During my time at CES 2016, televisions and drones battled for my attention. But I promised myself not to be drawn to the light of the beautiful 4K displays and the whirling copters on the show floor. I wanted to find a product I felt would make a difference in consumers' lives this year. I may have found that product when I visited Privoro.
What is Privoro?
Privoro is a new technology company that takes pride in standing "on the right side of privacy. [Yours.]" The threat of your private data being compromised is real. We read about attacks on a company's private networks and data quite regularly. What we don't hear is the consideration of environmental data on the enterprise or personal level. This is where Privoro steps in with privacy guard cases.
What exactly is environmental data? Allow me to share a few simple examples: your conversation with a colleague about your favorite sports team, the negotiations you have in a board room with a potential client, your routine stop at the local coffee house each morning. All of this is data that can be harvested by anyone who wants it. The "anyone" could be tech giants, such as Google and Amazon, or even your mobile phone provider. Your environmental data is valuable because of the signals that marketers or businesses can gather from it.
Hmm. Mr. Pruitt really loves having tacos on Tuesdays. Let's see if we can push a few taco stand ads to his mobile phone the next time he uses the web.
That type of scenario is familiar enough, as we see it every day in our email and social media ads that are targeted to us based upon previous history and preferences stored in a database. But what about the hypothetical scenario of applying for life insurance?
Mr. Pruitt ate at Taco Shack on South Street each Tuesday for lunch for the last three months. That processed food can't be healthy and could easily increase his LDL cholesterol score. It's in our best interest as a life insurance company to increase his premiums.
Like it or not, your environmental data is harvested regularly. However, you can implement best practices to help protect your data—which includes what you converse about, where you do it, and with whom. Just keep in mind that if it's on the internet, it's being tracked. Period.
Where does Privoro come in?
I had the pleasure of speaking with Privoro CEO Mike Fong during a private interview at CES. He explained that Privoro is focused on protecting your environmental data with a newly launched case that can be applied to your smartphone, desktop computer, or laptop. In particular, "Smartphones are ground zero" when it comes to privacy, he said.
The Privoro privacy guard case for the iPhone 6 and 6s has the tech to block RF, jam all the phone's microphones, and even block the cellular transmission to disallow location tracking. Privoro also offers a similar device that attaches to iMacs, which covers the camera and jams the microphones. The sad truth is, these microphones and cameras are always accessible by hackers—even when you're not using them.
Privoro's technology disrupts hacker attempts to gain access to your environmental data. The cost is $499 for the iMac and $999 for the iPhone 6/6s.
Privoro is currently developing for Samsung smartphones, as well as Dell and Lenovo computers. Pre-orders are available for a Spring 2016 release. Enterprise companies with traveling employees are the target audience for the device at this time. These individuals travel with sensitive data regularly and/or are in meetings regularly about sensitive data.
I thoroughly enjoyed my hour-long chat with Mr. Fong. And it was eye opening to learn about how our environmental data is so readily available—and ready to be exploited by hackers. The following video offers a shortened version of our discussion on camera.
- You have no privacy (or security), so get over it
- 9 privacy and security errors startups can't afford to make
- Five utilities that help protect your online privacy
Is your organization worried about hackers exploiting environmental data? Are you? Share your opinions with fellow TechRepublic members.
Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.