Information gathering and data collection have reached an all time high.  Besides the online repositories of your personal information, there are now more and more physical objects that are collecting this information for government officials to utilize.  In many cities, stoplights have computers attached that register traffic patterns and can be used to search for vehicles in a certain geographic location.  Air pollution stations are able to collect air quality data that is then passed on to those in the government.  All of these physical objects are combined into a term that is now referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT).  Cities can use this information to help the city flow easier and to help make life better for its citizens.  But, like everything else associated with the Internet, this can also bring about the potential for misuse and hacking.

The Internet of Things is constantly collecting your personal data

Cyber-attacks and hacking have moved to the forefront of the news with the recent revelations about Facebook and possible Russian influence of the presidential election.  But what you may not realize is there is a lot of data being collected about you without your knowledge.  If you use your cellphone to “check in” at a location, your data can be used to track you.  In addition, the Cityware project was designed to track the interaction of Facebook friends in real life by tracking their profiles coupled with their Bluetooth signals.  In fact, that cellphone in your pocket is constantly disseminating data about you including your physical location.  This information can be collected by IoT devices in tech-advanced cities.  But what worries many people is the information can be sold to third-party marketing firms and you ultimately have no say in that transaction.  Your data is being used as virtual currency with no opportunities for you to control it.  This also happens if you use any other Internet connected devices such as an iPad or other tablet and it can also be collected if you use home management devices such as Alexa.  All of this is fair game to be used for marketing purposes.

Your data is worth a lot

But the concern is not only with your data being sold, it can also be stolen.  Recently, the city of Atlanta was the victim of a ransomware attack that left it unable to process utility and traffic fine bills.  Thankfully, emergency services were not compromised, but it does raise concerns that if a major city could be the victim of such a hack, then data they collect could also be compromised.  Even a relatively small town such as Augusta, Georgia (known internationally for the Masters golf tournament) was the recent victim of a cyber attack that may have compromised employee usernames and passwords.  Other countries have had major services compromised, including the Ukraine that was put into a total blackout when their electric grid was hacked.

The bottom line for this is that data collection is something that is not going away any time soon.  However, citizens need to become more active in informing themselves about what is happening and what risks are involved when they connect to the Internet. New Edge Technology Solutions wants to be sure you are aware of the latest in cyber-attacks and help you to become proactive in protecting your information.  Find out more about NETS and how we’re protecting businesses every day.