The Internet of Things – the increasingly connected world in which we live – is rapidly expanding. We love our convenient and fun devices – like personal assistants, wearables, speakers, cameras, TVs, cars, home alarm systems, toys and appliances. But it’s important to understand that connected devices rely on information about us – such as our behaviors and preferences – forming an “Internet of Me” rather than just an Internet of Things.
Here are some questions and answers to help get you thinking about the “Internet of Me” and how you can protect your privacy.
- What types of common devices are part of the Internet of Things?
There are a variety of devices that are commonly connected to the internet of things. Primarily these devices fall into three main categories: smart home devices, wearable devices, and smart cars. Smart home devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, wearable devices including smartwatches and fitness trackers, and cars come with built in network capabilities.
- What does the future of the Internet of Things look like? What types of new smart devices can people expect to see?
The future of the Internet of Things will continue to see a rise in the number and variety of devices that are connected to the internet. People can expect to see internet connected home devices in the future, as microwaves, fridges, thermostats, light switches, and doorbells will be expected to be networked. Additionally, we are starting to see entire cities become part of the Internet of Things. Camera live feeds and sensors will allow citizens to find open parking spots, avoid heavy traffic and accidents, and find where the best place may be to open up a new store.
- What benefits do connected devices bring us?
Smart connected devices are really quality of life devices. Individuals no longer have to be at home to turn on their lights, turn up their heat, or determine the groceries that they need to pick up. Devices like the previously mentioned smart fridge may even be controlled so that they automatically know or learn when to order groceries. Connected devices allow us to continually track our heating, electric, or personal health information such as heart rate over time. With the data presented to us through the use of connected devices we can change our lifestyle or optimize our resource usage to cut costs. However, perhaps what is most interesting is the ability of these devices to talk to one another. For example, your car may talk to the smart city to the road condition sensor in a smart city and redirect you.
- What are the potential privacy implications of an Internet of Things device collecting our information?
There are several potential privacy implications of an Internet of Things device collecting our personal information. An invasion of privacy may occur without an individual’s consent. For example, Google Glass had a name tag application that allowed users to see a person’s name, occupation, and could be used to visit someone’s social media profiles. The problem is that individuals tend to believe that their wearable devices (part of IoT) are private because they walk around with them attached to their body all day. However, these same devices can easily be stolen and often lack proper methods of authentication, encryption, and patching that would prevent information disclosure in the event of unauthorized access. Consumers must also be concerned with who/where their private data is being stored and how it is being sent. User’s private information may be exposed in transit or at rest if the company in charge of securing that data does not properly protect it.
- When shopping for a new connected device, what should we consider regarding its privacy before buying?
When shopping for a new connected devices there are many considerations that should be made before buying. First, it is important to consider who the manufacturer of the device is. You may be sharing your data with this company and should look to see if they are trustworthy and have had a good track record regarding the safety of user data. You should research the device and determine if the device has two factor authentication and device lockout. If the device does not have any form of authentication (requiring you to enter a password, pin, voice, or fingerprint to access it) then it should be avoided. You should also understand where your data is being stored. Is the data held locally on the device (and encrypted) or is it on your device and being sent to the cloud for storage and how is it managed once it’s in the cloud? Lastly, you should see if the device is regularly patch to mitigate the latest vulnerabilities that may exist.
- What tips do you have for protecting kids and other loved ones’ information on the Internet?
When protecting kids and loved one’s information on the Internet it is important that they know and understand the risks of the data that they are sharing. It is essential that when using social media individuals limit the amount of data that they publicly expose. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have privacy options where individuals can choose what to expose and who can see your personal information like your birthday. Walk users through this process when joining or after learning that they are using these sites. Additionally, it is important that users understand how their data is being used. Information regarding data use will typically be contained in a privacy statement that users have to accept before they can use a service.
The National Cyber Security Alliance has shared 5 tips to manage your privacy now, check that out here: https://staysafeonline.org/blog/five-things-can-manage-privacy-now/
Have your own answers to these questions? Comment Below