Metadata applications seem to be breeding like rabbits – popping up in the most unlikely of places. Manufacturers are falling deeply in love with “The Internet of Things,” using the selling point that interconnectability will allow you more control over your environment (and as a side benefit, they can monitor your activity to cater to your wants and needs…how thoughtful of them!) Yet despite years of warnings, very few people are paying serious attention to the security dangers these items present.
In 2016, NPR ran a very interesting (and scary) story about how vulnerable IOT devices are to hacking. Andrew McGill at The Atlantic devised an experiment involving a network-connected toaster. (You read that right…TOASTER.) Thinking it would be hacked eventually in a week or so, he was shocked to find out it happened in a mere 41 minutes. Subsequent hacking attempts occurred in under 15 minutes. (Yep, MINUTES.)
Manufacturers are not dealing with the security issue. The few security features that are available tend to be cheap, out-of-the-box software solutions. The prevailing industry mindset is caveat emptor…You are responsible for your own security. And as the crash of 2016 shows – Big Brother isn’t the only one watching.
So before hooking up that appliance (or t.v. or car) – ask yourself – do you REALLY need to check on your toaster when you’re away from home? Are you that obsessed with the smell of freshly-burnt bread, gently wafting in the air as you traipse through your front door? What information is your toaster collecting about you? Is it laughing as you stumble into your kitchen at 6:00 a.m. in the morning, secretly posting you in your Weedman Onsies on Twitter?
How is any of this necessary or truly useful? Can you honestly say you are better off because your refrigerator is sending you e-mails about the expiration date on your sour cream? (Don’t forget the eggs, they’re ready to float! And that bowl in the back is beginning to grow penicillin!)
As if I need my appliances to nag me…can you divorce a microwave?