Hey, Developers! Save Privacy in the IoT Explosion

I’ve been concerned with and writing about the information security and privacy risks involved with the data created, transmitted and processed by smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) for several years since they first started emerging (e.g., here) and will likely be writing on it even more in the coming months and years. According to a new IDC research report, the IoT market will grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%. Will privacy die in this IoT explosion? If IoT developers and manufacturers take action now, I’m optimistic that they can save privacy in the IoT explosion.

I thought that the first FTC ruling against an IoT vendor for not building appropriate security and privacy protections into their home monitoring system would have gotten the attention of those creating the new IoT gadgets and motivate them into building in privacy protections, and also motivating those using the gadgets to think about how they are using that data in ways that can cause privacy harms to the associated individuals. However, based upon the phenomenal growth for these smart gadgets, and the continually discovered lack of security and privacy controls, it seems the IoT creators and those providing them to others are turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the IoT privacy risks and harms. Consider these situations.

Do you notice a common significant additional concern with these examples? The IoT security and privacy weaknesses also bring with them very real physical safety and security risks. While IoT devices can bring great benefit to those using them, they also bring new security and privacy risks, and new types of privacy harms to those using them, that must be addressed.

IoT developers at a minimum need to take the following actions as starting points for addressing security and privacy, to establish safeguards for the data collected, transmitted and stored by IoT devices:


And every person involved with the engineering, development, testing, and use of IoT gadgets must have a strong understanding of how to secure the devices and protect the privacy of, and prevent harm to, those using the devices. This requires effective, regular training and ongoing awareness communications.


This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site PowerMore. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.



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