The Place of IoT In Domestic Abuse: Gaining Your Autonomy Back as A Victim
When it comes to domestic abuse, the Internet of Things (IoT) can be a double-edged sword.
Already, it is established that roughly half of all men and women have experienced some sort of aggressive, domineering behaviour from their partners in the past. Going by this, it is already evident that domestic abuse is not what we used to know it to be – which is the simple model of verbal or physical violence, or both.
Today, technology has found its way into domestic violence so much, a new definition and ways of control needs be found for it.
How IoT Can Be Used for Domestic Abuse
The scary part of the application of connected devices in domestic abuse is that they usually take effect after the victim has exited the relationship. This makes it more emotionally unsettling for the victim since they are always being made to feel like they cannot escape the watchful gaze of their abusers.
Over the past couple of years, there has been increased reports of abusive patterns that are usually carried out with the aid of one IoT device or the other. Given the way these devices are made to work remotely over the internet, it makes it even easier for the abuser to take control from anywhere they are in the world.
To that effect, we have seen cases of victims waking up to loud music on their sound systems, even though they didn’t leave the player on before going to bed. If that is not enough to drive anyone crazy, perhaps incessant flicking on and off of lights will.
Virtually anything on that home network can be taken and manipulated.
If those are not intrusive enough, the case of digital locks come to the fore. Here, the constant changing of locks or hacking of these locks are common. Both are dangerous in that it could mean locking the victim out of their own house, or letting the abuser in, as the case may be.
All that, and we have not even touched on the manipulation of microphones to listen on the victim, motion sensors to track their movements within the house and cameras to record private moments which could be leaked or held over the victim, as the case may be.
How IoT Can Be Leveraged Against Domestic Abuse
With everything going on up there, it is easier to think that IoT is a doomsday tool for those looking to escape one form of domestic abuse or the other. That could not be farther from the truth.
In fact, a little education about the working principles of these devices is all you need to get out of the bind. While we talk about that in the next subsection, you should know here that these connected devices could also be used to thwart the efforts of abusers.
This is not you playing dirty with them, but beating them at their own sorry games.
For example, there are a series of doorbells (such as Ring) which allows the user to see who is at the door without answering it first. The same can be said of some smart speakers which will allow the victim to record cases of abuse silently, helping to build a solid case for themselves later.
In this case, the possibilities are endless. That goes on to show you that any piece of technology can be used for good or bad, and you should not let the cons outweigh the pros for you.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, how about stopping abusers in their tracks too?
Fighting the Technology Abuse
Like we said earlier, a basic understanding of these connected devices will make a lot of difference. Should you fall into this category, here are a couple of tips to help you make the situation better:
- Reset all devices – That way, you get to set them up with new password and profile details. That makes it impossible for the abuser to hack into the connected devices with the former login details (which is the one they have set, in most case)
- Rotate passwords – This makes sure the abuser never had a lock on what the password to your home units could be. Again, that keeps them out by making remote access impossible.
- Isolate devices – Many users have the habit of connecting all their units to the same Wi-Fi network. We recommend using separate Wi-Fi networks for a bunch of connected devices. This way, an attack on a set of devices does not give access to everything in the home, allowing for better containment.
- Update app software – Developers of the apps behind connected devices are constantly sending out updates to quash bugs and fix vulnerabilities.
Encrypt your connection – Your Wi-Fi connection could also be used as a backdoor to hack into your connected devices. Beyond setting a password, you should also encrypt the network. If you are not very tech-savvy, you will be better off layering the connection over a VPN to tunnel your traffic, making it inherently safer.