Emergence of IoT devices heats the security and privacy debate

Technology has permeated every sphere of our lives, and it is driving the way we live. However, it’s also giving rise to unintended consequences in the form of security and privacy breaches. IoT devices across the globe have come under heavy scrutiny because of the rising incidents of hacking and data theft.

According to the International Data Corporation, the number of connected IoT devices will rise to 41.6 billion by 2025. Additionally, these devices will generate 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data in the next five years. It implies that we will be surrounded by IoT devices recording our conversations, tracking our movement, analysing our spending habits, and changing how we work and live.

The bitter taste of IoT

The life-transforming Internet of Things technology has led to the creation of smart homes, something that we could only dream of even a decade back. From smart lighting to cutting down energy consumption, everything will impress your guests. However, a growing number of connected IoT devices also makes you vulnerable to data thefts, hacking, scams, and any other technological malaise you can imagine.

IoT devices’ emergence has also given rise to privacy and security concerns, especially the popular ones like Google Home Voice Controller. The list also contains Amazon Voice Controller, The Ring Always Home Cam, Amazon Dash Button, August Doorbell Cam, August Smart Lock, etc. Apart from these, several healthcare devices, car accessories, and even mobile devices are getting connected to the web and harnessing the internet to revolutionize the way we use smart devices.

The benefits of IoT devices might seem to outweigh the risks by a huge margin, but privacy and security are a huge concern. This notion exists primarily because of hacking incidents, data theft, and online scams that have wreaked havoc over the past few years. Just recently, 50,000 home cameras were hacked, and their footage was stolen in the process. The stolen loot has already appeared on adult sites, depicting footage of various mundane events. For people, this privacy violation in their homes is the nightmare we hope to only happen in movies. So, even if home cameras are usually installed for security, they might become hackers’ gateway.

Furthermore, victims of online fraud don’t realize that the sharing of personal or financial data over the internet can be extremely dangerous. Cybercriminals and hackers are on the prowl, and they target everyone from individuals to government properties like bank accounts, power grids, chemical plants, hydroelectric dams, and more.

Security issues plaguing IoT devices

Public perception

If we truly want IoT to be a part of everyone’s life, manufacturers need to address the growing concerns about their products’ security. Yes, the general public is really concerned about privacy whenever they want to purchase an IoT device. People are concerned that third parties can steal their personal information or whatever they do or speak.

Hacking is a huge threat

Hackers can easily get access to IoT devices without much effort, and researchers from across the world have proven this. Smart homes can be easily hacked into, and consumers are left at the mercy of these people.

Companies aren’t ready to secure their devices

No IoT manufacturing company can guarantee the absolute security of their devices. It shows that they’re not confident that they could secure customer data. Proper protection is a farfetched dream, but there might be a way if all parties involved contribute to this cause.

Privacy issues with IoT devices

Big data

The great amount of data that IoT devices generate creates multiple entry points for hackers to access sensitive information. In general, IoT presents a promising scenario in which companies have an opportunity to analyse data in real-time. Depending on the nature of IoT products, they can collect a range of data. Some could monitor environmental conditions, such as humidity or air quality. Others can track users’ behaviours and generate patterns. While this massive amount of data becomes available to companies, people wonder if it will be handled properly.

People need to know how companies use their data. For instance, a red flag would be for an enterprise to exchange information with third parties. In such cases, consumers might not even know where their data will end up being stored. Besides the questionable exchanges, companies face another challenge. All this accumulated information needs to be protected from unauthorized access.

Divulging too much information

We never really go through the terms and conditions document carefully before signing up for a service. Companies can use this consumer information in any manner they want, including sharing it with third parties. For instance, an insurance company can gather information by getting access to the data generated by the IoT car accessories and use it to track your driving habits and present you with a poor deal when you sign up for car insurance.


Companies and manufacturers of IoT devices can invade your home at will by using the connected devices. Intercepting unencrypted data from any smart device can leave your privacy in tatters. Eavesdropping attacks can have dire consequences. Your online activities could be breached, and all data stolen by perpetrators. One of the gruesome scenarios is identity theft, which could severely damage your reputation and financial stability.

How to ensure security and privacy?

Well, we all must face reality. Manufacturers are bound to leave mistakes in their products, especially when new hacking attempts emerge regularly. So, while the prevention of attacks would be preferred, it is not always possible. Sometimes, we need to focus on mitigation.

For instance, encryption is one of the ideal approaches to keeping private data secure. A VPN can serve this purpose when it comes to protecting web traffic. Installing a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) on all the connected devices secures them. Atlas VPN can create a secure tunnel to exchange information. All the data in this tunnel will be encrypted and immune to attempts to intercept it. Hence, privacy and anonymity are secured through the end-to-end encryption offered by a VPN.

So, before you purchase an IoT device, consider the potential dangers it brings. You would not want footage of your private life to be broadcasted for the entire world to see. However, without employing appropriate protection, it is possible and has been done before.

Samantha Rigby
Samantha Rigby
Samantha is the head of content, lifestyle and entrepreneurial columnist for Best in Australia. She is also a contributor to Forbes and SH. Prior to joining the Best in Au, she was a reporter and business journalist for local newspapers.
Share this