What does cyber security have to do with a pet tracker? Hearing about the new GDPR rules has been impossible to miss. A lot of people are annoyed about these rule updates, since everyone had to update their terms and conditions, and people’s e-mails got spammed. Although I must admit that was annoying, you should rejoice about this change. The laws of the Internet was first set in 1988, and this was the first update of the rules in nearly 30 years! It was about time. At least in my opinion.
In this article we will be focusing on cyber security, and why it should be taken seriously. Even in a Pet Tracker.
what should be the main focus when creating a pet tracker?
You might think this list is easy to figure out, but far from it. There is a lot of different aspects that goes into manufacturing a pet tracker. You have to keep in mind comfort, battery life, live tracking, tracking logic etc. The list goes on and on. A common mistake these days, is that almost everyone forgets about an important point. The cyber security.
This is especially noticeable in pet trackers manufactured in the East. Their focus is on manufacturing a quality product, which is great, but security is often ignored. These pet trackers usually comes with an application that is also produced in the East. Both the devices and the application is rarely secured at all. This was covered a lot in Norwegian media during 2017, where the security in these products and applications was exposed. Everything was in the open, and could be gathered by anyone who had a little bit of tech knowledge. This is where Tail it Technologies comes in. They are a tech company based in Trondheim, Norway, who also got their products tested by the Norwegian government.
cyber security in GPS devices
Now you might not find the personal data of your pet that important, but when we take a closer look, you can see that this information might be sensitive. Your pet’s location is usually near you as the owner. Information can be gathered on what routes you take when walking your dog, what stores you might pass, and some pet trackers actually comes equipped with listening technology.
I'm sure you have seen it as well. This is a popular feature in China manufactured GPS devices. There are some devices you could understand this feature being used on, but I personally don't get why you would want to listen in to your dog. What’s the bigger issue here, is if that technology is not secured properly. And it rarely is. Imagine the President had a GPS tracker for dogs, and he was unaware that the Pet tracker actually came with a listening function. In the hands of the wrong people, they could be able to listen in to the Presidents conversations.
what you, the consumer, should be aware of when you buy a pet tracker
We recommend you to get informed on the product and the company that offers the service. Don't be afraid to ask them how they handle personal data, and if their application is EU GDPR approved. We've had big revelations when similar products have been put to the test in the past. Security on most of these have been revealed to be shocking.
Most likely, nothing is happening with your information. Most of us live very plain lives, and even if something was to be shared it probably wouldn't make that big of a difference. That being said, the thought of it happening is horrifying. It is simply a matter of principle. Your information and data should not be shared with anyone without your consent.
what does the tail it pet tracker do differently?
The Tail it Pet Tracker was manufactured after these revelations had been made in other products. This gave them the opportunity to do things different. They had already been developing a secure firmware for a while, after being funded by the Norwegian Research Council. This is type of scholarship that was also given to Edvard Moser, who won the Nobel Prize for his research on the human brain. In other words, this scholarship isn't given to anyone.
The firmware is encrypted, which means there are encryption keys on the server and pet tracker itself. This allows the devices to send signals back and forth to each other totally safe. Any information you would try to hack, would be unusable, as you need the encryption key to read it. This also reduced the amount of data being sent from the pet tracker to the Tail it server. Not only did this help reduce subscription costs, but also increased the battery capacity by a lot.
Cyber security is a debate happening all over the world every day. We've had major companies using or selling the personal data of their customers before, and it won't be the last time. It is not going to be something that gets good overnight, but it needs to be something that we all work towards. We shouldn't accept anything that isn't properly secured. When looking for new types of tech these days, make sure you're not sacrificing your privacy.
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