Dare to dream big: Empowering innovators with Standards

To create the innovations of today and tomorrow we have to work together, but first we need to understand each other. To exchange knowledge, to make things compatible, ISO Standards are the solid base, the common language that humanity can rely on.

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How the Internet of Things will change our lives

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the power to change our world. And while we are starting to see its incredible impact, we are still very much at the beginning of the transformational journey. Here’s a look into the current state of affairs in the race to standardize IoT, along with what people are saying about it.

Soon every device you own – and nearly every object you can imagine – will be connected to the Internet. Whether it’s through your phone, wearable tech or everyday household objects, the Internet of Things (IoT) will connect us in ways we can’t even imagine yet.

Your thermostat, alarm system, smoke detector, doorbell and refrigerator may already be ”networked”, but changes are starting to take root in our cities as well. Better management of energy, water, transportation and safety are bringing people in closer touch with their surroundings and capturing our imaginations for urban bliss – a fully integrated, smart, sustainable city. Last but not least, we’re seeing dramatic increases in activity and innovation on the factory front, where the potential for cyber-physical systems to improve productivity in the production process is vast.

As you can imagine, life in ten years will look materially different from how it looks in 2016 as the pace of technology change accelerates, thanks in large part to the coming boom of the Internet of Things. In some ways, IoT still feels like empty tech jargon. It’s hard to lump all these different, disparate things together and talk about them in a meaningful way. So, in an attempt to make sense of this emerging technology, let’s look at what plans are afoot to build an IoT future.

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Soon every device you own – and nearly every object you can imagine – will be connected to the Internet.

Paradigm shift in technology

Technology consulting firm Gartner, Inc. projects that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, up 30 % from last year. And this number is expected to grow by more than three times to nearly 21 billion by the year 2020.

Over half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of IoT by 2020, assures Gartner. The impact on consumers’ lives and corporate business models is rapidly increasing as the cost of ”instrumenting” physical things with sensors and connecting them to other things – devices, systems and people – continues to drop.

Welcome to Industry 4.0

Around the world, traditional manufacturing industry is also in the midst of a major change, marking the dawn of smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0. Every day, technologies based on IoT make factories smarter, safer and more environmentally sustainable. IoT connects the factory to a whole new range of smart manufacturing solutions, which run around the production. The dramatic improvements to production and cost reduction are projected to generate billions in revenue growth and productivity over the next decade. The transformation that it implies is huge.

IoT gives manufacturers the ability to track objects, to find out how consumers are using a certain product, and to determine which features are the prominent ones. This creates a better understanding of what adjustments should be made to the product(s) to help improve adoption and purchasing rates. Knowing what the users do with the product is something brands want to leverage and IoT makes that readily available.

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Are we safe in the Internet of Things?

Suppose a criminal were using your nanny cam to keep an eye on your house. Or your refrigerator sent out spam e-mails on your behalf to people you don’t even know. Now imagine someone hacked into your toaster and got access to your entire network. As smart products proliferate with the Internet of Things, so do the risks of attack via this new connectivity. ISO standards can help make this emerging industry safer.

As consumers and users of technology, we are often too distracted by the amazing features of the Internet of Things that we don’t even take a minute to think about what this means for our privacy and security. Certainly, a connected baby monitor can give parents peace of mind, letting them easily check on their children from their smartphones anytime, anywhere. But when this technology is not protected, we may be inadvertently exposing ourselves and our loved ones.

Indeed, spying on random strangers has never been easier. All it takes is a search engine like Shodan – the Google of the Internet of Things (IoT) – which, to highlight the risk of this technology, crawls the net taking pictures of unprotected devices. The inside of our homes, our pets, even our fridges, are only a click away. Some parents realized how vulnerable they were the hard way when the baby monitor they relied on for safety was hacked to yell obscenities at their sleeping children. It’s not surprising that the number of complaints related to IoT technology has risen in the UK alone by 2 000 % over the last three years.

Brave new world

The Internet of Things refers to billions of connected smart devices routinely exchanging volumes of data with each other about how we live, work and play. “They purport to make our lives easier, healthier and smarter, and our businesses more productive, but this often comes with a cost,” says Prof. Edward Humphreys, Convenor of the ISO/IEC working group on information security management systems. “We want to believe in these technologies because of everything they allow us to do. But we have to be aware of the consequences for the security and privacy of our data.”

For example, in your excitement to buy the latest voice-activated smart television, you may fail to consider that this technology needs to be able to “listen” to everything you are saying so it can recognize the right commands. If this stays between you and your TV, then what’s the harm, right? More often than not, however, the communication channels that enable devices to exchange information are not encrypted or otherwise protected from external access. “It’s pretty much like leaving your door open; anyone can walk in any time,” says Humphreys.

The crux of the problem is that most of us expect companies and legislators to have taken these risks on board and done something about them. But if customers don’t understand or demonstrate interest in data privacy, manufacturers won’t either because they know we won’t base our purchasing decisions on those features – we are more likely to buy a webcam because of compatibility, price or even looks! Research by Consumers International shows that the average person spends six seconds looking at the terms and conditions before ticking the consent box, so why should companies bother?

“As far as legislation is concerned, what we do in our homes domestically is rarely protected to the same extent as organizational data,” says Pete Eisenegger, a consumer expert working on privacy issues at the international and European levels. “Take wearable and portable technology – it tracks and monitors our movements and activities and knows exactly where to find us. If we combine this with all the personal information we provide, photos we post and connections we make, which we often unknowingly give away the rights to, there is room for alarm. Big Data analysis is making it easy to learn about people from their behaviours and preferences.”

In a hyper-connected world, the stakes are high. A recent experiment showed that it was possible to hack a moving car via the entertainment systems and disable the accelerator. “Electronic pacemakers can be life-saving, as long as they are secured from being tampered with. The range of digital technologies that are now emerging and being integrated into the fabric of our lives is overwhelming,” says Humphreys.

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“We are seeing the emergence of a brave new world order of Internet technology. This is not just about products but whole systems.” Failure to secure one device can affect others. In 2013, hackers stole millions of credit card numbers from a big US retailer by accessing their systems through Internet-enabled heating. Vulnerable devices can be used to attack other devices. We need to think of security in IoT like a vaccine. If you are not protected, you risk passing it on to others. The more we protect or “vaccinate” our devices with strong security techniques, the better for all of us.

Standards like ISO/IEC 27001 and ISO/IEC 27002 provide a common language to address governance, risk and compliance issues related to information security. ISO/IEC 27031 and ISO/IEC 27035 help organizations to effectively respond, diffuse and recover from cyber-attacks. There are also ISO/IEC standards defining encryption and signature mechanisms that can be integrated into products and applications to protect online transactions, credit card usage and stored data.

For Humphreys, next in line are privacy standards. “We are working to build a solid foundation of standards that safeguard our data in a digitally connected world and reinforce consumer confidence. We hope these can be used to develop solutions that meet the specific challenges of the Internet of Things.”

Do consumers care?

The problem is further complicated by the fact that many of us have grudgingly, and sometimes willingly, been ready to compromise our privacy and security in exchange for what we regard as more valuable access to state-of-the-art technology. These devices have become must-haves of day-to-day life. Is our data really too high a price to pay for these modern conveniences?

Let’s look at consumer behaviour elsewhere online. People regularly upload pictures of themselves and publish videos of their children, they share their political persuasions, their travel destinations and their favourite shopping haunts. The issue is not really whether we should give away so much of our privacy, if we so choose to, but whether we understand the implications of what we are doing and whether we can control what data is collected from us.

As the Internet makes it easier to track and identify people, this information, in the wrong hands, could put us at risk. Awareness of Web security is growing. Research by the National Consumers League in the USA found that 76 % of US teens are concerned about privacy and being harmed by their online activity, but people rarely make the connection with IoT.

The ISO committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) is pushing these issues into the standardization agenda. Just because consumers don’t always understand the consequences of low security doesn’t mean they should not be protected. “Consumer awareness, attitudes and values to security and privacy needs are an important piece of the puzzle that we need to address,” says Bill Dee, an ISO/COPOLCO representative. “At COPOLCO we have finalized a report on strategic privacy standards gaps and are now prioritizing the ‘privacy by designʼ of products and services purchased or used by consumers.”

Privacy by design

For Eisenegger, the heart of the problem lies in the fact that, from the start, much of the day-to-day equipment used by consumers in their daily lives is being brought to market with little or no regard for consumer issues like privacy and data protection. “Although there are many international standards that organizations can use to look after our personal information once collected, for IoT to be safer we need to build secure technology with good real-time privacy controls to begin with. Changing our approach will not only make safety the default, it can also make security features easier to use and update.”

76 % of US teens are concerned about privacy and being harmed by their online activity.

Part of the reason why companies fail to protect devices is that the designers developing IoT technologies are rarely security and privacy experts. “Engineers should work with design processes that put a strong focus on these features so that fewer vulnerabilities arise whereas, currently, too many are fixed as an ‘afterthought’,” says Eisenegger. Hoping to change this, ISO/COPOLCO is proposing to develop a standard on digital design for privacy in goods and services.

“If we could develop a privacy design process inspired by the ISO 9001 continual improvement cycle, as ISO 10377 has already done for product safety, we would be taking a great step forward,” adds Eisenegger. “Such a standard could focus on making it easier to trace and protect our data, ensure confidentiality of Big Data analytics and assess product privacy.”

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ISO’s two-step solution to improving sanitation for 2.4 billion people

Many of us take toilets for granted, yet as many as one in three people are struggling because they lack access to one. This can lead to poor health, absenteeism from work and school, lack of privacy and safety, reduced concentration and exhaustion. In fact, loss of productivity from poor sanitation and hygiene is estimated to cost many countries up to 5 % of GDP. ISO standards can help reverse this trend and improve the quality of life and dignity of 2.4 billion people.

World Toilet Day (19 November) draws attention to the importance of sanitation in creating a strong economy, improving health and protecting people’s safety and dignity. Ensuring access to toilets for everyone everywhere by 2030 is a global development priority included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Many people around the world in both developed and developing countries, especially in rural areas, rely on basic on-site sanitation systems like outhouses and latrines. On-site systems, where the wastewater treatment is done locally rather than off-site (sewage system), can be a hygienic low-cost solution when implemented correctly and the waste is disposed of safely. However, many local communities, especially in developing countries, lack the necessary knowledge and resources, so the services are either set up poorly or don’t exist.

The new ISO 24521 aims to change this by offering practical guidance on the management and maintenance of basic on-site domestic wastewater services. The standard also offers advice on training users and operators, evaluating risks and designing and building basic on-site domestic wastewater systems, including alternative technologies that can be set up using local resources. ISO 24521 can be used by both publicly and privately operated sanitation wastewater services for one or more dwellings, regardless of the type of facility model.

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ISO publishes powerful new tool to combat bribery

A new business tool designed to fight bribery is now published. ISO 37001 is the first international anti-bribery management system standard designed to help organizations combat bribery risk in their own operations and throughout their global value chains. It has the potential to reduce corporate risk and costs related to bribery by providing a manageable business framework for preventing, detecting and addressing bribery.

“Bribery is a significant business risk in many countries and sectors,” says Neill Stansbury, Chair of ISO project committee ISO/PC 278 responsible for the new standard. “In many cases, it has been tolerated as a ‘necessary’ part of doing business. However, increasing awareness of the damage caused by bribery to countries, organizations and individuals has resulted in calls for effective action to be taken to prevent bribery.”

Many organizations have already invested significant time and resources into developing internal systems and processes for preventing bribery. ISO 37001:2016, Anti-bribery management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, is designed to support and broaden those efforts, while providing transparency and clarity on the measures and controls that organizations should be putting in place and how to implement them most effectively and efficiently.

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U.S. Customs computer outage causes delays at some airports

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) computer outage lasting about four hours hit several U.S. airports on Monday, causing long lines and delays at immigration checks as thousands of travelers returned from New Year’s holidays, the agency said.

“At this time, there is no indication the service disruption was malicious in nature,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

The delay hit from about 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time (2200 GMT to 0200 GMT Tuesday) and all airports are back on line, the statement from spokeswoman Jennifer Evanitsky said.

Airports in places such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and Atlanta were affected, local airport officials said.

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Humanity Road is looking for volunteers

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Humanity Road Volunteer Opportunities

Humanity Road delivers disaster preparedness and response information to the global mobile public before, during, and after a disaster. Providing aid information helps individuals survive, sustain, and reunite with each other and with their pets. Humanity Road strives to close the disaster communications gap through process improvement, collaboration, partnerships, education and training.

Volunteers monitor emerging events; slow moving natural disasters and natural calamities, such as floods or typhoons and fast moving events such as an earthquakes or tornadoes. The team of global volunteers employ social media to monitor the online chatter associated with disaster events.

Current Volunteer Opportunities

This year has been an incredibly busy time for disasters and many of you have spread your wings to the challenge! There are many volunteer opportunities and some exciting project work coming up.

Please read through the volunteer opportunities and join to assist. Thanks in advance for the gift of your time and in volunteering your skills for disaster response.

How can I help?