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Smart devices and advanced technology in our ‘smart home’ are becoming the norm for many of us. Between our smart-phones, smart-microwaves, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, technology is becoming a core part of how we function in the office as well as in our personal lives. There are personal data security and device security updates questions to ask.

Giants of the tech world are investing more and more into capturing how and who is using their technology. And yes, there is no doubt that soon we’ll be able to feed our pets, grocery shop, do our laundry and reach our daily steps – all whilst taking a relaxing bubble bath at a hotel on a tropical island. And yes, we can admit this all sounds like the dream – but when you actually take a step back to think about what that all means, it becomes a lot less desirable.

From this detailed Safeatlast infographic, it’s clear smart technology is already taking over our homes. “Smart home technology is not only impacting the houses it’s installed into. Its reach stretches to other industries like business, science and even health care”, writes Ana Bera.

It’s definitely worth taking a look at the info-graphic as it outlines the history of smart homes really well and demonstrates clearly industry trends and smart home forecasts.

“America is leading the global charge with 7.5% of homes already adopting the technology. In 2022 that number is expected to hit 19.5%. Life as you know it is changing every day due to smart homes”, warns Ana.

graphic from safeatleast

One only has to look back to CES 2019 (global convention for innovation) earlier this year, where a number of smart home devices were exhibited, to understand the rapid growth of the industry.

Everything from dishwashers to doorbells and even connected toilets. Yes, toilets!

A smart toilet exhibited at CES 2019

With all these innovations and changes, one has to ask – what level of our personal data security are we willing to give up in exchange for the simple comforts smart homes can bring?

This question is especially important when looking to one of the major tech dilemmas for 2019: how connected and moving devices add numerous security risks to what information we share and how we share, and who can access this data. As more and more connected devices are brought into our homes, it’s important to protect them from online hackers (and as well as agenda driven organisations) and to think about how our personal data associated with these smart devices, is used.

Chief Cyber Officer of BioCatch, Uri Rivner said: “Your smart fridge will start scamming you. IoT-connected appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines already produce unattended payments that the user cannot personally verify. Fraudsters see this vulnerability now and will begin to take advantage of it.”

Think that’s a bit dramatic? Well, just ask residents of an apartment building in Finland, who lost control over their hot water and heating after a distributed ‘denial-of-service’ (DDoS) attack over the internet. To fix the issue the building manager had to disconnect the automated system from the internet! These kind of attacks are quite common in city-wide infrastructure and large companies but as they’re used more, they will also start impacting our homes.

Last year the National Cyber Security Alliance warned about how the rapid growth of smart homes could also open up new opportunities for criminals to practice acts of cybercrime. As all appliances in a smart home are all connected to a network, any breach in that network can allow cyber-criminals to access to your home appliances which can then jeopardise your privacy.

One of the biggest tech issues of last year was related to privacy and data, with Google and Facebook facing both public and legal backlash regarding data breaches. The Harvard Business Review said these events were “symptoms of larger, profound shifts working”, arguing that issues of privacy and security are converging.

So, how can we ensure we don’t face the same fate this year? Well, according to co-founder and Chairwoman of Duality Technologies, Rina Shainski, cybersecurity alone is not going to be enough to secure our most sensitive data or our privacy.

“Data must be protected and enforced by technology itself, not just by cyber or regulation. The very technology compromising our privacy must itself be leveraged to bring real privacy to this data-driven age”.

Shainski’s comments not only leads to more questions about just how technology can be used to bring about real privacy protection and who bears the responsibility of keeping our connected devices safe – but it asks questions about who governs and creates these protections.

Unfortunately, we do not have those answers and for now, it seems no one else does either.

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