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Smart devices grow smarter by the day, but at what cost?

Article By Brendan Cole | | Technology Consulting

We’re all guilty of it: we install a new app or program, and in our hurry to begin using it, we’ll allow it all permissions, or confirm we’ve read the terms and conditions. This process has become exceedingly streamlined, which is giving rise to exploitation from app and program developers.

When Windows 10 was first released, Microsoft was placed under great scrutiny regarding their privacy policy—specifically their usage and sharing of users’ personal data, with the following being part of the end user agreement:

“Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary. 

While Microsoft has since revised their privacy policy in favour of more transparency, they still had every users’ legal consent to use this information however they saw fit.

Data collection by these tech giants such as Google and Microsoft certainly allow our devices to better understand us, as well as intelligently provide content, but there is always the issue around how securely this data is being stored.

Researchers at Zhejiang University have recently discovered voice commands can be sent to Google Home, Cortana, and other personal assistants at frequencies above that of human hearing. This gives them access to systems such as home control, online shopping, and all other personal information that these services collect to provide seamless experiences.

This weakness in what were deemed to be secure and beneficial solutions, shows that a security-first mindset should always be adopted when agreeing to use services like these. By all means continue to use them and reap the benefits of computer learning and algorithmic content delivery, but always be aware of what you’re agreeing to, and how that data might be used if it did find its way into the wrong hands.

If you’d like some further advice on how to protect yourself or your business from personal data exploits, please contact the Altitude Innovations Team.