The concerned analysts have been talking about the privacy and security repercussions that stem from the inherent flaw of the Internet of Things (IoT) – its lack of regulated privacy protection mechanisms, lack of motivation for the manufacturers to protect the consumer data, and the abysmal difference in the privacy expert and consumer understanding of the issue.
The Bright Future
Smart cars have recently joined the Internet of Things, where smartphones, computers, thermostats, door locks, coffee makers, fridges, and TVs have been dwelling. The new technology in smart cars comes with so many bells and whistles it allows the cars to park and drive in semi-automatic ways. Your smart car will tell you where the traffic jam is, and the best route to avoid it, where the next gas station is and when your vehicle needs to check in for a maintenance. Why, it can even book itself for the maintenance.
Quite a few innovations were on display at a 2015 International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, where companies like Samsung, IBM, Deutsche Telekom and SAP showcased their projects. There is a big future for the IoT as far as transportation is concerned.
The collected telemetry from the individual vehicles will help the future smart cities regulate the traffic, predict, mitigate and even avoid traffic jams and disruptions in the public transportation services. The 8 million population Chinese city of Nanjing already adopted the smart traffic control technology from SAP HANA to harvest the 20 billion data collecting points to process, analyze and create predictive reports to mitigate traffic congestion. As of now, 10K taxis of Nanjing are submitting the data, and the plan is to cover all the private and public transportation.
In his book “Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up” the author Philip N Howard is being optimistic about data collection, suggesting it will enforce the civil societies, let them organize themselves and ultimately put an end to dictatorship and regulate the policy makers. Why the optimism when in reality every program that monitors the users is aimed to do just the opposite – control, oppress, shape public opinion? How is surveillance and no opt-out of it can lead to more freedom?
The Not So Bright Present
The new smart cars, as much as the plethora of IOT devices in your office monitor your activity, your location, your routes, your behavior. The smart gizmo around you is always listening, recording, and transmitting the user-tracking reports to a variety of recipients. The manufacturer, the third-parties whose apps run on your devices, the ad agencies, the three-letter agencies – the list goes on beyond that. Anyone who gains the access to the data stream is free to monitor, intercept, collect and re-sell that information. Provided the hack happens so that it does not disrupt the functions of the device, or a smart car, the user will never know it ever happened.
The hacked IoT devices are routinely used as botnets, in the DDOS attacks, and many other nefarious scenarios. Then, there is the corporate espionage, extortion, phishing, identity theft, ransomware.
Here are a few examples of how the IoT in your smart car can affect you and your wallet directly. Most smart cars in the USA and many European countries now ship with an event data recorder, and EDR chip, that records what the vehicle is doing at all times. Your driving behavior and patterns, whether you fasten your seat belts, your speed, your parking locations – among other things. It keeps that data terminally, transmitting it to a number of recipients. The latter include the driving monitoring system On-Star that has the drivers registering an account with it, and uploads the driving history to the cloud. As any system, it’s hackable, too, and anyone determined can gain access to that driving history log of a particular user.
We Know When You Break The Law
The biggest repercussion of the large-scale monitoring resides in the legal realm. In the U.S., that data is being extensively used to contradict the owner testimony in the insurance disputes and car crashes and accidents. In some cases, the data affects the court rulings dramatically. Now, think for a minute if your smart car transmitted your parking locations whenever you stopped in a “wrong” place?
Another potential source of a consumer headache is the easily hackable Wi-Fi system that lets car thieves hack into the smart cars and steal them with ease. According to Sky news, 89,000 stolen vehicles in London in 2013 were hacked into electronically.
Hackable vehicles open up a whole new era of blackmail, extortion, kidnapping and accidents. Many YouTube videos show cyber experts hacking into a smart car, driving it, disabling its brakes – remotely.
Now, think about connecting your smartphone to your smart car, and sharing the wealth of the data your smartphone knows about you with the vehicle and vice versa. The banking data, the GPS data, the third-party apps tracking your location and collecting your user data – a pool of valuable profiling and monitoring data. Some experts say this data is becoming increasingly public.
One more reason for concern is re-selling the used smart vehicles. Just as you need to wipe the private data from a computer or smartphone you’re selling, you’d need to wipe clean all your personal data from a smart car’s system.
The executive vice president of Ford Jim Farley said, “We know everyone who breaks the law. We know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”
In the meantime, FortKnoxster recommends that you to safeguard your corporate data, communications and collaboration cloud data with strong, military-grade encryption. It is only the zero-knowledge service providers that can guarantee no three-letter agency can obtain the data you store in an encrypted cloud storage or send via encrypted chat or emails. Strong encryption done right is the only measure recommended by security experts like Snowden, that still poses a giant challenge to the snooping entities and hackers.
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