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Old 01-19-2018, 09:37 AM   #1
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SensorPush gateway

At this point I have three of the SensorPush remote temperature/humidity sensors. They connect to my tablet and cellphone via Bluetooth. SensorPush makes a gateway that reads the sensors and puts the data on an Ethernet network, and hence the Internet via its cloud service.

I have no need for my temperature data to be stored on a cloud, so I contacted SensorPush to see if I could log into the gateway directly via a web browser at home, like one can do with a router, and read the temperature data that way. They said no-- the gateway needs the cloud in order to function.

I posted this in case anyone else had the same idea.
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Old 01-19-2018, 11:48 AM   #2
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Like you, I have three SensorPush units and added the Gateway about two months ago. I guess I am confused about your concern that the gateway is connecting to the cloud.

The gateway needs a source of power and must be connected to the internet. I am using an Ethernet cable to connect as the gateway is next to my router. After installing the gateway I had to modify the iPhone app from Sensor Push to recognize the gateway and then each sensor. The three sensors still show up but now there is a Gateway showing at the bottom of the screen. It gives a status of online or offline. At times there will be a delay when opening the app as it queues the gateway for the information. This is most noticeable when away from the range of the gateway, ie out of the house. At times there will be a further delay if a great deal of time elapses between readings, it has to read the sensor data, which is the 20 second benchmark that each sensor takes. I have occasionally deleted this historical data from inside the app to clear the data.

Where is the cloud involved? You are using the internet to connect to the gateway when out of range. This is the beauty of the device. I use this when I travel, especially during winter months. I can easily connect to my home gateway, using my phone on Wi-Fi, and determine inside temperatures at my home. I do not think I can connect via a data connection on my phone, it has to be Wi-Fi.

I have used it for a long vacation over Christmas, when we had some serious cold temperatures. Nice peace of mind that I know everything was staying warm. I will use it again with one sensor during the annual snowbird migration. The other two sensors will travel with me.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:26 PM   #3
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I contacted SensorPush because I was curious about the gateway. My house has an internal Ethernet network which is not connected to the outside Internet when I'm away on a trip. Nevertheless I thought the gateway might be useful to me because (1) its antenna should be able to receive data from sensors in more distant locations than my cellphone and tablet will and (2) I could log into the device directly via my web browser when I'm home and read the data, or maybe reach the gateway via wifi on my phone when I'm around the house, wifi having a greater range than Bluetooth.

None of this required my data to go out on the Internet to SensorPush's cloud. But I was told by SensorPush that "The Gateway is reliant on the cloud to work". So much for that idea.
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Old 01-19-2018, 04:09 PM   #4
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I am assuming that you take your internet with you when you leave the house or just choose to turn it off. In that case the gateway will not help a great deal, oh, maybe if you had lots of dispersed sensors it may increase the range.

For the same reason, the gateway does not do much good in monitoring a trailer at a storage facility. One might adapt the gateway to 12 volt power, with solar and outdoor storage you could easily run the gateway. Getting internet access would be the main problem. I doubt may such facilities offer Wi-Fi. Too expensive to have your own.

I still do not understand where the cloud comes into the picture. Each sensor stores its own information, they will hold about three weeks of data collection depending on how much temperature variation occurs. When the app connects to the gateway it downloads the data from the sensor to the phone app via the gateway. Why store temperature readings in the cloud when they are already stored on the sensor.

All said and done, I think this is a great product. I purchased it for monitoring refrigerator temperatures when travelling, performs beyond expectations. The ability to see historical temperature readings in most valuable. You can determine fluctuations to the minute. I use a second sensor next to the flue on the back of the refrigerator. It will tell me if the refrigerator is operating or the flame has blown out.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:18 PM   #5
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Yes, I use a hotspot for my Internet access and take it with me on trips. I'd rather deal with one provider instead of two, and I don't want to pay for two connections, though the hotspot isn't cheap.

I don't see where a "cloud" is needed in this scenario, either. Maybe it's just marketing babble from SensorPush and their cloud doesn't exist. Or maybe they are trying to gather data from their customers and sell it, like everyone else under the sun.
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Old 01-19-2018, 07:47 PM   #6
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Mike, you are wise to be wary about putting devices with unknown, and likely non-adjustable or updatable, security settings, if any, onto your home network that then punch holes through your firewalls to somebody else’s server. Also prudent that you isolate your home network when you’re not at home. Most people have very poor understanding of how computer security works in general or the capabilities and limitations of each device they put on their network. Some of the biggest network attacks in the last year were via networks of devices like DVR’s and webcams that criminal actors had suborned to their control.

Just for my own curiosity and so I can better understand the sensor push hardware, are you required to set up an account with the company, either via the web or their app, in order to set up and use the gateway?
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:08 PM   #7
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The gateway is controlled by the app, I do not believe there is any other method to manage it. In turn, the app requires a username and password to logon to the gateway. The app states: "A SensorPush G1 WiFi Gateway is required to create an account. You will be prompted to sign up while adding your gateway to the app."
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:25 PM   #8
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It sounds like the gateway is hardwired to send it’s data to a server controlled by the company, and the app never directly interfaces with the gateway but with the server.

Was there any fine print when signing up for an account as to data collection, retention or sharing? Odds are the company will sell it to data aggregators who will add it to their big cyber picture of you and your life.

There’s really no other reason to set it up this way. Even if they don’t sell your data, it’s out of your control and vulnerable to loss or theft. Maybe not a big deal if you’re talking about temperatures. But maybe it is to the right person or entity that want to know your habits and patterns. But what if it was a webcam with streaming video, or a door lock that a teenager in Romania could unlock from around the world?

It’s good to understand and think about the security risks that we trade for other forms of convenience. It’s the only way to make informed decisions about whether the risks are worth the benefits.

There are a lot of fancy gadgets that make modern life what it is. I’m using a bunch in coordination right now to write this. I personally draw a line at hooking things up to my home network that want unnecessary access outside the local network in order to work, eg refrigerators, thermostats, cars, medical devices, and even toasters these days. The Internet of Things today is rife with bad security. YMMV.
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
Mike, you are wise to be wary about putting devices with unknown, and likely non-adjustable or updatable, security settings, if any, onto your home network that then punch holes through your firewalls to somebody else’s server. Also prudent that you isolate your home network when you’re not at home. Most people have very poor understanding of how computer security works in general or the capabilities and limitations of each device they put on their network. Some of the biggest network attacks in the last year were via networks of devices like DVR’s and webcams that criminal actors had suborned to their control.
I make a pretty comfortable living helping people deal with the security vulnerabilities of not just the network, but the Internet of Things (IoT). Most people (or big companies for that matter) have no idea just how big a threat IoT presents to their network security. The threat isn't on the server or the desktop or the laptop in most places. It's the big screen TV in the conference room, or the smart thermostat on the wall, or the smart fridge in the break room. If it has an IP, it's on the network, and if it's on the network, it presents a potential security problem. The same translates to a home, not just a business. Count how many things, and different kinds of things, in your home that have an IP address. You might be surprised.
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:26 PM   #10
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Hear, hear.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:34 PM   #11
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I believe the Internet of Things (IoT) does pose a new threat to the internet and certainly to those organizations that have information on the internet that is valuable. I have done the inventory of IP based products in my home and it was an eye opening experience, my count is 18 devices. You have made some very good points.

I practice prudent computing, apply patches immediately, inspect logs, educate myself and family on email threats, . . the list goes on. Still, with all the threats I do not hesitate to make technology, specifically the internet, work for me. I realize I could be compromised, there is a chance pertinent information could be stolen but in the big scheme of things I think those who are stealing this information have bigger fish to catch. The time and effort to obtain my information, whether it be room temperature or my password list, is not worth the payoff. I do not loose sleep about my (IoT).

The advantages of the internet, even with the risks, far outweigh fears, concerns or threats of something that "may" happen. I will not let those possibilities keep me from improving my life style, rather I take the approach of "what can I do to make my life safer, easier, longer lasting and comfortable?" I want to look ahead and to the positive, not over my shoulder.
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:50 PM   #12
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You can purchase a SensorPush sensor and connect it to your cellphone via Bluetooth. This is how my sensors are configured now. I don't recall if I had to set up an account when I bought the first one, but I don't think I had to log into anything to configure the second and third sensors.

The gateway is another device that SensorPush sells, and it acts like its name: it is a gateway to the Internet that connects to a home network via an Ethernet port and sends data from the sensors to their data cloud. This thing requires an account.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
Mike, you are wise to be wary about putting devices with unknown, and likely non-adjustable or updatable, security settings, if any, onto your home network that then punch holes through your firewalls to somebody else’s server.
My caution does not come naturally: early in my career in DoD I worked in information systems security, where I had security theory and practice beaten into me. But this was in the late 1980s, and things are completely different now. I can fully understand why people without such training will plug anything into their home networks-- they think nothing more of it than plugging a lamp into an electrical outlet.

I wouldn't mind trying some "smart home" stuff but I don't want the devices connected to the Internet. I don't want Russian hackers playing with my garage door.
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Old 01-20-2018, 11:08 AM   #14
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I just bought a new cellphone, so today I tried an experiment. I downloaded the SensorPush app then turned the wifi and phone connection off via the "airplane mode". Then I turned Bluetooth back on, so it was the only connectivity to the phone.

Next I took one of my SensorPush sensors and tried to link it to the phone. It worked, and I could read temperature data from the sensor on the phone's app. Which means the sensor doesn't have to communicate with anything other than the cellphone in order to work.
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Old 01-20-2018, 12:49 PM   #15
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It’s probably just the gateway that requires the cloud/server connection. Bluetooth sensors would have no way to do that. Unless the phone app is phoning home with the data anyway, which is possible. Again, a careful read of the user agreement in setting up a user account could be illuminating.
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