Big Brother is Watching
The recent Headline about PRISM, a US government's program that allow security agencies to spy on the people, is doing exactly same thing as we can say ' Big Brother is Watching'. But is the government only one who is keeping an eye on what you watch what you search for and what you discuss with your friends? But the truth is there are others also there, like businesses and advertisers who are hoping to fill their pockets by collecting your personal data.
They have a variety of tools for gathering the information they need, tools you might have with you right now with you, Yes with you, everything form smartphone in your pocket to television in your bedroom can be used to spy on you.
You know your phone is smart, but just how smart is it? Smart enough to sense your every movement. Smart enough to capture your every word. Smartphones possess an arsenal of powerful features including microphones, GPS receivers, accelerometers and Wi-Fi antennas, that are meant to help users communicate and access information, but those very same tools can also be used for spying.
John Harrison, a representative with security software company Symantec, said 'mobile devices are increasingly playing host to the kinds of malware once found only on PCs, such as remote-access Trojans (RATs). RATs turn devices into James Bond's spy tools, stealing passwords, recording video and audio, and launching attacks on other systems.' And smartphones are also exposed to other kinds of hacks. In 2010 researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey performed a series of root kit attacks on smartphones, demonstrating how to remotely activate a device's microphone to secretly record conversations. The researchers were also able to install malware that allowed them to track a user's movements using the phone's GPS receiver.
According to the researchers, smartphone malware is even more dangerous than malware designed for non mobile operating systems because users take their phones everywhere they go. But even if you don't have secrets to keep, your clever smartphone can still cause trouble. Last October, researchers of the U.S. military developed an Android app that creates a 3D map of a phone's surroundings by taking candid photos and collecting orientation data with the phone's accelerometer.
The app, dubbed "PlaceRaider," poses as a safe camera app and sends sensitive smartphone data to an external server. Thanks to this app, burglars, identity thieves and other criminals could have a real-time blueprint of your home or business. They could even zoom in on noteworthy sections of the map, like that pile of financial statements on the desk.
If your smartphone turns against you, at least you still have your trusty tablet, right? Nooo. Wrong again. Most tablets have the same operating systems as well as the same built-in spy tools as smartphones do. For Example Take the accelerometer. Much like a smartphone, your tablet comes equipped with a little device that senses the orientation of your tablet. Hence, when you flip the tablet sideways, the screen flips with it. But the accelerometer also has the potential to flip your whole world upside down. A 2011 study by researchers at the University of California, Davis demonstrated how to use an accelerometer to steal usernames and passwords.
The researcher's 'keylogger' app measures the physical motion made when touching onscreen keys and can detect which keys were touched with 70 percent accuracy. If installed on your tablet, the 'Touch Logger' app could provide scammers with all the information they need to cause havoc on your digital world.
So your mobile devices are all clever robots, but what about the stationary gadgets you keep at home? Surely, those are trustworthy. Actually, they're not. In December 2012, cyber security firm ReVuln discovered a flaw in Samsung's then-newest-generation of smart TVs. The flaw granted hackers access to viewers' sensitive data, such as viewing history and remote files. It also let hackers spread malware to USB devices attached to TVs.
Luigi Auriemma and Donato Ferrante, co-CEOs of ReVuln, said any device that takes an input from the environment, whether it's using Wi-Fi or some other means, is vulnerable. "It's also interesting to consider that even a device not accessible from the Internet is at risk because it can be attacked from LAN through a compromised PC, or via other attack vectors like USB or Bluetooth," Auriemma and Ferrante wrote in an email interview with Tech News Daily.
As more home devices, like TVs and gaming consoles, come equipped with these "attack vectors," they said, the chance of spyware spreading to every device you own increases exponentially. Take, for example, the Flame (aka Flamer, aka Skywiper) malware toolkit of 2012. That piece of mega-malware was spread from USB to USB, infecting hundreds of machines running Window's XP, Vista and 7 operating systems. Once infected, hackers used compromised computers to perform some of the most advanced spy manoeuvres the world has ever seen.
Flame, which is believed to have been developed by an unknown national government, could detect key strokes, take screenshots, monitor user activity both on and offline, record conversations and even spy on other devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It then sent this data to a dozen different servers around the world.
While spying cable boxes are not yet a reality, spying Xboxes are. Ever since Microsoft debuted its first Kinect-compatible Xbox console in 2010, gamers have been speculating about whether they're being spied on in your bedroom.
Like its predecessors, the One connects to the Internet through the Xbox Live service, which must be manually shut off when not in use. That's right, unless you remember to shut it off, the One will be watching. But what does the one do with the data it collects from gamers? Is this information sent directly to Microsoft? Unfortunately, that much isn't completely clear. However, it's important to mention that much like Verizon, Microsoft also submitted a patent application in 2011 for an app, most likely for the Xbox One, that would track Xbox users' TV watching and then reward them with advertiser coupons and other promotions.
As we see how smart appliances can spy on us, but keep in mind not all smart appliances offer such information to the cyber criminals. But for those gadgets which can transmit information we should take precautionary measures. 'Think before you click', you should be careful with which link you click on, even it is from the person you know. If an email seems vogue or out of character for you don't open it or click on the link. Just clicking on a malicious link can silently infect your system. And if you are worrying about the TV or webcam spying on you there is a low tech fix for that, just put a piece of tape on your camera. Ha ha ha....
To further prevention from those nasty spies, conceder a security software solution, especially for those devices which you carry with you everywhere. And never underestimate the power of a good password, so make special password and keep on changing.