Director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has revealed that US intelligence agencies are using various “smart home Technology” devices in order to spy on citizens.
The growing list of smart devices such as thermostats, cameras, and other appliances that are connected to the internet, provide authorities with the ability to spy on its citizens.
The Guardian reports:
In the future, intelligence services might use the IOT [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told a Senate panel as part of his annual “assessment of threats” against the US.
Clapper is actually saying something very similar to a major study done at Harvard’s Berkman Center released last week. It concluded that the FBI’s recent claim that they are “going dark” – losing the ability to spy on suspects because of encryption – is largely overblown, mainly because federal agencies have so many more avenues for spying. This echoes comments by many surveillance experts, who have made clear that, rather than “going dark”, we are actually in the “golden age of surveillance”.
Privacy advocates have known about the potential for the government to exploit the internet of things for years. Law enforcement agencies have taken notice too, increasingly serving court orders on companies for data they keep that citizens might not even know they are transmitting. Police have already been asking Google-owned company Dropcam for footage from cameras inside people’s homes meant to keep an eye on their kids. Fitbit data has already been used in court against defendant’s multiple times.
But the potential for these privacy violations has only recently started reaching millions of homes: Samsung sparked controversy last year after announcing a television that would listen to everything said in the room it’s in and in the fine print literally warned people not to talk about sensitive information in front of it.
While Samsung took a bunch of heat, a wide array of devices now act as all-seeing or all-listening devices, including other television models, Xbox Kinect, Amazon Echo and GM’s OnStar program that tracks car owners’ driving patterns. Even a new Barbie has the ability to spy on you – it listens to Barbie owners to respond but also sends what it hears back to the mothership at Mattel.
All of these apparently unsecured networks can be easily infiltrated by amateur computer hackers, as illustrated by a new search engine called Shodan, which showed it can easily tap into schools, baby cams and people’s homes.
The notion of increased surveillance goes against what the FBI has claimed for two years – that it faces a “dark crisis” to track potential criminals as more companies enjoy encrypted communications and would not share data on their customers.
Some Do’s and Dont’s for Smart Technology
DON’T: FORGET THAT YOUR ROUTER MAY NOT COPE
DON’T: CONFUSE SMART DEVICES WITH SMART SYSTEMS
DO: USE YOUR SMART ASSISTANT TO IMPROVE ITS PERFORMANCE
DO: CHANGE THE DEFAULT PASSWORDS
DO: CONSIDER SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY AS AN INVESTMENT
DON’T: IGNORE IOT DATA SECURITY RISKS DON’T: ASSUME THAT IOT IMPLEMENTATION IS ALL MAGIC