The overlooked sides of tech security

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Tech security has always been a concern since cyberattacks became mainstream with the rapid penetration of Internet technology inside the household. The rise in popularity of remote work has forced the hand of many households, contributing to the introduction of high security techniques. Educating your family about the risks of unsafe Internet practices is not sufficient anymore. More and more residential users have created a secure home network, where they frequently update their passwords and keep antivirus and firewall tools up to date. 

Personal devices are also more likely to receive protected access authentication, using passwords or even biometric data such as fingerprint or facial identification. Families are less likely to own a collective device; individual devices ensure better privacy and protection for each member. 

Yet, there is more to tech security than meets the eye. Even as an individual — read non-commercial — user, you must keep your eyes open for potential risks to ensure you can protect your confidential data at all times. What are the different everyday tech scenarios that could put your data at risk? Here are some things you want to consider. 

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Smart home hub

A smart home hub is designed to make your life easier by automating some functions and operations within your property, such as having a fridge that can send a grocery order to replace missing items, for instance. However, a smart hub could also put you at risk by making your home or your data accessible even remotely. 

What are the risks with a smart home? Having a secured network may not be sufficient protection if the smart devices and appliances are not equipped with sufficient configuration stability. If a smart appliance doesn’t have authentication access, it could provide direct access to its functions and network connections to cybercriminals. More alarmingly, criminals could use access to the device to infiltrate the network and gain visibility into confidential data stored on other devices or digital solutions. 

Another commonly overlooked risk of smart homes is the Internet of Things. Smart trackers, for instance, you can carry with you to a variety of locations, can be unsecured, which means they could be accessed remotely by cyber attacks. But, what happens if the malfunction picked up in one environment enters the realm of the household? It could potentially spread to other devices connected to the same network. 

Drones with camera footage

Individual drones typically require a special licence to use camera footage in public locations. However, commercial drones can be equipped with high tech equipment capable of capturing and transmitting data footage — learn more about the many features of modern commercial devices. The Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. has warned about the rapid technology advancement of drones and the fact that devices may be easily accessible to skilled cybercriminals. Indeed cyber threats to drones can be caused by three different factors:

GPS spoofing allows r to take control of the device by using false GPS coordinates. Unfortunately, in a fleet, a hijacked drone can be a source of access to the other drones and sto the data recorded on their memories. Additionally, drones linked to other devices and networks with the IoT could present a serious threat if they get compromised. 

Attackers can also use a downlink intercept method to gain access to the data transmitted between the drone and the controller. Not all commercial drones use encrypted communication channels, which can make them vulnerable to this type of attack. 

Criminals can also use commercial drones to gain access to private or highly secure locations, as a drone can fly over and record crucial evidence. 

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AI-managed automated chats

The pandemic has driven more and more businesses to digitise their presence and provide longer service hours. As a result, chatbots have become a valuable part of day-to-day business activities, ensuring customers can receive the service and answer they need at any time of the day and night. Chatbots can request confidential data to handle queries and provide in-depth responses, even if it is to transfer the case to an agent. 

Chatbots are typically encrypted and secured, which means that data shared on the chat are unlikely to be leaked. However, cybercriminals can impersonate a fake chatbot, which can be used to capture confidential data or even mine customer data. 

What are the signs of a secure and real chatbot?

A real chat window will present encryption and SLA certification, which are typically visible on the top bar. Additionally, most websites will also be designed specifically for a chat window. So if the window feels unnatural on the site or awkwardly placed, it may be a fake chatbot. 

It is important to remain alert to avoid issues. Typically, a chatbot may require confidential data to identify a customer, such as a customer ID number. The bot is unlikely to request your personal password or further data that are not related to your request. No chatbot, including bank websites, will ever request your banking details. Ideally, to be on the safe side, it is best to have a separate email account to share for potential risky online forms and chats. In case a cybercriminal gets hold of your email address, they can’t use it to gain further access to your personal information. 

Digital pay or order stations in shops

You have probably seen digital pay stations in fast food restaurant chains or some busy stores. They enable customers to pass their orders or make a payment rapidly without waiting at the counter. However, these digital stations require an Internet connection. When the connection is faulty or slow, customers could leave before completing the process, which could expose them to further risks such as:

  • Someone using the temporarily stored data to make their purchase
  • Someone capturing personal data such as name or address if they are visible on the screen

A slow connection could also encourage the store to implement a non-permanent solution, such as using a faster non-secure connection to speed up the process. This could make all customers’ data available to opportunist cyber criminals. 

In conclusion, p[rotection your personal computer at home is not enough to protect your confidential data. While you have no control over business data breaches, there are many occasions where, as a customer, you can apply common sense to protect yourself.