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The internet of things: how your TV, car and toys could spy on you – Guardian


Smart as a joke has been relabeled as “Surveillance marketed as revolutionary technology”.  There is nothing smart about having a TV that records every conversation in your home, and stores the audio files.

In fact there is an argument to call the buyer “dumb” if they buy a Smart TV, that records their child in the bedroom.  You know that right?


Can your smart TV spy on you? Absolutely, says the US director of national intelligence. The ever-widening array of “smart” web-enabled devices pundits have dubbed the internet of things [IoT] is a welcome gift to intelligence officials and law enforcement, according to director James Clapper.

“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper told the Senate in public testimony on Tuesday.

As a category, the internet of things is useful to eavesdroppers both official and unofficial for a variety of reasons, the main one being the leakiness of the data. “[O]ne helpful feature for surveillance is that private sector IoT generally blabs a lot, routinely into some server, somewhere,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That data blabbing can be insecure in the air, or obtained from storage.”

There are a wide variety of devices that can be used to listen in, and some compound devices (like cars) that have enough hardware to form a very effective surveillance suite all by themselves. There are, of course, legitimate and tightly warranted reasons for law enforcement surveillance, and there are also companies that take hard lines against turning their users over to the government. But hardware manufacturers often default to crummy security, or don’t offer a choice, and consumers often make themselves more vulnerable than they should.

“One of my technologists has a phrase: ‘internet of other people’s things,’” Tien said. “[E]ven if you bought it, it’s not necessarily truly yours – it may need to talk to the vendor’s machines to work, handing over data about you or those around you (if it has sensors); it may have features you don’t know about or don’t know how to control or can’t control.”

Intelligence officials are not the only ones interested in cracking our hi-tech homes. Knowing when you are in and out, what you have and where you keep it is invaluable information for thieves. And just think what tales your devices could tell divorce lawyers.

Dan Kaminsky, security researcher and chief scientist of White Ops, said despite the worries the internet of things is here to stay. “There’s a lot of work to do building the secure and maintainable platforms of the future, but I think it’ll happen,” he said. “We know this technology isn’t perfect but we know the tremendous human potential it unlocks.”

What’s watching you in today’s houses:

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