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Internet of Behavior (IoB) is Posing Concerns for Data Privacy & Security


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Perceived as the extension of IoT, the Internet of Behavior tries to collect and analyze the data acquired from the users’ online activities. Every coin has two sides though. IoB is raising concerns from the data privacy and security perspective, which cannot and should not be ignored. That is what we are exploring in this blog. The aim is to understand what IoB is and its benefits. We also look into the other side to understand the risks it involves.

“I believe that in a near future, there will be an explosion of apps and services that rely on getting relevant guidance and information directly from individuals and communities to provide the best possible responses, data access, communication, information, interaction, entertainment, services, and function.”

These are one of the lines from a blog by Professor Göte Nyman who introduced the concept of the Internet of Behavior (IoB) in 2012. It has become one of the top technology trends today.

Understanding human psychology plays a critical role in the fields of marketing and sales. Knowing their interests and inclination can help you use them to your advantage. Internet of Behavior interprets the digital dust from the smart IoT devices to provide critical information about the user’s behavioral patterns and interests, from a human psychology perspective. Industries such as healthcare, retail, manufacturing, insurance and FinTech, energy, and marketing are gradually realizing its significance and are utilizing it increasingly to nudge people’s behavior both for their own good and for business advantages.

So, what is IoB, and why are businesses adopting it?

With the advent of IoT, big data, AI, and analytics, data has become one of the most valuable assets utilized by businesses to make critical decisions and strategies. IoB takes the concept of data and analytics to a next level by connecting it with psychology. It uses a variety of sources, including household digital devices, computers, wearables, telematics, and other smart IoT devices. With the help of these connected devices, it gathers customer/user data and analyzes it from a human psychology perspective.

The type of data collected and analyzed is not limited to just buyers’ metadata on gender, age, IP address, cookies, etc. It is much more comprehensive than that. The following are some of the examples of data gathered and analyzed by IoB:

  • Biometric Data: e.g., Physical & facial characteristics
  • Engagement Data: through social media,
  • IoT devices data: photos, speed/breaking patterns, heart rate readings, browsing history, etc., and how the users interact with devices and products
  • Social Networking activities: data from social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms
  • Purchase history and spending habits
  • Location-wise user action data
  • Interactions with the business sales and customer support
  • Other data regarding their attitude towards the product e.g., feedback

The result is more detailed insights into the buyers’ interests, preferences, habits, and other behavioral aspects, which are in turn used to improve decisions, improve marketing efforts, nudge the users and their actions in a certain direction, make better strategies to improve User Experience (UX) and many more. IoB provides rich insights that are utilized by all the business functions such as marketing, CX, logistics, insurance, medicinal, product & services, and sales. The use cases are infinite. Below are some of the ways IoB is beneficial to the business:

  • Better understanding of the customer: Insights into their journey, purchasing and spending habits, preferences, behavioral patterns, and touchpoints that spark their interest.
  • Improved Strategy: With psychological insights, the marketing, sales, Customer support, and other teams can strategize better to target the right audience in the right way. Businesses can strategically plan more effective launching and marketing of new products & services.
  • Enhanced User Experience: the insights provide new approaches for providing better user experience (UX) and Search Experience Optimization (SXO). Businesses know what their users like and prefer, and what interests them, so they can design their UX accordingly to make the website, products, and services more desirable. A secondary benefit is increased traffic to the website.
  • Chance to nudge user behavior: Comprehensive data and detailed insights into the psychology of their users gives businesses an opportunity to nudge their behavior to improve their well-being. It has significant applications in health, automobile, insurance industries and others).

The concept of IoB has been internalized and used by so many industries. It does not only give information, but it also gives more valuable wisdom on the consumers’ psychology and behavior. However, the same concept also makes it possible to understand the reasons behind customers’ decisions and achieve greater profits by nudging customers’ behavior. The understanding of how, when, and why the users make use of technology to make buying decisions gives immense power to the business which needs to be utilized in the right direction. So let us look into the other side of the coin.

Concerns for Data Privacy & Security

IoB is comprehensive not only in terms of the kind of data collected and analyzed but also in terms of the sources it collects the data from. It is quite extensive in scope using all kinds of IoT devices, social media platforms, and other websites. This what, how, and from where the data is collected by IoB creates some ethical, security, and privacy concerns.


Users sometimes do not mind giving permission to access data if it gives them value in terms of better suggestions and convenience. However, for some people, the intrusiveness of data collected and being in the shadow of what the data is used for creates psychological discomfort. Such data collected unobtrusively without the knowledge or approval of the customers hinders the right to privacy.

Companies utilizing the concept of IoB must consider a plethora of data privacy laws such as HIPAA, GDPR, GLBA, CCPA, NIST, and other regulations and stay legally compliant. They must make it a priority to take appropriate steps to protect the privacy of the data.


IoB data are an opportunity for cybercriminals. They can access Bank codes, financial information, property codes, and other sensitive data. These data, if leaked/sold,  make customers and companies vulnerable to cyber-attacks, identity thefts, ransomware, money laundering, and other cyber threats. Moreover, with extensive information about user behavior and their habits, phishing attempts can become more sophisticated, targeted, and efficient. Organizations must put more proactive cyber security policies in place to deal with the data security concerns emphasized with the advent of IoB. Watch this video or blog on enabling a proactive cyber security for businesses to get more insights.

Ethical concerns:

The idea of collecting user data to influence user behavior for their well-being is a good idea. However, the same data can be used for malicious and selfish purposes too. You do not want that. Companies may influence certain actions for profits. Governments may use IoB to gain more control. Sensitivity of data collected and no control over the purposes for which they are used raise ethical concerns as to whether is it morally right to use the data to manipulate consumer behavior.

5G is already making IoT grow at unprecedented rates. It is only expected to achieve even faster rates of adoption, which by effect means that IoB will also be used more extensively. While going one step ahead of just IoT and utilizing the concept of IoB to the best of its potential to derive the most value out of it, the organizations must consider these data privacy, security, and ethical concerns. It will be interesting to see how businesses navigate IoB in the coming years amongst these raising risks and challenges. If rightly used, IoB sure will take our industry towards more intelligent operations, manufacturing, and of course, closer to web 4.0.


Vaishnavi Dave, Content Writer at Quadrant Knowledge Solutions