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Internet privacy and the art of listening

Internet privacy and the art of listening

Many of the devices that we give listening permissions still aren’t safe. Both researchers and malicious hackers are still finding new ways to use these gadgets to listen to you.

In 2019, a report surfaced that revealed there were Amazon employees tasked with listening to recordings gathered by their smart speakers. Google also fell under fire for similar practices that toe the lie between respecting your internet privacy and gathering data to improve their products.

It is plausible that your data is safe with these large tech companies. However, the key problem is the fact that many smart devices are capable of also listening in on you – and people are finding new ways to break into them every month.

The discovery of new threats is not slowing down either. Last year, Apple had to disable its Walkie-Talkie app on its smart watches because it was discovered that a security flaw opened up the possibility of people listening in on conversations.

Android devices weren’t safe either. A new ‘Spearphone’ attack was shown to allow a third party to listen in on conversations held over loudspeaker. The method of attack is awe-inspiring, at the very least. It uses a phone’s accelerometer to monitor sound captured from the loudspeaker.

The concerns raised over these discoveries aren’t trivial. Even though the vulnerabilities were discovered by researchers that didn’t have any malicious intent, there are other skilled cybercriminals that are more than capable of unearthing these security flaws.

Staying Safe

While most tech companies claim to be dedicated to ensuring the safety of their users’ online privacy, you should also ensure that you take steps to protect yourself.

The most important thing you can do is to educate yourself on what risk factors exist with both the apps and smart devices that you use, and to make sure that you aren’t unknowingly exposing yourself. Familiarize yourself with privacy policies, and always have a look at the types of access that are being requested. If something doesn’t seem right, it never hurts to get in touch with a device manufacturer or app creator to ask questions.

Want to learn more about digital privacy, and how to protect yourself? Here are some resources:

Data privacy and you – An Overview

How to develop better password habits

How malicious hackers use stolen logins

The Evolving Face of Phishing

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