5 New Gadgets That Present New Security & Privacy Issues

Dan Price 03-02-2016

Why does our security and privacy get worse with every new technological service or gadget that’s released?


Televisions get better, phones get more powerful, Internet speeds increase – almost everything tech-based is on an upwards trend in terms of quality.

Everything it seems, except security. New phone? More malware Are App Stores Really Safe? How Smartphone Malware Is Filtered Out Unless you've rooted or jailbroken, you probably don't have malware on your phone. Smartphone viruses are real, but app stores do a good job of filtering them out. How do they do this? Read More . New TV? It’s listening to you Your Smart TV is Watching You - and It's Not the Only One! Are Vizio smart TVs capturing information about you and transmitting it back to Vizio without telling you about it? And if so, is this something you should be worried about? Read More . New email provider? The government is watching you Tomorrow's Surveillance: Four Technologies The NSA Will Use to Spy on You - Soon Surveillance is always on the cutting edge of technology. Here are four technologies that will be used to violate your privacy over the next few years. Read More .

Here are five new technologies that are posing a threat to your security and privacy right now.

Smart Cars

It’s like something out of a horror movie.

One minute you’re happily heading to Walmart with Mozart’s finest playing on the radio, but moments later your car has taken over – you’re locked in, you’ve been taken onto the nearest freeway, and you’re heading into the wilderness at 150 mph while Black Sabbath pumps out of your speakers.


Sounds silly, but this could be a reality as more and more cars connect to the Internet.

Of course, in the middle of last year we saw the “Jeep Hack” The 6 Most Dangerous Security Threats of 2015 Cyber-attacks continue to grow in 2015, with 425,000,000 malware attacks in circulation. Of this vast amount, some is more important than others. Here's our rundown of the five most significant so far this year…. Read More . Two security researchers found a problem with Chrysler’s Uconnect system (the software that allows users to make phone calls, control entertainment, and create a Wi-Fi hotspot while driving). By exploiting this flaw, they were able to take over the engine, the brakes, the in-car entertainment systems, and the peripheral electronics, like windscreen wipers and headlights.

Chrysler quickly fixed the flaw – but it would be naïve to pretend that this will be an isolated incident. In the same way that more laptops and mobile phones mean more viruses, more smart cars will undoubtedly mean more hack attempts.

The Internet of Things

Whether you either need or want a fridge that has the ability Tweeting Fridges and Web Controlled Rice Cookers: 9 of the Stupidest Smart Home Appliances There are a lot of smart home devices that are worthy of your time and money. but there are also kinds that should never see the light of day. Here are 9 of the worst. Read More to give you the weather forecast in Beijing and play songs on your dog’s iPod is immaterial – the fact is the Internet of Things is coming now and it is coming fast.


This blurring of the virtual and physical world brings a whole host of new security threats 5 Security Concerns to Consider When Creating Your Smart Home Many people attempt to connect as many aspects of their lives to the web as possible, but many people have expressed genuine concerns over how secure these automated living spaces actually are. Read More and privacy concerns – some of which we’ve covered in great detail elsewhere on the site.

In truth, the risks need little explaining. There are so many access points collecting data that manufacturers and product providers will have a better understanding of your life than everyone except your very closest family.

You only have to look at Samsung and Microsoft’s on-stage demonstration at CES 2016 How Windows 10 IoT Will Soon Let You Manage Your Home Thanks to a new partnership between Samsung and Microsoft, you might soon manage your household appliances from your Windows 10 computer. We show you what your future smart home might look like. Read More a few weeks ago. Microsoft’s Bryan Roper went on stage to explain how Cortana would be able to control a Samsung washing machine. That sounds great in principle – but towards to end of the demo he started pulling up stats about how much time each household member was spending using each in-home appliance. Is that necessary? And even if you deem it useful, do Samsung and Microsoft really need (or deserve) that information?

Fitness Trackers

Everyone from small start-ups to some of the world’s biggest sports companies have been diving into the world of wearable fitness trackers 17 Best Health and Fitness Gadgets to Improve Your Body Over the past few years, innovation around health and fitness gadgets has exploded. Here are just a few of the amazing pieces of kit you'll be able to use to keep you feeling great. Read More in the last few years.


There were an estimated 68 million units sold last year, and although Gartner expects a slight decrease in sales over the coming years as smartwatches gather steam, the industry is still expected to be booming well into the next decade.


Worryingly, there are an increasing number of security flaws being discovered in the devices.

Consider this; according to research by Symantec, someone who hacks your device will have access to where and when you go running, where you live, and where and when you are on vacation – as well as lots of other data.


If that alone isn’t not enough to send shivers down your spine, they also state that “some third-party applications are communicating with up to 15 different remote locations, including analytics companies and a variety of different organizations.”

Do you want all that data being freely shared with companies?

Smart Medical Equipment

The potential health-based implications of ever-improving technology are tremendous.

For example, if you need a pacemaker in your heart, you can now get a “smart” one. These devices have the capability to send a steady stream of analytics, data, and feedback to your doctor, allowing them to stay abreast of developing health issues that can be tackled before they become too dangerous.

So far, so good. But what if someone with nefarious goals manages to hack your device? Could they kill you? It’s certainly not out of the question.

Famously, former US Vice President Dick Cheney asked for his smart pacemaker to be disabled in case an advanced terrorist organization managed to gain access to it. Furthermore, research from the University of Michigan suggests that a device as small as a mobile phone could be used to hack multiple devices at the same time in crowded spaces like sports events and concerts.

It’s hugely worrying.


Li-Fi (short for “Light Fidelity”) is being touted in the media as Wi-Fi 2.0, with the potential to offer speeds that are up to 100 times faster than the current ubiquitous standard.

In practice, however, it still has several problems to overcome Li-Fi Is 100x Faster Than Wi-Fi, But What's the Catch? Everyone's going crazy over Li-Fi and its groundbreaking speeds, but is it really as good as they say? What are the drawbacks? Read More – not least the fact it’ll require entirely new infrastructure in the home and that it has serious problems working in adverse weather conditions.

Regardless of these problems, it seems Li-Fi will be slowly introduced. An Estonian start-up company called Velmenni has already installed the tech in an industrial environment and is conducting tests in private clients’ homes.

So what security issues will these trailblazers face?

Actually, Li-Fi is probably more secure than Wi-Fi. For example, the signal cannot travel through walls so it cannot be intercepted from outside, and the fact the technology ultimately relies on light rather than a more traditional radio wave-based router makes the underlying gadgets less “hackable”. Ultimately, a hacker can only access the network if they can get to where the LED light is.

There are still issues though – for example, there is speculation that the Li-Fi signal could be intercepted by someone with a telephoto lens and a fine-tuned optical sensor.

Which New Gadgets Or Technologies Are You Wary Of?

Are you concerned about the security and privacy implications of new gadgets, or are you happy to accept the risks as part of the increasing tech-based world in which we live?

Let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.

Related topics: Internet of Things, Online Privacy, Online Security, Surveillance.

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  1. Anonymous
    February 4, 2016 at 8:11 am

    #1: Cookie proliferation
    The invisible cookie software agents that track your browsing habits and personal data are likely to multiply in 2013. Advertising networks, marketers, and other data profiteers depend on cookies to learn more about who you are—and what you may be interested in buying. Unless legislation imposes legal restraints on Web-browser tracking, your system is likely to accumulate more cookies than you’d find in a box of Chips Ahoy.

    Cookies have been proliferating at a rate that would impress epidemiologists. “Five to ten years ago, if you opened in your browser, you’d get a cookie from the New York Times, maybe a couple, and that would basically be it,” says staff technologist Dan Auerbach of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Today you get probably on the order of 50 cookies from all sorts of third parties: ad servers, data brokers, trackers. They can build up this big profile about your browsing history.”

    The worst part, says EFF’s Auerbach: “It’s totally invisible to users. They have no idea what’s happening.”

    Marketers say that they keep user data private by viewing it only in aggregate, but the sheer volume of data a cookie can collect about any one person can enable the cookie’s owner to infer a surprising amount about the individuals being tracked. As a 2010 report by Gartner found, “the more that personal information can be correlated, the less it is possible to completely anonymize.”
    #2: Seizing cloud data
    You love how easy it is to grab data from the cloud—and so do law enforcement agencies. And there’s only going to be more of that data to love in coming years: Gartner predicts that 36 percent of U.S. consumer content will be stored in the cloud by 2016.

    But whether you use a Web-based email service, keep files in Google Drive, or upload photos to Shutterfly, everything you write, upload, or post gets stored in a server that belongs to the online service, not to you. And because of outdated rules enumerated in the ECPA, this cloud-based data is vulnerable to a privacy loophole so big that a Google self-driving car could roll through it.
    #3: Location data betrayal
    Call it the end of the easy alibi: Location data will make it increasingly difficult for you to wander around the world without someone knowing exactly where you are at any given time. Your cell phone is the primary tattletale, but the location data you post to social networking sites are revealing sources, too. Pinpointing your whereabouts will get easier still as other location-beaming devices come online, from smarter cars to smarter watches to Google Glass.

    “When you leave your house and go to a friend’s house, run errands, go to work, visit a lover—whatever it is you do—if your geolocation is tracked and recorded, that’s a lot of information about you,” says senior policy analyst Jay Stanley, of ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Program.

    Armed with this data, advertisers might (for example) send you promotions for nearby businesses, wherever you are. The result could be a nice surprise—or not. According to a 2011 report by Gartner, “forty-one percent of consumers say they would be concerned about privacy if they were to use mobile location services so that they can receive more targeted offers through advertising or loyalty programs.”

    • Anonymous
      February 4, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      While I agree with your post, what is it's relevance to the article?