Who’s Watching You? Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Others.
Articles by: Richey May, Oct 12, 2020
There could be dozens of digital ears in your home. While they may be helpful with little daily tasks, they could also be a serious threat to your security. The explosive growth of IoT (Internet of Things) Devices continues to climb, with expected global market penetration of 20% by 2023. Due to this explosive growth vendors are rapidly developing products to meet customer demands. Historically, products that are developed rapidly do not focus on cybersecurity out of the gate. In the IoT space this is no different.
While companies that install IoT devices are aware about their vulnerabilities, regular users still lack the basic understanding of the potential harm IoT can cause. In addition, with more people working from home, and in ear shot of these devices, they could also present a threat to workplace security.
Since the pandemic, the number of “smart” devices have increased as well as the frameworks that have been developed to address the privacy and security of IoT systems. Many issues have been disclosed, including:
- 2019, hackers identify smart home “hub” that is vulnerable to attack enabling the attacker to send commands to a IoT Smart Lock to open or close at will.
- 2020 security researchers at Dojo found that it was possible that Ring cameras are vulnerable to hacking due to the lack of encryption between the Ring device and the application itself. The researchers found a user’s Wi-Fi network password could be compromised as well.
- Baby monitors are also becoming “smart” as well. In 2018, a hacker terrorized a family by hijacking the baby monitor.
- In 2018, the Mirai botnet took advantage of insecure IoT devices to login via default passcodes and bomb targets to bring down devices via a significant DDoS attack.
While getting hacked may be scary, privacy is even more concerning. In 2015, prosecutors brought into focus the fact that home assistant devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, record and listen to everything going on around them. The prosecution issued a subpoena of Amazon to gain the recordings in relation to the murder of Silvia Galva in Hallandale Beach.
Siri and other smartphone assistants were using recordings that were being leveraged in targeted ads. In the summer of 2019 Apple was forced to apologize for employees abusing their access to Siri recordings, listening in on private conversations that iPhone and other iOS device users were having. The result was a realization that our phones are providing access via other applications to the world around us and using that information to target us with advertisements.
With the growth of smart devices everywhere we go from our homes, offices and cars there is little escaping that we need to be diligent in protecting our privacy and access to our systems.
Here are 5 methods to protect yourself from the dangers these devices are prone to that may already be in your home:
- Install reputable security software onto your computers, tablets, and smartphones.
- Know what data the device or app wants to access on your phone. If it does not seem necessary for the app’s functionality or too risky, deny permission. This is common such as apps asking permission to access your camera, microphone, location, and contacts.
- You should always change the default password on connected devices. Cybercriminals probably already know the default passwords that come with many IoT products. That makes it easy for them to access your IoT devices.
- Use a trusted VPN to secure yourself at home but, especially with office or public wifi.
- Keep up with software updates. Minor bug fixes may not seem like a lot of change, but they are crucial when keeping your device secure and will give less room for a potential attack through a bug.
Smart devices collect a lot of personal data; however, they don’t need to know everything. Taking steps to protect yourself will not only give you peace of mind in a new era of working from home, but also take an extra precaution before you let a device in your proximity see more than you want it to.
Our Technology Solutions team can help you keep your cybersecurity practices ahead of the game, while you do what you do best: keep your company running through whatever comes in 2021 and beyond. Talk to us today to learn more about our comprehensive cybersecurity services.