Your Microwave Is Spying On You

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The media and the left, which are pretty much the same thing, got much mirth and humor out of a comment by Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway about microwaves spying on people. Hardee har har. She’s an idiot, right?

Wrong. While specifically a microwave might not be able to spy on you (yet), your Smart TV can.

These smart TVs were apparently spying on their owners

The Federal Trade Commission said Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers. The television maker agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a case with the FTC and the New Jersey attorney general’s office after the agencies accused it of secretly collecting — and selling — data about its customers’ locations, demographics and viewing habits.

With the advent of “smart” appliances, customers and consumer advocates have raised concerns about whether the devices could be sending sensitive information back to their manufacturers. The FTC says the Vizio case shows how a television or other appliance might be telling companies more than their owners are willing to share.

Datamining is big business. Google and Facebook do it. Which is part of why the people who developed those websites are billionaires. Chances are your cell phone carrier is datamining your web visits as well. All without your knowledge or giving you a cut of the action. The “action” being what companies, hungry for targeting demographics, are paying to companies for YOUR information.

It’s not just companies, it’s the government too. In addition to whatever emails and phone calls of yours go into that big NSA data repository, other information is routinely gathered by government agencies. If you have a toll tag/transponder, the government can use that to monitor your travels. Same with subway cards, for that matter. Don’t start me on license plate readers at both fixed spots and on police cars. Once your plate is scanned, that data goes into a database, too.

Cell phones? Internet use on your home computer? Both can and have been used as evidence in criminal cases. Along with credit card use data. And your location data, if you are using the phones built in GPS. Or likely, even if you AREN’T using the built in GPS since it’s always on and always recording your location.

All of which you probably know about, or should.

How about this, though?

Secrets from smart devices find path to US legal system

WASHINGTON (AFP) – 

An Ohio man claimed he was forced into a hasty window escape when his house caught fire last year. His pacemaker data obtained by police showed otherwise, and he was charged with arson and insurance fraud.

In Pennsylvania, authorities dismissed rape charges after data from a woman’s Fitbit contradicted her version of her whereabouts during the 2015 alleged assault.

Vast amounts of data collected from our connected devices — fitness bands, smart refrigerators, thermostats and automobiles, among others — are increasingly being used in US legal proceedings to prove or disprove claims by people involved.

That includes information we probably don’t want to share with the world.

The maker of the smartphone-connected sex toy We-Vibe meanwhile agreed in March to a court settlement of a class-action suit from buyers who claimed “highly intimate and sensitive data” was uploaded to the cloud without permission — and shown last year to be vulnerable to hackers.

Think about that folks, and a spying microwave is a minor problem.

Speaking of microwaves,

A report last year from Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for internet studies pointed out the range of new connected devices that can yield evidence for law enforcement, “ranging from televisions and toasters to bed sheets, light bulbs, cameras, toothbrushes, door locks, cars, watches and other wearables,” which “are being packed with sensors and wireless connectivity.”

I just bought a nice Phillips Sonicare tooth brush. I better read through those instructions. I don’t want my dental insurance to deny my next root canal claim because I didn’t brush often enough. You think I’m kidding? Insurance companies are going to be prime customers for client health care data and they get to determine what that means.

Add to all of this the fact that if you have a camera and microphone on your computer, smart phone, or even TV remote (mine has a microphone), all of those can be activated by remote control without you knowledge. That has been done by federal law enforcement, and probably other agencies, more than a few times.

Connected motor vehicles are also vulnerable and the data in your cars “brain” can be subpenaed by the police for investigative purposes.

The Internet of Things, is more correctly the Internet of Your Snoopy Things that are Ratting You Out.

So, smart people on the left, who is smarter, you or Kellyanne?

I know my answer to that question.

One last thing. Medical devices that have wireless connectivity can be hacked. Not just for datamining, but for purposes of changing settings.

Maybe OldNFO can incorporate a plot device into his next book where an evil genius hacks into his victim’s pacemaker to commit murder.

 

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Of note, the hacked medical device was already used to murder the Vice President in Homeland . Also, Dick Cheney notes in his book that Medtronic disabled the wireless option on his pacemaker because of the security concerns.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure Mrs. Artifact is just reading all those computer hacking books because she’s bored or something 🙂

    • No, when the time comes, she’ll not be at all subtle about it. After all, what jury would convict her after they got to know what I was like?
      Why do you think I haven’t given her the combination to the gun safe?

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