Top 10 Devices That Destroy Your Privacy
Our lives are becoming increasingly digital.
We use more wearable and interconnected devices. We buy smart assistants like Google Home or Alexa. Even the toys for our kids can now be easily controlled by our phones using Wi-Fi.
The problem is, hackers can control them just as easily. And the list of vulnerable devices includes many more than My Friend Cayla, the smart doll, or a remotely controlled kettle.
Is your smartphone secure?
The first everyday device vulnerable to hacking is, of course, your smartphone.
Somehow, we’re more concerned about our phones being lost or stolen than falling victim to hackers. But as mobile devices and smartphones account for more than 55% of all internet traffic, scammers have doubled their efforts to penetrate this market.
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People trust their phones with a lot of confidential information from credit card numbers to personal details or photos. We also download numerous mobile apps and tend to open links sent to us in a messenger app without giving a second thought. Yet, rarely does someone install antivirus software on their smartphone.
Hacking a device like a smartphone isn’t too different from hacking a computer: in the majority of cases owners have to be tricked into downloading malware. For example, the PUBG mobile hack for iOS is a very popular request, so when you install this hack, you might be inviting a scammer through your digital door. iPhone owners are not the only ones affected: Android is used by a variety of manufacturers of different goods so there are lots of ways to suffer from an Android device administrator hack.
But don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do to secure your phone from these attacks.
- First, steer clear of public Wi-Fi networks.
- Don’t be too quick to give away all kinds of suspicious permissions to apps (I mean, why would a chess app need access to your camera and microphone?)
- And don’t postpone installing updates: they usually patch up important vulnerabilities pretty quickly.
Smart homes with dumb devices
The next large category of vulnerable devices is smart home gadgets. Isn’t it nice to switch the lights on with your voice or have your fitness tracker tell you how many steps you’ve made today? It’s like living in a utopian future.
But beware: if connected to Wi-Fi, these devices communicate through unencrypted HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol. This is because the SSL certificate doesn't work for local connections.
When translated to ‘human’, this means that all messages sent "through the air" can be caught and decoded by some nearby hacker. And having an open Wi-Fi network or insecure password (hello, qwerty!) means a 12-year-old could do it. Your Bluetooth connection is encrypted by default (this applies to Bluetooth version 2.1 and above), but it could also be hacked.
And it’s not only that hackers can mess with your devices; these devices can give them access to your home network. Since, say, your smart kitchen appliances don’t connect over a SSL-secured Wi-Fi, your home Wi-Fi network can be exposed to a potential intruder (unless you create a guest Wi-Fi network for all these devices).
Your kitchen is likely to be near the outer walls of your home, and criminals can easily hack Bluetooth devices with Android using this access point. Never mind password protection: firmware updates can download malicious code with or without your consent.
Latest hackable tech
Now, let us clarify. The fact that devices can be hacked doesn’t mean they absolutely will be. So it would be incorrect to worry that your house is full of tech enabling bad guys to spy on you.
However, we should all be alert to the possibility of hacking and its consequences. So, here’s a list of the smart, sometimes almost ridiculous and hackable tech introduced over the last couple of years.
These have been around for quite some time, yet they still manage to amaze us. Yeah, it’s neat to tap your phone while you're still in bed, then get up to the sound of your kettle whistling merrily when you want a hot cup of tea, pronto. But you still have to fill it with water, you know, using your hands, and pour hot water in the cup and, well, pretty much do everything manually.
Is saving a couple of minutes in the morning worth leaving a gaping hole in your cybersecurity perimeter? Probably not.
Remember how we mentioned the My Friend Cayla smart doll? This toy was developed initially to recognize what children say and maintain a conversation (well, sort of). However, tech security experts showcased how easy it is to turn the doll into a spying device. No wonder the creepy toy got banned in Germany.
These devices are almost inseparable from modern humans. And they do a lot of good, measuring your activity, telling you that you need to get up and showing you the highest pulse rate you’ve had on a particular day. The only downside is that some hackers may use them as a loophole to access your Google account or Apple ID.
What harm could there be in a tiny device that helps you locate your keys, wallet or even your dog? Well, none, aside from the fact it may catch the interest of someone looking for an unprotected entry point to your financial data.
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes from a plethora of vendors who update their firmware independently of your Operating System (OS) updates. Sadly, your antivirus can’t read the code hidden inside the drivers or check if the incoming data package was sent from a legitimate source. All you can do is manually download the drivers for your web camera directly from the manufacturer’s website. Once everything works, turn the updates off and leave the web camera be.
Smart yoga mats
These things are awesome, really. The mats act as your personal yoga instructor, using pressure sensors to identify your body position and provide voice corrections to ensure you do your yoga moves right. The only concern is the fact that the connection from the smart mat to your smartphone or tablet is not always protected.
Smart butler devices
These AI-powered helpers control all other smart devices in your house, just like Google Echo, Nest, Alexa and Siri, but with a camera and extended functions. But unfortunately they have to broadcast and listen through Wi-Fi, often unsecured, to control these simpler devices. Also, having a gadget with a camera that films everything in your house, including your family, and transmits it, sometimes without encryption, is quite alarming for the security conscious.
Touchpads, graphic tablets, peripheral devices, USB bridges, Wi-FI adapters, even wireless keyboards — most third-party components in PCs and laptops are known to have security vulnerabilities. In short, no device on the market is 100% secure. But now that you know this, we hope you’ll be more vigilant and take extra care.
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None of the devices listed here are inherently evil. They are excellent in what they do, and we hope that vendors will soon find a way to build a common set of rules and security standards to secure them. Unfortunately, this means more expense for them, but despite multiple warnings on the cybersecurity vulnerability of various computer components and devices, many of these vendors are still slacking.
At Clario, we’re all about cybersecurity and protecting your digital identity. We know how to keep your internet interactions secure, empower your online protection, and we’d be glad to answer any questions you have on ensuring the safety of your digital life.
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