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Privacy implications of switching ON a light bulb in the IoT world

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Abstract

The number of connected devices is increasing every day, creating smart homes and shaping the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), and most of the time, end-users are unaware of their impacts on privacy. In this work, we analyze the ecosystem around a Philips Hue smart white bulb in order to assess the privacy risks associated to the use of different devices (smart speaker or button) and smartphone applications to control it. We show that using different techniques to switch ON or OFF this bulb has significant consequences regarding the actors involved (who mechanically gather information on the user's home) and the volume of data sent to the Internet (we measured differences up to a factor 100, depending on the control technique we used). Even when the user is at home, these data flows often leave the user's country, creating a situation that is neither privacy friendly (and the user is most of the time ignorant of the situation), nor sovereign (the user depends on foreign actors), nor sustainable (the extra energetic consumption is far from negligible). We therefore advocate a complete change of approach, that favors local communications whenever sufficient.
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Dates and versions

hal-02196544 , version 1 (29-07-2019)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-02196544 , version 1

Cite

Mathieu Thiery, Vincent Roca, Arnaud Legout. Privacy implications of switching ON a light bulb in the IoT world. 2019. ⟨hal-02196544⟩
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