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Tag Archives for " smart devices "

Your ‘smart home’ is watching – and possibly sharing your data with the police

Smart-home devices like thermostats and fridges may be too smart for comfort – especially in a country with few laws preventing the sale of digital data to third parties.

This problem stems from the US government buying data from private companies, a practice increasingly unearthed in media investigations though still quite shrouded in secrecy. It’s relatively simple in a country like the United States without strong privacy laws: approach a third-party firm that sells databases of information on citizens, pay them for it and then use the data however deemed fit.

Full article: Your ‘smart home’ is watching – and possibly sharing your data with the police | Technology | The Guardian

Apple Is Rejecting Apps That Use Third-Party Code For Alleged Privacy Infractions

Apple started rejecting app updates on Thursday that conflict with its App Tracking Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework.

ATT prohibits user tracking without explicit consent and bans developers from using fingerprinting to try and identify a device or user.

Developers using a software development kit from the mobile attribution firm Adjust received a rejection message from Apple stating that their app “uses algorithmically converted device and usage data to create a unique identifier in order to track the user” or so called device “fingerprinting.”

Source: Apple Is Rejecting Apps That Use Third-Party Code For Alleged Privacy Infractions | AdExchanger

Google Smart Speakers Offer Guest Mode for Privacy

Google smart speakers are getting a new setting that will allow consumers to significantly boost the privacy of their devices using voice commands, instead of having to sort through menus on the Home app.

The new setting, called Guest Mode, limits the device’s ability to collect data about users’ interactions with Google Assistant on the speaker, while retaining most of the popular functionality, including the option to field questions, play music, set timers, and control smart home devices.

Source: Google Smart Speakers Offer Guest Mode for Privacy – Consumer Reports

Amazon’s Ring Neighbors app exposed users’ precise locations and home addresses

Ring, the video doorbell and home security startup acquired by Amazon for $1 billion, launched Neighbors in 2018 as a breakaway feature in its own standalone app. Neighbors is one of several neighborhood watch apps, like Nextdoor and Citizen, that lets users anonymously alert nearby residents to crime and public-safety issues.

While users’ posts are public, the app doesn’t display names or precise locations — though most include video taken by Ring doorbells and security cameras. The bug made it possible to retrieve the location data on users who posted to the app, including those who are reporting crimes.

Source: Amazon’s Ring Neighbors app exposed users’ precise locations and home addresses | TechCrunch

First ‘smart prison’ at Tai tam

The Correctional Services Department will introduce the city’s first “smart prison” to help officers manage inmates.

Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution in Shek O will be transformed into Hong Kong’s first smart prison next year after more than 40 trials in correctional facilities such as Lo Wu Correctional Institution and Pik Uk Prison.

Smart wristbands that record prisoners’ heart rate and whereabouts and a CCTV with video analytic monitoring functions will be put in use to help detect inmates’ abnormal behavior, such as self-harm, fighting and entering prohibited areas, more efficiently. The CCTV system also includes facial recognition for tracking.

Source: First ‘smart prison’ at Tai tam | The Standard

2 in 3 US Consumers Don’t Care Whether Or Not Their Devices are Recording All the Time

While most major smart home devices and smartphones explicitly state they are not always listening, many consumers express a lack of concern. The Safety.com research team conducted a survey of 1,091 U.S. residents, asking them if they cared whether their smart home devices were always listening.

Study found that:

  • 66.7% of people responded that they don’t care whether their home devices are always listening.
  • Women are more concerned about their smart devices listening than men by a margin of over 7%.
  • Millennials and Gen Z age brackets are far less concerned about smart devices listening to them all the time than people in the Baby Boomer age bracket. Gen X is evenly spread.
  • Regionality played a small part in respondents’ beliefs. People located in more tech-dominant cities and areas are less concerned about smart devices listening than people in less tech-dominant cities and areas by approximately 6-10% depending on the location.

Source: 66.7% of U.S. Consumers Don’t Care Whether Or Not Their Smart Home Devices are Recording All the Time | Safety.com

FBI Warn Hackers are Using Hijacked Home Security Devices for ‘Swatting’

Stolen email credentials are being used to hijack home surveillance devices, such as Ring, to call police with a fake emergency, then watch the chaos unfold.

By accessing a targeted home security device an attacker can initiate a call for help to authorities and watch remotely as the swat occurs. The FBI points out that by initiating a call for help from the actual security device lends authenticity and anonymity to the hacker.

Source: FBI Warn Hackers are Using Hijacked Home Security Devices for ‘Swatting’ | Threatpost

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