The Context of Technological Vulnerabilities Exploited for Cyber Stalking
A few things about technology vulnerabilities before I go through the particulars of the more unusual types of devices that can be used as a spying, surveillance or stalking tool.
All technology has vulnerabilities. The only reason we may not have found any one particular vulnerability is we either aren’t looking for it, aren’t using the device in a way that would reveal it or we haven’t been hacked yet by someone who is.
What is the common thread in all of this? People.
Technology is only going to have the weaknesses of the people who have designed and created the technology to start with. In a way these issues are forcing us back on ourselves to take a good long look at:
- Who we are?
- Why we are Making these things?
- What is the experience others are having with them?
- Where is our mindset at when we designed them?
Yes, it’s impossible to miss all the weaknesses in something simply because we as people don’t see everything at all times. Yes, the learning process goes on even when there is a high level of knowledge.
But seriously at some point you do have to step back and from the technological tunnel vision and take a look at the bigger picture at hand… The human picture of the folks making these wonderful toys.
Ok, so that was a bit abstract. After dealing with a stalker for years and seeing the rapid evolution in learning with them with such a focus on what is not seen, blind spots and continuously changing up methodologies… this creates the illusion of chaos and requires very careful observation and tracking to find the blind spots in their choices.
Anyhoo… I wandered a bit. The human patterns start to tell another story sometimes.
What Really Happens with Technology Weaknesses
A technology weakness allows those people with the know how, motivation and goals and objectives they would like to keep hidden to move forward on those goals and remain as anonymous as possible.
So while a technology weakness can be used to stalk someone, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Since human drives and motivations span a wide range of intentions so will the actions. Some other lovely things that can happen around technology weaknesses:
- Technology weaknesses can be exploited for data mining purposes by the companies making them.
- Technology weaknesses can be exploited by governments to use information collected or for surveillance purposes towards a group or individual.
- Technology weaknesses can be exploited accidentally by individuals integrating 3rd party tools.
- Technology weaknesses can be exploited by people actively stalking, bullying and harassing people through online or through devices.
We have already seen all of these scenarios play out in various industries such as healthcare, security and information by some of the biggest brands, and governments.
Smart Thermostats Do More than Just Monitor the Temperature
Google owned nest thermostats have shown both security vulnerabilities and the capability of being compromised fairly easily since about 2014.
This means there’s a potential for multiple vulnerabilities.
- A stalker can hack a Nest thermostat.
- Back in 2014 holding down the power button on the device for 10 seconds and inserting a USB flash drive allowed the programming mode to come up.
- This little trick that allowed researchers to get all kinds of data off of The Nest including whether or not people were home. This is the kind of information that can be sold.
I’m sure improvements have been made on the nest since 2014 to prevent this level of hacking. However, it’s also no surprise that people use their nest cameras to prank each other as well.
Robot Vacuums Make Great Spies
The significance to your robot room cleaners being hacked and used against you as a stalking tool has more than one component to it.
- First of all how your robot vacuum cleaner collects data is different from other technologies. Take the Roomba for example. Part of how it remembers is using mapping technology of your rooms. This includes objects left on the floor and furniture that gets moved around. The Roomba has to remember these details so it knows where to go each time it cleans your floor.
- This house mapping data by itself is very revealing for people’s habits movement patterns sleeping patterns and living patterns.
- Many Roombas are now Wi-Fi-enabled which means all of this data can be transmitted over a Wi-Fi network. So you have multiple points where your Roomba can be compromised including your Wi-Fi network.
Next step in development is scanning this means information about your house your income the things you have and more detailed information about your patterns will also be gathered and transmitted through the air and a Wi-Fi network.
Air Conditioning Units Keep More than Just your Air Cool
Planting cameras and listening devices in an A.C. unit is not the most original idea. It has been around for a while. It makes for a great way to spy on people since the units tend to be in locations where the space is open and people will tend to be (especially in warm weather) gravitating around the unit to keep cool in warm months.
A/C units which are also IoT machines or Smart devices also will have the same vulnerabilities as other Smart devices.
This is not something you see as much especially since it is so easy to compromise a cell phone, Smart TV or Smart Refrigerator.
In all of this stalking and cyber stalking madness it is something to be aware of.