There are some incredible and practical advantages to this kind of home automation, including home safety and security, improved appliance functionality and efficient use of energy. (Related: If you are surrounding yourself with appliances, robots and gadgets that depend on the cloud, you are begging for disaster.)
But while they improve your life in so many ways, security experts are warning that your smart gadgets could be spying on you and your family 24/7.
Here are a few examples on how your smart home technology spies on you.
These systems typically consist of several components, including monitoring and recording, audio-visual alarms, motion-detection cameras, lighting and others that help your family and possessions safe 24/7 while you're at home or away – whether this means that you keep watch through a phone app or monitoring is done for you professionally for a monthly fee.
While home security systems help keep your residence safe and secure, sometimes they do just the opposite.
In 2020, for instance, an ADT Home Security customer noticed an unfamiliar email address to her account. Her discovery and incident report to the company led back to a home security technician who gave himself access to more than 200 ADT Pulse accounts for over four and a half years to spy on female customers.
Privacy invasions are not unique to ADT. A recent court filing by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that home security company Ring allowed its employees and contractors total access to customers' cameras, some of which were placed in intimate places, such as bathrooms and bedroom, without the customers' knowledge or consent.
Abusers, stalkers and other perpetrators (including government) can distribute malware – malicious code that includes adware, spyware, viruses and other malicious software – that can do anything from spying and keeping track of every keystroke you type; every software application you use; every website you visit; every chat, email, instant message, online payment, etc. you send; every document you open; everything you print and more.
Some spyware software gives the person monitoring the ability to corrupt and erase your files, freeze, shut down or restart your computer.
Your modem connects your home network to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and your Wi-Fi router lets all your digital devices, such as computers, headsets, laptops, phones, speakers, tablets, wearables (smart watches and other connected paraphernalia) talk to one another and use that internet connection.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Santa Barbara have found that external attackers can sniff out signals emitted by inexpensive WiFi routers/receivers and turn these into motion detectors to monitor activities inside homes and buildings without being detected themselves.
"By just listening to existing Wi-Fi signals, someone will be able to see through the wall and detect whether there's activity or where there's a human, even without knowing the location of the devices. They can essentially do surveillance of many locations. That's very dangerous," said computer scientist Heather Zheng.
Almost all printers today have some sort of memory capability installed in them – allowing for data storage for at least 30 days so that it can be recalled and reprinted later without having to go through the entire printing process again.
Your printer records the number of pages of what you're printing, including file sizes, the applications you're printing from, ink or toner brand, date and time of the printing process and so on.
If you're not comfortable sharing any information, just unplug your printer for a minute or more to purge volatile memory (like your computer RAM or random-access memory). You can also use your printer offline by connecting it to your computer via cable instead of your home's WiFi.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), certain families of printers and copiers contain machine identification codes (MICs) that are also known as printer steganography, secret dots, tracking dots or yellow dots. MICs act as printer "fingerprints" – digital watermarks represented by tiny dots coded in firmware that allow identification of the device.
Since 2015, robot vacuum cleaners have started to feature cameras that improve obstacle detection as it makes their way around your home, create floor maps and stream live videos for home monitoring. These videos may include some information that you don't want to others. (Related: Amazon's iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners spy on users while on the toilet and upload embarrassing photos to social media.)
Visit FutureTech.news for more stories like this.
Watch this about about an insider proving that your Smart TV is watching you.
This video is from the Lifting the Veil channel on Brighteon.com.