Lock the door. Shut the windows.

Close the blinds. Draw the curtains.

Never invite a stranger into the house.

These are some of the rules of privacy and security many of us learned when we were young.

Things were so simple then

Those were simpler times, when protecting the physical perimeters of our homes went a long way toward safeguarding our personal privacy and security.

My, how times have changed.

Today, safeguarding our privacy and security is very different and much more challenging.

Protecting our privacy and security in this day and age entails addressing not just the physical world but also the digital one. In this world, “no trespassing” takes on a whole new meaning.

Our connected world opens the door to new threats

The evolution of how we think about and approach privacy and security

IDC projects there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. But, as we all know, connected devices are already commonly found in today’s homes.

In Europe, the average household has an average of 14 smart devices. It’s even higher here in the U.S., at 17 smart devices per household. These connected devices typically include computers, kitchen appliances, security cameras, smart TVs, and smartphones.

Security camera systems are the most often hacked connected home devices. You’ve probably heard some of the stories. For example, last year news reports surfaced about someone hacking a Wi-Fi-connected Nest camera in an infant’s bedroom. The boy’s parents awoke one night to a stranger’s voice using “sexual expletives” and threatening to kidnap the baby.

But it’s not just hackers who are infiltrating our homes and privacy via digital devices. Sometimes the companies that sell and supply those devices are, too.

Personal privacy is also at risk

We recently learned that Amazon Echo and Google Home devices – and, in turn, Amazon and Google employees – were listening to users of these devices. And they were not necessarily listening only when their owners wanted them to.

Smart TV manufacturers also have gotten caught with their hands in the virtual cookie jar. For example, in 2017 Vizio ran afoul of state and federal regulators for collecting viewing data without users’ knowledge or consent.

In covering this news, Consumer Reports informed readers that companies need permission before collecting their viewing data. And it mentioned that people can decline that permission while setting up their smart TVs. But, it added, those individuals will need to read each set-up screen carefully rather than just clicking OK to all privacy policies and user agreements.

Individuals need to play a more active role

This advice from Consumer Reports highlights the fact that individuals today need to work harder to safeguard their own privacy and security.

Individuals can do that both by reading the fine print and seeking out connected solutions that employ authentication technology and encryption.

Consumers and their equipment and services suppliers need to work together to ensure that their homes, families and data are secure and have the privacy they want and expect.

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