Your alarm clock wakes you up at 7:00 am, turns on the shower and sets the water to your favourite temperature. When you get to the kitchen, the coffee is already brewed. You lock your home via smartphone while getting in the car which has already chosen the fastest route to work.
This type of scenario is not media hype anymore. The transition to the Internet of Things is happening as we speak and yet, do we really understand what actually it is and what impact it might have on our lives? To put it simply, IoT is a network of devices connected to the Internet (and/or to each other), interacting and exchanging data. What is more, these devices can be remotely monitored and controlled. This situation includes almost everything one can think of – home appliances, wearable devices, complex machinery components and further, smart cities, smart agriculture and even smart healthcare where phone apps alert doctors about adverse events in real time.
Innovation experts promise to transform our daily lives in the not-so-distant future. Comfort and efficiency seem to be the main benefits of this technological disruption. However, what about the threats that all this connectivity poses? When it comes to billions of connected devices, sensors and surveillance cameras, a vast information about our offline activities would be shared.
Have you wondered if the creepy stories about big companies listening to our conversations are true? Well, even the technological giant Samsung admitted that spoken words captured by their smart TVs are transmitted to third parties. And of course as they claim: “the gathered information might be used to perform research for further developments”…..or anything else, we could add. We already know that insurance companies are tracking our credit cards records, social media accounts and even Google maps when building our profiles. And what if they get access to the shopping list that our smart refrigerator keeps to dig even further into our lifestyle? And who protects the data that carmakers obtain about our behaviour through all the sensors installed in cars - GPS coordinates, driving style, even our favourite music?
It was already proven quite easy to hack smart home devices so it probably won’t take long before burglars find a way to obtain personal information. The potential dangers for our privacy are sometimes even hard to imagine. All sorts of data about the consumers and their preferences that might be used to build profiles and pattern behaviours - are extremely valuable information nowadays. So how one can protect his right of privacy?
- Increased awareness: make sure you understand how your new device works and what data it gathers. Review the settings and choose only those that work best for you. And one more thing - do you actually need this device or is it an impulse buying?
- No default passwords: yes, we know you have heard a lot about this, but really - start using secure, unique passwords. Also, why not try adding an extra authentication factor such as a code received by text or providing a fingerprint?
- Updates on time: make sure your device is installed with the latest security patches.
- Purchase security gadgets only from reputable vendors: saving several dollars might result in heftier costs at a later stage.
- Turn off active listening from the settings of your audio-driven assistant - control what Siri, Alexa or Google listen to.
- Place the IoT devices on a separate network: avoid unfamiliar wireless networks and use networks that are firewalled and monitored, this will block incoming traffic.
- Separated VLANs: have your IoT devices on different VLAN than your computer and personal devices for extra protection.
Overall, the IoT brings an amazing potential for improving people’s lives and it is our own responsibility to find the right ways to make this technology work for us and not against us.