I just finished reading Connection, Not Collection: Using iBeacons to Engage Library Users By Sidney Eng in December 2015 issue of Computers in Libraries. The article looks at an interesting and possibly very useful way of reaching out to library patrons. It talks about an experiment to send out notifications and messages to library users within the library using Bluetooth. However, it does raise a few questions in my mind.
The first is what skills are needed by the library staff to implement this type of service? What is being used to create and send the messages out to the iBeacons? My biggest concern is security and privacy. Bluetooth has the similar issues as does using Wi-Fi in public areas. These include “data security, privacy, and the potential for hacking or spoofing.” He states that “the notification function—which is technically susceptible to hijacking—will be an unlikely target for hackers.” In my opinion, that type of assumption will lead to hacking. Security by thinking your service is low profile is poor security. He does not go into enough detail on what the user must do to have the messages received on his or her device. Leaving Bluetooth open to be seen by any Bluetooth enabled device not a good idea. The author does provide references to three article about iBeacons that deal with some of my concerns.
When implementing new technology such as beacons, it is important to make security the primary concern. Such services can provide great benefits to a library but must be balanced with security and privacy concerns. Articles in Computers in Libraries and other library oriented publications do not place enough emphasis on security, especially with the mushrooming growth of the Internet of Things.