Are your Christmas presents spying on you?

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Credit: Ronstik/Pixabay

We all want things in our lives that save us time and make life a little easier.

To satisfy this need, every year, home and consumer technology becomes more and more advanced. Although the security of smart technologies is improving, there is still a real risk of your everyday devices being exploited.

If you received a smart device as a Christmas present or are planning to give one to someone else, save your credit card for a while. And keep reading to discover enlightening facts about the latest technology available.

Our experts at UK NACE know full well that smart, wearable technology is susceptible to malware attacks. Here is the truth and their tips to improve the security of your smart devices.

Stay up to date with the latest security

Devices like smartphones and smartwatches are constantly updated with new security software, so it’s essential to make sure yours is always running the latest version. However, keeping your security software up to date will not prevent hackers from trying to gain unauthorized access to your personal information.

The older your device, the greater the risk of an attack. This is especially the case when it is no longer supported by the manufacturer, as it will not receive any new security updates. This could potentially expose your device to attacks and make your personal data vulnerable.

“Smartphones are the perfect bugs; they’re easily programmable and have constant power and, unlike many traditionally concealed eavesdropping devices, this means you could potentially be continuously tracked and eavesdropped.”

However, the attackers are not only focusing on older devices.

There’s a whole industry out there looking for new ways to target the most modern hardware. These types of attacks are called zero-day exploits, and they typically take advantage of unknown vulnerabilities in new software or hardware, long before anyone realizes something is wrong.

Beware of Fake Updates

Attackers can also gain access to your technology through other methods, the most common being fake and harmful updates. Whether general software, security updates or specific applications, their authenticity can be difficult to distinguish from official sources. Fake updaters usually send a pop-up ad or alert stating that a device is infected with malware and offering to scan the system or asking the user to click a link to update the software .

Often, for these to take effect, it requires a user to update permissions and allow apps to access location, camera, and contact list. This helps attackers, advertisers, and app developers profile user behavior. It may also cause them to disclose personal information.

Smartphones and connected watches

Smartphones are the perfect listening device, or “bugs”.

They are easily programmable and have a constant power. Unlike many traditionally concealed eavesdropping devices, this means you could potentially be continuously tracked and eavesdropped.

Modern smartphones have features like cameras, microphones, GPS and more. These all offer a variety of options to an attacker looking to exploit users, whether to track them or to gain access to personal information – such as home address, bank account details, passwords or Pictures.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers present a different challenge for a hacker. But it is still possible to exploit them as eavesdropping devices, especially when connected to a smartphone; this can result in more than just tracking your steps.

If knowing their GPS location wasn’t confusing enough for users, an experienced attacker can also use a device’s sense of movement and orientation to calculate ATM ID numbers and passwords.

Top tips for protecting personal data

To help prevent a malware attack on a smart device, UK NACE strongly recommends updating security settings regularly. This is especially important if a lot of personal information is stored on a smartphone.

So, the next time you see a new genuine update appear, install it immediately. Don’t leave the door open for attackers to take advantage of other people’s personal data.

This also applies to new devices. Before you start using it seriously, check if it is running the latest version of software and keep doing it regularly.

You can further improve the security of a device by:

reset passwords every two months and use different passwords for each account or site used – see the National Cyber ​​Security Center’s guides on using password managers and two-factor authentication

update privacy settings – this is especially important with social media accounts

using an anti-malware application – these help protect users from attackers who plant viruses in technology

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