Can Your TV Steal Your Information?

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Hacker

This morning Samsung revealed to customers that there is a possibility that its Smart TVs are listening to your conversations and sending your data off to a third party company. It’s warning users not to talk about sensitive and personal details in front of their TVs.

This warning sounds like something out of a sci-fy movie, but, unfortunately, it’s here.

Samsung states they want to be as transparent as possible, so in an effort to do so, they mentioned that if users utilized the voice recognition software on their Smart TVs, what they say can be picked up by a third party. The assumption is that the third party picking up the data is the voice-to-text translation software. To further clarify Samsung’s comments in their privacy policy, they reiterate that they are not selling any data or storing any data themselves.

This is not the first time we have heard about your devices listening and watching, and unfortunately will not be the last. Since technology has gotten better, many items that have voice recognition and listening capabilities are subject to being hijacked, in order for hackers to get your data.

In 2013, LG was found to be storing important information from their Smart TVs. They have since created a software update that has stopped this functionality, but not before it was discovered by an end user. (That information can be found here.)

For a long time, too, the XBox Kinect, with its listening and viewing powers, has been at the forefront of concerns about its security. Microsoft’s take on this is that you can turn the Kinect off, so it is not always viewing and listening. However, it is reasonable to assume that even with the device off, if the XBox, itself, is connected to the Internet, a hacker will find a way through eventually. If it hasn’t already happened, that is.

Just a few months ago, it was revealed that a Russian website had hacked thousands of baby monitors and displayed their feeds online for anyone to see. Once this site was outed and taken down, the bold hacker posted his resume online, in an attempt to get a proper job based on his elite hacking skills.

Instances like these should not be taken lightly. It goes to show just how important basic security for your home network has become. (In Samsung’s case, they state that users can opt to turn off the voice-activation feature, on the “Settings” within their Smart TVs.) In this age of always wanting to be connected to the Internet, end users are constantly getting hacked and exploited.

This informational sitegives a great view of the hacking breaches throughout the world (that are known). The data is pretty damning. Hacking is becoming a common occurrence, and it is believed that foreign governments could be driving this onslaught. In the case of Anthem, it has been speculated that China is involved, and in the case of the Sony Pictures hack, it is widely believed that North Korea was the culprit.

We have discussed on our blog many times on how to protect yourself (start by checking here, here, here, and here). In 2015 it seems as if the need to protect yourself has never been more apparent.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when we’ll publish a basic primer on home network security. And remember, if you have questions or need help getting set up, you can always contact us at Everon (888-244-1748, or info@everonit.com). We’re here for you, 24/7, 365.

 

The Latest Password Strengthening Tips (in the wake of Gmail’s massive hack)

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download Do you have a Gmail account? You might want to consider changing your password. It was just reported that 5 million Gmail accounts and their passwords have been posted to a Russian bitcoin forum by a user named tvskit. The post was taken down rather quickly by the moderators. However, the original post contained a text file that could be downloaded, so it has most likely spread and will pop up again elsewhere. When reaching out to Google for comment, their response was that most of the accounts stolen were old or suspended accounts. But the user, tvskit, claims that he (or she) was able to log into most of the accounts.

Regardless of whether your account is on this list or not, it brings up a good topic in regards to security of your email. Security of email and private information is increasingly becoming vulnerable due to the sophistication of hacking attempts. A few recent examples of hacks that have unfortunately been successful include the iCloud hacks of celebrity photos,  the Sony PSN hack, and the FBI website hacks by Anonymous. The PSN and FBI hacks were due to flaws found in their services.

But the iCloud hacks happened due to simple passwords.

In fact, most hacks happen because users use simple passwords in order to remember them. These simple passwords (examples include password, 123456, qwerty, 11111) can cause a lot of issues, especially because they are constantly targeted by thieves. GRC is a great site to determine how secure your password is. This site allows you to input a password, and you can see, through their mathematical equation, how quickly that password can be hacked.

I strongly recommend you review this site and come up with a password that provides as much strength as you can handle. Even adding a few symbols and numbers to a simple password can really amp up your security. For example, let’s take the password “password.” In an online fast attack scenario, that word can be hacked in 2.17 seconds! But if you add an exclamation point to the end of that password (i.e.: password!), this increases the fast attack scenario hack to 1.02 days. 

In my example at the GRC site, I made the password: !@#P@ssw0rd*(). I added a capital letter, some numbers, and a good amount of symbols. I now took the 2.17 sec.-hacked password to 15.67 million centuries. It’s easy to remember, as well. Think about it: the first three symbols follow a pattern. Then I spell password, with a capital P at the beginning in leet speak, and then my three end symbols all follow a pattern at the end of the spectrum.

The case I am trying to make really is to protect yourself. There are so many malicious hackers out there, as we have seen with the latest Gmail hack, that ensuring that your password is as secure as possible should be of the highest priority.