Future tracking technology — what are the cybersecurity risks?


Tuesday, 21 June, 2016

Future tracking technology — what are the cybersecurity risks?

Five new applications of tracking technology are predicted along with details on the expected security implications for users.

Thanks to technological developments, carrying a map or asking a stranger for directions is now a distant memory. Most smartphones use GPS and Wi-Fi technology to determine location with an accuracy of a few metres. New tracking technologies are set to be released in the next 10 years that could revolutionise our everyday lives. Daniel Lewkovitz, technology and security expert and founder of Calamity, shares his predictions for the biggest developments in tracking technology and whether they pose any cybersecurity risks.

1. Eye-tracking smartphones

The next generation of smartphones could include built-in eye-tracking technology so notifications will only be displayed when the user is looking at the screen. It will also make autocorrect ‘more intuitive’ as it will automatically autocorrect a word depending on whether or not the user was focused on what they were typing.

Potential security implications: Eye-tracking enabled smartphones will offer an additional biometric safety measure. Smartphones that already use fingerprint passwords and retinal or iris-based authentication will automatically assist to keep data secure from criminals or recognise who is using a device — for example, a parent or their child — and configure it accordingly.

2. Smart shopping centres

Shopping centres are already embracing technology to draw customers back to bricks-and-mortar stores. Facial recognition technology can help to identify particular customers such as regulars or those banned for shoplifting. Tracking the way people move through stores will enhance the experience, making it more personal while increasing revenue for stores.

Potential security implications: There is the possibility for inadvertent privacy breaches. An American chain store used data analytics to identify possibly pregnant women from changes to their shopping habits. It caused a scandal when they sent coupons for baby products to a high-school student, causing her father to lash out at the store. However, the analysis was correct.

3. Personal safety

Tracking technology has the potential to make individuals safer than ever before. Devices and mobile apps have been designed to protect lone workers, the elderly, the disabled or anyone who might feel unsafe or at risk. Calamity has products called the Silent Sentinel pendant and the Fearless mobile security system. Silent Sentinel is aimed at seniors, lone workers and those at risk in their home. The pendant has automatic fall detection built in. The Fearless personal safety system extends this protection to the streets and includes a mobile app, supported by 24/7 live monitoring.

Potential security implications: These devices are designed to increase safety and support risk management. Given the obvious safety benefits of these systems there is the possibility of users feeling ‘bulletproof’ and exposing themselves to unnecessary additional risk.

4. Health and fitness

Fitness bands and smartwatches are expected to grow in popularity and become even ‘smarter’. Sensors may begin to be attached directly to the skin on temporary ‘patches’ or even swallowed, eventually being embedded inside the body.

Potential security implications: It is possible that wearable devices could be compromised, revealing personal information including the user’s location. A hack on ‘smart’ pacemaker devices could theoretically allow a person to induce a heart attack in someone with one fitted.

5. Virtual reality (VR)

Will we soon be able to move inanimate objects just by using our eyes? VR uses motion tracking and eye tracking to create the most immersive experiences.

Potential security implications: The virtual environment is very new and therefore at risk of as-yet-unidentified security threats. Privacy policies and encryption processes are still in the early stages of use and may not yet reflect the needs of users.

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