Internet of Things and data privacy

Technology seems to have its inspiration in fiction. A few decades back, many of the devices we saw as science fiction are now part of our daily life.  Now you can direct Google Assistant or Alexa Echo to turn on or off the light or AC as you are living the world of the Internet of things. Internet of things (‘IoT’) is the synchronization of various systems over the internet in a way where received data is synthesized to initiate some physical action. In basic terms, IoT is the gateway between the virtual and physical worlds.

Although still in its early phase, IoT is the beginning of a new era of such machines and gadgets which till now we have only seen or read in sci-fi. But with the many goods that it brings with it, there are grey areas as well. One that bothers me the most is data privacy protection.

IoT works on the concept of combining data from multiple ends and synthesizing it to solve many everyday problems like traffic problems, power saving, or efficient water harvesting for farms. At present, in our daily lives, there are many applications like self-driven cars,  body vitals monitors, smart health assistants, smart home devices, and baby monitors or toys which use IoT to make our lives easy and sorted.  And many new devices and applications are being launched every day by everyone from start-ups to big corporations. These devices interact using methods like  Bluetooth, WI-Fi, RFID, Z-Wave, ZigBee, and V2X.  

While progression is the nature of humanity but one key concern that it brings is the vulnerability to our privacy.  Ignorantly and unknowingly we save our living trends including our body vitals personal and private pieces of information, what we shop, what we eat, where we go on remote servers. In case of a breach which may have been cause for reasons like the inherent vulnerability of the system or negligence by the services provider can expose our lives to absolute strangers.  Somebody might lock a user in his or her house and seek ransom to release, or may auction his or her vital details to people who might be interested in it.

It is a hard truth that the internet cannot be ‘absolutely’ secured but to a considerable extent, many exposures can be minimized with a collective effort of all stakeholders.  

Developers of such devices must take security as an integral part of the core development and must make sure that the devices are at least as secure as the applicable rules and law requires.

Businesses or institutions adopting IoT must take the strongest security measures and establish detailed policies while implementing IoT applications.  

End users should be aware of the kind of devices they are using and exposures that they can have with it. The first step is to configure the devices with the safest security settings. End-user must educate himself or herself about the kind of data that might be collected and saved by using an IoT device and should satisfy their queries from the services provider.

Regulatory and government authorities must get up to speed with the pace of implementation of newer technologies to establish optimum legal safeguards to keep individuals safe and protected.

Security Professionals and Firms should develop effective tools for threat monitoring and methods of keeping IoT devices secured.

While IoT is an evolving field, all stakeholders have to act proactively to cherish the advantages of IoT without any regrets.   As with the increase in the reach of technology in our lives to a greater level, any negligence has the potential to cause major disruption in our life.

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