Five easy ways to stop your gadgets from spying on you

The growing use of smart devices has become a cause of concern

Tech Desk March 19, 2017
The growing use of smart device has become a cause of concern. PHOTO: AFP

The growing use of smart devices like air-conditioner and TV have brought convenience to our lives but now they have also become a cause of concern as anything connected to the internet tends to attract the attention of hackers.

Documents recently released by Wikileaks showed how the US premier spy agency, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), developed a huge arsenal of malware that could turn a TV into a listening device, control a car and even bypass security barriers on popular messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.

WikiLeaks says the CIA can see your Whatsapp messages

In such a situation it is paramount that users take their personal privacy seriously. Here are 5 things you can do to protect yourself in our increasingly connected world.

1. Create strong passwords and change them often

Passwords provide the first barrier against any cyber-attack and as such should be extra difficult and impossible to guess. These should include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters and more importantly should be changed over a certain period to make them even more difficult predict.

A single should never be used for multiple accounts as doing so could make it easier for hackers to gain access to multiple services and devices.

2. Tape your laptop’s camera

Hackers have found ingenious ways that they can use to take over your webcam. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly keeps his laptop camera taped up.

Covering a laptops camera would then prevent hackers from obtaining any private videos even if your device has been compromised.

3. Limit location access to apps on your smartphone

More and more apps are now using the smartphone’s location feature in order to provide better service to their users. These include the popular social networking website Facebook that uses your location to let you check into a particular place or tag where a photo was taken.

WikiLeaks exposes alleged CIA hacking program

Some apps, however, even keep track of your location when not in use which is a major security breach. Luckily, smartphone users can limit the use of the location feature on their smartphone for each app. Both iOS and Android users can tweak their privacy setting and choose whether specific apps have access to your location all the time, only when they're using the app, or never.

4. Keep software updated

Software updates, among other things, are rolled out to bring critical security fixes and patches for glitches that may be exploited by hacker to take over your device. Therefore, smart devices in general and computers and smartphones in particular should always have the latest software version available.

5. Turn off your tracking feature on Smart TVs

Some of the major TV companies have recently come under fire for monitoring the content viewers watched on the devices without their approval. While keeping your TV disconnected from the internet might be the safest option, this may also limit its functionality. Some smart TVs, however, do provide the options to disable certain data-collecting features prevent manufacturer from snooping.


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