How secure is your privacy when it comes to your interconnected devices? According to IoT Analytics, about 40% of the 17 billion smart devices worldwide in 2018 utilize the Internet of Things (IoT). This past year has been full of stories highlighting how these smart devices have been leaking or storing personal data. Not only can hackers can gain access to your mobile device, automobile, and other devices to obtain your data, your actual device could be sharing your data.
Consumer Data Leaks
A few months ago, Tim Verheyden, a journalist from Belgian broadcaster VRT, contacted a couple in Belgium letting them know that he had an audio file of recorded conversations from their Google virtual assistant. Verheyden gained access to over a thousand files of recordings made by Google Home devices in Belgium and the Netherlands. Google reports that one of its language reviewers, who had been hired to help fine-tune the device’s linguistic abilities, leaked the confidential audio data. In response, Google has said it applies a wide range of safeguards to protect user privacy throughout the entire review process.
Amazon also made headlines after reporting that Alexa records private conversations. Despite consumer protest, Amazon says it’s not going to stop recording Alexa users. Amazon’s Senior Vice President, Dave Limp, states that while the company will not stop user recordings, it is in the process of implementing new privacy settings. These settings will allow users to request to automatically erase stored recordings either every three or 18 months. However, consumers are still unable to opt out of the recording process altogether.
An IoT privacy study, published by Northeastern University and Imperial College London, analyzed how 81 various home-based IoT devices (such as smart televisions, smart speakers, and video doorbells) collected and shared data. It found that 72 of the 81 devices shared information with third-party vendors that were not connected to the manufacturer. The study also notes that not only is basic information about the device being sent, but also IP addresses, device specifications and configurations, usage, and location data. Furthermore, these third parties are not limited to the expected groups like Google, Amazon, and Akamai, which could provide the Wi-Fi, Internet networking or cloud storage to run these IoT products. Instead, many of these devices were sending data to seemingly unrelated third party tech vendors around the world.
Securing Your Data
The use of interconnected smart devices in business settings is increasing as the number employees working remotely grows. As businesses continue to invest in these interconnected devices, extra steps must be taken to keep data secure.
Ways to better secure your businesses data include:
- Studying your network’s architecture to figure out how to separate IoT networks with confidential data from a business network to prevent a data breach.
- Evaluating your suppliers’ and partners’ security protocols to make sure your data is not at risk if they connect to your network
- Leveraging IoT data certification programs and making sure all servers are authenticated
Improve Your Knowledge
Having the right tools and systems in place can prevent data breaches and cyber crimes. As the world becomes more automated, it’s crucial for your organization to understand the available cyber security measures to protect its data and devices. Cyber Security Tools for Today’s Environment, an online 11-course program from IEEE, helps businesses improve their security techniques.
Interested in learning about getting access to the course for yourself? Visit the IEEE Learning Network to learn more.
Schmelzer, Ron. (1 October 2019). Making The Internet Of Things (IoT) More Intelligent With AI. Forbes.
Lindsey, Nicole. (1 October 2019). Smart Devices Leaking Data To Tech Giants Raises New IoT Privacy Issues. CPO Magazine.
Kemper, Grayson. (30 September 2019). How to Keep Company IoT Networks Secure. IoT for all.
Guthrie, Gary. (30 September 2019). Amazon says it won’t stop recording user interactions with Alexa. Consumer Affairs.
(12 July 2019). Google probes leak of smart speaker recordings. BBC News.
Simonite, Tom. (10 July 2019). Who’s Listening When You Talk to Your Google Assistant?. CPO Wired.