my shiny IoT and me

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In 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be purchased, an increase of 60 percent over the previous year. Next year will be even bigger: By the time 2016 rolls around, there will be around 3 billion IoT devices in use across the nation.

Swiped, Adam Levin, 2015

Aside from various (lackluster) attempts by my father to get me to study computer science, my knowledge of technology is relatively lax. I’m a millennial that remembers dial up Internet and whose first phone was not an iPhone (nor my second, nor third), but I also know that you can’t zoom in on Instagram. As it stands, I actively use two Internet connected devices, an Android and a Macbook, though doubtlessly own a multitude of others that include a computer chip.

So, when it came to researching cybersecurity for my internship, I immediately felt paranoid.

As it stands, IoT is in its adolescence. A multitude of “smart” devices have flooded the market in the interest of making money off of consumer desire for convenience. Want Netflix on your TV? Smart TV. The ability to turn your car on via app? Smart car. The ability to turn yourself on via app? Smart vibrator. Really.

The concern over these devices is that they have pretty much unchecked access to you, unless you change the default security settings (and that default password). Sure, the average consumer doesn’t have to worry about Russia hacking their email, but is it not the slightest bit unsettling to know that your TV is always watching you?

Not that tracking your every move is new. Facebook, for one, utilizes tracking to optimize your home page (that pesky algorithm marketers hate). Messenger was in the news for this, since using it grants access to your microphone. I found this particularly unsettling when an ad in Spanish appeared on my Instagram, after a stint of watching Univision before bed.

I know you’re thinking, okay, fine, Facebook knows what porn I like. So, what?

That’s not the point. You might not be Edward Snowden, but that doesn’t mean an opportunist hacker won’t find this data, or enter your network through your unsecured vibrator. The point is that if these technologies are available, they’re available to extort.

Paranoid, yet?

mary


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