A few weeks ago we shared an article about how your robot vacuum can double as a secret security camera for your home surveillance. But did you know that your Roomba has created a map of your home in its memory which assists it with navigation while vacuuming? Right now that map remains stored privately in the Roomba's memory, but the CEO of Roomba's parent company, iRobot, has plans to share that map (read: sell it for profit) with other companies (specifically, those who manufacture smart home voice assistants) who can target you for things they want to sell to you, and this sharing will occur, you guessed it, online. This is part of advancing the concept of the "smart home." If you think telemarketers are annoying, and are frustrated that they can still reach you even if you are on the seemingly urban-mythological "do not call list", just wait til marketers start giving you suggestions for purchases throughout your home based on what they know from your vacuum! Oh, traitorous vacuum.
But, spontaneous marketing via your Roomba won't be as annoying as a thief getting a hold of that map, though, and if a massive company can have millions of user accounts exposed via hacking (pick your news story), then don't think it can't or won't happen with Roomba.
We recently brought to our readers' attention a research study that was conducted to find out the most internet insecure countries in the world, with the United States topping the charts. In this study it was discovered that via a particular website complete and total strangers could hack into tens of thousands of private security cameras via online access, including those in baby monitors. Anything controlled via the internet is subject to hacking. To read that post, please click here.
The challenge with the "smart home" is ensuring that convenience does not override physical security. This is a huge market and one that is still in testing phases in many ways, meaning that the kinks the smart home encounters are being solved via trial and error. After so many issues in one particular area, smart home technology manufacturers will make improvements. Until then, how many burglaries and invasions have to occur via smart home technology? How many sacrifices are willing to be made in the name of cutting edge technology?
Smart home technology is an exploding field with many possibilities, and one of those is decreased security. While the CEO of iRobot claims this is a few years out and that users will be given the option to have their data shared, most consumers are wised up at this point to know that often times we have to go searching for those settings that lock down our security because the default leaves it wide open. As the following article from bleepingcomputer.com perfectly concludes: "If you own a Roomba smart vacuum, it would be wise to keep an eye on any privacy or ToS updates in the near future."
And, with increased access to your home by total strangers who don't need to come in through the door or window or garage anymore, but rather as hackers, your home security needs to be ready for the next generation. To find out more, give us a call or fill out our contact form and we'll make it our priority to make your home and business security the best it can be.
The following was originally published by bleepingcomputer.com on July 25, 2017:
Roomba maker iRobot Corp announced future plans to sell maps of users' homes to advertisers, according to an interview iRobot CEO Colin Angle gave yesterday.
There's no deadline set for when this will happen, but investors are itching at the possible earnings, hence the reason why iRobot stock grew to $102 per share in June 2017 compared to only $35 in the same month last year.
Roomba vacuums have been mapping homes since 2015
Roomba autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners have been on the market since 2002, and are an undeniable and overwhelming success.
In 2015, iRobot started selling Roomba models capable of mapping homes, so the vacuums would know where they should go and stop bumping into furniture or other things.
These maps have been kept on the device, but iRobot plans to upload them to its servers, and soon, sell them to online advertisers like Amazon, Apple, or Google.
Primary buyers aren't your regular ad companies, but makers of smart home voice assistants, like Amazon (Alexa), Apple (Siri), and Google (Home). These companies could buy this data and combine it with the telemetry they get from their devices and built user profiles that they can sell down the road to classic advertising companies, or offer advertising inside their products.
"There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared," iRobot CEO Colin Angle told Reuters in an interview.
No user data will be sold without permission
In spite of the bold privacy-intrusive business strategy, Angle is well aware that some users won't like the company's direction. This is why Angle said they won't share any data unless users agree beforehand.
If you own a Roomba smart vacuum, it would be wise to keep an eye on any privacy or ToS updates in the near future.
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