What does your smart device know about you?

Remove your personal data before returning a product

6 November 2018

Sometimes you use a product for awhile before deciding you aren’t satisfied or discovering a defect. When returning, we ask you to remove your personal data from the device for your own safety. Do you know what the device knows about you, and what the consequences are if this data falls into the wrong hands?

Without knowing it, smart devices know more and more about you. Your smart television knows what you’re watching, when, and how often. Your smart toothbrush knows how often (and how well) you brush. This data may not appear to be relevant, valuable, or dangerous, but the manufacturers collect this data. It’s mainly used for marketing purposes to send you promos and ads based on your preferences or behaviour. There’s no malicious intent there, but it can be annoying to have your inbox flooded with unsolicited advertisements.

Legislation against collecting customer data 

Yes, this can happen on a large scale, but it can also be against the law. The rules in this area are now stricter, so processing customer data without permission can be punishable. For example, the American television manufacturer Vizio analysed viewing behaviour without permission. The company was fined $2.2 billion for collecting customer data and sending it to external advertising companies.

The above case is only about viewing behaviour and advertising. There are smart devices that know a lot more about you and that data is more important to protect.

Be aware of the risks 

It’s very important to know what kind of info these devices collect so you can minimise the risks. Consider, for example, your child’s GPS tracker that knows their daily route to school. The security camera in your garden films everything, including access roads. Your smart speaker listens to what you say when activated. Your smart scale has access to your health data. This is all sensitive information that you don’t want out in public.

Fortunately, the chance of this happening is very small. You can simply trust your smart devices if you buy good products. For example, the Nuki Smart Lock was declared a secure smart home product by AV-Test in 2018. The lock was tested on, among other things, digital security (encryption) and outside manipulation (burglary).

Update your software and use strong passwords

In addition to buying quality products, it’s important to take security measures like regularly updating your software, setting strong passwords, and using virus scanners for your network. Cybercrime is always a risk, and you should take precautions. You may have recently seen the news of unsecured cameras that were hacked and broadcast online. These cameras all had the default password, and people were being spied on without realising it. This went on for a long time after the news came out, because people still had not updated their software or changed their passwords.

We can’t emphasize this enough: to use smart devices safely, it’s important to buy quality products, update the software regularly, and change your passwords. This minimises the risk of others accessing your personal data. You can’t prevent the device from collecting data, but you can protect that data from falling into the wrong hands.

Longer use = more data

This also applies when you return a product to us. We offer a trial period of 55 days instead of the usual 14 days. This is a big advantage, because you can test the product for longer. It also means that your product knows more about you because you’ve used it longer. That’s why it’s very important to ensure no data is left on the device when you send it back.

We don’t have access to your device, so you will have to delete this data yourself. We therefore ask you to delete all linked accounts, including social media accounts. Remove as many apps as possible and any entered data. The last step before returning is to reset the product to factory settings. The emptier the device, the safer your data is. You just have to be aware of what the device knows about you.