* The “Internet of Things” refers to the network of interconnected devices
* Meant to improve the way we live
* Privacy is often a risk factor
While the Internet of Things may help make our lives easier, there’s no doubt it’s at the expense of your privacy. By connecting household gadgets to the web, you’re able to sync your online life with your everyday one. But with that added connectivity there comes an ever-increasing risk of privacy exposure.
While your microwave’s probably not spying on you, anything that has internet connectivity may very well be. Here are 5 common household gadgets that may be exposing your privacy.
1. Motion Sensor Detectors
Back in 2013, when news of Microsoft’s Kinect first surfaced, people were quick to raise concerns over Xbox’s “Always On” voice-activated feature. The motion sensor device was revolutionary, but enabling it to always listen in on conversations was enough to raise a few hairs, and in Microsoft’s case, it was enough for them to change their business model and release Kinect as an optional add-on.
2. Voice-Activated Apps
As one of the biggest (and most loved) voice-activated devices available, Amazon’s Echo offers a range of different services, from answering your questions to turning on the lights when you walk in the door. By saying the name Alexa, the Echo springs to life. It can answer almost any question; just don’t ask if it works for the CIA.
3. Smart Thermostats
Google’s Nest line of thermostats give you the option to change your home’s temperature remotely with a simple tap of your phone. While it’s great to have the option to turn your air conditioner on an hour before you come home, experts speculate these thermostats actually track your behavioral patterns, which they then share with Google. Worse still, these devices are incredibly easy to hack.
4. WiFi-Enabled Baby Monitors
While smart baby monitors make it easier for you to check in at any given time, most come with very little privacy settings out of the box. In fact, a security firm went through and tested a few popular models. To their surprise, more than 90% received a failing grade. Talk about something to cry over.
5. Internet-Ready TVs
At a time when smart gadgets are soaring in popularity, smart TVs are at the center. Unfortunately, as more companies are rushing to meet the growing demand, privacy settings are usually an afterthought. Case in point: Vizio’s smart TV line. The company found themselves in hot water after security experts discovered the TVs were tracking people’s viewing habits, which they then sold to unknown marketers.
As more IoT devices are rushed to the marketplace, their security comes into question. How private are they? How do they record private information? What safeguards are in place?
Before you wave your privacy and start allowing your devices free reign, make an effort to check the privacy settings and make sure your privacy controls are maxed out. And, if possible, make sure two-factor authentication is set up before you start adding all your passwords and other sensitive information.