We are all aware that some apps and websites collect our data. Google, Facebook, and Instagram are just a few apps and search engines known for collecting data. But that’s not all. With web scraping, individuals and businesses can also collect vast amounts of public data across websites and social media platforms.
Many businesses are willing to pay for this data to help with market research and more. Web scraping has come so far that there are even specialised tools, like a Facebook proxy, which, when paired with a scraper, can anonymously scrape Facebook data without being detected. But, other seemingly innocent IoT (Internet of Things) devices can be used to collect your data. What are these devices?
This article will look at why data is collected, as well as the seemingly innocent devices that can be collecting your data right now. We’ll also look at the measures you can take to protect yourself, like using a proxy. Keep reading to discover the potential privacy risks that some IoT devices pose.
Why Is Data Being Collected?
The main reason that data is collected is to provide businesses with valuable insights. By collecting user data, businesses can upgrade more about their consumers and their preferences. This information can be analyzed, and a strategy can target users with customized ads that work better. Data can also help other areas of a business. Data can help businesses identify gaps and opportunities in the market, monitor their competitors and their prices, and more to stay ahead of the competition.
Web scraping tools have become easier to find and use. The vast range of specialised proxies that are available, like a YouTube and Facebook proxy, also make it much easier to collect data without getting caught when paired with web scraping tools.
Ads and marketing are bad enough, but unfortunately, there are also characters out there with more nefarious reasons for collecting your data. It could be to launch a ransomware attack or monitor your comings and goings and even for stalking.
Devices That Collect Data
Unfortunately, it’s not only websites, social media platforms, and search engines that can collect data. There are even seemingly innocent IoT devices that do the same. Let’s take a look at some of these seemingly innocent devices now.
Drawing tablets are connected to a PC and allow the users to create digital sketches, animations, and art. You’d think that they’d work similarly to an external mouse or keyboard. However, during recent testing, it was discovered that some of these devices, the Wacom drawing tablet, for example, actually collect your data.
When you connect this tablet, it asks for specific permissions that give the tablet access to your files. The tablet can collect information such as when you open certain programs and how long you spend on these programs, among other information.
While these can be very convenient appliances that keep track of your food levels, allow you to order groceries directly, and much more, they can also collect your information. A smart fridge can easily collect information regarding your preference, especially regarding the groceries you purchase and the shops you use. It can also collect any other information you put into it. If you log into accounts for online shopping, it can also collect and store information such as personal details, etc.
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Security cameras are intended to keep users safe; after all, it’s right there in the name. However, security cameras inadvertently collect and store a lot of valuable information. Many cameras are activated by motion, and when it detects motion, it begins recording. Most of these recordings are stored on a storage device or in the cloud so that users can look back over the footage.
These cameras can inadvertently collect personal information through video and recorded conversations. It could record you talking about appointments you have, when you won’t be home, and even passwords and other sensitive information. While these are stored and protected, there is no guarantee that a hacker can get access.
Smart Thermostats and Garage Doors
Smart devices can make things very convenient, like smart thermostats that automatically set the temperature to your ideal settings. Or Smart garage doors that detect when your car approaches and automatically starts opening. Thermostats can even go into sleep mode when no one’s home and adjust the temperatures only when someone arrives at the house. These innocent devices can collect a lot of information on your preferences and when you aren’t home. These devices can also be targeted by hackers using ransomware.
How To Stay Safe From Data Collecting Devices?
If you’re looking at how to stay safe while still being able to use these devices, here are a few measures you can take.
- Use a reliable residential proxy and connect all smart devices to the proxy for added protection.
- Use a good antivirus and firewall program that covers your smart devices as well.
- Review device permissions frequently and ensure that you disable any permissions that aren’t needed for the device’s functioning.
If you are more concerned about your privacy than convenience, then the IoT might not be for you. All of these devices that connect to a network not only collect data for the manufacturing companies but can also pose privacy vulnerabilities that could put your information at risk. If you want to protect your privacy and still make use of these devices, security measures such as proxies, firewalls, and frequently updating firmware need to be in place.