Hey, Siri. Is anyone watching me?

January 3, 2018 The TNS Group

 I can wake up and say “Siri. What is the weather today?” And just like that, I get my answer. Cool! I love technology! Over the last few years, we have grown more accustomed to new technologies and the convenience that voice activation offers us. We are connecting our homes and cars to the Internet. Our wireless cameras are placed around and inside our homes- even our refrigerators. We use social media to share photos, video chat, and get our news. And as the holiday season approaches, we are all probably hoping to get the newest and greatest tech devices (Hint: that new Apple Watch with cellular looks pretty neat…)

The problem is that many of these devices are easily hacked because they are designed for convenience and not security. A few examples:

  • A woman who had purchased a wireless camera with a microphone to keep an eye on her dog, but noticed the camera moving on its own and then a voice said “Bonjour, Madame”.
  • The mother who received an email from a stranger saying that her daughter’s room was being broadcast live on the Internet- because her webcam had been hacked from an online video game she was playing.
  • Finally, what about a hacked Amazon Echo that can literally hear everything you do in a room?

So, what can we do?

Education and Prevention

I constantly emphasize the importance of training and following best practices. We need to educate our families (and employees) that ultimately the human element is the weak link in many security-related incidents. We make it easier for hackers because we don’t do our due diligence. Some examples:

  • Not changing default passwords
  • Clicking on unknown attachments
  • Visiting unknown websites from links in emails
  • Using outdated hardware or failing to install updates
  • Not using encryption

Whether we are parents or employers, we need to make sure that any time a new device is introduced to our network that the potential dangers are understood. At the family level, it means researching the device and understanding what is enabled by default, making sure you are using the most current firmware and software and taking the time to configure the device for security. At the business level, you should have specific policies in place that address these issues and any security ramifications. These policies should be taught to employees and steps should be taken to determine if employees are following the guidelines.

Summary

We will continue to use the newest technology but we need to understand how important it is to do so in a responsible manner. Cybersecurity issues are a valid concern, but we need to take this mindset: If I am going to give the newest technology access to my life or business (especially if it involves a device with a camera or microphone) – then I must make sure that I am fully educated on the potential risks versus the offered benefit. One of the ways that you can do this is to seek professional guidance on these issues. For more information on this topic and how to upgrade and secure your business technology – contact the TNS Group.

By: Kevin Mackay, Business Development, The TNS Group

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