As Data Proliferates in the IoT, So Does Risk
So how much do people really understand about what it is that they’re giving up when they buy an Internet connected device? Take, for instance, “smart” TVs. These televisions take home entertainment to the next level, giving owners not just amazing visuals, but also the ability to use things like voice recognition to change the channel or turn up the volume. This seems like a revolution for those of us that seem to always be misplacing the remote, but there is a down side to being able to talk to your TV.
Wait a minute. I’m okay with Samsung knowing that I spent the weekend catching up on Homeland, but capturing personal conversations that I have in the comfort of my living room? This is a true invasion of our most intimate spaces and cannot be tolerated.
Many of us are okay with releasing some of our private habits to our technology provider; after all it’s much better to be served advertisements for things we actually want. But having our personal conversations analyzed so that corporations know about our most intimate affairs is going too far. Imagine that you’re discussing your upcoming surgery over a meal and you turn on your TV to be greeted with an ad for life insurance.
When Privacy Becomes Security
Samsung is transmitting your data through pretty normal means, the Internet, either wired or wireless, protected by your ISP. But “smart devices” are becoming a norm and many of these are designed to go with you. As such, battery life is a concern. To address that, manufacturers are relying on newer protocols such as Bluetooth LE (low energy) and ZigBee. In turn, these protocols create a personal area network (PAN), which is allows each person to use a mobile device as a networking hub. What you end up with is a lot of data transmitting across a lot of devices using a lot of different protocols.
And…lots of opportunity for that data to be intercepted.
The World Economic Forum released its Global Risk Report which states that IoT hacking is ‘very likely’ and points out that today’s Internet infrastructure was simply not created to handle this kind of flood of new devices. CES2015 also reinforced this sentiment, with FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez warning that attackers could “access and misuse personal information collected and transmitted by [IoT] devices.” While Smart TV’s have access to a fairly safe means of transmission via wifi or hard-wired ethernet, the market for IoT devices is growing by the day. These devices have equally loose privacy policies and are constantly sharing data between devices and apps; all of this activity is putting data at risk for exploit.
For certain, data analytics is big business. But, this is your data that is flying around out there. As it makes it’s stops between your service provider and whatever third, fourth, or fifth parties their sending it to, this data as more opportunity than ever to intercepted and captured or for your personal area network devices to be compromised.
Read your privacy policies. It will be up to each of us to determine what we’re willing to give up in the name of modern convenience.