Personal data protection and smart devices: what precautions should be taken?

Smart home solutions’ market has experienced a real boom in recent years. By 2017, according to the Opinionway barometer, 52 % of French people had at least one connected object in their homes, compared to only 35 % a year earlier. Indeed, there is a real enthusiasm for these devices that make our homes safer, more comfortable and make our daily lives easier. Nevertheless, users are increasingly vigilant about their personal data and respect for their privacy. 76 % of French people believe that smart devices pose a risk to their privacy or their personal data protection. They wonder about which data are collected by their connected objects and how it is used.


It is important to know that the use of smart devices sometimes involves the use of your personal data. Smart devices (speakers, TVs, thermostats, locks and other connected cameras) need to get to know you by collecting some of your information to adapt to your person and lifestyle. What are your most frequent outing times? Which rooms do you heat the most and therefore, use the most? Who visits you and at what time? What music pieces, podcasts, shows do you usually listen to or watch?

Favoring certain manufacturers and following a few simple tips will help you protect your privacy and the security of your data.


Not all smart devices are secure

The purpose of connected objects is to simplify users’ lives by automating everyday tasks. They can improve your quality of life, your comfort or even save energy. However, according to the 2019 Avast Smart Home report, 40,8 % of connected households worldwide, use at least one vulnerable connected object. According to the results of the Avast 2019 report on connected houses, 69,2 % of smart devices (TV, smart thermostats, webcams, home automation boxes, etc.) are vulnerable because of their weak design, while 31,4 % are vulnerable because of their software or services. The use of smart devices is not without risk. But, other types of vulnerabilities exist. They concern connection security and information management. Smart devices, as well as software and applications related to these objects, sometimes lack protection. Indeed, in order to be used, they must necessarily be connected to the Internet. Connections can therefore represent a risk if they are not secure.


Some companies offer smart, simple and effective solutions to protect your data and respect your privacy in accordance with the recommendations of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations)*. Netatmo for example, ensures the highest respect for your privacy by choosing “privacy by design”. Thus, from the design phase of products to their uses, the company ensures that the quantity of personal data collected is reduced to a strict minimum. With regard to the processing of personal data, Netatmo only collects from its users the data necessary for the proper functioning of their products. As a result, and in accordance with the Data Protection Law, no personal data or contact details such as the user’s name, first name, age or address is required when creating a Netatmo account. By asking its users for the minimum amount of personal information to use its smart devices, Netatmo significantly reduces data security risks. In addition, users can customize their application settings and decide which data they want to share with the company and which data they want to keep private. In addition, the data collected by the company is not sold to third parties.


How to secure your smart home?

There are several simple and effective tips to quickly implement to increase your data protection. CNIL’s guide “Security of personal data”, gives you a number of them. Each one allows you to better secure your information without giving up your smart home.


• As soon as you install, change the default passwords for your smart devices and then change them regularly. Many manufacturers create connected products that work with a predefined username and password. However, these are often easy to guess and users are not encouraged to change them to install or use these products. This practice causes security problems: criminals can easily hack into these products and control them just by trying these default credentials. Unlike other companies, Netatmo does not design its products with a default password system. Each Netatmo product is pre-programmed with a unique complex identification key per device to avoid this risk of piracy. This key is integrated into the product and therefore cannot be reproduced by a malicious person.


Choose unique and complicated passwords with a large number of characters. Choose a different password than the ones you use for your computer equipment and on your other devices and applications (mailbox, social networks, computer…). When creating their Netatmo account, users must choose a password that contains letters, numbers, symbols, upper and lower case letters. Users are alerted when this password does not meet these requirements and are guided to define a sufficiently secure password.


Perform software updates as soon as they occur when they are not automatic. Netatmo regularly and automatically updates its products software. All Netatmo products, including those already on the market, are affected by these updates. With these automatic and free security updates, Netatmo offers the most secure and advanced technologies to its users.


Equip yourself with references from well-known brands that are reliable in terms of privacy. Netatmo offers various ranges of smart home solutions that respect your privacy and care about your personal data protection. In particular, it offers the Netatmo Smart Indoor Camera, which is equipped with facial recognition technology that allows it to identify faces. Once your loved ones are recognized by the camera, you can disable video recording for familiar faces from the settings. Grandparents, friends and children, can then come and go without being supervised or filmed.


• Before acquiring a connected object, find out how your information will be stored. For example, you may prefer a smart device with a local and secure data storage system. Netatmo smart cameras allow you to store your sensitive personal data locally, thanks to an included microSD card. For a higher level of security, data is stored encrypted. Only you can access the videos and only the camera concerned can play the microSD card. It means your personal data really cannot be accessed without your consent. So, potential intruders do not have access to camera images. Finally, thanks to local storage, you don’t pay any subscription fees to access the videos.


With the “security by design” approach, Netatmo ensures the security of user data since potential risks are studied and anticipated from the early stages of product and application creation.


Apple has announced the launch of HomeKit Secure Video. Netatmo is very excited to be working with Apple to provide Netatmo users the best smart home experience and the most advanced technologies that protect user privacy and security. A free and automatic firmware update will add HomeKit Secure Video compatibility to new and existing Netatmo Smart Indoor Cameras and Smart Outdoor Cameras later this year. Netatmo users can experience HomeKit Secure Video through the Apple Home app on iPhone and iPad with select iCloud storage plans.

So there are smart devices that you can trust. If there are now 3 or 4 of them per household, these smart devices will probably be much more numerous in a few years’ time. This is another reason to get into good habits today in order to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by IoT.

Discover smart security cameras that respect your privacy

* To respect everyone’s privacy, avoid directing your Netatmo Smart Outdoor Camera towards the street or your neighbours’ property. We also recommend that you inform your family, relatives and home employees, if you have ones, of the installation of a camera in your home.

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