The 21st century has brought us some incredible pieces of technology. From smartphones to smart TVs, our lives are filled to the brim with gear and gadgets that make our lives easier, more efficient and often more enjoyable. Of course, there is a price to pay for the new world we live in. Are you concerned about smart devices spying on you?
Every one of these internet connected gadgets and appliances are collecting mountains of data on us. This should come as no surprise! Big data is big money, and companies like Amazon, Google and other corporate behemoths want as much data on us as possible.
And they often get this data by stealth.
There’s a reason people like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and James Comey place tape over their webcams. They are simply smart devices spying on you.
The world’s premier intelligence agencies have been working for years to develop exploits in order to turn personal computers in to surveillance devices – and they have succeeded!
Unfortunately, these exploits have a funny habit of falling in to the hands of hackers.
These hackers have shown that they can hack in to webcams on personal computers, gaming systems and even smartphones.
Luckily, there is a simple solution. Tape over your webcam.
Take the advice of former FBI director James Comey: “There’s some sensible things you should be doing, and that’s one of them.”
Microphones on devices are a little harder to get around as they are used by digital assistants and are often always on. You should check the manufacturer’s site to see if there is a way to turn off the digital assistant – unless you’re fine with Siri knowing what songs you sing in the shower.
Hackers and spies are one side of the coin. On the other side are the corporations.
Every smart appliance in your home – that is, every device that connects to the internet – can send private and personal data about you and your family back to the manufacturer.
They, in turn, can sell that data.
TVs can tell advertisers what you are watching, then your laptop or smartphone tells them if you buy their product afterwards. Your robotic vacuum can map the layout of your house. Even smart sex toys can log and report the date, time and duration of their use.
And even that data can be sold on for a profit.
In order to keep your data safe, you will have to opt out of anything that can be opted out of when you set up the device. Turn off devices when they are not in use. If you jet off to the Bahamas on holiday, turn off your router.
But the truth is that if you want to live in privacy without your devices spying on you, you need to only buy devices that don’t do that! It’s a real trade off.
And as our homes become more and more automated, as they fill with devices that have the capability to spy on us, we need to pay more and more attention to the data we are gifting to corporations. Reward the companies that don’t exploit you, punish the ones that do.
And always, always read the terms of service to find out exactly what data about you is being sold to the highest bidder.