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China could be spying via software built into a coffee maker, expert warns

According to a report, China may be using Internet of Things (IoT) software in smart coffee makers to collect data.

American researcher Christopher Balding said in a report that “coffee machine data may seem rather mundane, but as with many aspects of data, risks exist in the way the data is used”.

Balding said “even mundane data from coffee makers can prove risky in the hands of an adversarial state.”

Also Read: Chinese National in US Steals Farm Tech, Pleads Guilty to Economic Espionage

The report explains that payment data can be considered “sensitive information,” including customer information such as time and location data that provides type of usage and physical location.

The report says several Chinese machines have built-in “voice recognition” allowing users to recognize a user’s voice commands while warning that this could raise “a significant additional layer of security concerns if Chinese companies collect voice data of non-Chinese users”.

Watch: US FCC revokes China Unicom’s license over spying fears

Balding said that IoT devices are generally not covered by “security patches” and that internet connections in machines with information on “address, customer identification and organization name allow locate coffee machines with a high degree of accuracy”.

The report says that due to a lack of clarity on data privacy, storage and processing of coffee machines, it poses a major privacy risk.

“All evidence indicates that their machines can and do collect data on users outside of mainland China and store the data
in China,” he said while adding, “the data is collected at the point of operation from software built into the coffee maker.”

(With agency contributions)

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