All of Your Smart Devices Are Spying on You – Lifehacker
Photo: jmac23 (Shutterstock)
At this point, it’s obvious that our smartphones and computers are data-leakers. Plenty of us now cover our laptops’ webcams (although we always forget about the mics), while our smartphones track our locations with us wherever we go. Unfortunately, these tools are so indispensable in modern life, we accept the privacy hit in order to function with the rest of society, and do what we can to keep our data secure.
However, it isn’t solely these infamous devices that intrude on our lives. Just about any device that connects to the internet poses some privacy and security risk to your life. Smart TVs, lights, refrigerators, vacuums, locks, thermostats, maps services, air conditioners, switches, even faucets: If it has “smart” in the title, it likely has a spying problem.
Not all risks are created equal, mind you, but it’s impossible to use a device designed by a third-party to reach out to another network without exposing yourself to some degree. What determines the degree, however, is both the intent of the maker of the smart device, as well as the unintended consequences of their work. I’ll explain.
Let’s start with the former: Any company that makes a device that connects to the internet, or that connects to a second internet-ready device, makes a decision on how to respect your privacy. Usually, the respect is minimal to none: It’s not surprising to discover that a smart device by default is tracking at least some data and sending it back to the developer, or sharing with third-parties for ad purposes.
Sometimes, we don’t know about these data leaks until they’re reported by whistleblowers, such as when we learned Apple contractors were listening in on people’s lives through snippets of Siri recordings. However, you can take a peek into at least some of the data devices and companies are stealing from you through the device’s settings.
G/O Media may get a commission
Dive into the smart device’s settings
Most smart devices work by connecting to your smartphone, or more specifically, an app on your smartphone. That might be your smartphone’s built-in home app, like the Home app on iPhone or Google Home on Android, or a third-party app, such as Smart Life. Not only do these apps allow you to customize and control the many smart devices powering your smart home, they also contain the privacy and security settings your smart device’s developer shipped it with. And, boy, can these settings be telling.
I’ll offer myself up as an example for this piece. I don’t have too many smart devices in my home, but I do enjoy a series of smart lights. While I’ve had these lights and their connected third-party app for years …….