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19 January 2017

Better Internet of Things security

The University of Twente will investigate novel ways to improve the security for Internet of Things applications.

The European project SUCCESS provides Dr. Marielle Stoelinga and Dr. Stefano Schivo a grant to carry out this research.

Nowadays, you can operate your heating system and your lights using apps, or keep an eye on bodily functions using a smartwatch. The Internet of Things can be found in almost every home or organization.
“These types of gadgets are not just useful for consumers, but hackers and burglars also enjoy using them to their advantage”, explains University of Twente researcher Marielle Stoelinga. “Since more and more appliances are interconnected online, a smart TV with poor security can be used for example to break into your computer. Even medical information can become accessible.”

Ms Stoelinga works with universities and hospitals in France and England to improve Internet of Things security. The researchers are developing a systematic approach to Internet of Things security and are also focusing on the role of the user in improving security.

Security in hospitals

Hospitals are an important area of application. According to Ms Stoelinga: “The Internet of Things has enormous potential in terms of long-distance monitoring of patients. This reduces the number of unnecessary visits to the hospital, for example to get their blood pressure checked. There are privacy risks involved though. We also see that measures that are intended to increase safety, such as passwords and firewalls, sometimes limit the availability of data. Imagine the following scenario: a patient is admitted to accident and emergency. Time is of the essence, so their medical information has to be available immediately. But what was the password again? Or why is that poorly configurated firewall blocking important notifications? These issues can have a significant impact on the availability of medical information.”
The focus of the research includes devising a system for patients with Alzheimer’s disease to take blood measurements at home, in order to determine if the illness is progressing.

Further information

Dr. Marielle Stoelinga and Dr. Stefano Schivo are associate and assistant professors at the Formal Methods and Tools research group of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Twente. Other partners in the European project SUCCESS (SecUre ACCESSibility for the internet of things) are Middlesex University London, the INRIA universities in Paris and Rennes, the Université Grenobles Alpes and the Homerton University Hospital.
The total research budget is one million euros.