Smart Appliances – Are they spying on you?
The use of Smart Devices has grown exponentially between 2018 and 2019, Estimates suggest a 59% increase last year according to YouGov. It’s the age of the Smart Devices, everyone uses them, but we are becoming increasing aware and worried about the data they collect and the Security that surrounds it.
What Are Smart Appliances?
The definition of a smart device is an electronic device that connects another devise via wireless protocols. Can you even list on one hand how many of these devises you already have in your home or workplace?
You’ve got the obvious:
- Smart Phones
- Smart Watches
- Amazon Echo
- Google Home/Nest
- Smart televisions
- Satellite / cable TV receivers
And some you might not even realize:
- Smart baby monitors
- Smart Fridges
- Smart Kettle
- Smart Pet feeders
- Smart Doorbells
- Wireless security networks
- The ISP and even the modem
And some that are just downright weird:
- Smart Wine bottle
- Smart Juicer
- Smart Bin
Each to their own.
What’s the problem?
Smart devices undoubtedly make our home and work lives a lot easier. But the main concern with a lot of these products, they are collecting data about you, if they have recording abilities, potentially recording entire conversations that you are having. Meaning that you private personal or business conversation and data could potentially be in the hands of the company running your smart devise.
Smart Device Spying – Specific Concerns
Amazon Echo (Alexa) has come in for most criticism with evidence that they record personal conversations – including in one case, a secure gateway access code. Alexa is not alone; such concerns have also been expressed about Google Home. By their nature, they listen out for specific keywords. Most of this is for targeted advertising in order to sell you more products and better understand your consumer needs. Realistically, while using a smart device in the home setting, how many of us are actually having conversations what we are going to worry about our Alexa or Google Home recording?
Smart Device Spying Issues for Business
There are two broad concerns for businesses. The first are the legitimate uses like the already mentioned unintentional release of sensitive information. A potential scenario here is where an employee works from home and uses their voice activated device to play music. They then take a Skype or phone call and pause the music. Yet the voice activated device continues to record “spies” on the conversation and records information sensitive to either caller.
The second concern is far more sinister. Hackers may access information on these devices through targeted malware. In one high-profile case, a hacker who gained access to a smart device blackmailed a Miss Teen USA. Even with all the safety procedures in the world, some malware can activate and access your smart devices remotely and monitor your activity without your knowledge.
And it’s set to become a more prevalent issue in the future as governments are notoriously slow to bring in legislation on technology such as this.
Does your business use smart devices in your workplace? Or perhaps employees work from home and you’re concerned about what sensitive information their smart devices record? Contact First Stop IT and we can audit your devices to help protect your sensitive data.