In a previous post on Smart Home Security and Privacy Concerns, we set out what any reasonable homeowner might implement as their Smart Home system. If you are Rich and Famous, you might be concerned that this will not be sufficient if people are spying on you. Equally if you tend to be slightly paranoid about your own privacy, then again you might be looking for a much more rigorous system that will assuredly guard your privacy. In this article, we will review what that implies.
Spying on the Rich and Famous
If you are rich and famous, then it may well be that others may be interested in what you are doing. This may well be because they just would like to know more about you. Even if they have no evil intent, it still is a little worrying that someone may be eavesdropping on everything you do. This can be an even greater concern if you are just an intensely private person. You just want to be assured that absolutely no one can find out what you are doing.
Limiting What Appears on Social Media
Perhaps it goes without saying that you should not be trumpeting your thoughts and actions on social media. We are all now more sensitized to this given the publicity on what Facebook or Google may be doing in revealing your actions. This presents a dilemma if at the same time you would like to be marketing and selling your products or services to a wide audience. The obvious solution is to use a company or work through other individuals which have no connection with yourself.
Covering the Video Camera Lens With Tape
If you do wish to guard your privacy, the problem is there are so many video cameras almost everywhere. Some of these you do control so you can apply your own solution. Apparently Mark Zuckerberg the Facebook CEO covers his own computer camera with tape. That is a solution that has been standard practice for many for almost 2 decades. No hacker can see through that barrier.
It is a bit of an inconvenience. … and you need to take the tape off sometime when you wish to use your camera. However a much bigger concern is your cell phone that might allow someone to track your location. This can be addressed by turning off the GPS, then turning it on just when you need to use it. That will be very inconvenient if you use the GPS a lot.
A much more difficult problem to handle is if you decide to live within a Smart Home. This is because there are so many more items in the home that can betray your presence. You may not even be aware that some of them do so.
Spying Through the Internet of Things (IoT)
Are high-tech appliances spying on your routines? This recent article points out the dilemma:
Consumer protection agencies are urging fans of smart home tech to consider what kind of personal details they’re giving away in the manufacturer’s data protection policies before they go and purchase a smart appliance.
You’re also advised to check these policies before downloading their application to your phone or tablet. That’s because a manufacturer will likely want to collect data about your daily habits and routines, which they can then use in product development or even for advertising purposes.
There is no easy solution here. If you want the convenience and benefits that such appliances give you, then you must accept whatever information gathering activity may be involved. In most cases you will be given the option to block such data sharing. If not, some hacker with sufficient interest in knowing more about you can do so.
Deciding on Your Level of Spying Protection
For peace of mind it is absolutely essential to adopt the practices that were set out in our earlier post on Smart Home Security and Privacy Concerns. This included the following important practices:
- Use secured protocols like WAP2
- Always set strong passwords
- Have two-step authentication
- Always change the default username and password of each device
- Frequently check for firmware upgrades of your connected devices
Unless you believe you could be the target of someone’s intrusive interest, these steps are likely to be a big improvement over doing nothing.
On the other hand, if you are rich and famous or extremely paranoid, then more intensive actions are needed. You should analyse every possible signal that could be emitted from your home. Finding a way of blocking these or of ensuring they very rarely are transmitted may be challenging. It may well be that you must accept some inconveniences and not have access to all the benefits. However without that analysis, you can never be sure whether someone is knowing what you are doing.
Further reading on this topic
A great deal is being written on this topic and the following articles are just a selection of what you will find.
- Electronics all over your home could be spying on you. Here’s how to stop it
- Are Your Smart home Devices Spying on You?
- Smart home privacy: Are high-tech appliances spying on your routines?
- How to plan your smart home—and weigh privacy risks
- Tape over your laptop camera? Why it might not be as paranoid as it seems
- ‘Beware of all things smart,’ privacy guru warns in wake of WikiLeaks disclosure