Data Privacy Issues Concerning IoT Devices and How to Handle Them

Data Privacy Issues Concerning IoT Devices and How to Handle Them

By Abhishek Rungta February 06, 2017 - 2,207 views

An estimated 24 billion IoT devices are expected to be used by people across the world, in just a couple of years. With a staggering estimate like that, questions about data that is generated and collected, and the security and privacy issue that follow are invariably raised. To get a perspective, it is important to understand the security and privacy issues that IoT devices may pose to our societies.


  1. What do people think?


  • There is a lack of confidence with respect to using IoT devices
  • People are scared to bring home devices that may collect data about their lifestyle
  • There is a general sense of skepticism with respect to IoT, though most of us have begun to use IoT devices such as smart energy meters.


  1. Are these devices secure?
  • Companies need to evaluate if the IoT devices they are launching are secure enough.
  • There are various questions with respect to how secure these devices are.
  • Security of devices depend on testing but all companies not adopt similar testing procedures.
  • It is difficult to asses the actual risk of a device being compromised by eavesdroppers or hackers.


  1. Is there business acceptance?
  •  Businesses that may use IoT devices in bulk are not very confident about risking their data.
  • B2B IoT devices are likely to change the way we do business, but business skepticism comes in the way.
  • Companies are also worried about the expenditure and maintenance costs of these devices.
  • Businesses are not very sure how to move from legacy devices to a smarter approach, which involves using IoT devices and connected technology.
  1. How secure are programs and networks that connect IoT devices?


  • Security of programs IoT opens on the programs that connect them.
  • Security also pends on how these software programs are being developed, who is developing the, and if they are being updated regularly.
  • True security of a device depends on securing software programs, network connections and tools that connect these IoT devices.

      5. Data management


  • The more IoT devices enter our lives, there will be more data to handle.
  • There will be so much of data that companies might find it difficult to store them, unless they adopt cloud technology.
  • Even cloud storage can prove to be difficult when it comes to handling astronomical amounts of data generated by IoT devices.
  • Millions of discreet data points are generated by just a few thousand devices.


  1. Dealing with public profiles


  • People and companies may have to create public profiles which are easily searchable.
  • Though profiles are protected by companies, there may always be a way to search them through some database.
  • Data that is collected can be used in unrelated way by third parties, as public profile data usage is not explicitly mentioned by many companies.
  • both IoT service providers and users will need to ensure that profile data always remains safe and secure, with adequate privacy.


  1.  Is someone reading all this data?


  • There are a lot of instances where people and companies are being eavesdropped with the help of data they generate through their IoT devices.
  • It is difficult to monitor who is reading this data, and who is accessing it.
  • There can be changes of hacking attempts if data is not encrypted.
  • There are already questions being raised about homes and businesses remaining safe when they are connected too IoT devices and thereby risking privacy.
  1. Is location data safe?


  • Many IoT devices collect location-based data.
  • It is not clear how soon this information is deleted, and if companies are using this information not only to enhance services, but also for ulterior motives.
  • Location data is not secure and many people are hesitant to share that.
  • Many IoT devices will require location data, creating a catch-22-like situation.

Looking at these various security and privacy concerns, here are a few steps that companies can adopt in order to ensure data privacy and security.

  1. Conduct a risk assessment


  • Before launching products, companies should conduct a risk-assessment of their products.
  • They should also adequately test them before launching them.
  1. Minimize data collected


  • Data shouldn’t be collected unnecessarily.
  • IoT device-manufacturers should collect only that data which is critical to provide services.
  1. Test security regularly


  • Security should be constantly monitored and tested.
  • The may involve running programs to find vulnerabilities
  1. Train employees too respect privacy


  • A number of times, security lapses occur when employees are not adequately trained about the importance of privacy.
  • Ensure that mobile devices that belong to employees are adequately vetted regularly.
  • Train employees with security and privacy best practices.
  1. Tie up with cloud security agencies


  • As IoT devices generate humongous amounts of data, it is important to tie up with agencies that specialise in data storage and security.
  • Make sure that your chosen vendor has experience in IoT data security.


  1. Identify possible risks and have contingency plans


  • Have a team to evaluate possible risks and how best to fill the loopholes.
  • Arrive at contingency plans so that you will not be looking for solutions in a moment of crisis.


  1. Implement access control


  • While this is a little difficult to implement, it is necessary.
  • Access levels must be stated and defined, so that only authorised people have access to different levels of data.
  • Ensure that access levels are built into the devices and the programs that connect them.
  1. Monitor the situation 24/7


  • Do not take IoT security and privacy for granted. Monitor 24/7 for vulnerabilities.
  • Constantly release patches to fix vulnerabilities, and keep your connected software updated.

Assess, fix and monitor risks


As you can see, there are various issues concerning data and privacy with respect to IoT devices. yet, with proper security and privacy measures, risks can be reduced, and there will be fewer vulnerabilities. It is important to bear in mind that cloud storage and computing is very important too ensure security risks, as data will not be stored on premises. Moreover, to ensure data privacy, companies must be proactive and minimize the data that is collected.

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