FILE - CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Intelligence hearing during his nomination process, in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

WASHINGTON — If this week’s WikiLeaks document dump is genuine, it includes a CIA list of the many and varied ways the electronic device in your hand, in your car, and in your home can be used to hack your life.

It’s simply more proof that, “it’s not a matter of if you’ll get hacked, but when you’ll get hacked.” That may be every security expert’s favorite quote, and unfortunately, they say it’s true. The WikiLeaks releases include confidential documents the group says exposes “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

The CIA has refused to confirm the authenticity of the documents, which allege the agency has the tools to hack into smartphones and some televisions, allowing it to remotely spy on people through microphones on the devices.

Watch: New Generation of Hackable Internet Devices May Always Be Listening

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WikiLeaks also claimed the CIA managed to compromise both Apple and Android smartphones, allowing their officers to bypass the encryption on popular services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram.

For some of the regular tech users, news of the leaks and the hacking techniques just confirms what they already knew. When we’re wired 24-7, we are vulnerable.

“The expectation for privacy has been reduced, I think,” Chris Coletta said, “... in society, with things like WikiLeaks, the Snowden revelations ... I don’t know, maybe I’m cynical and just consider it to be inevitable, but that’s really the direction things are going.”

The internet of things

The problem is becoming even more dangerous as new, wired gadgets find their way into our homes, equipped with microphones and cameras that may always be listening and watching.

One of the WikiLeaks documents suggests the microphones in Samsung smart TV’s can be hacked and used to listen in on conversations, even when the TV is turned off.

Security experts say it is important to understand that in many cases, the growing number of wired devices in your home may be listening to all the time.

“We have sensors in our phones, in our televisions, in Amazon Echo devices, in our vehicles,” said Clifford Neuman, the director of the Center for Computer Systems Security, at the University of Southern California. “And really almost all of these attacks are things that are modifying the software that has access to those sensors so that the information is directed to other locations. Security practitioners have known that this is a problem for a long time.”

Neuman says hackers are using the things that make our tech so convenient against us.

“Certain pieces of software and certain pieces of hardware have been criticized because, for example, microphones might be always on,” he said. “But it is the kind of thing that we’re demanding as consumers, and we just need to be more aware that the information that is collected for one purpose can very easily be redirected for others.”

Tools of the espionage trade

The WikiLeaks release is especially damaging because it may have laid bare a number of U.S. surveillance techniques. The New York Times says the documents it examined layout programs called “Wrecking Crew” for instance, which “explains how to crash a targeted computer, and another tells how to steal passwords using the autocomplete function on Internet Explorer.”

Steve Grobman, chief of the Intel Security Group, says that’s bad not only because it can be done, but also because so-called “bad actors” now know it can be done. Soon enough, he warns, we could find our own espionage tools being used against us.

“We also do need to recognize the precedents we set, so, as offensive cyber capabilities are used ... they do give the blueprint for how that attack took place. And bad actors can then learn from that,” he said.

So how can tech-savvy consumers remain safe? Security experts say they can’t, and to remember the “it’s not if, but when” rule of hacking.

The best bet is to always be aware that if you’re online, you’re vulnerable.

Source: This article was published voanews.com By Kevin Enochs

Categorized in Online Research

We know that our smartphones are capable of doing just about anything which our desktops can do these days. But all too often, we don’t protect our smartphones nearly as well as we protect our computers.

Hackers are just as capable of breaking into your smartphone and they can do all sorts of damage to you once they are in. As 60 Minutes shows, a hacker could break into your phone and find out who you are calling, where you are, and even listen in on your conversations and read your texts. There is the recent incident where several Democratic staffers recently had their phones attacked by foreign hackers looking to uncover private information.

But while there is no such thing as the perfect protection, implementing protection protocols can help keep your phone safe. Upon seeing even simple protections, most hackers will just move on and search for another less-protected phone. Here are a few things which you can do to keep your phone safe.

1. Keep your Phone safe

You may think of hackers as nerds sitting in some basements inputting some complicated program. But that is not the biggest threat to your phone. Your biggest threat is an ordinary thief who snatches your phone, escapes, and then cracks your password to find what is inside.

So the first step to protecting your phone is to do the same things which you should be doing to protect against thieves. Be aware of your environment when you are using your smartphone. Keep an eye out for suspicious individuals, and grip your phone with both hands so it is harder for the thief to rip it away. Also, back up your mobile data to your computer so that you can easily access it if your phone gets stolen.

2. Don’t use your Phone for everything

One of the biggest reasons why hackers try to go after your phone is so that they can uncover sensitive information such as banking information and passwords. But if you don’t have that sort of data on your phone, then there is nothing for the hacker to uncover.

Obviously, you need certain private information on your phone. But what about something like banking information or work-related affairs? Do you really need to check that information now, or can it wait until you get home and check it on your computer?

Avoid accessing confidential information whenever possible, especially if you are using public Wi-Fi. Also regularly clear your browsing history and caches so that hackers have less information to find.

3. Update your phone

Hacking is a war between hackers and software companies. The hackers find loopholes, software companies fix the holes, the hackers find more holes, and so on. But in order to fix those holes, you have to keep your phone updated so that the earlier holes are filled in.

This is particularly important because less competent hackers have to rely on those holes which other hackers have uncovered to get your information. The longer you choose to not update your phone, the more the opportunity to break in and uncover your information.

4. Look into encryption

There are a lot of people out there who think that encryption and password protection are the same thing. This is incorrect. Encryption scrambles your phone’s data so that even if the hacker just hacks your phone while bypassing the password request (and they can do that), the data will be completely illegible. Just look at the recent controversy between Apple and the FBI on breaking into a terrorist’s Apple phone, and that should give an idea of how hard it can be to break into an encrypted phone.

Encryption can do a lot to protect your phone’s data and the good news is that all iPhones and newer Android versions come with their phone automatically encrypted once you set a password (tip: set a password for your phone). But if you have an older version, you will have to encrypt it yourself by going into the security section of your phone’s settings.

5. Be careful using public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are easy to use, but they are an easy gateway for hackers to get into your mobile phones. As CNN notes, hackers can trick your phones into connecting to spoof Wi-Fi or Bluetooth accounts which just end up sending all your cell phone’s data right to the hacker. Hackers can also take advantage of vulnerabilities in Bluetooth software as another way into your cellphone.

So try to rely on your phone’s 4G network instead of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and never let your phone automatically connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots. If you do, then it is possible for hackers to realize your phone is connected and hack in even while you have no idea that your phone is connecting to the Wi-Fi network in the first place.

Author: Michael Prywes
Source: http://www.lifehack.org/466933/5-expert-security-tips-for-your-smartphone

Categorized in Internet Privacy

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