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IoT: how connected devices are compromising privacy

The Internet of Things, better known by the acronym IoT is a set of devices that are interconnected by the Internet, so that data is accessed, collected and shared remotely.

The following examples are part of IoT devices:

  • Smartphones;

  • Smart lights;

  • Motion sensors;

  • Robotic vacuum cleaners;

  • Smart TVs;

  • Smart thermostats;

  • Home automation systems;

  • Health monitoring devices such as blood pressure gauges and sleep monitors;

  • Smart locks;

  • Smartwatches;

  • Smart security cameras.

At the same time that IoT devices accelerate simple day-to-day processes, bringing convenience to the lives of those who use them, it raises concerns about security and privacy. Combining the information collected with the access registered on mobile devices puts privacy at risk, through various attacks that cyber criminals can carry out.

A device that has this technology is capable of compromising users in several ways, such as security vulnerabilities, constant monitoring, data sharing and lack of transparency. Below are the differences between each:

  1. Security vulnerabilities: Not all IoT devices offer appropriate protection measures, making it easier for attackers to gain access to private data;

  2. Constant monitoring: IoT devices can not only collect data about activities performed by users, but also transmit them without them knowing. These activities may include consumption habits, locations, and even message exchanges.

  3. Data sharing: IoT device manufacturers may share the collected data with unknown parties (third-parties) without user authorization.

  4. Lack of transparency: several IoT devices do not provide accurate notions about how data collection, storage and sharing works, making it difficult for users to be aware of which privacy methods are being used.

Vulnerability assessments of IoT devices are essential for all user privacy and security, including the identification of any threat that compromises these users' information.

IoT device manufacturers are also associated with responsibility for the security and privacy of devices, along with taking action on security measures, transparency of how data is collected and transmitted, and the availability of security updates.

In order for privacy to be preserved when using IoT devices, some actions are necessary:

  1. Keep security settings up to date, as well as secure Wi-Fi networks;

  2. Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication on devices;

  3. Configure privacy and security rules within the IoT device;

  4. Carefully read the privacy policies. Make sure how your data will be used and shared;

  5. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to remotely connect IoT devices;

  6. Disable unnecessary monitoring functions;

  7. Regularly update the firmware of the IoT device. This helps fix known security vulnerabilities;

  8. Opt for devices with varied privacy options;

  9. Be cautious with the permissions given to apps that access IoT devices;

  10. Use additional security tools, such as data encryption.

Internet of Things has changed the way we live and work, offering a wide range of benefits. However, as this technology advances, it also poses significant challenges in terms of data privacy. With so many devices collecting and sharing personal information, it is important that security and privacy measures are implemented to ensure that users' personal data is protected. It is the responsibility of everyone involved, from companies to individual users.

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