Thoughts on IOT Lab Series

The Spring semester is history (grades in) and I'm scaling back from teaching, slipping into retirement. But as most of you know, I'm not very good at doing nothing. Below are the links for the first two articles in a series of articles that I think would ultimately lead to a series of labs that could benefit students and be completed on their SOHO wireless networks at a minimum cost (equipment is around $50) that will result in substantial savings on their electricity bill.

https://www.emporiaenergy.com/blog/managing-electrical-energy-costs-with-tou-limitations

https://www.emporiaenergy.com/blog/...cisions-on-time-of-use-electrical-consumption

Because of the large amount of valuable data being collected in this home project, it provides the opportunity for students to gain a general understanding of why machine learning makes sense and how, through the development of relatively simple coding, to automatically decide on where and when to toggle smart plugs and switches. This will be the focus of my next article.

The 4th article will focus on security techniques associated with isolating this network of IOT devices from my standard home network equipment since it is reasonable to assume these $10 smart plugs and other IOT devices were not built with security as a primary concern.

What makes this series of labs additionally appealing is the potential for reduced energy bills and the ecological benefit associated with the reduction of energy consumption.

Retirement now provides the opportunity to focus on these sort of "geekish experiments" that provide practical solutions to real-world problems. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this idea.

Thanks,

Steve
 

Tess Sluijter

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Apr 1, 2020
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The 4th article will focus on security techniques associated with isolating this network of IOT devices from my standard home network equipment since it is reasonable to assume these $10 smart plugs and other IOT devices were not built with security as a primary concern.
I'm interested in seeing how you'll tackle that, with $50 (or less) of equipment. Most of the consumer-grade, or ISP-provided, stuff I've seen doesn't support VLANs or multiple wifi networks.

Thanks very much for sharing your hard work!
 
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Let me provide a little detail via some notes I've taken that begin to outline what will be the focus of the article:

Email to Emporia:

I'm planning to do an article that focuses on Emporia device security. A bit more practical, there will be no surprise conclusions but I do think those overly concerned with network security will want to run these devices on a separate network. See this article that discusses what I'm talking about. See also this article that initially discusses Steve Gibson's 3 router solution and also suggests having a router that has a guest network and putting the IOT devices on the guest network.

Below is an exchange with Emporia that discusses patching firmware. I agree with how they deal with patching given the fact that many customers would likely not understand its need and their equipment would remain unpatched subjecting it to potential vulnerability to attack.

One specific safety feature I intend to discuss is identified in the following FAQ relating to smart plug exposure to excess power:

What is "high load" and why would my Smart Plug turn off because of it?
The Smart Plug is designed to stay under 15A spikes of usage and continuous use limitations of 10A. Continuous use is defined as a constant load for an hour or longer. If the Smart Plug has detected any usage over those thresholds - it'll be turned off immediately due to safety concerns. It will also continue to be turned off for the following 24 hours since the last time that threshold was crossed. We will also send an email to the email address connected to your Emporia account stating the reason. Contact Customer Support if you have any questions/concerns.


I ran into this issue when I connected an Emporia smart plug to my Prius Prime level 1 (110v) charging cable, and went back to the KASA HS 110 smart plug that did not shut off.
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The discussion relating to patching is below:

Steve Linthicum (19899)

Jun 3, 2022, 19:07 MDT

Smart Plug Patching:
As you are likely aware, two of my articles are now on the blog site. I'm looking at writing a third article that focuses on security. My question is what is Emporia's policy relative to patching smart plugs? It looks as though plugs are currently patched with Firmware Version "Outlet-149" (see attached screenshot). Is patching from the user's perspective automatic?

I ask this because as you can tell in the other two attachments that relate to Kasa (TP-Link) smart plugs, the user can make the decision to install a new patch. We could have a long discussion about whether it makes sense to give the user a choice, although I'm betting most of your customers if given that option, wouldn't know they should do it.

Steve

Jun 4, 2022, 10:30 MDT

Hello Steve,

All our firmware updates are done over the air and are pushed by our development team. The updates are automatic.

James
 
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