Internet of Things (IoT) – the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
“The Internet of Things, is more like the Internet of S**t.” – Nate Cardozo
Do we ever consider our privacy when swooning over the latest smartwatch or updating our Alexa device? Most people understandably buy an IoT device for its gadget-like appeal and efficiency. Furthermore, IoT products are now interlinked with every bustling industry on the planet, resulting in an unavoidable mass consumer market that has no sign of slowing down.
However, the process of introducing a data invasive product into the comfort of our house or even onto our bodies can make us immune to the dangers that they can impose on our lives. Many people won’t even think of possible risk when interacting with IoT devices. With that in mind, here are some of the biggest risks that IoT devices can pose to your privacy and security:
- Device Collusion – IoT products need to connect to other devices to work, therefore creating a pool of devices registered under the same email address and network. One smartwatch in a family household may hold key information for the whole family. If this precedent is applied on a wider, global scale, with a popular IoT device like Fitbit, then the consequences of a data breach could impact millions. Recently acquired by Google, Fitbit’s entire user base’s health data has been transferred to a company with previous history of trust concerns among the public. This mass-scale of data collection could cause many problems.
- Lack of Privacy Policies and Security Updates – We’ve all heard of GDPR for email and data tracking, but these privacy policies immediately conjure up images of the corporate world. When it comes to IoT devices, most organisations won’t have privacy policies specifically for that device. Computer systems will regularly update security flaws, whereas IoT manufacturers update security patches quarterly. This allows hackers enough time to crack security protocols and steal sensitive data.
- Unique Hacking Threats –IoT devices are more vulnerable to unique threats such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which can make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. This is again due to the connection of multiple devices. Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks are also common due to the ability to hijack communication channels through spoofing identities.
- Data Collection – An innocuous piece of IoT software may have the potential to shape what you want or desire through collecting your data. Just like Fitbit, Smart TV’s are brilliant pieces of tech for the services they offer, but this is because they are used as data collection tools to sell to third parties.
There must be a point where we turn round and question our agency over technology before it’s too late. Even doorbells can impose risks to our privacy nowadays! As Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Washington Post states, “tech that seems like an obvious good can develop darker dimensions as capabilities improve and data shifts into new hands.”
Companies will never stop advancing IoT products to people because of their innovation, efficiency, and popularity. Businesses want to profit off a space that can make up to $11 trillion by 2025 and customers and workers have grown accustomed to the convenience and general excellence of IoT devices. Essential industries such as healthcare simply wouldn’t be as efficient without IoT. But it’s important to get to grips with the pitfalls of IoT products that more and more people use in their everyday lives. The variety of IoT devices will create an interconnected network that is incredibly vulnerable for the future.