connected devices and evolving analytics capabilities, the possibilities for IoT seem limitless.
However, with lots of advantages of the IoT, comes also a range of both benefits and concerns – improved connectivity and communication between humans and things brings increased concerns over privacy, data security and regulation. While the opportunities for IoT are great, significant challenges still remain. IoT implementations are complex, given the need to connect with the cloud, manage and analyze data in a secure way, and integrate with existing infrastructure.

One of the biggest challenges behind IoT is to transform this huge amount of generated, raw data into valuable knowledge.

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“I firmly believe that the EU Commission will continue to support research in IoT in Horizon 2020, the forthcoming EU research and innovation framework programme starting in 2014”

 

Global Market Value of $1.9 Trillion by 2020

According to Frost & Sullivan’s, Milroy says the “explosion” of Internet of Things  over the next few years will be driven by “the nexus of low-cost sensors, cloud computing, advanced data analytics and mobility.” Transportation and logistics represent the biggest revenue opportunities today for an Internet of Things ecosystem, she adds. “The deployment of low-cost, IP -enabled sensors within things that move products around and operate within the actual products opens vast opportunities far beyond just the supply chain optimization.

There are gains to be made in many industries such as transportation, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy management, facility management, security and surveillance, utilities, telecom, finance, insurance and many more. Basically, every sector in every system will be part of the connected world.”

Gartner predicted that the global economic value of IoT will be $1.9 trillion by 2020. IDC estimates that devices connected to the Internet will generate nearly $9 trillion in annual sales by 2020.

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Example of IoT implementation in Transportation

The Internet of Things can be used by public transportation systems to automate a variety of tasks for both riders and employees. Bus operators can see their position in route, ticket sales, camera and more. They can control music and video. The system also allows for location-based advertising. And bus riders – how about a text a few minutes before the bus arrives or an ad for a nearby shopping center on your way home from work.

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IDC describes the IoT as a network connecting – either wired or wireless – devices (things) that is characterized by automatic provisioning, management, and monitoring. It is innately analytical and integrated, and includes not just intelligent systems and devices, but connectivity enablement, platforms for device, network and application enablement, analytics and social business, and applications and vertical industry solutions. It is more than traditional machine-to-machine communication.
Indeed, it is more than the traditional Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry itself.

The Internet of Things Is Redefining Enterprise IT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the business playing field, creating opportunities for
new sources of revenue, smarter interactions with customers, and greater efficiencies. Yet IoT introduces new technical challenges. How do you securely connect intelligent devices via the Internet to your enterprise, capture data at the “point of action,” and analyze huge volumes of machine-generated data in real time?

The Internet of Things will be one of the most disruptive technology trends of the next decade, with sweeping implications for businesses and policymakers.

„The real promise of the Internet of Things lies in the ability to combine machine-generated data with data created by humans for deeper insight, understanding, and real-time decision making.“

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Opportunities and Challenges of Connecting Your Business to the Internet of Things

Opportunities:
o    Create and Deliver new experiences for customers – offer new services, enhance existing products and build entirely new ways of doing business.
o    Cost reduction and efficiency – The right combination of connected devices, infrastructure, data analytics, and processing – specific  to the industry – can help companies reduce costs incurred due to operational inefficiencies – such as delays in response time, waste of assets, process inaccuracies and loss due to human error.  One can take advantage of the almost boundless potential provided by the mass quantities of data produced in IoT transactions and making it valuable through advanced analytics.
o    Risk management – Enterprises are exposed to risk in the physical and virtual security of assets and data, the physical safety of workers – especially those deployed in the field. With connected devices and the organization of data, business can now take informed decisions to better manage risk associated with being open for business.
o    Opportunity in revenue growth and innovation – Nearly three-fourths of enterprises who express interest in adopting IoT solutions are looking for new business opportunities and ways to fortify existing products.

Challenges
o    Concerns on Security and interoperability – make CIOs unsure of the economic rewards relative to the risks of implementing IoT solutions. Consumer-facing functions are more vulnerable to risk related to breach of privacy security concerns.
o    No clarity on ROI – IoT providers (of hardware infrastructure, software, communications, and devices) have yet to articulate compelling propositions for how IoT solutions can drive lasting economic value for the enterprise

Peek at the Future

The Internet of Things – simply thought of as “the extension of the Internet to the physical world”– will reshape the way business is done across every sector of the economy and every industry. It will bring previously offline businesses and processes online.

It will redefine companies’ entire business models, their relationships with their customers, and the structures of their organizations.

The Internet of Things is the next big thing. It offers businesses the opportunity to develop new services, improve real-time decision making, solve critical problems, and develop new end-user experiences. IoT is driving a world of increasingly connected devices, seamless connectivity from sensors to the data center, cloud economics for computing and data, and the acceleration of big data analytics. This sounds great, but how does this relate to your business? Or to your existing and legacy infrastructure?
How can IoT solutions be deployed efficiently? And what are some real life examples to learn from?

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Science & Technology

Is your security compromised due to “Spy software” know how

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Spy software is often referred to as spyware is a set of programs that gives access to user/ administrators to track or monitor anyone’s smart devices (such as desktop, laptop, or smart phone) from anywhere across the globe.

Spyware is a threat, not only to businesses but individual users as well, since it can steal sensitive information and harm anyone’s network. It is controversial due to its frequent violation to end user’s privacy. It can attack user’s device, steal sensitive data (such as bank account or credit card information, or personal identity) or web data and share it with data firms, advertisers, or external users.

There are numerous online spyware designed for almost no cost, whose ultimate goal is to track and sell users data. Some spy software can install additional software and change the settings on user’s device, which could be difficult to identify.

Below are four main types of spyware, each has its unique features to track and record users activity:

Tracking cookies: These are the most common type of trackers, these monitor the user’s internet usage activities, such as searches, downloads, and history, for advertising and selling purposes.

System monitors: These spy software records everything on your device from emails, keystrokes, visited websites, chat-room dialogues, and much more.

Adware: This spyware is used for marketing purpose, it tracks users downloads and browser history, and suggests or displays the same or related products, this can often lead to slow device.

Trojan: This spyware is the most malicious software. It can be used to track sensitive information such as bank information or identification numbers.

Spyware can attack any operating system such as windows, android, or Apple. Windows operating systems are more prone to attack, but in past few years Apple’s operating systems are also becoming vulnerable to attacks.

According to a recent investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organizations, found that there is a widespread and continuous abuse of NSO’s hacking spyware Pegasus, on Government officials, human rights activists, lawyers and journalists worldwide which was only intended to use against terrorists and criminals.

The research, conducted by the Pegasus technical partner Amnesty’s Security Lab, found traces of the Pegasus activity on 37 out of the 67 examined phones. Out of 37 phones, 34 were iPhones, and 23 showed signs of a Pegasus infection, while remaining 11 showed signs of attempted infection. However, only three out of 15 Android phones were infected by Pegasus software.

Attacks like the Pegasus might have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals. But evidences from past have proved that attackers target large group of people and are often successful.

Below are the most common ways devices can become infected with spyware:

  • Downloading software or apps from unreliable sources or unofficial app publishers
  • Accepting cookies or pop-up without reading
  • Downloading or watching online pirated media content
  • Opening attachments from unfamiliar senders

Spyware can be extremely unsafe if you have been infected. Its damage can range from short term device issue (such as slow system, system crashing, or overheating device) to long-term financial threat.

Here’s what you can do protect your devices from spyware:

Reliable antivirus software: Firstly look for security solutions available on internet (some are available for free) and enable the antivirus software. If your system or device is already infected with virus, check out for security providers offering spyware identification and removal.

-For instance, you can install a toolkit (the Mobile Verification Tool or the MVT) provided by Amnesty International. This toolkit will alert you with presence of the Pegasus Spyware on your device.

-The toolkit scans the backup file of your device for any evidence of infection. It works on both Apple and Android operating systems, but is more accurate for Apple operating system.

-You can also download and run Norton Power Eraser a free virus removal tool.

Update your system regularly: Set up an update which runs automatically. Such automatic updates can not only block hackers from viewing your web or device activity, but can also eliminate software errors.

Be vigilant of cookies compliance: Cookies that records/ tracks users browsing habits and personally identifiable information (PII) are commonly known as adware spyware. Accept cookies only from reliable sites or download a cookie blocker.

Strong authentication passwords: Try to enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) wherever possible, or if not possible create different password for all accounts. Change your password for each account after a certain period of time.

-Password breaches can still occur with these precautions. In such case change your password immediately.

Be cautious of free software: Read the terms and conditions on software licenses, before accepting. Free software might be unlimited but, your data could be recorded with those free software’s.

Do not open any files from unknown or suspicious account: Do not open any email attachments or text on mobile from a suspicious, unknown, or untrustworthy source/number.

Conclusion:

Spyware could be extremely dangerous, however it can be prevented and removed by being precautious and using a trustworthy antivirus tool. Next gen technologies can also help in checking and removing malicious content. For instance, Artificial intelligence could aid the organizations identify malicious software, and frequently update its algorithms of patterns similar to predict future malware attacks.

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Implementation of virtual reality and the effects in cognitive warfare

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Photo: Lux Interaction/Unsplash

With the increasing use of new technologies in warfare situations, virtual reality presents an opportunity for the domain of cognitive warfare. Nowadays, cognitive skills are treated equally as their physical counterparts, seeking to standardize new innovative techniques. Virtual reality (VR) can be used as a tool that can increase the cognitive capabilities of soldiers. As it is understandable in today’s terms, VR impacts the brain directly. That means that our visual organs (eyes) see one object or one surrounding area, but brain cells perceive and react to that differently. VR has been used extensively in new teaching methods because of the increased probability of improving the memory and learning capabilities of students.

Besides its theoretical teaching approach and improvement of learning, VR can be used systematically towards more practical skills. In medicine for example students can have a full medicine lesson on a virtual human being seeing the body projected in 3D, revolutionizing the whole field of medicine. If that can be used in the medical field, theoretically it will be possible to be used in combat situations, projecting a specific battlefield in VR, increasing the chances of successful engagement, and reducing the chance of casualties. Knowing your terrain is equally important as knowing your adversary.

The use of VR will also allow us to experience new domains relating to the physical health of a person. It is argued that VR might provide us with the ability to effectively control pain management. Since VR can stimulate visual senses, then it would be safe to say that this approach can have higher effectiveness in treating chronic pain, depression, or even PTSD. The idea behind this usage is that the brain itself is already powerful enough, yet sometimes when pain overwhelms us we tend to lose effectiveness on some of our senses, such as the visual sense. An agonizing pain can blurry our vision, something that we cannot control; unless of course theoretically, we use VR. The process can consist of different sounds and visual aids that can trick the mind into thinking that it is somewhere that might be the polar opposite of where it is. Technically speaking, the mind would be able to do that simply because it works as a powerful computer, where our pain receptors can override and actually make us think that we are not in such terrible pain.

Although the benefits of VR could be useful for our health we would still need to deal with problems that concern our health when we use a VR set.  It is possible that the brain can get overloaded with new information and the new virtual environments. VR poses some problems to some people, regarding the loss of the real environment and creating feelings of nausea or extreme headaches. As a result, new techniques from cognitive psychologists have emerged to provide a solution to the problem. New technologies have appeared that can desaturate colors towards the edge of the headset in order to limit the probability of visual confusion. Besides that, research shows that even the implementation of a virtual nose when someone wears a VR headset can prevent motion sickness, something that our brain does already in reality.

However, when it comes to combatants and the implementation of VR in soldiers, one must think of maybe more effective and fast solutions to eliminate the problems that concern the confusion of the brain. Usage of specific pharmaceuticals might be the key. One example could be Modafinil which has been prescribed in the U.S. since 1998 to treat sleep-related conditions. Researchers believe it can produce the same effects as caffeine. With that being said, the University of Oxford analyzed 24 studies, where participants were asked to complete complex assignments after taking Modafinil and found out that those who took the drug were more accurate, which suggests that it may affect higher cognitive functions.

Although some of its long-term effects are yet to be studied, Modafinil is by far the safest drug that can be used in cognitive situations. Theoretically speaking, if a long exposure to VR can cause headaches and an inability to concentrate, then an appropriate dose of Modafinil can counter the effects of VR. It can be more suitable and useful to use on soldiers, whose cognitive skills are better than civilians, to test the full effect of a mix of virtual technology and pharmaceuticals. VR can be a significant military component and a simulation training program. It can provide new cognitive experiences based on foreign and unknown terrains that might be difficult to be approached in real life. New opportunities arise every day with the technologies, and if anyone wanted to take a significant advantage over adversaries in the cognitive warfare field, then VR would provide a useful tool for military decision-making.

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Science & Technology

Vaccine Equity and Beyond: Intellectual Property Rights Face a Crucial Test

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research coronavirus

The debate over intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly patents, and access to medicine is not new. IPRs are considered to drive innovation by protecting the results of investment-intensive R&D, yet arguably also foster inequitable access to affordable medicines.

In a global public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, where countries face acute shortages of life-saving vaccines, should public health be prioritized over economic gain and the international trade rules designed to protect IPRs?

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), to which all 164 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are a party, establish minimum standards for protecting different forms of IPRs. 

In October 2020, India and South Africa – countries with strong generic drug manufacturing infrastructure – invoked WTO rules to seek a temporary waiver of IPRs (patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and industrial designs) on equipment, drugs, and vaccines related to the “prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.” A waiver would mean that countries could locally produce equipment and vaccines without permission from holders of IPRs. This step would serve to eliminate the monopolistic nature of IPRs that give exclusive rights to the holder of IPRs and enable them to impose procedural licensing constraints.

Brazil, Japan, the European Union (EU), and the United States (US) initially rejected the waiver proposal. That stance changed with the rise of new COVID-19 mutations and the associated increase in deaths, with several countries facing a public health crisis due to vaccine supply shortages. The position of many states began shifting in favor of the India-South Africa proposal, which now has the backing of 62 WTO members, with the US declaring support for the intent of the temporary waiver to secure “better access, more manufacturing capability, more shots in arms.” Several international bodies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have voiced support.

Some countries disagree about the specific IPRs to be waived or the mechanisms by which IPRs should be made available. The EU submitted a proposal to use TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licensing, while others advocate for voluntary licensing. The TRIPS Council is conducting meetings to prepare an amended proposal to the General Council (the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva) by the end of July 2021.

The crisis in India illustrates the urgency of the situation. India produces and supplies Covishield, licensed by AstraZeneca; and Covaxin, which is yet to be included on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL). Due to the devastating public health crisis, India halted its export of vaccines and caused a disruption in the global vaccine supply, even to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program. In the meantime, the world’s poorest nations lack sufficient, critical vaccine supplies.

International law recognizes some flexibility in public health emergencies. An example would be the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health in 2001, which, while maintaining the commitments, stresses the need for TRIPS to be part of the wider national and international action to address public health problems. Consistent with that, the body of international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), protects the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

But as we race against time, the current IPR framework may not allow for the swift response required. It is the rigorous requirements before a vaccine is considered safe to use under Emergency Use Authorizations and procedural delays which illuminate why IPR waivers on already approved vaccines are needed. Capitalizing on the EUL’s approved vaccines that have proven efficacy to date and easing IPR restrictions will aid in the timely supply and access of vaccines.

A TRIPS waiver may not solve the global vaccine shortage. In fact, some argue that the shortages are not an inherent flaw in the IP regime, considering other supply chain disruptions that persist, such as the ones disrupting microchips, pipette tips, and furniture. However, given that patent licensing gives a company a monopoly on vaccine commercialization, other companies with manufacturing capacity cannot produce the vaccine to scale up production and meet supply demands.

Neither does a temporary waiver mean that pharmaceutical companies cannot monetize their work. States should work with pharmaceuticals in setting up compensation and insurance schemes to ensure adequate remuneration.

At the College of Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, our aim is to address today’s legal challenges with a future-oriented view. We see COVID-19 as a case study in how we respond to imminent and existential threats. As global warming alters the balance of our ecosystem, threats will cascade in a way that is hard to predict. When unpredictable health emergencies emerge, it will be human ingenuity that helps us overcome them. Even the global IP regime, as a legal system that regulates ideas, is being tested, and should be agile enough to respond in time, like the scientists who sprang into action and worked tirelessly to develop the vaccines that will soon bring back a semblance of normal life as we know it.

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