Caution called for as IoT creeps into anything and everything
By Chong Jinn Xiung September 8, 2016
- Complexities in IoT mean software testers need to consider hardware and systems too
- Security and privacy issues in IoT still not addressed
THE lines are blurring for software testers as the Internet of Things (IoT) spreads everywhere. Soon they will have to consider that testing cannot be limited to just software, but must include hardware and entire systems.
“IoT will proliferate into a plethora of different devices.It will be in a lot of things and how it will unfold we don’t know,” said Grand Software Testing systems software engineer and tester consultant Jon Hagar (pic, above).
Speaking at the Malaysian Software Testing Board (MSTB) organised SOFTEC Asia 2016 annual conference on software testing in Kuala Lumpur, Hagar said that IoT will bring virtually all electronic devices online from the smartphones, and Apple watches to cars and even fridges.
This year’s conference zooms in on topics surrounding IoT, particularly quality assurance.
“From a software testing perspective, IoT will provide a host of different challenges and testers must be ready to function in a world where everything is connected,” he said.
Take for example an Internet-connected light switch. It is connected to a router providing the WiFi network and is in turn controlled by an app on a smartphone.
“There are lots of different types of hardware and there’s a lot of codes in these things. They are very complex,” Hagar added.
A matter of privacy and security
With the proliferation of devices like Fitbit and other fitness bands, IoT devices can actually affect our health and well-being.
Hagar cites the example of a jogger wearing a Fitbit who has a heart problem while jogging in the park. At the hospital, the doctor notices the person is wearing a Fitbit and he can then pull data from the device and get an accurate reading of the individual's physical activities.
This could potentially save your life but just how comfortable are we with sharing such personal information like our health statistics to a database. Hagar wondered if IoT devices are truly ready to handle personal data.
“There is speculation that at some point when I turn on my IoT-enabled device, the first thing it will do is connect online to look for the latest software. I won’t have a choice any longer,” he said.
Then there is the matter of security. Medical devices are known to be hackable and so are connected cars. Though most of these hacks are performed by white hat hackers, they have proven that IoT devices can be vulnerable.
“Companies need good software engineering and development because if you have good programmers that don’t miss such an open vulnerability, it helps,” he said.
Companies also need good quality assurance efforts that include testing and hiring outside parties to do penetration testing. In the end, it all depends on the risk you factor involved.
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