Privacy Implications of Room Climate Data

  • Philipp MorgnerEmail author
  • Christian Müller
  • Matthias Ring
  • Björn Eskofier
  • Christian Riess
  • Frederik Armknecht
  • Zinaida Benenson
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10493)


Smart heating applications promise to increase energy efficiency and comfort by collecting and processing room climate data. While it has been suspected that the sensed data may leak crucial personal information about the occupants, this belief has up until now not been supported by evidence.

In this work, we investigate privacy risks arising from the collection of room climate measurements. We assume that an attacker has access to the most basic measurements only: temperature and relative humidity. We train machine learning classifiers to predict the presence and actions of room occupants. On data that was collected at three different locations, we show that occupancy can be detected with up to 93.5% accuracy. Moreover, the four actions reading, working on a PC, standing, and walking, can be discriminated with up to 56.8% accuracy, which is also far better than guessing (25%). Constraining the set of actions allows to achieve even higher prediction rates. For example, we discriminate standing and walking occupants with 95.1% accuracy. Our results provide evidence that even the leakage of such ‘inconspicuous’ data as temperature and relative humidity can seriously violate privacy.



The work is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Grant AR 671/3-1: WSNSec – Developing and Applying a Comprehensive Security Framework for Sensor Networks.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philipp Morgner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Müller
    • 2
  • Matthias Ring
    • 1
  • Björn Eskofier
    • 1
  • Christian Riess
    • 1
  • Frederik Armknecht
    • 2
  • Zinaida Benenson
    • 1
  1. 1.Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  2. 2.University of MannheimMannheimGermany

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