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Who’s Listening to Your Secrets?

09/15/2021 1:15 PM | Scott Merritt (Administrator)

an article by the Cyber Security Committee

In a world of smart phones, computers, laptops, tablets, Alexa, Siri…. Do you ever wonder if your devices are listening to you? That perhaps your “private” conversations aren’t so “private” after all?

The short answer is “Yes”, these devices have the ability to listen to you and in many cases, they are. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are just a few of the companies that are listening and collecting information, not to mention cybercriminals who are potentially listening in on your smart devices. After all, the device itself may not be recording this information, but once a cybercriminal has access, the fraudster could be recording this information.

As more and more of us continue to work remotely, away from corporate security overlays, it is important for you to think about the conversations you are having while using these types of devices. For example, consider:

1.   Are you discussing sensitive transaction information with a client or customer?

2.   Are you in meetings discussing proprietary company information?

3.  What about the personal conversations you may be having about your health issues or other personal matters?

You may feel safe discussing this kind of information in the privacy of your own home, but always keep in mind that these conversations, and especially the information disclosed, may not be as safe as you think!  So, what can be done?

Here are some security tips to consider to keep your private conversations as safe as you can!

  • A.  Turn off microphone access to all third-party apps (such as Facebook) in the Settings on your smartphone:
  • o   iPhone: Go to Settings > Facebook (or any other app) > slide the toggle next to the Microphone to the left, so it turns from green to white.
  • o   Android:  Go to Settings > Applications > Application Manager > look for Facebook (or any other app) > Permissions > turn off the mic.
  • B.  Assume every app is corruptible, and that anything you download can be used against you.
  • C.  Never download an app from outside of the App Store.   There are numerous fake app sites that use “click” bait to gain access to your devices.
  • D.  Be aware of where your electronic devices are located in your work space.  Remove or isolate them from “hearing” as a precaution when appropriate.
  • E.  Turning your cell phone off and then back on (rebooting) at least once a week.  This helps to prevent hackers from accessing personal information. According to the National Security Agency (NSA), this simple weekly action can make personal devices more secure and make it harder for criminals to steal data. Rebooting a phone is a quick and easy way to make it more difficult for these criminals to make you their next victim.

The most important thing to remember is that your personal devices are akin to mini-computers.  Gaining access to them allows the cybercriminals to access a great deal of personal information that can ultimately be used on the black market against you and your employer.  Employing a few safety tips such as the ones mentioned above are easy ways to help safeguard your privacy.

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