QUES­TIONS AND AN­SWERS

Austin American-Statesman - - 2017 TEXAS LEGISLATURE -

Q. What can I do to stop po­ten­tial sur­veil­lance via my in­ter­net-con­nected TV or smart­phone?

A. Not much if you don’t want to sac­ri­fice the ben­e­fits of the de­vice. “Any­thing that is voice-ac­ti­vated or that has voice- and in­ter­net-con­nected func­tion­al­ity is sus­cep­ti­ble to th­ese types of at­tacks,” said Robert M. Lee, a for­mer U.S. cy­ber­war op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer and CEO of the cy­ber­se­cu­rity com­pany Dra­gos. That in­cludes smart TVs and voice-con­trolled in­for­ma­tion de­vices like the Ama­zon Echo, which can read news, play mu­sic, close the garage door and turn up the ther­mo­stat. To en­sure a con­nected de­vice can’t spy on you, un­plug it from the grid and the in­ter­net and re­move the bat­ter­ies, if that’s pos­si­ble. Or per­haps don’t buy it, es­pe­cially if you don’t es­pe­cially re­quire the net­worked fea­tures and the man­u­fac­turer hasn’t proven care­ful on se­cu­rity.

Q. I’m not a high-value tar­get for in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. But i still want to pro­tect my­self. How?

A. It may sound bor­ing, but it’s vi­tal: Keep all your op­er­at­ing sys­tems patched and up-to-date, and don’t click links or open email at­tach­ments un­less you are sure they are safe. There will al­ways be ex­ploits of which an­tivirus com­pa­nies are not aware un­til it’s too late. But they don’t come cheap. And most of us are hardly worth it.

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