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Hinder a hacker
Keep your tech stuff safe

10/08/15
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 With our private files stored digitally and household appliances linked to our WiFi, it’s almost impossible to maintain privacy these days.

Hackers have been in the news a lot lately for taking compromising photos with webcams they access remotely and using them to blackmail the subjects of the photos and for remotely locking up personal hard drives with encryption and holding the files within for ransom. And, of course, exposure can happen to millions of people at once by hackers who penetrate a company that holds personal data on its servers, like with the February Anthem hack.
For Gary Miliefsky, the CEO of Snoopwall, a network security firm based in Nashua, threats to our privacy can come legally from big corporations as much as from cyber criminals through more illicit means.
“Ultimately, your privacy is over if you bought a smart TV or if you’re playing an Xbox with a built-in camera … or you use Google or the Chrome browser and the next thing you know, you’ve been geo-located,” Miliefsky said.
He says there are even TVs that quietly record what we say when we’re around it and the data gets stored somewhere in the cloud.
“The Samsung and LG smart TVs are really smart. They eavesdrop on you,” Miliefsky said.
Companies are coming out with webcams and microphones built into the TVs and consumers are required to agree to the terms (including fine print about being recorded) in order to enjoy the benefits of an Internet-connected TV. And Miliefsky says short of opening the TV, finding the microphone and cutting the wire and taping over the webcam, there’s no way around it.
Some companies like CamPatch have repeat-use stickers you can place over TV or computer webcams for when you don’t want people seeing you that you can easily remove when you want to use the camera.
While some consumers may not mind a company snooping on them for aggregated marketing data, that same technology used relatively benignly by companies can be hijacked by hackers.
In many ways, you are vulnerable regardless of the protections you put into place, but Miliefsky says there are a few things you can still do to guard your personal files and money.
“The best thing you can do is assume you’re already compromised,” Miliefsky said.
 
Be proactive
• Change passwords frequently
• Download encryption software (Miliefsky prefers TrueCrypt 6) to seal your hard drives 
• Turn off geo-location on your computers and mobile devices so people can’t track your whereabouts. That information can be used to plan other crimes like burglaries.
 
If you’ve already been hacked
• Miliefsky suggests calling all three credit bureaus to place a free, 90-day fraud alert on your credit. That alerts creditors to confirm your identity when someone tries opening a credit card in your name during that period. 
• You can also place a security freeze on your credit, which makes it impossible for creditors to view your credit score, making it far less likely a card will be issued to a would-be identity thief. 





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