Federal Trade Commission Issues Warning to Businesses About Security and IoT

The Federal Trade Comission (FTC) recently made a statement at CES in Las Vegas in which they raised concerns around the privacy risks surrounding IoT technologies. There will be approximately 25 billion devices online by the end of the year, so IoT security will become an increasing concern. These concerns could lead consumers down a path of mistrust and ultimately effect adoption.

In a statement from the FTC, three significant risks to consumers were outlined—the ubiquitous collection of data, unforeseen applications of consumer data and heightened security threats.

Ubiquitous Collection of Data
Ubiquitous data collection is the combined impact of the multitude of IoT sensors and trackers. When the data from all of these is collected and combined, the capacity is there to build a vivid picture of every individual.

IoT technologies are also bringing about an increase in the sensitivity of the data being collected, as they find their way into peoples lives as part of their homes, cars and bodies. Companies now have the capacity to digitally observe aspects of peoples’ lives— lives which were once seemingly private.

Unforeseen Applications of Consumer Data
This may lead to unexpected uses, such as employers vetting applicants and insurance companies using data to assess claims. Existing socio-economic divisions could widen as a result, everything from the prices people are charged, which products they are marketed, and the level of service they get could be administered in relation to their data.

Heightened Security Threats
As for the security risks, connected devices could provide convenient entry points for hackers and the amount of data they will be able to access will increase the severity of such an occurrence.

One of the main problems is that developers in the IoT market have not had decades to assess the security of their devices, as is the case with hardware and software companies. IoT devices are small in terms of processing power, but it may not be possible to equip them with encryption and other security provisions.

Finally, as a lot of IoT devices are low cost and disposable, any vulnerabilities that are discovered may not be able to be remedied, whether that involves updating the software, installing a new patch, or even informing consumers of a remedy.

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