The Consumer Electronics Show is the major event in the tech world that unveils the latest and greatest gadgets. Recently announced devices are becoming more interconnected, autonomous and personalized. As technologies that increase convenience progress, security and privacy protections are not keeping pace.
The devices that are increasingly reliant upon each other fall under the “Internet of Things.”
“While not devoid of hype and hyperbole, the Internet of Things (IoT) does represent a revolution happening right now. Companies of all kinds – not just technology and telecommunications firms – are linking “things” as diverse as smartphones, cars and household appliances to industrial-strength sensors, each other and the internet. The technical result may be mundane features such as intercommunication and autonomous machine-to-machine (M2M) data transfer, but the potential benefits to lifestyles and businesses are huge.”
Security concerns may arise due to companies sacrificing proper security procedures to provide more dynamic functionality. This can include storing data in a central database with limited encryption instead of on the user’s device. Additionally, as devices become more interconnected, there are more windows of opportunity for information to be intercepted.
As these systems collect more personalized information, privacy becomes an increasingly pressing issue. The information collected may be sensitive in nature may very easily identify the user’s identity. An example mentioned in the wired post is how a user’s food patterns via their smart fridge could give away their religion if interfaced with holiday schedules. Although a fridge may not contain valuable information, a prescription dispenser could shed light on a user’s more sensitive information.
This is yet another example of technology far outpacing the regulations and policies meant to keep the users safe. By bypassing the critical steps of security and privacy analysis, users’ data will be left exposed and therefore present low hanging fruit for hackers.
“Bottom line: As technology becomes more entwined with the physical world, the consequences of security failures escalate. Like a game of chess – where simple rules can lead to almost limitless possibilities – the complexity of IoT interconnections rapidly outstrips our ability to unravel them.”
What regulations can lawmakers enact to protect the everyday user from the unknown consequences of rapidly evolving technology?
IT Specialist (Dispute Resolution)
United States Air Force