Everything we do, own, and use has risk involved. Sometimes thats physical or health risks, others are security and privacy risks.
One thing we here at the IoD project are trying to do is to make people aware of the risks as well as the benifits of IoD devices. This way they can make informed choices and also take extra steps to protect themselves in this new and interesting area of IoT.
This article on Techcrunch came to our attention over the holidays. It advises consumers to avoid connected sex toys because of security and privacy risks, highlighting a few recent cases (some of which we were involved in) of vendors having major security issues. We wanted to debunk or at least provide some context for readers of such articles so they can better understand if they are comfortable with these devices.
*Full disclosure: The author of the article is a friend and on our holiday card list, but that doesn't mean we can't disagree with the advice in his article.
Yes, anything connected has risks to your privacy and security. Yes, there have been vendors who have had issues in the past and they will in the future, just like every other connected device out there (cameras, thermostats, etc). Because IoD devices are used in rather intimate ways and in very sensitive places, security and privacy issues that consumers wouldn't normally care about, suddenly take on a whole new meaning and importance with IoD devices.
If you are considering a connected sex toy, there are some things you can do and questions you can ask yourself to decide if you're comfortable with the risks, and steps you can take.
- Get a new, 'clean' email address, unassociated with you, to sign up for accounts. If the vendor is compromised, there is nothing pointing to you as the user.
- Be aware what you may share on them in terms of photos, video and personal information. Especially if sharing with strangers.
- Keep apps updated. This is the major way that security vulnerabilities are fixed before they are a problem.
- Understand the features the device has and asking if you are comfortable with them. Some are more 'social' than others.
- Can you easily determine which company makes the device? Are they easy to find?
While there have been security incidents, we don't believe that the public should fear this technology. They should understand it and take care to not put themselves at undue risk but what amount of risk they are comfortable with, thats a decision each person has to make. If someone is not comfortable with the risks, then there are a huge number of options for manually operated devices that, in one form or another, have worked for centuries.
Whatever choice you make, we here at the IoD project will do what we can to make sure you can enjoy whatever devices you choose with as little risk as possible.