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A smart device is any device connected to the internet and can be controlled by a computer or smartphone. This includes devices such as home appliances, security cameras, thermostats, doorbells, lighting systems, and other connected gadgets.
Smart devices are becoming increasingly popular due to the convenience they offer. However, with this convenience comes a greater risk to your privacy.
When people talk about smart devices, what they are referring to more broadly is the internet of things (IoT) and its ability to connect all your devices together. This means that all the data collected by each device can be accessed and shared with other connected devices, potentially exposing personal information about you and your home life.
Here are 9 ways in which smart devices can compromise your privacy.
1. Location tracking
Many smart devices track and store users’ locations, which can be used to build detailed profiles of their activities. This data can then be sold to third parties without the user’s knowledge or consent.
This has become a major problem with smart devices such as fitness trackers and smartphones. If you’re not careful, your device could be sharing more data than you think. You might be under the impression that you’re in control of the data it collects, but this is not always the case.
2. Insecure Wi-Fi connections
Many smart devices use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. This means it can be vulnerable to hackers if proper security protocols are not in place. Hackers can access your device, view sensitive data such as passwords, and even take control of it.
There have been instances of hackers hijacking smart devices via Wi-Fi connections and using them to launch cyber-attacks. This is especially true if you travel with smart devices like phones or laptops, as they may be connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
3. Vulnerable webcams
Smart devices often come with built-in cameras and microphones, which can be hacked into to gain access to audio and video recordings of the user. This has been a major issue in recent years with reports of “webcam hacking” becoming increasingly common.
It is increasingly common for people to have cameras in their doorbells, in their baby monitors, and even in their TVs. All of these can be hacked into if the user doesn’t take proper security measures.
For example, there have been instances where hackers have hijacked security cameras and used them to spy on unsuspecting users in their homes. This is an extreme case of a privacy violation that can be prevented with proper security measures.
4. Poorly secured cloud databases
Many smart devices store data such as pictures and videos in the cloud, meaning they are accessible from any device. However, this also leaves them vulnerable to hacking.
If the cloud service that stores your data is not properly secured, hackers can gain access to it and view, copy, or delete sensitive information. This could be anything from your banking details to private photos of you and your family.
5. Third-party app permissions
Many smart devices have a range of third-party apps that users can download. However, these apps often require access to certain permissions to work.
For example, an app might need permission to access your contacts or your location data. This means it can collect and share this information with other companies without the user’s knowledge or consent.
It’s important to read through the terms and conditions carefully before downloading any app, as it may be collecting more data than you think.
6. Data breaches
Smart devices often store data on servers located off-site. This means that if those servers are hacked, your data could be exposed to malicious actors. It is important to make sure your device is regularly updated with the latest security patches and that you are aware of any data breaches that could affect it.
As more and more people adopt smart tech, there is an increased risk of data breaches. Both companies and individuals must take extra steps to ensure the security of their customers’ data, or else they face serious consequences.
7. Unsecured Bluetooth connections
Many smart devices make use of Bluetooth technology to connect to other devices wirelessly. While this is convenient, it also leaves the device vulnerable to hackers. If a hacker can access your Bluetooth connection, they can gain access to the data stored on the device.
It is important to keep your Bluetooth connection secure by regularly changing the password and only pairing devices you trust. Additionally, it’s a good idea to periodically scan for any unauthorized connections.
8. Data mining
Many smart devices collect data about users’ habits and activities, which can then be used for targeted advertising or other commercial purposes. This means your device might be collecting more information about you than you realize.
It’s important to be aware of what data your device is collecting and who it is being shared with. You can also adjust the settings on your device to limit the amount of data that is being collected. Even if it's just for commercial purposes, you should know and be able to control what data is being collected.
9. Voice commands
Smart devices often come with voice-activated assistants such as Alexa and Google Home. These are designed to make our lives easier, but they can also be used to gather sensitive information about your home life.
When you speak to a voice assistant, your voice is stored on the company’s servers and could potentially be accessed by other parties without your knowledge or consent. What's more, a lot of people find it creepy that these devices can actually listen to what you are saying even if you are not giving direct commands to the smart device, which can be a huge privacy concern.
Smart devices can be a great addition to any home, but it is important to keep in mind the potential risks associated with them. From unsecured cloud storage and third-party app permissions to data mining and voice commands, there are many ways that these devices could compromise your privacy. By being aware of these potential risks and taking the necessary steps to protect your data, you can help ensure that your privacy remains safe.