Protecting yourself from hackers and spies using technology

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – In the digital age, basically any electronic could be at risk of being hacked or used to spy on you. That includes common devices like smart phones, watches, computers and TVs.

But experts say many people aren’t doing enough to protect themselves.

ECU students say they take most precaution with their laptops. Several students have now heeded new warnings of covering the camera on the laptop with either tape or paper.

Security experts say cameras can be hacked into and used without you necessarily knowing it.

“I put tape over it, black tape because I don’t want anyone snooping on me,” said Angela Lao

Others say taping the camera isn’t the only precaution they take.

“I’ve seen documentaries on people being able to hack into your computer and so when I’m like changing I always shut it anyway even though I have tape over it because it just freaks me out,” said Madeline Early.

But when it comes to things like smartphones and TVs, cyber security experts say not enough precautions are being taken.

Mike Fowler, a former police detective and now VP with the cyber security company DFLabs, said there are now tools out there to allow someone to listen, and possibly watch, you through your TV.

“Recently there was a release of a large amounts of exploits that previously were only available on the black market that include monitoring through television sets where it activated a microphone,” Fowler said.

He also said Apps downloaded on your smartphone can make you more vulnerable. Many students WNCT spoke with at ECU admitted to sharing their locations willingly when downloading certain apps.

A popular app called Find My Friends allows you to track the location of friends and family.

Fowler said doing that can put you at risk.

He recommends several tips to better protect yourself:

  1. Double check links before clicking: even taking a few seconds to make sure the link is valid can make a big difference
  2. Create strong passwords: Fowler said creating passphrases with numbers and punctuation is even better
  3. Watch the Wifi: Don’t make financial transactions using un-secure public Wifi. Fowler suggests even disconnecting from untrustworthy WIFI and using 4G connection if possible.
  4. Don’t overshare on on social media
  5. When buying something online, make sure the the beginning of the address reads “https” and not just “http”

Fowler also recommends you always update your devices when one is available.

“When that notification comes in to make those updates, there’s a reasons they’re wanting to do that update,” he said. “Many times it has to do with security.”

Fowler recommends the following sites to become better informed.

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