During the pandemic we are going through, our physical interactions have been drastically minimized to the absolutely necessary ones. Amid the danger of transferring the virus to our friends, colleagues, even strangers, we have collectively put ourselves in quarantine for quite a few days. It turns out that to respond to a health issue of unprecedented dimensions, that is testing our world structures, it comes down to every single citizen to take precautionary measures. During the past weeks, we have all been exposed to a very big number of educational information in various forms, from government guidance to simple news articles, based on which we act and make decisions on how to protect ourselves.
By now, one would wonder whether this article is really about IoT and cyber security. It actually is, as the current health situation has great similarities to the most important characteristics of the GHOST Project.
Threat. First of all, the nature of the coronavirus is very similar to the potential cyber threats we are all exposed to every day. Apart from both of them being transparent there is more common ground between them. An attack requires a transaction between devices to be initiated, whilst the coronavirus an interaction between people to spread. Similarly, in both cases, there is a need for “information” exchange whether this translates to digital data or molecules.
But more important, are the similarities in the strategies we rely upon to respond to the aforementioned threats.
Decentralizing. Unable to treat the number of incidents with the existing resources (hospitals, doctors, etc.) governments worldwide have tried to stop the spread of the virus at the heart of the problem, minimizing any move inwards or outwards each household to reduce the interactions among people. In our case, the GHOST software is designed to control the flow of data in and out of the home network gateways. Of course, this requires quite a high level of sophistication that should not go unnoticed. The GHOST toolset performs network analysis and deep packet inspection for suspicious pattern recognition, while it applies machine learning and data analytics for malicious behaviour detection.
Education. Hence this advanced technology is applied locally at the consumer’s home, it comes with a great advantage, it is also controlled locally and tailored to every consumer’s needs based on their decisions. To achieve this, GHOST’s strategy was to create a solution that is easily comprehensible to everyone, without the need for any particular prior cyber security knowledge or expertise. Consumers can easily understand, monitor and control the security posture of their household provided with an advanced, multi-layered viewpoint. Well-informed decision making should be as simple as with the pandemic situation. Technology should make life easier not more complicated and cyber security should come down to simple concepts similar to wearing a mask, keeping distance, washing your hands. Everyone should be able to understand the mandatory measures required to secure themselves.
Imagine a world where to get protected from a virus you would need to solve a complex mathematical problem. That wouldn’t work for sure. Likewise, when it comes down to cyber security and all that it signifies for our privacy and freedom, fundamental human rights just as important as our health, we need a simplified solution. That isn’t an easy task of course, as users tend to choose convenience over security. But this is also the challenge, and the GHOST project’s vision from the start. To open up the cyber security “blackbox” to consumers through advanced, usable, transparency tools.
Complicated, high-end, technology might be needed to develop the required tools, but consumers have the right to be able to protect themselves just by understanding basic security concepts. As the population of IoT devices expands exponentially, the GHOST project wishes to offer a solution easy to use like wearing a face mask yet sophisticated as a vaccine.