It can monitor your baby’s breathing, help you park your car, and turn your living room lights on from across town. But for all the advantages afforded by the Internet of Things (IoT), the technology breakthrough is bringing with it a host of privacy concerns surrounding the personal data generated by devices on our bodies, in our cars, and within our homes and work places.
The trepidation is not without merit. A recent security scan of 10 popular IoT devices revealed that a number of issues are leaving user data vulnerable, including unencrypted communications and inadequate authentication. The assessment by HP Fortify, released at the end of July, showed that on average, a whopping 25 vulnerabilities were detected within each IoT device. While the names of the device manufacturers were not revealed in the study, HP Fortify confirmed that the test included TVs, webcams, home alarms, hubs for controlling multiple devices, remote power outlets, door locks, garage door openers, home thermostats, sprinkler controllers and scales.
In the study, 90 percent of the IoT devices were found to have collected at least one piece of personal information about users via the actual device, the cloud or its mobile application. Eighty percent of the devices were said to raise privacy concerns for users due to the type of data collected, such as names, addresses, credit card data or health information. The report also revealed that 70 percent of the devices tested used unencrypted network services, and that 80 percent failed to require “passwords of a sufficient complexity and length” for access.
IoT privacy concerns also merited a meeting of the minds at the first Internet of Things Privacy Summit, held last month in Silicon Valley by global data privacy management company TRUSTe. Having assembled 26 speakers and more than 200 experts including regulators, privacy professionals and IoT experts, the summit concluded with the formation of a multi-stakeholder IoT Privacy Tech Working Group, tasked with identifying the technical standards and best practices necessary to help enhance consumer privacy.
In the coming months, we at Eaton will continue to examine the latest trends and news surrounding IoT, as well as the myriad ways this growing phenomenon will impact both your personal and professional life.