The digital revolution is not doing our privacy any favors. A considerable amount of our lives are now dependent on the digital medium; from banking and paying for goods and services to just finding our way around. Some of us rely on apps just to get through the day. Naturally, technology’s evolution dictates that all aspects of our lives get on board or online, as it were. And above all, Connectivity is the key to everything. But that also translates to giving strangers access to a lot of your information about you. For example, Home Automation allows us to connect our fridges and washing machines and fridges to the internet now.
But the bigger concern, other than worrying about who’s watching what I eat and keeping tabs on my dirty laundry, is data security. All of these devices store our personal information or at the very least, have access to it; the question is, what do they intend to do with it?
And with our vehicles also being “connected” now, it creates a whole new dimension of digital privacy concerns.
The 21st-century vehicle is getting closer to what the sci-fi genre predicted for us, with technology designed to keep drivers and passengers safer than ever before. Today’s connected car is an automobile with independent internet access, i.e. it doesn’t need to be tethered to your phone/ dongle to access maps or apps to give you data at your beck and call.
And like any connected tech, it comes with concerns. While manufacturers boast of the positive effects of automotive innovation, it seems like a smokescreen from the downsides. Currently, safety and data privacy are the two major threats to contend with when discussing connected cars.
With anything (and everything) connected to the World Wide Web, software vulnerabilities could undermine the safety of a vehicle’s systems and features. Hackers won’t have access to just a user’s personal information, but their physical safety as well. The vulnerabilities of the invention include both security issues, such as unlocking the car and privacy violations exposing the personal data of the owner – frequently traveled locations, home address, etc. Third-party apps, especially from unreliable sources, are another potential weak point in smart car systems. And because components are connected and data shared between apps for seamless functioning, an expanded attack is what’s offered to cyber-criminals.
Consider an automobile, with hundreds of moving parts all connected to each other and to the networks of a business providing services to those vehicles. Hackers are likely to find ways of corrupting personal data once they get access to any of these. For example, GPS information could be used to track a driver’s personal habits and schedule, which could then be manipulated for a scam. Worse still, with internet-ready facilities having deeper integration with the hardware, how soon would it be before a hacker could remotely control the vehicle itself? Maybe I’ve watched too many movies, but it doesn’t seem as far fetched as self-driving cars anymore.
Then, of course, there are security concerns about the data that’s captured, stored and transmitted from these vehicles to their respective manufacturer’s storage hubs. Not that they would be used for nefarious purposes, but unsolicited adverts for the product or affiliated services aren’t exactly welcome. Again, data not properly secured could wind up in the hands of hackers or rogue employees who might sell it to the highest bidder.
According to a 2015 study that focused on the tracking ability of an observer without huge resources (unlike a government or big company), hacking so-called intelligent transport systems isn’t too difficult.
Though we haven’t seen many public-facing attacks yet, with every connected car rolling out on Indian roads, more and more concerns will arise. New age technology is digging deeper into our personal space and while on the outside we’re smitten by how simple it makes our lives, we fail to give due attention to the darker side of technology. That being said, now is the time we ask the right questions What are manufacturers doing with our personal data? For the sake of our own private lives, we need answers.
Author: Yashraj Vakil, CEO, Buzzinga Digital
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or any of its employees.
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