Most connected devices routinely send behavioral data from their users to third parties, reveals a collaborative study between Northeastern University and Imperial College London.
The research team from both universities tested 81 Internet-of-Things objects, including bells, refrigerators, televisions and smart speakers made by companies like Google and Roku.
It found that the majority of them, 72 out of 81 devices tested, collect information such as usage patterns, location data and IP address from their owners and send them to their partners, who are often web giants like Amazon.
The report explains that almost all smart TVs tested have communicated with Netflix even if they were not configured with a streaming video service account. One of the tested surveillance cameras even transmitted information to 52 different IP addresses.
This data transmission would allow a company holding information on a large portion of the devices in a household to develop user profiles that would be used to feed data-driven algorithms, such as targeted advertising, can we read in the report.
The research team points out that people using these devices are unaware that their data is being leaked and are demanding more transparency from manufacturers.
Our study is the first of what will undoubtedly be a long line of research that will allow consumers to better understand – and better control – the data that is exposed by their connected devices , said the study’s co-author, David. Choffnes, interviewing the Motherboard website.
It has also been shown repeatedly that connected objects are vulnerable to hackers, especially because many of them are poorly protected. Often, the default user codes and passwords are programmed by the manufacturers and are the same for all devices of the same model. People who buy them do not change them manually when they should.
David Choffnes advises the public to choose unintelligent technologies if he has the protection of his data at heart and especially to avoid products with microphones and cameras.
Jennifer Cruise is a financial reporter, focusing on technology and cyber security. Before joining PGM, Jennifer worked as a staff writer at Fast Company and spent two years as a foreign correspondent in London. Her work has been published on NPR, Business Insider, Medium and many other outlets.