Friday, September 30, 2016

The Internet of Cows

Glenn Fink, a security researcher at Pacific Northwest Labs, did a presentation called the “Internet of Cows” where he showed how dairy farming has become an automated, internet accessible business process. He took  the discussion one step further by saying that cows make great human surrogates in the privacy debates surrounding IoT. He showed how data from almost every single biological process of a cow (health, reproduction, location, sounds) is monitored by IoT.  Analysis of herd data allows farmers to predict the health of a cow, the optimum time for reproduction and milk production. He maintained that cows don’t object to this type of management and therefore, this is why they are well suited to study the effects of intrusive monitoring. 

It was one of those presentations that makes you go "hmmmmm". The use of "biological" Internet of Things has been well established in the animal husbandry world. As Glenn stated, we're already moving in this direction with regard to human health monitoring. The privacy implications of such monitoring should concern most  of us these days. I've always said that I don't mind external sites collecting data about me as long as a) the default is opt-out where no data is sent out b) you tell me what you're going to do with my data c) you protect my data from unauthorized access.  Obviously, this isn't the norm these days. 

Hopefully, as more "fitness" IoT devices enter the market, people will start to demand their health info be safeguarded as much as possible.  More on this later....

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