The new age of the digital world has allowed us to have more and more items connected to the Internet, resulting in hackers and unwanted people spying on us. You don’t have to become paranoid, but there are some devices in your house through which unwanted people may be spying on you.
As far back as 2014, the FBI and other countries’ law enforcement teams busted more than a dozen hackers for using Blackshades software, which could activate laptop cameras as a way of spying on the victims.
The program infected half a million computers, and at least one hacker was found to have blackmailed his victims by threatening to publicize video he had taken without their knowledge.
A Security research firm in 2012 found a vulnerability in Samsung Smart TVs that could open the door for hackers to access files on connected USBs, and maybe even get total control to see and adjust settings on the TV itself.
Given the fact that Samsung’s TVs paired video face recognition with audio recordings, there was a huge concern that hackers could gain access to personal information of families without their knowledge.
Furthermore, files published on Wikileaks alleged that the CIA and its British counterpart MI5 developed malware called Weeping Angel that could record audio when the TV appeared to be off, and the team was trying to add video to its capabilities.
While it may not necessarily mean that government is spying on every TV watcher, the implications of vulnerable TVs could be grave.
In 2016, a threat intelligence analyst who has diabetes revealed he’d found a way to take control of insulin pumps from half a mile away, then adjust the insulin and potentially kill the victim. Furthermore, in 2017, it was discovered that St. Jude Medical’s cardiac devices, including pacemakers and defibrillators, could be hacked.
St. Jude initially denied the claims, which first came out in 2016, then patched the vulnerability after the news leaked. While no patients were harmed from the St. Jude’s vulnerability, either, but the cases ring to the fore that health devices may be vulnerable to spying.
Your home security camera could be an entryway for hackers to spy on you. A researcher at security company Sophos released a video showing a program that could guess a CCTV password in less than a minute, not only sending the video stream to his own computer, but giving him full control over where the camera points.
The researcher noted that most people don’t change their passwords, so the hacker can easily keep spying on you. Using a strong password and changing it often is one of the best ways to ward off a cyber attack.
Android owners can ask their virtual assistant questions but most may not know that Google records and stores all the questions. Your Google account includes a list of all the requests you’ve made and archives them in your audio history, along with a text version of what you said.
While those might be slightly awkward to read throug, you may also find some recordings you didn’t know you were making. An investigation from The Sun claims it’s easy for the phones to mistake everyday conversation with the “OK Google” voice-control initiation.
If the phone thinks you’ve asked for it to do a search, it will take a ten-minute recording, even if you don’t realize it’s happening.
Voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home are always listening. Their voice activation is triggered with the words “Alexa” and “OK Google,” respectively, but in order to recognize those “wake words,” they need to be listening to everything you said beforehand, too.
While they won’t send conversations to their servers for storage until you’ve called them to action, nor have there been stories of anyone hacking into them when they’re dormant, they still could be used in spying.
If you are paranoid, you may want to stay away from the voice-activation technologies. You can mute the devices when you know you won’t need them, but keep in mind that doing so makes them practically useless until you turn the setting back on.