The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken center stage in almost every aspect of our lives. Although we call it the Internet of Things, it is actually the Internet of Personal Data.
You’ve probably heard of the saying “data is the new oil,” so everyone is striving to get hold of your private data by whatever means.
Internet-connected devices carry lots of personal information, and in this age
of hyper-connectivity, many people are concerned about the privacy violations that IoT devices could expose them.
Many consumers today own more than one connected device. The Internet Society recently interviewed consumers from around the world in a bid to understand how they feel about the enormous data collected by IoT devices and the security measures that the manufactures put in place to protect them.
The primary focus of the study was to ascertain how everyday connected
devices, including gaming consoles, fitness monitors, home assistants, and intimate toys, affect data privacy.
More than 63 percent of the participants believe that the data collected by these devices is creepy.
Here are the most common IoT devices we use today and how they affect our digital privacy:
Even the world’s most trusted brands like Jeep, BMW, Tesla, Audi, and Volkswagen often face software vulnerabilities.
If intruders can gain access to your vehicle’s GPS data, they could easily execute robbery or hijacking wherever you drive to. They could also expose vehicle data that might compromise your privacy.
Just recently, a scandal with Google Nest Guard revealed that the security hub actually had a hidden microphone that was not specified in the device spec sheet.
This means that sometimes, users may not be aware of the kind of data collected by IoT devices and how they are processed.
Even if the data gathered by the device is made clear to users, anything can go wrong. Your sensitive data could land on the wrong hands.
Amazon Alexis, for instance, accidentally sent a voice recording to third parties.
Privacy breaches can hurt most when it comes to intimate toys. While smartphones have inbuilt new risk surfaces to intimate life, smart toys can expose you to additional privacy risks.
We-Vibe, a popular sex toy manufacturer, just recently settled a $3.75 million lawsuit for irresponsibly gathering user data via a companion app.
Most parents go out of their way to protect their babies. However, modern monitoring devices can sometimes be misused to cause harm.
Hackings on smart baby monitors are on the rise, which can be a nightmare for parents. If a stranger can gain access to your baby monitor and send false alarms, it can be a frightening experience for any parent.
How to Protect Your Privacy in the IoT Era
Technology is here to stay, and many of us may not be willing to drop the idea of IoT devices all together even as data leakage among US citizens increases.
Here are a few tips to help you reduce the risks of privacy breaches when using IoT devices:
Secure Home Wi-Fi Network
The first step is to secure your home Wi-Fi router using a premium VPN. A VPN will effectively encrypt data moving between your smart device and the internet, making it difficult of intruders to get hold of your private data.
Change Default Passwords
Most smart devices will come with a default login password when you first set them up. Be sure to change this default password to something secure to eliminate the security liability these passwords bring.
Disable Unnecessary Features
Go through the device’s settings and turn off what you don’t need. Tracking location, remote control, or camera connection may not be necessary for specific devices like smart toys.
While the IoT market is still taking shape, it’s crucial to consider privacy risks that these devices pose before you purchase one. Read the product specs carefully and license agreements to ensure that you’re prepared for any eventuality.
Brad Smith is a technology expert at TurnOnVPN, a non-profit promoting a safe, secure, and censor-free internet. He writes about his dream for free internet and unravels the horror behind big techs.