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Internet of Things

In the fast-paced world of technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) stands out as a transformative force that has changed the way people manage their home & businesses. Understanding the basics of IoT is crucial, as it presents both opportunities and challenges, particularly concerning privacy and family life. This blog aims to provide an overview of IoT and how to protect your privacy while still using some of the latest smart technology in your home and business.

A Brief Overview

The Internet of Things (IoT), refers to the intricate web of network-connected devices that communicate and share data over the internet.  From smart office equipment to smart washers and refrigerators, IoT is an integral part of home and business life, offering increased efficiency, convenience, and innovation.

How IoT Devices Operate

IoT devices operate by collecting and exchanging data through sensors and connectivity. The network of connected devices and technology helps communication between devices and the cloud, as well as between devices. These devices are designed to streamline home and business processes, help automate tasks, and enhance overall connectivity. However, the interconnected nature of IoT also raises potential privacy concerns for everyone using smart devices.

Privacy Considerations: How Your Devices Can Impact You & Your Family

While the benefits of IoT in business are evident, it’s essential to recognize the potential privacy implications associated with these smart devices. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Data Collection and Storage: IoT devices often collect substantial amounts of data to optimize operations. Understanding what data your devices are collecting and where it’s stored is crucial for maintaining control over your sensitive information. Collection of large amounts of personal data by companies without the option to opt-out or know how the data will be used is a serious privacy concern for individuals and businesses [Unesco].
  2. Security Risks: As IoT devices are connected to the internet, they are susceptible to cybersecurity threats. Poorly secured devices can be exploited by hackers, potentially leading to unauthorized access to your business and personal data. Implementing security measures is important in mitigating these risks.
  3. Third-Party Access: Many IoT devices rely on cloud services for data storage and processing. Scrutinizing the privacy policies of these service providers is essential to ensure they align with your risk/threat model. Be cautious about how third parties might use the data generated by your business and personal devices. Even though data is anonymized and aggregated, third parties can use personally identifiable information (PII) for their own purposes, and transfer & disclose certain data.

Protecting Your Privacy

Now that we’ve highlighted potential risks, let’s explore some proactive steps to protect you and your business’s privacy in the era of IoT everything:

Review Privacy Settings: Most IoT devices come with customizable privacy settings. Take the time to review and adjust these settings according to your needs. Disable unnecessary features that may compromise your privacy, without sacrificing functionality.

You’ll want to look at settings on your children’s devices as well. Ensure you understand the parental controls, and what kind of information the device and apps your child uses are allowed to gather.

Safeguarding your sensitive information, means regularly auditing privacy settings across devices and social media platforms. Simply put a reminder on your calendar to check these settings monthly or quarterly. With many platforms and devices updates, these settings often change, and those changes need to be monitored.

Regular Updates: Keep your devices’ firmware and software up to date. Regularly updating your devices ensures that security vulnerabilities are addressed promptly, safeguarding your home and business against potential threats.

Keep in mind manufacturers can go out of business, and then you’ll be left with smart devices that don’t update. You as a consumer have a right to your digital privacy, and to know where your data goes if a company goes out of business or is purchased by another.

Network Security: Secure your home and business networks with a strong password and encryption (where available). Limit access to authorized devices and consider setting up a separate network for your IoT devices to minimize potential risks.

This could include setting up a guest network for those family members or friends coming to visit for the holidays. You don’t need everyone having access to all your devices on the same network.

Read Privacy Policies: Before integrating any new IoT device into your home or business, carefully read the privacy policy of both the device manufacturer and any associated cloud services. Ensure they align with your threat model, whether related to your family’s personal safety or that of your business.

Online Safety: Talk to your kids/teens about online safety and the devices they use. Establish family rules for device usage and screen time; Sometimes you think you have a handle of the devices and tools your child has and then you start counting. Ensuring your children understand the importance of responsible tech use, and helping them learn to navigate online spaces safely can help protect their privacy and information as they get older.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the basics of IoT is useful for harnessing its benefits, while safeguarding your family and business’s privacy. By staying informed, setting privacy preferences, and implementing security measures, you can confidently embrace the potential of IoT without compromising your most sensitive information.

Some simple steps from the start allow you to layer your security in your home and business, since both are interconnected, much like the devices we use to make our lives more convenient. Let’s safeguard all aspects all areas of your life and business with simple security solutions.

If you need help now implementing your security planning, you can book a strategy consultation here.

The guidance included in this article do not constitute legal advice and is for educational purposes only.

Sources: Unesco, Berkeley