IoT: Convenience Vs Privacy or can there be a peaceful middle ground?

IoT is quite the hot topic these days with images of a unified, all knowing, safe society on one hand and Big Brother signs, hacking, theft, and peeping toms on the other.

Let’s take an in-depth look to understand both sides of the argument and see if there’s anything we can do.

Dependency on technology is one thing and that’s a topic for another day, but doing harm on top of that dependency is really too much, even for millennials. Think Mr. Robot. Imagine if hacker gets access to a city’s entire grid network. It will be disaster, or if someone hacks into a medical device such as the pace maker! It’s terrifying to think about, isn’t it?

The world can be brought to its knees once we decide to make all our information so accessible to any evil genius. Hackers have more room for activities. With the good guys coming up with new and improved technologies to make our lives easier, the bad guys have more leverage against us.

There’s no escape

The thing about IoT is that it concerns everyone. For those who like to stay inside and play video games it is present in the gaming consoles. For those who like to be outside and exercising or adventuring, it’s in the fitness apparatus such as fitness monitors and fancy watches and what not. For parents, it is present in baby monitors. For students, it is present pretty much everywhere; laptops, cell phones, tablets-all forming a nice complete little network. For home owners Ring, the doorbell, keeps things connected. Car owners have their driving footage. Pet owners have GPS devices they can attach to their pet collars to be aware of their location.

The case for convenience

You know where everything is. If something gets stolen, you can locate it or even locate the thief. All our devices, our cars, and even our pets and family members are thus much safer.

There is proof. In case someone’s car has an accident, or a house is broken into, or bank accounts are illegally accessed, we now find out and have proof to show our noninvolvement and innocence. You can even prove to your mom that you actually were at the library and not pottering about somewhere.

Connected cars are on the horizon. Studies show that 90% of all road accidents are caused by some level of human error. With sophisticated technologies like the ones Tesla and the like are using, this can be curtailed or even completely eradicated. So, IoT could, quite literally, save lives.

The case for privacy

When your personal information flows through a third party channel, you lose control over it. It may take on a life of its own if any of the people in any of the offices involved gets a shady idea.

The separation between the public and private can get blurred. Private parts of your life and your personal beliefs, practices, and engagements can open you up for discrimination at work or elsewhere.

The surveillance and security methods you’re using can pull an uno reverse card and be used against you for the exact same kind of trouble you were trying to stay out of.

Damage control

You might be thinking, well there must be something I can do? Yup, there are things.

  • Do your research before investing in any of these devices. Make sure that the company you’re giving business to incorporated information security into the design from the get go. We don’t like companies that wait around for something bad to happen before they realize they could’ve prevented it and so set out to make amends.
  • Don’t be lazy. A lot of devices come with a default password and a lot of people never change these passwords at all. Don’t be like those people. It’s usually a simple process to change that password. Make it your first priority when setting a new gadget up. In fact, you should periodically change your passwords on the regular. Keep the hackers on their toes! We’re only joking. Do change your passwords though.
  • Don’t make your devices easily accessible. Put them in safe places. Also, activate any mechanism you can that alerts you in case your device is tampered with. It might be a nuisance all those times you get notified when nothing was up, but better safe than sorry.

  • Explore the devices and the options. Anything that might prove to be problematic for you will probably be mentioned somewhere in the options. For example, devices that can listen in on conversations. Yes, that sounds very creepy and it is, but yes it is something some devices are capable of now. So look at what is enables and disabled on your smart devices.
  • Fight against every fiber of your being to install the update you were just about to overlook for ‘remind me later’. Updates make your software stronger. It equips it with the tools it needs to defend itself against attack. Hackers and cybercriminals aren’t lounging around. They are hardworking people. You need to upgrade your arsenal regularly to keep them away.
  • Free Wi-Fi excites us all, but fight that urge. Don’t connect your device to unknown networks. Use firewall protection and when connecting to new networks check to see if it says WPA2, that’s Wi-Fi Protected Access and that’s the safer option.

And finally, make informed decisions about the technology you’re using and the devices you buy. Give yourself the option to choose.  Relying on IoT to keep  up with the world and modern lifestyle might seem inevitable, but there’s always a smarter way of doing things. To learn it though, you have to first understand what you’re dealing with. In these times, especially where technology is concerned Ignorance is not bliss. Also, don’t just rely on buying the new gadget to stay hip and up to date.  Try and understand that gadget too.

IoT is quite the hot topic these days with images of a unified, all knowing, safe society on one hand …

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