The Internet of Everything and the Virtual Battle for Your Data
I would like to thank Front Line Sentinel for allowing this post to reach their readers. They have an outstanding variety of different security news stories and tips, and they are great to come back to every week to see what else is going on in the world of online safety. I was particularly informed by this piece on cars getting hacked.
As technology increasingly seeps into every area of our lives, we have to start considering the data that is being collected on us and what individuals and companies are going to do with it if they have it. In a term called “The Internet of Everything”, scholars are noticing the increased interconnectivity of devices, data, and our lives. This has some intended and unintended consequences, and also creates some important political issues that still need to be addressed.
Here are some things you should know about the growing internet of everything and the consequences of these developments:
How Does One Define “The Internet of Everything”?
Otherwise known as “The Internet of Things”, this term refers to the fact that more objects, appliances, and devices are connected to the internet in one way or another, taking and giving data and contributing to the larger network that is the internet. While a common joke might be that the internet of everything will result in your toaster connecting to the internet, such prototypes exist, and you probably can expect something along those lines in the next decade, for better or for worse. All of your smartphones are connected to the internet, and many television sets have that same capability now. Try to imagine the result of the internet of everything being the ability to pay for a vending machine soda with your smartphone.
What is more important than the specific objects though, is what this means for the development of the internet. With more devices connected to the internet and more people connecting to the internet all over the world, this means more data coming in to share with the world and create greater understanding of how we as a society work. The growth of the internet now is not going to happen at a linear rate, but an exponential one, at least for the foreseeable future.
Yet it is important to not become overhyped or otherwise put unrealistic expectations on the internet of everything. It is not going to threaten your physical security, and it isn’t going to change the world overnight. What it will do is change the way you interact with the world by giving you a greater level of information for your decision making and open up new technological solutions for everyday problems.
Why Your Privacy Matters
Relating to the internet of everything and the data collected, your privacy matters for the simple reason that your information is yours to share or not share as you please. Yet companies, whether you know it or not, are using their data to profit off of you. The simplest case is how your data is used and owned by social media companies. If you weren’t already aware, whenever you share something on social media, there are records kept of that and keywords are logged. You should also be aware that governments are doing the same thing, where they are creating massive programs to conduct surveillance on both citizens and non-citizens alike.
While there are political debates happening all over the world on this issue, there are things you can do now that can at least partially help to protect your data, whether it be from cybercriminals who want to sell your data for identity theft reasons or organizations looking to data mine. Some people simply don’t use social networks, others try to take political action, and many others use tools you should know about.
The best tool to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is a service that connects to an offsite secure server which will mask your IP address and makes you appear as though you are browsing the internet from another location, allowing you a greater degree of privacy. It uses encryption on the connection so that you will be able to use any network safely from your device, keeping it away from those who would intercept your valuable data on a public network. While it won’t necessarily protect data mining of your social network accounts, it will protect those accounts and the confidentiality of all your other online activity. When looking for a good VPN, you’ll find there are many options, so you need to read some VPN reviews online in order to make an informed decision.
What is Going to Happen to Your Data?
The short answer to this question is: it depends on what the laws dictate in a few years from now and whether any other major developments occur in the world of technology (this will likely be the case). Currently in the United States, there is a push to create a consumer privacy bill of rights and other legislation that would allow you to own the information you create online and any information that is about you or related to you. This would be a massive shift in how the internet works, and it would be impossible to predict for certain how companies or people will react.
Alternatively, companies seeking to make a profit in the meanwhile and future might clamp down on their users and take even more data (if that is even possible) to sell to interested parties to analyze. This could mean that data you thought was yours or safe will not be so safe in the future, or you will have to choose between using certain social media sites and having any control over what you post or create.
For now though, your personal data is still in an environment that could be considered something like the Wild West. It can be pretty much used at will, and if there are laws in effect that protect it, they aren’t particularly well-enforced, leaving it your effective responsibility to protect it. You will likely have to pick a side in the upcoming political battles over the issue, and the best thing you can do is try to protect yourself and educate yourself on the issues until then.
Thank you for reading, and I hope that you are prepared for the precedent-setting and interesting events that are to come.
Bio: Isa Cox is a writer and blogger who likes to focus particularly on internet security, new technological issues, and world events. She particularly enjoys sharing this information with the average user so that they can make informed decisions about their technology.