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Are your lightbulbs and refrigerators spying on you?


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The NY Times has an article about some of the alarms being raised as homes become more dependent on the internet, and internet enabled appliances. Police in several areas have sought contents of Alexa and Siri commands in hope of discovering information about possible crimes.

 

One alternative is to create a separate guest network for your appliances, TV, music download, etc. The hope is to avoid giving an outside hacker access to the areas where your financial data, personal data resides. That would, however, require you to move your Amazon account into the guest area, I think.

 

Older versions of refrigerator etc internet access may not be up to date with security patches. Nobody downloads the necessary updates, although that would seem like something Trend, Kaspersky and the others would do well to add in their packages.

 

 

People should also carefully read company privacy policies. David Britton, a vice president in the fraud and identity department of Experian, the credit reporting agency, said people should be curious about whether companies themselves were a threat to user privacy.

“What are they capturing about you?” he said. “Is the data leaving the device? Is it being sent back to the mother ship?”

Consider the smart speakers from Amazon and Google. Amazon said its Alexa smart assistant, which is used in its Echo speakers, automatically downloads software updates to defend against new security threats. Data from the Echo is also uploaded to Amazon’s servers only after people utter the wake word “Alexa,” the company said. That minimizes the likelihood that the device will record conversations unrelated to requests intended for Alexa.

Google said its Home speaker similarly issued regular software updates and employed advanced security features, like a technique that disables the device if its software is tampered with. The company added that the speaker processed speech only after the words “O.K. Google” or “Hey Google” were detected.

But other large brands occasionally engage in behavior that customers may find objectionable. The smart TV maker Vizio, for example, made headlines with revelations from the investigative news site ProPublica that it kept a detailed record of customer viewing habits and shared it with advertisers, who could then use the information to identify other devices you owned.

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/technology/personaltech/stop-hijacking-home-devices.html?ref=business&_r=0

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It's great to be a semi-Luddite!

 

ETA: Our building has has replaced the on-all-the-time light bulbs in the garbage-chute rooms (basically a closet in the hallway with access to the compactor) with ones that only turn on a second or two after you open the door. I've never seen those before, so I don't know what they might cost, but I expect they'll pay for themselves in savings on the Con Ed bill in, oh, 20 years. (I hope I'm wrong and the amortization is faster, and they pay for themselves before they burn out and need to be replaced.)

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