Data is becoming a new currency. When you use a “free” online service, such as those provided by Google and Facebook, you’re essentially paying for it with personal data. Companies use this personal data (in a broad sense) to help them generate advertising revenue.
So companies are looking forward to providing people with a slew of shiny new IoT devices. This means everyone will get a lot of cool new toys to play with, and the ability to begin networking their devices together in new, exciting ways.
But it also means people will become increasingly surrounded by devices with all kinds of little sensors to monitor what they do, and transmitters that share data between devices, people, and service providers.
The explosion of data this will create for companies is great for them, but it might not work out so well for consumers. Studies have shown that many people are already quite concerned about how companies track people online. According to research from TRUSTe, 92% of Americans and Britons worry (at least sometimes) about their online privacy, with both nationalities citing the behavior of companies as the most common reason for their concerns. PEW has produced similar findings, saying that 91% of Americans feel that people have lost control over how data is collected and used by companies.
But according to F-Secure’s Karmina Aquino, Service Lead for F-Secure Labs’ Threat Intelligence team, it’s quite normal for people to be concerned about their online privacy.
“Paranoia is becoming a must for your digital existence,” says Karmina. “When using the internet, people tend to put little to no effort in keeping their personal information private. Simple things such as not sharing too much information about yourself, using strong, unique passwords, and stopping and thinking before clicking are signs of healthy paranoia when it comes to your digital experience.”
Karmina has a a couple of tips that people can use to help protect their privacy with their IoT devices.
“A good place to start is by taking control of what your smart devices are doing. Use the settings options to do more than just getting the device working.”
Mikko Hypponen tweeted for people to be careful about what they say around smart TVs, as they are able to record conversations and share that data – a capability confirmed by Samsung. But these capabilities can be turned off in the “settings” menu.
So check the settings of your IoT devices and consider how these can be changed to help prevent the collection and sharing of data you might want to keep private.
“Another thing people should do is pay attention to how information is stored and exchanged automatically,” Karmina adds. “When you automate data collection you’re basically giving up control, so set devices to do this conservatively. And try to limit access to sensitive information, like credit card numbers. You may not be able to totally limit your information sharing in this interconnected world, but by using extra caution, you can reduce the amount and type of information that you share online.”