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The Ugly Face of IoT

Cybersecurity centre

Cyber security and privacy are sometimes muddled. There’s an element of interference and unwanted intrusion to both of them and it’s this that might be behind the overlap; either way it’s a sad reflection on life that we have to be constantly aware of the fact that person or persons unknown may be trying to enter our lives and steal from us at any time.

In this blog we’ll think about privacy. The Internet of Things, IoT, is not unlike deciding to walk naked down your local High Street and expecting no-one to look at you. We are constantly adding appliances to our homes, using these day to day as we go about our lives, we give them access to our private information and then we’re surprised when this leaks out, or others manage to get hold of it. The truth is that if you’re going to walk down your local High Street you’re better, and safer, doing so fully clothed and ready to meet whatever you might come across there. 

So how can we be prepared? Well, one way is not to give permissions. Most products that connect to the Internet nowadays have an app associated to them, and that app will be asking you for permission to access anything from photos to addresses, some of which will make sense to do, others of which it won’t. Do my new external safety lights really need to be able to track my location? I don’t think so. That’s one permission not granted. There’ll be a lot more, just check your apps!

Talking of tracking locations, you probably know that your smartphone can tell you where you are at all times, but did you know that it’s probably telling a load of other people at the same time? Again you should choose whether you want the world to know where you are and, if you do, what you might not know is that you often have the choice as to whether you’re being tracked exactly or approximately, “finely” or “coarsely”. Why does it matter? It depends if you want to be the subject of targeted advertising or not. Now that’s something many of us haven’t thought about!

There’s also the recently highlighted and potentially thorny issue of data collection, think Cambridge Analytica. You may be happy sharing the minutiae of your life with Facebook and others but just remember that they use everything they know, one way or the other. Read their terms and conditions and decide for yourself how much you want to share. Remember that GDPR gives you a level of protection in that companies have to tell you if they’re collecting your data and what they intend to do with it. If you have any doubts get in touch with the organisation or company concerned and ask them. They are bound by law to tell you.

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