Whether it is a smart refrigerator, a connected car or an entire smart home, the Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer found only in science fiction movies. Objects are linked together and assist us with everyday tasks, and countless data is collected and stored. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already part of our daily lives, often without us noticing it.
“Things” are all around us
Our “things” gather daily data for companies with economic interest. This is nothing new and yet we are surprised every time again about the extent and effects on our lives.
My cars will collect information about my driving behaviours to deliver me at the end of each trip a report for fuel consumption. These data provide information about me, they show if I stick to the speed limits. The tracking applications can also monitor hard breaking, fast acceleration, and other risky driving. Moreover, my car knows where I go shopping, and how many times I prefer to stay waiting on the queue at a fast-food drive-through.
These data are of great interest for my insurance company, which can be seen from it, if I’m a safe driver, or whether to eat healthy. From this it can be calculated how much should be my insurance and if I am ever worth under contract or if I’m too risky.
Data ownership in a digital world
In most cases, we do not use the web services for “free”; we use them in exchange for our privacy. We get applications and gadgets that make our lives easier and more comfortable. But what is the price? The sale of our privacy?
Sometimes you feel as if the concerns about data protection and privacy hinder technical progress. Many uses of the data are very important for our society. For example, in the health sector, with the help of wearables, diabetic patients can measure their blood sugar levels easier. Also, in the previous car example, the tracking data from the car can be used to trace a stolen car. Therefore, it is important to find a balance that allows both progress safe handling of data. The big question is – How?
The problem starts with the question of who owns the data. If you stay at the car example, do they belong to the driver, or the manufacturer? Or for the case of leasing cars, even the bank or car dealer? Basically, the fundamental right applies to informational self-determination; but for the digital market, it is difficult to implement this right.
How to stay safe?
Use of the data can be viewed in three phases:
- The data created on that device and be sent over the Internet.
- A central system collects data and evaluates it.
- The data will be stored for future use.
Everything we give on the Internet remains in the network. Companies can access the data and use it. But there is no IT system can guarantee 100% data protection. In other words, an unauthorized person could potentially access data in the network as well.
The Internet of Things makes devices also vulnerable to hacker attacks. In the smart fridge example, it seems harmless, whether someone knows whether I prefer cow’s milk or soy milk; but how about the connected car? For example, someone could control my acceleration and break; this case will look quite different thing. Here, IT security companies will continue to be required to provide appropriate solutions.
In the longer term, it will not be enough to fix the vulnerabilities until they are discovered or make trouble. It will be necessary to develop concepts for data encryption and privacy and extensive software tests carried out to ensure the safety of users. There must be found a right balance between data protection and data use. In addition, regular updates should be provided in order to continuously adapt to the rapidly evolving market.
The era of IoT will raise some questions, whether the legal situation, or how our everyday is affected. But when we deal with the problems, we can use the smart device with all its advantages.