If you value your privacy, you were born in the wrong age. Everything is out there: your address, your phone number, and even your credit card is just waiting to be picked from the pile and exploited. Many people freely give up even more personal information: be it on social networking platforms, using Google to interlink your life, or just signing up for a newsletter. Your information is valuable and there is a market for it, which is all the more reason to keep yourself safe.
There’s a technology trend that’s been kicking up among homeowners and renters alike, and that’s the Internet of Things. IoT is a network of devices that can all talk to each other to perform various functions. This can look like your phone turning up your thermostat or flipping on the lights with Alexa. It can be as simple as a couple devices or as expansive as an automated house full of gadgets. Is your toaster connected to the Wi-Fi? It’s on the Internet of Things.
Well I’m not too keen on IoT. There is so much room for infiltration. I already have to worry about my girlfriend messing with the thermostat, now what about others on my network? No thanks.
In all seriousness, cyber attacks are only going to get worse, so why invite something that (in it’s current state) is hugely insecure into your house? That camera you have in your living room to keep a watchful eye on your pets while you’re at work? Can you be sure that same camera isn’t being used to keep tabs on you, be it a potential burglar or stalker? What about Alexa, to whom you trust your guiltiest of searches – did you know she stores your data? If companies aren’t properly securing devices that keep people’s hearts beating, I don’t see your smart-fridge getting any advanced security anytime soon. Many devices that pre-authorize purchases don’t even have secondary authentication. I’m sure this is making black-hat hackers salivate.
Implications of device insecurity are pretty shocking. Not only will someone with access to your IoT network be able to keep tabs on you, but it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch for them to install something to monitor your internet activity, collect lifestyle data to sell or exploit, or even involve you in a ransomware scam. Send $700 to our bitcoin wallet or we will wilt all the veggies in your fridge!
Chances are you use some sort of artificial intelligence (AI) in your day-to-day life, be it Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, or even Clippit the Paperclip. It’s so second-nature to us in 2019 that we don’t even think twice about telling our digital companions where we are going (“Alexa, navigate me to CVS”), who we are talking to (“Siri, call Mom”), what friends we are meeting up with (“Text Chris ‘what are you doing tonight?’), and even what we are doing for the next three months (“Set an appointment for next Thursday at 3pm”). The good news here is that most AI researchers understand the duel nature of AI and actively work to close any doors that may be used to exploit the user. Even further, AI is being implemented as a front-line defense and detection entity for the war on cyber-criminals. All this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful about what information you entrust to our computer-generated assistants.
I’m not alone in this. Many cyber-security experts are speaking out, calling for the IoT cyber-security revolution. So maybe I’m paranoid. I prefer proactive. All I know is that ever since my girlfriend brought home an Alexa, I’ve kept a hammer beside it.
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