As more IoT devices track data to improve customer UX, privacy concerns are becoming more prevalent. How can developers strike a balance?
The internet of things, or IoT, is a system that has changed the way we perceive technology. While it has made the usage of technology easier than ever, it does come with its own set of problems. Being such an interconnected network, IoT’s main threat is its ability to pose myriad security and privacy problems.
In this article, we seek to discuss how and why privacy is becoming a rising challenge in the world of IoT. By understanding how our privacy and security will be affected, we can take the right measures to reduce our vulnerability to these threats and secure our lives.
How Interconnected Are Devices?
IoT devices come with several technical capabilities, most of which have been researched and optimized only to the extent of their functionality. Today, IoT connectivity is available in a growing number of devices and equipment. Smartphones can connect to the internet and several household appliances, which also allows people to control these items remotely. Transportation departments have begun to hash out more advanced vehicle-to-vehicle communication, focusing on improving driver and passenger safety on the road. SmartGrid interconnected technologies allow electricity providers, managers and users to monitor and control electricity use in homes, offices and places of business. Today, several people are also making rampant use of SmartHome technologies to control appliances and home security systems and use fitness trackers to control their movement as monitor their eating and sleeping habits. These trackers are connected to their smartphones for better data aggregation.
All of these connected devices pose a question: With so much data collection and data tracking being carried out by these devices, aren’t we compromising on our privacy and security?
How IoT Affects Privacy
When we consider the compromised privacy of individuals, we are talking about each individual’s loss of control over personal information. When people invest in these interconnected devices, they are not entirely aware of how much of their personal information is tracked and saved by the manufacturer in a bid to improve user experience.
An individual can lose control if someone hacks into their smartphone or computer and remotely operates other devices. There’s no doubt that our smartphones carry a majority of our information. They are linked to our bank accounts, email accounts and even systems that need authorization. In fact, experts predict that there would be about 31 billion connected IoT devices by the year 2021. Usually, hackers employ methods that are undetected, so more connections would mean an increase in hacking activities as well.
The data collected from an individual’s smartphone or laptop can give hackers a detailed look into their activities, including internet searches and purchasing power. The information is typically used to work on user experience, but also can be used to target particular products to the individual. Sometimes, this data is even sold to other organizations that are looking for a target audience to sell their products.
Rising Challenge of Protecting Data
Data is constantly being stored, transmitted and processed by different companies with the help of IoT devices. With more entry points to access data in the form of smart TVs, speakers, lighting systems, printers and more, your data is more vulnerable than ever.
IoT vendors, therefore, should have dedicated compliance and privacy rules that alter and anonymize personal data before it is stored. The aim is to prevent the data from being able to identify an individual. Cached data and data that is no longer needed should be disposed of in a secure and organized manner.
Stored data also must meet compliance with legal and regulatory mandates. This must extend to mobile devices, web presence, cloud applications and any other means by which the data from IoT devices are accessed and managed.
Affordability of Protecting Data
Yet another concern among IoT developers is the ability to provide enough security for their services. Limited budgets and manpower constraints can prove difficult for establishments to heed to privacy and security concerns. The reason so many loopholes exist is due to the fact that so many manufacturers focus solely on getting the app out into the market to attract funding without considering the damage that could follow.
With more and more people concerned with their data privacy, organizations must implement more security checks to avoid ruining their brand authority and trustworthiness due to a data breach.
Users today are more connected than ever, which means privacy and security concerns must be top of mind for developers. Manufacturers may argue that data collection is essential to the development of their products and the IoT market in the long run, but there must be more focus on the security of the data and personal privacy concerns. Data collection should be done in a monitored manner, with compliance to regulations from the onset. A recent survey noted that 92% of global consumers want more control over how their information is collected. The same number of people also want to enforce punishments for corporates that violate their privacy. IoT developers, therefore, must strive to find a happy medium that balances security and privacy with user experience.