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What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is the network of Internet-connected devices that are able not only to communicate with humans, but also among each other. These devices collect, transmit and process data.

Today’s connected devices are useful in all sorts of ways. Security cameras allow us to monitor our homes remotely; we can use personal voice assistants to adjust the lighting and temperature in our homes; smart watches make it possible to monitor data related to our health.



The Internet of Things is expanding




Worldwide, 127 connected devices are pluggedinto the Internetevery second


There will be about 3.4 connected devicesper person by 2020


Roughly 1 out of every 4 Canadians uses a connected device to measure health-related data


Data collection

Connected devices are equipped with sensors that collect data producedby you and your environment. You may find the amount of information they collect surprising!

Option Consommateurs

The circulation of personal data

The data your objects collect is likely to spread
on the Internet. It will be hosted on the
cloud computing. It will be used by companies
companies to offer you services. It may also be
used for other purposes. In some cases
it will be communicated to third parties.

Learn more about the circulation of personal data


Poor security

Cybersecurity experts and Canadian government authoritiesare worried about the security of connected devices, and rightly so.There have been many instances in recent years when hackers haveexploited flaws in the Internet of Things. The lack of proper securitymeasures could expose you to information theft or to losing controlover your connected device.


The Guardian
Commission d'accès à l'information du Québec


An army of zombies

In the fall of 2016, a number of popular sites including Twitter,Amazon and Airbnb were made inaccessible for a few hours asthe result of a cyberattack. What caused it? Millions of poorlyprotected connected devices were transformed into a vast networkof zombie machines (a “botnet” network) by a malware known as Mirai.Similar attacks could happen again as hackers continue to develop newmalware able to exploit loopholes in the Internet of Things.


MIT Technology Review

Snooping cameras

Tens of thousands of private surveillance cameras transmitimages to the Internet without the owner’s knowledge. In fact,there are websites on which you can view, in real time, imagesshot in stores or private homes. On these sites, you can evenpinpoint the geographic location of the security cameras. This ismade possible by the fact that the cameras’ owners have used thedefault username and password that were provided with their smartdevices, thus making them particularly easy to hack.


Journal de Montréal


Monitors that talk to children

In 2016, parents heard a voice coming from their baby’s room.Hackers had taken control of a baby monitor, allowing them to talkto the child and change the angle of the camera. Since 2015, a studyby the firm Rapid7 has resulted in corrections to several digitalvulnerabilities in baby monitors sold by major retailers. The hackerswere able to obtain data that gave them access to user-created accountsand allowed them to view recorded videos.


Huffington Post


Best security practices

When it comes time to purchase or use a connected device,it is important to take certain precautions. Secure your devicesand exercise caution when using them. as Secure your home network.


Secure your home network

Make sure your router and modem are up-to-date. The proceduresfor performing the updates can usually be found on the company’s website.

Make sure your home network uses the WPA2 security protocol.This is the protocol selected when configuring most modern routers.If your router does not permit the use of WPA2, exchange it for a new one.

Change the default name given to your home Internet(also known as “Service Set Identifier” or “SSID”). Failure to doso may mean that your network is not secure. Avoid using a namethat could be used to identify you or the place where you live.

Learn about your connected devices

Not all companies collect the same information or implementthe same security measures. Before purchasing a connected device,learn about the company’s practices and mechanisms for protectingyour personal information. You need to feel reassured by the informationyou receive.

Learn more about what questions to ask


Secure your connected devices

You must secure access to your connected device andconfigure its privacy settings during the initial setup procedure.Unless you personally change these settings or they are updatedby the company itself, they will remain the same for the life of useof the connected device.

Find out more about how to secure your connected devices

Precautions for use

Once the connected device is set up, it is easy to forget that it is collecting and transmitting data, often continuously.


Check regularly that your connecteddevices and their apps are up to date.You can usually do this by visiting thecompany’s website.


If you do not use a connected deviceregularly, turn off its microphone and camera.


Before leaving your home fora long time, unplug your connected devices.


Make sure that your contact information
is up-to-date in the app for your connected device.The privacy policy can be sent to you by email.You may receive notifications of security updates.


Check if the retailer still offers
support for your connected device.If updates are no longer provided,avoid using the device.


Before, recycling, selling, or disposing
of your connected device, make sure thatyou have removed all your personalinformation (this can be found both in thedevice itself and in the app), then reset thedevice’s parameters. You should also deletethe account related to the connected device.


Resources to help you out

Understanding your privacy rights :
AnIndividual's Guide to the Protection of Personal Information (OPC)
Overview of privacy laws in Canada (OPC)
Points to consider in a privacy policy (OPC)
Tips for raising privacy concerns with a company (OPC)


Protecting your personal information :
Ten tips for protecting your personal information (OPC)
Privacyand the Internet of Things (OPC)
The Internet of Things at home (Public Safety Canada)
How to be #connected to the Internet of Things (Public Safety Canada)
Smart Home Checklist (Online Trust Alliance)
Data detox kit


To file a complaint concerning the protection of your personal information :
In Quebec: Commission d'accès à l'information du Québec
In Alberta: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta
In British Columbia: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia
In the rest of Canada: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada


To report a cyber security incident :
Tips from Public Safety Canada


Learn more about the challenges of the Internet of Things:
The Internet of Things - An introduction to privacy issues in retail and the home (OPC)
Privacy and Connected Objects (CAI)
The Internet of Things and challenges for consumer protection (Consumers International)
2016 International Internet of Things Sweep (GPEN and OPC)
Every Step You Fake (Open Effect)
Mauritius Declaration on the Internet of Things (ICDPPC)
Internet of things - Privacy & Security in a Connected World (FTC)
Privacy by Design (Ann Cavoukian)
Electronic privacy information center


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This project was supported by a grant from CIRA’s Community Investment Program