Taking care with your smart devices

January 8th 2015

If you’re avidly or even mildly interested in technology, you may have been following the events at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

For information and advice on smart TV, click here.
For information and advice on the internet of things, click here.

The huge event represents the world’s launchpad for new products which will find their way on to the high street over the next 12 months, as well as exciting new technologies which may or may not end up changing our lives in the next few years.

One of the main themes at this year’s event is the internet of things, in other words everyday electrical/electronic items in the home or workplace that connect with the internet for monitoring and control. Many devices – central heating systems, home appliances, wireless speakers, IP cameras, smart TVs, IP bathroom scales and even your front door lock – can now be connected via your router. The term is also often used to include connected technology in automobiles and the increasingly popular ‘wearable technology’ such as Google Glass and app-connected fitness aids.

We are headlining this story today because of the inherent security and privacy risks of some of these devices. At Get Safe Online we celebrate the internet and applaud new innovation, but it is our remit to make users aware of potential issues and promote responsible use.

Hacking risk

Firstly, there have been a number of cases reported of devices being hacked. Although it seems unlikely that somebody would want to interfere with your central heating system, this could be possible because it is connected to the internet. More likely is hacking of IP cameras, where only recently live footage of anything from children sleeping in their bedrooms to office CCTV cameras was streamed on a website for all to see.

We have advice pages on the internet of things and smart TV on this website, so if you use or plan to buy any of these devices, please read up about them beforehand so that you are aware of the risks and know how to protect against them.

Data privacy

Of equal concern to many industry experts this week, however, is the privacy of the data that you make available via your smart gadgets, whether used in the home, on the road or in the gym. Examples are your TV viewing preferences, which could be tracked by your smart TV and used to bombard you with advertising or – depending on your preferences – be used against you. Similarly, data from your smart fitness wristband could conceivably be captured and sold to insurance companies, affecting your premiums. Put together, all the data captured from some or all of your smart devices – most of it automatically and with no control by you – could be used to build a picture of you, which in the wrong hands could lead to fraud, identity theft and other issues.

This makes it important to consider what smart devices you use and consider what information they will be collecting about you, your family, your home and your business.

This year’s CES, which comes to a close tomorrow, has seen everything from the launch of a £1000 Sony Walkman an astonishing 35 years since the first classic model went on sale, to technology that will charge a mobile phone from empty in around a minute and innovations in automation and connectivity for motor vehicles. It will have attracted some 160,000 people from 140 countries.

By Get Safe Online

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