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The Dark Side of Hi Tech Devices

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The aggressors do not go on vacation, on the contrary, just in this period of frenzy they create excellent opportunities to catch unprepared companies and individuals, the latter, intent on grabbing the best offers for Christmas gifts.

Hi-tech devices, for personal and domestic use, were certainly the most popular of the Christmas period.

However, as they are connected to the network, they may expose users to cyber security risks.

It is no coincidence that, according to a PWC research, out of 2000 people interviewed, 38% said they did not want to buy a voice assistant for fear of being spied on. While 28% claim to be concerned about data privacy.

But what are the risks associated with the use of Hi Tech objects?

Is there really a risk of someone spying on us through the digital devices that Santa has placed under our tree? There are two aspects that we need to consider when using Smart devices:

  • Privacy
  • Safety


A smart object is a device that learns our habits to offer us a better service: the smart thermostat understands when we are at home or what our daily habits are to self-regulate. The Smart Assistant learns to recognize our voice, our controls, our environment in order to be more efficient in responding to our needs. The fitness traker must detect our vital signs in order to give us appropriate recommendations. To function as we expect, these devices are perpetually in a waking state ready to receive a stimulus or command from us, in other words: they are constantly listening!

In addition to this, it is important to know that these objects have a limited processing capacity, so the collected data is sent to the cloud to be studied by artificial intelligence algorithms that then return the required information. What is the cloud? Well, it’s another way to call the service providers we use: Facebook/Meta, Google, Amazon, Apple, etc, etc, etc…

So it’s true we’re being spied on?

We are not spied on as individuals, no one cares what Mrs Rosa does on Sunday mornings or what route Mr Anselmo takes to work. We are not interesting as individuals, we are rather very interesting as part of a system, it is interesting to know that the fifty-year-old North East Italian eat pizza on Wednesday nights. Or that 80% of young people under the age of 20 hate white tennis shoes, that the most sought recipes between 18.00 and 21.00 in the evening have vegan ingredients or that the sales trend of food for celiacs is growing dramatically in Lombardy. This information defines the market and is valuable for optimizing sales or even manipulating and targeting population segments.

What can we do to avoid it?

Really little, it is about take or leave, we want to turn on the lights with your voice? Convenient to have the navigator that tells you to the minute when we arrive at destination and which road is less busy? Have a watch measure our heart rate and warn us if it detects abnormalities?

Do we want to live SMART?

The price to pay is the data that we enter in the circuit, the more data there are more the system is Smart. Of course, there are regulations and bodies that monitor the proper use of personal data and it is to be expected that the large organisations mentioned above will comply with the rules imposed. This should ensure that our data, associated with our person, are not usable for targeted actions towards the individual.

The same WHO in the recent document Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 highlights the importance and suggests concrete actions for the management of health data collected through wearable devices.

The European Union is proceeding with controls and sanctions against companies that process personal data under the GDPR (Regulation No. 2016/679).

All this protects the individual, but I am sure that one day my son walking in the metaverse, he will not find white shoes in any window, even if he were to be part of that 20% that still appreciates them


For some years now there has been much talk of Digital Transformation to indicate a process of digitization of companies, This phenomenon is also spreading rapidly to our personal life thanks to the proliferation of devices connected to the Internet for purely domestic use.

Home automation is now a consolidated reality, every modern house is equipped with remote control systems, from windows to video surveillance system, Smart TV, up to the latest technological gadgets such as Amazon Echo, Google Nest to name a few.

Where a device connected to the Internet, there is a potential access point, in this case, to our home or to our personal data. Once you have taken possession of a system you can easily move to the adjacent ones, up to the complete control of the house. After all, this is exactly what happens in companies that suffer a cyber attack.

It’s easy to imagine what could happen if someone could remotely shut down the alarm system. Maybe open the windows of our house or just spy on our habits through unwanted access to the video surveillance system.

8 Good Practices for Configuring Hi Tech Devices

In most cases, these problems can be avoided by properly configuring and carefully evaluating what information you want to associate with your device.

  • Change the basic passwords of the connected systems at the time of installation. Ask the installer of the home automation system to do so before paying the bill.
  • Choose a sufficiently strong password
  • The home WiFi network is the point of contact between our house and the Internet, it is essential that the WiFi password is secure. Always change the default passwords, setting passwords difficult to compromise: it is better a long password but easy to remember than a password too complex.
  • Take care not to link company accounts to personal devices.
  • Always enable two-factor authentication where possible
  • Always use only the manufacturer’s official Apps to configure and manage your device.
  • Always update the device software when the manufacturer releases a new version.
  • Carefully check your privacy settings, try where possible to restrict data access or automatic sharing of information with third parties.

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