The super creepy side of the Internet of Things and smart homes
| December 18, 2015
Gartner estimates that more than 21% of total IoT use in 2016 will be in smart homes, adding up to more than 1.6 billion Internet-connected things. Not only will the average consumer own and use more than three smart personal devices, but all of these devices will have the ability to constantly monitor, interact with, and broadcast personal and private user data at all times. And presents major security risks.
So before running out and ransacking your local electronics shop for smart TVs, thermostats and cameras, take a step back and consider the threats that such technologies can bring into your living room.
Voice recognition for third party use
The whole idea of having smart devices is to control them with as little human input as possible. To this end, smart TVs now feature voice recognition that recognize commands from across the room. But there's one unnerving fact that LG warns about: "If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition."
Whether or not LG eavesdropping on your conversations can be justified by some technological imperative, what happens if third parties listen in? LG was in quite a mess in 2015 when they were found using a third party for voice recognition, meaning that you and your girlfriend are calling each other pet names, those conversations could be snooped on by more people than you think.
Smart cameras and Peeping Toms
Now that you know how smart TVs can serve as someone's ears around the house, what about someone watching you, like a twisted version of Big Brother? Hang tight, because recent research into smart camera technology has revealed that it’s shockingly easy for hackers to remotely gain access and control these Internet-connected devices and use for their own streaming pleasure.
Security researchers have been flexing their skills on smart cameras, only to find that default passwords are never changed and broadcasted traffic is rarely encrypted. In layman's terms, if your current credentials for a smart device are "user: admin" and "password: password" — or something along those lines — you might want to cut back on parading around the house in your morning briefs.
Smart advertisements you can't even notice
There's an advanced tracking technology that sends inaudible, high-frequency sounds through TV ads which can be caught by your smartphone, laptop or other microphone-enabled device. This invasive technology can be used to track your online behavior across any platform or smart device.
"Cross-device tracking can also be performed through the use of ultrasonic inaudible sound beacons," as the Center for Democracy and Technology Compared wrote to the Federal Trade Commission. "Compared to probabilistic tracking through browser fingerprinting, the use of audio beacons is a more accurate way to track users across devices."