Detecting Intruders

I wanted to go back over your devices listening to you, but this time focus on malicious actors. This is a far more common way that people are actually victims. There are websites where you can see unsecured webcams, and unsecured printers used to be popular targets for vandals too. I feel like this also ties in very well to the idea the feds, advertiers, and whole world is listening in on you. An article I read said that a light turns on when you use your iphone microphone. However, a lot of laptops have a similar feature for the webcam and a former FBI director still physically covered their webcam. I am not advocating paranoia here, but I do want to cover every base because RATs (Remote Access Trojans) do exist.

You can tell if you’ve been hacked a few different ways. The most straightforward one is to look for weird activity on your devices. Notes might be messed up, files moved, your cursor behaving strangely without a good hadware explanation, and so on. A lot of script kiddies are not all that clever, but think they’re geniuses. This is also where a firewall is actually super handy. While many people think of firewalls as being impenetrable that is not necessarily true. What is true about firewalls though is they can be a convenient way to monitor network traffic. A keylogger or any sort of device sending information will need an internet connection to phone home.

It is a lot more difficult to notice on your phone, but weird apps would be a very easy indicator. Both Apple and Google have walled gardens to some degree to keep their phones more secure. Sideloaded apps and jailbreaking can increase a phone’s functionality, but if it’s from a questionable source it may be a trojan. Quickly depleted battery life if the phone is still relatively new is also a possible indicator of spying activity. Using a microphone to collect and send data requires both energy and bandwidth.

The good news is that it does not need to be difficult to address a problematic app. You can put computers into safe mode or the phone in airplane mode to quickly kill an internet connection. From there it can be possible to find a way to remove the app or virus using a different device. There are Linux recovery cds that work with windows devices, and if absolutely necessary factory resetting phones is an option. Microsoft offers free recovery CDs for every version of Windows they sell. Generally, installing Windows is a pretty easy process that is just super intimidating. Microsoft does a good job walking you through the process.

To conclude, personal hotspots and cell data are far more secure than public wifi for a variety of reasons. Try to stick to primary sources whenever downloading applications. Carefully consider approving app permissions on a phone because they are important to help deter malicious activity. Lastly, if you see strange activity on any device cut the connection to that device and possibly your network. Some viruses can propagate through your network and infect every connected device. In general, as long as you use strong passwords or 2FA hacking you will probably be more effort than it’s worth.

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