With the advancement of technology extending its web in our lives, technologies like the Internet of Things(IoT) are finding a solid ground to thrive.Let us have a look at what the IoT actually means.
The IoT or the Internet of Things can be defined as a system of computing devices, digital machines, objects or even animals and humans that are provided with unique identifiers and interconnected to a network which enables the transfer of data without the need of human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
However, with the IoT technology present in our lives, we are putting ourselves into new danger. Several devices in our house packed with different sensors, cameras, microphones havethe capacity to transfer data over the internet. This begs the question: How should one realize that these devices are not sending data where they shouldn’t?
The Privacy Concern
The customers who buy IoT-enabled items should realize that the device will constantly transmit data over the internet. This is how they work and that is why they are so easy to set, adjust and control. However, there are certain boundaries as to what data the devices should and should not transmit. Some data may be normal for the Original Equipment Manufacturer to gather and transfer, but that may not be acceptable by the end-user.
A set of researchers went through various IoT consumer tech and studied smart TVs, streaming dongles, speakers and video doorbells from tech giants like Amazon and Google.They studied that most of these devices gathered an excessive amount of data like IP addresses, devices’ specs, habits of usage and the location.It was revealed that the devices were not only sending collected data to the OEM, but also sharing it to third-party consumers even if it has nothing to do with the customer.
For example, most of the TVs have sent information about the TV model and location to Netflix, but it was revealed that they had not installed Netflix on any of the TVs.As far as third-parties are concerned, the provided data is used to better target ads to the clients.
In 2017, the CIA had developed a malware that made smart TVs record customers’ conversations.The “Weeping Angel” project, also known as the “Fake-Off mode” was capable of putting people’s personal lives to danger, thereby exposing their sensitive information.
The OEMs of the IoT gadgets at home are trying to solve the issue by offering the customers with privacy policies.Before using the product, the client can read their document describing what data that product will eventually collect.Additionally, the document also contains information about what purpose the collected data will serve. The customer has to accept this policy to use the product.
The greatest threat of IoT – Identity Theft
To have your device stolen is a big pain the head in itself.If the thief uses your device, then he might as well impersonate your identity and that is going to pose a bigger problem in hand.Other gadgets, and probably some of your personal and business contacts who trust your identity, may fall for your stolen identity. Therefore, identity theft acts as one of the biggest risks in the IoT.
Let us walk you through some possible scenarios of identity theft. Someone applies for a mortgage with your stolen identity, rents a house and also quickly sells it. Worse yet, in a business environment, someone pretends to be your senior manager and then asks you to transfer your funds to another bank account. These are some of the scary real-life examples of identity theft that can affect people on levels they cannot even think about.
How to Protect Your Data and Yourself?
Some of the steps you can take to protect your data from being exploited are as follows:
- Share minimum amount of data: You should opt to share the minimum amount of data needed and it is equally important to know who has access to your data, who uses it and also what are the data protection policies you can use to protect your data. It is much better to share little information when using these services and never opt for the options like “remember my details”, that is for personal banking or for corporate networks.
- Data Encryption: Make sure that your data is encrypted and only people in authority have access to that data.
- Strong authentication: You should be aware of who and what are allowed to connect to your device, data or network and also make sure that your strong authentication model excludes unwanted people. This will be especially helpful when your device is stolen. There are also multiple factor authentication ways that need a combination of elements to gain access and will also improve your security.
- Make sure you use a different password for every device and also change the default password.
How strict regulations can solve the security problem?
It is now evident that companies collect a lot of data from their users. So, to protect themselves, they encrypt the data that their products transmit.This encryption of data solves the problems in different ways. It then becomes more difficult to steal the data.Similarly, encryption makes it harder for the researchers to learn what the company actually gathers.In this manner, they have very few ways to determine if the OEM is the only one that receives the transferred data.
Therefore, letting an everyday object using an everyday object with data transfer capabilities opens a whole lot of chance for your data being compromised.In this field, the Internet of Things needs to go a long way in order to secure data. One of the most realistic solutions to this problem would be strict regulation.The number of companies that extract the data from IoT enabled devices must be limited by law.The OEM gathering your information makes more sense, but we do not want advertisers targeting us with their products.
Given the rate at which technology is growing these days, we can tell that people will keep surrounding themselves with connected devices.It is necessary that we do deep research on not only the product you are planning to buy, but also be cautious when you purchase IoT products with built-in cameras and microphones. Similarly, keep in mind the OEM which you are buying from. An IoT developer with no malicious intentions will try to keep the privacy as a default feature. Such companies ensure that your private data does not fall into the wrong hands, especially third-party companies.
The Internet of Things (Iot) is growing by leaps and bounds, and so is the threat it poses to your privacy and security.One of the best ways to protect yourself and your business is to follow the security guidelines and look for reputable companies when considering your purchasing options.This applies to any digital device you own, ranging from work laptops, to smartphones and thermostats, weather sensors, tracking devices, health monitors, smartwatches and also to manufacturing machines and connected cars.