Engineering 101

This IoT Inspection Tool Tells You Exactly What Your Devices Are Doing

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Recently. eeDesignIt revealed 10 hackable IoT devices that you probably own. If our devices are watching us all the time, why don’t we start watching them?

In an attempt to help users build trust in their IoT devices, a team of Princeton researchers has developed an open-source desktop tool that anyone can download via a one-click install process. The tool, Princeton IoT Inspector, automatically discovers IoT devices and analyzes their network traffic.

Using graphs and tables, the tool helps users identify security and privacy issues. The best part, for the non-tech-savvy, is that requires minimal technical skills and no special hardware.

The team developed the tool in an attempt to answer questions that users should be thinking about as they continue to connect their homes to the Internet.

  • Who do your devices talk to? Which third-party services are these smart devices talking to?
  • What information is gathered? What information are these devices gathering and is the information being shared?
  • Are the devices hacked? The team developed anomaly detection algorithms to check if the behavior of a device is different from similar devices of other users.

An excerpt from the IoT Inspector blog:

For instance, let’s say you have a Roku TV and that you are live-streaming the Bloomberg Channel without interacting with the TV otherwise. Do you know that the Bloomberg Channel could be communicating with 13 different advertising and tracking servers in the background? Or let’s say you have a smart Geeni light bulb. Are you aware that it could be communicating with a Chinese company every 30 seconds even while you are not using the bulb?

To learn more about your own IoT devices, you could set up a wireless hotspot and run Wireshark, but is there an easier approach to monitor the network traffic of IoT devices?

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