With the increasing sophistication of smart devices with cameras, microphones, and internet connections, have you ever thought about the possibility that your Apple smartphone, Nest thermostat, robot vac, nanny cam, or your smart refrigerator could be snooping on you?! Even your beloved ALEXA, high-end Samsung Smart TV or your automobile could be a spy!
" Anything connected to the internet can be exploited by hackers or by the government, " says Chris Dore, an attorney specializing in these issues. But before you hang a dark curtain over your smart TV and break out the tinfoil hat, there are a few things you can do to protect your privacy.
1. Change your passwords
Changing passwords is your first line of defense. We already know to do this for our laptops and phones, but many of us don’t think about passwords for smart appliances. If the product is "password protected," go to the manufacturer’s website to learn how to change it.
2. Update your software
Software updates, as annoying as they are, often address newly discovered security weaknesses. Homeowners who don't refresh their software leave themselves vulnerable to attacks. Always download new updates.
3. Cover your cameras and turn off voice automation
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg puts a piece of tape over the camera and microphone jack on his laptop—and you should, too. This prevents hackers from listening in or watching you remotely. You can also turn off the voice automation settings on your smart TV, and other devices.
4. Unplug devices when they're not in use
For the most part, devices can't spy on you if they're not plugged in. So do more than just shut down your smart TV or laptop when you're not around, experts say, disconnect it entirely from its power source.
These are just a few tips from experts in the field. Some may seem like overkill, but with the proliferation of devices with cameras, microphones and with the added assistance of the internet, we are more vulnerable than ever. Take heed, take care!
Source: “Are Your Smart Home Devices Spying on You? How to Protect Yourself,” by Clare Trapasso, realtor.com (March 8, 2017).