Smart tech, Scams, and Spyware – an everyday guide to simple cyber hygiene
Our CEO Simon Newman was recently asked by the press for comment on a range of cybersecurity topics, how they affect everyday citizens, and how they might be challenged on a day-to-day basis. Read on for his valuable insight and practical tips that you can put in place to better protect yourself now.
The risks of “smart” gadgets at home
Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in smart gadgets used in the home. From smart speakers to smart meters, it’s almost impossible to buy anything that doesn’t connect to the internet. However, while these devices are designed to make our lives easier, they potentially expose users to security risks – particularly if they share the same wi-fi network that we use to do other online activity.
There are a few main risks. Firstly, many of these devices come with default passwords – this means that unless the password is changed by the user, a cyber-criminal could hack into the device and take it over. If it shares the same network with other devices, they could also potentially monitor any traffic on the network. Secondly, it can be difficult to update the software on older devices - leaving them vulnerable to attack. Finally, you may not need all the features on the device, but cannot switch them off. The UK Government recently introduced legislation to ensure that manufacturers of IoT devices improved the security of them – but of course, this doesn’t apply to older devices.
Mobile apps as a front for malware and spyware
Cyber-criminals have been very effective at exploiting weak cyber security in apps that have enabled them to insert malware. It’s always best to only download apps from the official Android or Apple stores and ensure that software updates are switched on automatically so that if a vulnerability is discovered, the developer can update the security to reduce vulnerability.
The dangers AI poses for ordinary gadget users
The main risk is that AI generated content has the potential to become indistinguishable from legitimate sources of information, leading to a rise in ‘deepfakes’ and misinformation for people who use their gadgets to keep abreast of current affairs.
AI also has implications for privacy – it learns by using huge amounts of data.
Finally, AI is increasingly being used by cyber-criminals to target gadget users – a lack of regulation and the pace of technology makes it hard to keep ahead.
Phone call scams: the red flags to watch out for
The main warning sign is that you don’t recognise the number or are not expecting a call. Scammers are becoming better at disguising their true location by making it look like the call is local. One of the other red flags is the amount of time it takes to hear someone speak after you’ve answered the call. Scammers often dial lots of numbers at once knowing that only a handful of people will pick up.
Why it's important to never re-use passwords
If you use the same password on more than one site and that password is compromised in a data breach, then cyber-criminals potentially have access to every account you use that password for. With the average person having over 30 online accounts these days, it’s tempting to re-use the same password or choose something that is easy to remember. To make it harder for cyber-criminals to steal your password, consider using a password manager. You can also check if your email has been compromised at https://haveibeenpwned.com/
You can read the full article which cites Simon’s answers on The Sun website here