The “Internet of Things” (IoT)…smart televisions, smartphones, tablets, cameras, household appliances, lights, home entertainment systems and wearable health devices are all IoT’s; everyday objects that connect to the internet to send and receive data. While these things have an overall goal of making life easier and more convenient for their users, they also present growing privacy and security concerns.
Security flaws that exist in some IoT devices could enable hackers to access and misuse personal information collected or stored on a device.
With recent revelations from the Intel community about the use of IoT devices in intelligence gathering, and because the devices are highly networked; there is heightened concern about security.
“That personal health monitor strapped to your wrist can collected data about the usage, locations, and user. The kind of information that vendors and criminals can use for all kinds of purposes.” Says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The collection of much of this data also is done without the user’s permission and that presents one the most serious issues.”
A study done by the Federal Trade Commission points out that there are over 25 billion IoT devices in use worldwide and the predictions are that number will grow significantly in coming years.
“As an outgrowth of its study the FTC recommends that companies that develop internet of things devices notify consumers and give them choices about how their information will be used, especially when the data collection is beyond consumers’ reasonable expectations,” noted Bernas.
There are safeguards users should take:
- Passwords – Change the default password, on items you purchase, to one that is difficult to crack/guess but that you can remember. Keep your passwords to yourself. Additional information on password safety can be found on our website.
- Wi-Fi Security – Ensure your Wi-Fi is secured to WPA2 level at all times and do not reveal the access code to unauthorized persons.
- Keep your machines clean – Make sure all devices are virus and malware free. Update apps that control the devices when new versions are available.
- Follow Instructions – Read and familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions, especially on connecting to the internet. If anything is not clear, contact the manufacturer.