In today’s world of doing everything online – shopping, blogging, socializing, entertaining, marketing – everything we do can be tracked, record and sold. This is a frightening thought. Let’s take a Facebook profile for example. Think of how much information you share with your circle of friends and what your fan page preferences say about you.
If you are active on Facebook, your sexual orientation, religion, family tree, political affiliations, and friend connections are just a few of the things Facebook can glean from your profile. Then, if you like certain fan pages, this gives Facebook even more information about you. For example, you are a dog lover specifically of Schnauzers. (I get updates from VIP Schnauzers page on my Facebook account.) If you support social causes with a Facebook like, then Facebook knows where your heart is too. Facebook uses this information to serve up ads to you based on your preferences. This makes Facebook advertisers happy because they are reaching people in their target market who have more of a likelihood to buy their products. Back to the previous dog example, I get ads for products feature Schnauzers.
The future of Internet connection will be smart products that are Internet enabled. This means the product will be able to connect to the Internet and report data. Temperatures in homes can be managed remotely via an app on the user’s phone. Home security systems are connected to apps where homeowners can see a video of certain locations of their home such as the front door or back door. They can view footage of a live camera to see who is at their door – a friend or foe. Baby monitors have features where parents can watch infants from their cribs from an app of the parents’ phones.
Watch this video about the Nest thermostat, which can be controlled by an app.
All of this technology is exciting, convenient, savvy and fun to use, but buyers and users should remain cautious. If you are using an app to connect with your home thermostat, security cameras and baby monitor, are these devices secure? Does the company that sold the product have a reputation for protecting the consumer from hackers? Remember if you can connect to devices over the Internet, then there is a possibility that you could be hacked. Be sure you are taking safeguards to not trade in convenience for your family’s privacy. Read about scary baby monitor hacks in this BuzzFeed article.
Smart phone security is another way hackers can breach your privacy. You should always use a passcode. Enable remote swiping in case your phone is stolen. Be leery of downloading free apps and also carefully examine the app permission settings. Be wary of apps that need access to your contacts, pictures, microphone, etc. if the app does not require these items in order to perform. Many of these free app companies make money on selling information gleaned from your phone!
In closing, this technology rich world is an exciting and scary place to be. The rule is to have fun while always remaining cautious. You have to educate yourself about what safeguards you need to implement in order to connect and be safe for you and your family.
Here’s an info graphic with some tips on how to be safe online.