The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to dramatically transform the lives of consumers by interconnecting millions of products with one another and with the Internet.
But what are we exchanging for the conveniences these modern products bring to our lives?
Besides giving up data to companies, and the notably high risk of hacking, we may also be opening a peephole into our private lives for the prying eyes of the government.
Not a conspiracy theory
What we’re talking about isn’t just a paranoid conspiracy theory – in a recent Senate panel, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, stated that government intelligence agencies, such as the NSA or FBI, can, and likely will, use smart home and other IoT connected devices to spy on citizens.
Smart meters, devices with cameras, and other IoT tech might be used “for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told the Senate during his report on threats to U.S. national security.
Idea for government surveillance
Despite the FBI’s recent claims that encryption software has made spying so challenging that they are “going dark,” a study by Harvard’s Berkman center painted a much more unnerving reality: the Internet of Things is the ideal infrastructure for government surveillance, giving spies even more ways to keep tabs on citizens – by hacking their smart toasters, smart cars, smart watches, and other Internet connected objects.
Smart devices can easily be used to keep track of your behavior, painting a picture of your habits and schedule. Any smart device with a camera or microphone can become a live bug, recording your activities.
It’s already happening anyway
Many smart devices are already recording information about you to send back to their manufacturers. For example, last year consumers who owned Samsung TVs found out that they needed to watch what they said in front of their TV sets, as Samsung was recording and transmitting their conversations. Smart cars track information about driving patterns and send them back to headquarters. There’s even a smart Barbie that records data about you for Mattel.
Companies are already gathering data about the people who use their smart products; hackers have already proven how easily they can breach smart device security systems.
It will be all too easy for government intelligence agencies to use the Internet of Things to create the smartest, and most interconnected surveillance system known to date.
Be smarter about it
Despite the security risks, some of your clients will still be jazzed about using smart home products. And you can help protect them by encouraging them to be, well, smarter (no pun intended) about their use of smart products.
Use the Smart Homes Checklist to ensure that your clients are setting up their devices with the best security features possible.