Gartner estimates that more than 21% of total IoT use in 2016 will be in smart homes, adding up to more than 1.6 billion Internet-connected things.
Not only will the average consumer own and use more than three smart personal devices, but all of these devices will have the ability to constantly monitor, interact with, and broadcast personal and private user data at all times.
So before running out and ransacking your local electronics shop for smart TVs, thermostats and cameras, take a step back and consider the threats that such technologies can bring into your living room.
Voice recognition for third party use
The whole idea of having smart devices is to control them with as little human input as possible. To this end, smart TVs now feature voice recognition that recognize commands from across the room. But there’s one unnerving fact that LG warns about: “If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
Whether or not LG eavesdropping on your conversations can be justified by some technological imperative, what happens if third parties listen in? LG was in quite a mess in 2015 when they were found using a third party for voice recognition, meaning that you and your girlfriend are calling each other pet names, those conversations could be snooped on by more people than you think.
Smart cameras and Peeping Toms
Now that you know how smart TVs can serve as someone’s ears around the house, what about someone watching you, like a twisted version of Big Brother? Hang tight, because recent research into smart camera technology has revealed that it’s shockingly easy for hackers to remotely gain access and control these Internet-connected devices and use for their own streaming pleasure.
Security researchers have been flexing their skills on smart cameras, only to find that default passwords are never changed and broadcasted traffic is rarely encrypted. In layman’s terms, if your current credentials for a smart device are “user: admin” and “password: password” — or something along those lines — you might want to cut back on parading around the house in your morning briefs.
Smart advertisements you can’t even notice
There’s an advanced tracking technology that sends inaudible, high-frequency sounds through TV ads which can be caught by your smartphone, laptop or other microphone-enabled device. This invasive technology can be used to track your online behavior across any platform or smart device.
“Cross-device tracking can also be performed through the use of ultrasonic inaudible sound beacons,” as the Center for Democracy and Technology Compared wrote to the Federal Trade Commission. “Compared to probabilistic tracking through browser fingerprinting, the use of audio beacons is a more accurate way to track users across devices.”
The massive privacy pain and the pill that takes it away
Although a Microsoft survey found that 99.6% of people would gladly accept cash in exchange for having their activities tracked, what happens to those who give it up unwillingly because of security vulnerabilities in their smart home appliances?
Fending off virtual intruders from eavesdropping or running amok in your home by remotely managing your cameras, thermostats or TVs can be as difficult as blocking trackers.
However, there are security companies and products like the Bitdefender Box that have been exploring ways of securing your smart home Internet-connected devices from cyber criminals, while also giving you the tools to find out which of them could be leaking your data to untrusted or unknown source.
The future of smart home security requires that you stop protecting devices individually, and start thinking of them as a whole.
Having worked first hand in technology companies that provide digital security, logical physical security, and encryption / decryption technology to financial institutions, telecommunications conglomerates, and military installations, the above just scratches the surface of security and privacy issues. So many high level breaches happened in 2015, PINs, fingerprints etc were stolen, so whoever thought biometrics was the most secure, has another think coming !
Incorporating technology into your home(s) just means you are opening up the sanctity of your home to would-be hackers, crackers and identity thieves, so please do it with a very good security specialist or suffer the consequences …
My personal advice is for you to consider incorporating physical and digital security into your personal life, so that you can outfox the usual hackers and only those who really want to break through your defences, will be able to do so with a lot of deterrence thrown at them in the process, while alerting you to such a challenge.
Usually, higher security means less convenience, and this is the usual trade-off. Your security system must be like a living organism with built-in intelligence, coupled with AI to incorporate expert systems to improve itself.
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