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The Internet of Things (IoT), the network of interconnected devices embedded with computing and communication technology, is well underway in higher education institutions, from wireless speakers in student residence halls to interactive whiteboards in classrooms. From print IT kiosks that let users print from any application and any device to studying how cameras and wearable sensors can create personalized learning experiences, IoT technologies and applications in the academic sphere are here to stay.
But an increase in connected devices requires a corresponding jump in security. College campuses have become one of the targets of cybercriminals who have accessed connected devices to commit crimes such as shutting down the heat to a building and slowing a university network to a crawl. Tools and strategies to face this growing challenge are needed.
To help solve this problem, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are leading a team of colleagues from the universities of Cornell, Stanford and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to create GIoTTO, a universal open platform that standardizes smart device app development while incorporating privacy and security controls, reports edtechmagazine.com.
While GIoTTO may become a safer platform for tomorrow’s IoT, today’s devices still present a fair amount of risk. In the short term, IoT security solutions need to be fully integrated into the larger technology ecosystem. In its review of the IoT in higher education, experts interviewed by EDUCAUSE encourage university IT staff to thoroughly vet all connected campus devices, from ID-card readers to thermostats, to ensure they have the necessary security features and the ability to control access.
It’s harder to screen devices that students and staff may bring to campus, but institutions are tackling that issue the same way many businesses do. Among the recommendations to tackle this problem is segmenting the network so that if unknown devices are connected to the campus network, they are separated from all other devices, computers and data.