Connected Homes Add Convenience and Caution

Whether it's a phone, a printer, a camera or TV, our privacy is only as good as our weakest device.

(Published Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018)

We are another step closer to living in a connected home.

These days, you can turn on lights, change channels and get the weather report without even lifting a finger. But if you can connect, the fear is, so can other people.

"As you open up all of your devices within your home, it's not just you that has the potential to access them," said Eva Velasquez with San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center.

The world recently got a glimpse into the future of connected homes at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The show features the latest gadgets that could eventually change our lives. But it's a change Velasquez says we need to be cautious about.

"Privacy needs to come first and then all of the cool stuff can be layered on it." said Velasquez, "But it should not be an afterthought."

The privacy expert says whether it's a phone, a printer, a camera or TV, our privacy is only as good as our weakest device. She says one small pathway can potentially open up access to your entire home.

In many cases, it's data that is the prize. Businesses can possibly collect it from our online, Bluetooth and wifi connected devices.

"You are giving up some of your privacy for that convenience," said Velasquez. Even something as innocent as a connected thermostat can reveal valuable and personal information.

"It can indicate when you are home and when you're not," said Velasquez. "It can indicate that you have a set schedule, it can indicate that you are gone for a long period of time. That's valuable information for someone who is collecting data."

Velasquez says if you have connected devices, don't forget to keep up on the privacy settings. When you upgrade an app or an appliance, sometimes the privacy rules also change.