Technology has evolved at an alarming pace and many of us are struggling to keep up with all of the new advances. While most of us appreciate the convenience of these new technologies such as smart homes with appliances that can be controlled remotely with your phone, there are also drawbacks to the tech explosion. The very things that make our lives easier and more streamlined, in many instances, are also eroding our privacy away. The majority of smartphones and even laptop users are being spied on in some aspect of their lives, and many are not even aware that their activities are being tracked. Here are 20 ways that technology is watching you without your knowledge.
1. A Smart TV
If you are the owner of a smart TV then your privacy is at risk. According to USA Today reports, the CIA has the technology to break into anyone's Samsung Smart TV. Most people are not aware that their televisions could be used to spy on them and although this news is shocking, it's something that the public needs to be aware of. It's a worrying situation and although it would take an army to monitor everyone's connected Smart TV, it makes you think twice about what you say when the television is turned on.
Another way that your privacy can be compromised is if you share your cookies from your device. Cookies store all of the information about your activity online including passwords, the things that you've browsed through, items you might be interested in purchasing and so forth. Cookies are stored in a mega database and it is highly possible and likely that companies will determine your identity by your IP address and target you for their marketing campaigns. You should also be aware of the fact that nearly anyone with a little tech-savvy can access this information including the NSA and your local police departments. In short, anyone can access information that tracks your internet activity if they want to badly enough.
3. Through your webcam
Most devices that let you get connected online come with a built-in webcam. Whether you use the device or not is stands as a potential threat for a breach of your privacy. When the light next to your webcam comes on that means that it is in use and if you didn't turn it on that means that someone else might have done so remotely. This technology is commonly used by internet criminals and they can use it to spy on you when you are online without you even knowing it. This is why so many are now covering their built-in webcam eyes with a piece of opaque tape to prevent spies from watching their every move. Covering the lens will at least make it so they can't see you.
4. Through your microphone
Devices with built-in microphones also put your privacy at risk. Even if you tape the lens of your webcam, proficient hackers can turn your microphone on remotely and then listen to your private conversations. Many people have become the victims of these criminal hackers and have not even known it. The CIA, FBI, NSA and other government agencies can monitor what you say through your microphone or what you say when you're just walking around in a room where it's been remotely activated. You're only truly safe from this type of privacy invasion when the device is powered off and not in operation.
Wiretapping is a technology that has been around for a long time and many of us laugh it off, but it's something that the government still uses to access private conversations. If you hear scratching, static, popping or clicking sound on your phone, it could mean that somebody is tapping in on your private conversation and listening to everything you say. The sounds occur when a wiretap makes a connection to your phone, and it doesn't have to necessarily be the government doing this because the technology is out there for anyone to take advantage of.
6. Hidden spy surveillance cameras
There are a lot of people who don't realize that the government or even local law enforcement is allowed to install hidden surveillance cameras on certain properties. If there is an ongoing investigation or good cause, in some cases it is perfectly legal for them to put hidden cameras around and you won't even know that they're there. This is also a common practice in some homes through Nanny spy cams, in many convenience store parking lots and most retailers have surveillance cameras that are hidden.
7. E-mail scanning
If you've ever looked at a product or talked about it online with a friend through e-mail, and then saw similar advertisements occur then you have probably been targeted by E-mail scanning. Both Google and Yahoo reserve the legal right to scan e-mails of anyone fro the purpose of targeted ads. This is a technology that allows them to know what you're interested in whether you want them to or not. They can also look at your private information so think twice about what you share over e-mail because it's not difficult to access them with this technology.
8. Automatic license plate readers
Law enforcement is now using a new type of technology called automatic license plate readers, and it is mounted on road signs and in police cars. This is a form of surveillance and there is no way for you to know if the police car you just passed or a random road sign has videotaped you as you passed by. It is possible for others to access this information because it is stored in a mega database reserved for authorities and the information about your activities may be stored for years.
9. Loyalty programs
When you sign up for a loyalty program and you receive a card or even a credit card, this may be a way of watching you. There is a lot of data and personal information about you on the card and even though loyalty programs can save you money, some of them record statistics on your online activity, and this is in turn sold to other businesses which give advertisers a clear picture of who you are and what you do on a typical day. Law enforcement can also use this technology to access the history of your credit card use.
10. City surveillance cameras
If you live in a city, there may be surveillance cameras installed in your neighborhood and you wouldn't even know it. In addition to the cameras used by law enforcement, some cities have also installed camera systems that do more than watch for traffic offenses. The government has access to these random cameras so they can watch what people in a neighborhood are doing and establish their activity patterns and habits and almost predict what a person is going to do on any given day. This is a problem that is particularly frustrating in the United Kingdom as every move by the citizens is monitored by surveillance when they are out in a public place. the Department of Homeland Security has a lot of these cameras up and operational, and local municipalities are also getting in on the action.
11.Through your WiFi
The NSA has the authority to spy on the whereabouts of any citizen and so does the local police. Spyware can be used to track your every move if you're walking around with your smartphone. It's not quite as scary to think that the government is spying on you if you're not committing any crimes, but it gets real when hackers use this technology to steal your personal information and commit identity theft.
It's not a joke that some people will put a tracking device on your car to monitor your whereabouts. Jealous significant others have been known to use this technology to track the comings and goings of a lover that they suspect of cheating on them. It is also used by private investigators to track activities for court cases, insurance claims and much more. The point is that your car's location can be tracked accurately and efficiently if someone slaps a tiny little tracker under the undercarriage and you won't even see it.
13. The Facebook Like button
Most of us who use social media don't think twice when we like a post and hit the button to send this sentiment. But if you've ever done this, your personal data may have just been compromised. When you are signed into Facebook and you like a commercial page or even a private page that is associated in some way with spyware and trackers then your data is being sent to that party and sold all over the internet. The ads are going to start pouring in
14. Smartphone location
Another technology that spies on you constantly is the smartphone location services that are installed on most phones these days. This program tracks you wherever you go and if you make a post to social media from a restaurant, if it's turned on then it is going to inform the world of the day, the time and your exact location. this tells both friends and internet criminals where you're sitting at any moment in time.
If you use Uber then you need to know that this is a company that offers you affordable cab rides through their app. It's convenient to use and it lets you know where your Uber driver is and tracks their progress as they approach the address you're waiting at, but this technology has a few huge drawbacks. While it is intended to provide ride history and information about the driver, it also stores information about your trip with journey details. Anyone using Uber to hide their activities is making them public for the world to know if someone cares enough to hack into the system.
16. Mobile phone networks
When you're told that your mobile phone sends encrypted communications back and forth to cells, it makes you feel better because it's a safe way for data to be transferred and protected from prying eyes. The truth is that these cells are placed on masts rising into the sky for the purpose of service coverage but they are also tracking your whereabouts. You can be tracked wherever you drive within the range of the cells. This private information is tracking you from one cell to another and your information is handed off to the next cell within range of you as you drive or even walk down the street. The only way to stop it is to quit using your mobile phone.
17. Exif data in photos
Digital photographs also store a ton of information. It is called Exif data and the technology was originally created for tracking information that professional photographers might need to have with the image. It can be used to embed contact information and copyright details. Currently, Exif data can include a lot more, especially if the picture was taken with a smartphone or a digital camera. The picture usually records the location where it was taken through the GPS system that is built-in. It can tell a stranger a lot more about you than what you're prepared to share.
18. Facial recognition
This is a technology feature that is suggested in the tag option on Facebook. It allows the site to scan through the pictures that you have uploaded to find ones with your friends that you didn't tag, and it can suggest to you who you may want to add. While it was created to be a modern convenience, it spies on your friends and family and when other people are using it and you're in their social network you have no control over group pictures that include you in them, that may be randomly shared, even if you're just in the background. There's no way to avoid it if there are pictures of you out there and you use social media.
19. Your cable Box
Some cable boxes are equipped with built-in motion sensors and video cameras. This gives streaming companies and cable providers information on what activities you're participating in within view of the sensors. It's for the purpose of making recommendations for the most appropriate media content, but the truth of the matter is tht it is spying on you. It makes you think twice about what you do on your couch in front of the cable box when you know that this technology is being used.
20. Your Smarthome technology
The apps that are used to control the lights and appliances in your smart home also spy on you and record personal information. The HVAC thermostats record your habits, activities, and preferences for heating and cooling. The lighting controls establish patterns of when lights come on and go off and it can be used by robbers to determine your daily schedule so they know when you're going to be home and when you're going to be away. There is always a way to hack into this kind of smart technology and when you're using your phone to control lighting, and you have a thief tracking where you are via social media, it's not hard to use the tech to rob you blind.
Written by Bill Vix
Read more posts by Bill Vix