There was a time when only computers were connected to the internet. Speaking of computers, we are referring to the range of devices encompassed under the tablets, smartphones and desktop/ laptop umbrella.
Today, things have changed to the extent that even a key could be run on a Wi-Fi connection. Putting it in the proper technology parlance, we would say such a key – or any other connected device for that matter – is being run on the IoT technology.
WHAT IS IoT?
IoT stands for Internet of Things and it has started to change the way we look at technology. It has brought about the concept of smart homes where everything could be connected to the same network for easier control and running. However, one flaw that might not be considered is in how IoT can be doing our privacy more harm than good.
Think of any device in and around your home/ office; think back on any of your usual activities and even routines, and we can bet you that IoT has a place in it.
Consider the case of a car which will send a signal to your phone when it is sensing an engine problem. Taking it closer to the home, think about future refrigerators that will let you know when you are getting low on supplies or even suggest food items to you based on chosen feeding preferences.
All of the above are possible realizations under the IoT canopy.
To be fair, this is a very welcome technology. There is an endless possibility of how much something like this will increase the quality of human life. Better organization, increased useful time and improved optimizations would now be the order of the day.
On the downside, all of these goodies almost go to nought when one considers how big a privacy risk the connected devices can also be.
HOW DO SMART HOME DEVICES THREATEN YOUR CYBERSECURITY
The looming issue here is not of an attack happening on one unit. The main problem is that an attack on one is an attack on all, threatening the cybersecurity of your entire household.
Since all of the smart units will be connected to the same network, a hacker can gain access to every other unit in the home once he or she is able to compromise a security weak point – an IoT device. Your home Wi-Fi enabled fridge or coffee machine can be the perfect entryway for any ill-intentioned party.
This effectively puts such a hacker in the middle of every information being sent to and from the connected devices. In short, such unauthorized persons have a high level of access to data you thought was private.
SECURING YOUR PRIVACY IN A SMART HOME
The world has moved beyond the state of smart home device implementation. At this point, there is no stopping these devices.
That is not bad news though. In fact, you can enjoy the best of both worlds – get all the benefits that come with the smart home devices and still be protected in the same vein.
One of the things you should ensure is keeping the apps that your devices run on up to date. Developers are constantly working on possible faults that could be exploited in their designs and they try to fix them with every update.
Another useful tip is setting permissions for the different apps you use, making sure they access only the barest minimum of services that they can keep running on. For example, there is no need to give a gaming app access to contacts on your device, or photos on your album. Apps requesting location access should also be flagged and prevented from accessing such information.
It wouldn’t hurt to mask your identity online in the case any of the practices you put up above fails. With the aid of a good Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, you will be able to stay connected anonymously. In short, anyone snooping around for your data will always get thrown on the wrong trail.
Again, smart home devices are not the problem. If anything, they are the solution to a couple of problems in our everyday lives. Applying the above practices though, you will have made sure they stay a solution, and not a problem too, in the long run.