Friday, March 6, 2015

The TV That Observes You

Imagine that you can talk to your TV and it response to your commands. The technology has finally arrived at a store near you. Samsung's SmartTV uses voice recognition technology to enable voice commands.  No more hand remote! Amazing!

Not so amazing is the caveat that comes with the technology.  It is better described as disturbing.  Buried in Samsung's privacy policy, is a disclosure that reads, "if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be captured and transmitted to a third party."  Notice the phrasing is NOT "could be" or "accidentally".  Rather it clearly states "will be captured and transmitted". 

Just when you finished covering your webcam to protect your privacy from hackers accessing your laptop camera, now you need to deal with your TV snooping on you as well.  At least someone has to hack into your laptop.  Not so with the Samsung SmartTV.  The spyware is already embedded and will be capturing and transmitting your spoken words to a "third party".

Expect more of the same to come with the "Internet of Things".

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ten Essential Smartphone Security Practices

Be Smart with Securing Your Smartphone

Today, there are more mobile phones than there are laptop and desktop computers.  Our smartphone is like a mini-computer.  We don't just make phone calls anymore.  We surf the internet, check our email, text messages, take pictures, make videos, check Facebook, and much more.  This treasure trove of personal as well as business information is a lucrative temptation for a cyber criminal or data broker.   If you don't want to have your emails, Facebook postings, text messages, and the like pilfered for someone else's profit or potentially used in an exploitive way, then you need to start being smart when it comes to securing your mobile phone.  Below are ten essential security practices you should follow.

Smartphone Security and Privacy Tips
  1. Use a password on your phone to prevent unauthorized access.
  2. Configure your smartphone to auto-lock when not in use.  Your password won't provide protection unless your device is locked.
  3. Turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when not in use.  Alternatively, place your device in "Airplane" mode. These platforms are essentially open connections to your phone; so if you don’t need to use them, turn them off.
  4. Turn off auto-connect to Wi-Fi networks. There are a lot of unsecured Wi-Fi networks out there, and your phone can automatically connect to any Wi-Fi network that is in range. Only connect to trusted networks.
  5. Download apps from only trusted sources such as the Apple Store or Google Play store.
  6. Check app permissions individually to be aware of what data apps are accessing on your phone.
  7. Perform regular software updates on all apps and your phone’s OS. This patches possible security vulnerabilities (aka backdoors) that can give hackers access to your phone.
  8. Do regular backups of your phone. This will prove helpful in the event that your device gets lost or stolen.
  9. If your device happens to get lost or stolen, make sure you have software that allows you to remotely lock, and if necessary, wipe the data from your phone.
  10. Install mobile security software on your phone as an extra layer of security.