Alexa, we need to talk

Credits: Voice Day Campaign | NYT & Amazon Alexa T.S Abe

From bluetooth headphones to home assistants to activity trackers to pet feeders, today’s devices are becoming increasingly ubiquitous and portable. Created in close relation to the internet or entirely dependent on it, these sets of devices make up what we today call the internet of things. Based on an intricate system of interrelated computing devices, the internet of things operates (oh, well) in the all encompassing internet. Every such gadget in the chain, inside this ecosystem of devices is provided with an unique identifier (UID) and has the ability to transfer data over a network.

However plain and straightforward these facts are, we tend to dismiss or disregard them completely when it comes to our online privacy.

Take AI voice assistants like Alexa. Basically, a household consumer electronic that can make phone calls, read the news or tell you jokes. Apart from the mundane, Alexa can turn on lights or the heat, if connected to a wifi smart plug or the thermostat and can even lock the door. All through bluetooth.

Credits: Voice Day Campaign | NYT & Amazon Alexa T.S Abe

Voice requests to Alexa are feeding it’s speech recognition system and we’re not saying it shouldn’t. All that we ask here is caution and a proper understanding of how devices like Alexa work inside the broader topic of IoT( Internet of Things). And perhaps a VPN connection to encrypt your data.

The so-called Disappearing computer phenomenon, a historical time aiming to replace the actual interaction trough screens and keyboards with seamless, sensed interaction, unfolds before our very eyes. But as the Internet of Things evolves, so should our privacy awareness.

Recent DDoS attacks nowadays use household consumer electronic devices to access a wide variety of data. Hence, the liability.

What  today feels like an open, uncensored internet, may in a not so distant future evolve into a far-reaching, sensing, predictable internet. And it’s not just browsing histories, passwords or financial information that’s at stake, it’s planes, cars, homes and even pacemakers, that are now connected to the internet.

Apart from potential security breaches, understanding that algorithms curate the news we read or in severe cases decide what someone of our age/gender/status may be interested in or should be is just as important, when in comes to data security.


Road to Zion

As we arrive to a new age kicking and screaming all the way, we might even find our way to Zion. I somehow, take solace in that.

Until Zion, let’s take it each step at a time and see how the 2019 digital world looks like.

In the sharing, internet economy, data is the currency and sometimes even a political weapon to be reckoned with. In other words, data is today an informational, political and economic asset capable of traveling the speed of light in a vacuum, when going through state of the art optical fibers. Able to operate at 99.7% the speed of light according to researchers at the University of Southampton in England (source: Extreme Tech).

The digital world is now creating tangible value from big data so expect internet privacy to take an even more prominent route in the future (Ain’t no going back).

Nowadays, security must come in layers, not only in the corporate environment, but on a personal level also.

The number one thing you need to get in line with is having a VPN connection. It’s really simple to use and just like that poof! your data travels through an encrypted tunnel, safe from prying eyes and encrypted all the while.

It won’t save you from all the threats out there, but it will make you less vulnerable.

If all else fails, get a pigeon. Until then, stay smart.

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