Online safety is no joking matter nowadays. Considering the sheer amount of hacks, ransomware attacks, phishing scams and such that pervade the internet nowadays, it is a good idea to be constantly vigilant. Now, there’s still the chance that even if you try to secure your information, there’s a loophole that might get exploited by hackers. For example, hackers often target whole sites, instead of getting at individual accounts, which yields up more victims at once. Now, there’s a new alert mechanism to inform you of when your private information is at risk. This project is known as Smell of Data.
The Smell of Data website describes the project as a new scent developed as an alert mechanism for a more instinctive data. Basically, it gives off a particular smell when your data is at risk of being leaked, which could lead to privacy violation, behavior control and identity theft. To make use of this alert mechanism, the company gives a scent dispenser, charged with a specially developed fragrance. This dispenser is then connected to your smartphone, tablet or computer through Wi-Fi. Now, the device is able to detect when a paired system tries to access an unprotected website or unsecured network. When it detects such activity, the scent dispenser will emit a strong, pungent cloud of the Smell of Data to warn you.
This concept was inspired by odorless, flammable gases, which are a major safety threat when there are no indicators of a leakage. For example, in 1937, authorities had to create a rule mandating the addition of a smell to flammable gases. This was after an explosion happened at the New London School in Texas, killing 295 people. Surely, readers closer to home will have heard of such experiences as gas leaks, a key characteristic of which is the smell of the gas.
Now, this story seems unrelated to online security, but the idea of the Smell of Data alert mechanism is similar. People can easily forget about their online security, especially when they get carried away by something interesting online. A lot of people would just visit risky sites or enter unsecured networks without thinking of the consequences. But the Smell of Data would serve as a warning.