Privacy Risks and Your In-Home Devices

Smart devices can send us reminders, check the weather, make a grocery list, regulate the heat in our house, and…make us prone to security breaches???

We are more connected to our devices than ever before. They do everything for us. But a new worry about these interactions has surfaced: do they protect our privacy and information enough?

When everyday devices connect to the Internet to send and receive information, this information is called the Internet of Things (ioT). It is predicted that by the end of 2022, the IoT will account for 13 billion connected devices, which means 13 billion chances for privacy to be breached or hacked over these devices’ lifetime.

Privacy Risks with the Internet of Things

Connected in-home devices, while designed to make life easier, come with a variety of challenges and risks for privacy and security, such as manufacturing inconsistencies, default security settings, the over-accessibility of data, an increase in points of entry, and product lifecycles.


Your information security is in the hands of the manufacturer of the device. While this means in some cases you could get the biggest, greatest, and most secure products the marketplace has to offer, it also means you could unintentionally put your trust into a knock-off product from a manufacturer that is unequipped or unconcerned with data protection. Some companies do not have the manpower or resources to fix known problems or create new versions of the software to patch security compromises.

Security Settings

By default, some devices are set to the lowest allowable security setting. Without proper education, this can put your information at risk and allow it to be accessed by outside parties.


On the other hand, some devices ask for more information and access than needed for the device to function. This gives the device unnecessary access to your information without you knowing who is accessing it or why it’s being accessed.

Internet Points of Entry

The more devices you have connected to the internet and to one another, the more opportunity a hacker has to gain access. They simply find the device or access point easiest to hack into and enter your entire network through that single device.

Listening and Watching

Your devices can record and collect data without you even knowing it. Settings such as “Always On” and “Always Ready” mean a device is active and listening even when you are not using it.

Life Cycle of the Product

As products come and go, technical support and software updates often come to an end too, and that product may no longer be supported, making way for a possible security breach.

How to Protect Your Privacy on the Internet of Things

As scary as it is to think something—or someone—could be listening and recording your interactions, there are a few things you can do to help keep hackers at bay:

  1. Buy from a reputable manufacturer. Companies with good ratings, reviews and a reputation for stellar products are more likely to protect your information and privacy. Read reviews and check out what people are saying about the company and device to determine if they are reputable enough to trust.
  2. Ask yourself (and the manufacturer) what data is being collected, how long it is retained, and how the data is secured on the device? You may also want to ask when and if you can opt out of certain data collection schemes.
  3. Use the Smart Device Purchase and Set-Up Checklist from the Online Trust Alliance when setting up a new device.
  4. Do your reading. It’s annoying and boring, but reading over the terms and conditions when using a new product may save you a lot of heartache in the end.
  5. Secure your settings. Update the default settings so they are strongly secured. Also, change any default passwords and fully and securely set up your device.
  6. Turn off your device when not in use. Change your default settings so they are not always on standby and turn off the device completely when not in use.
  7. Promptly install updates. Checking for and installing regular updates can help patch up any security issues and keep your information safer and more secure. If a device is no longer supported by the manufacturer, consider replacing it with a newer, supported model.

Opting for a device to help make life easier is what technology is for. However, it cannot be ignored that as we tap into the IoT, we leave our information and security at the mercy of the devices we use. Taking a few extra steps to ensure your device is reputable, secure and up-to-date can better protect your home from a possible security breach or data hack.

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