Hacking Your Privacy Through Digital Devices

Samantha Kemp-Jackson

Who's listening to your daily life?

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Baby monitors, Alexa, "Hey Google" - They all have vulnerabilities

The intersection of parenting and technology is expanding daily. Increasingly, tech-savvy parents are relying on digital tools to make their oles as parents easier. After all, we use our gadgets and devices for every other aspect of our lives; why not this one?

Think about it: technology is used more than ever in daily life, from the digital eye that watches the baby sleeping upstairs; from the iPad or tablet that reads and delivers streaming content to kids of all ages; to digital games and more. Heck - how many parents use "Find My IPhone" and similar apps to track what their older kids are doing?

A lot.

And why not, one would ask? It seems natural that the digital reliance that is a daily reality would find its way into the kids' bedrooms and specifically the baby's room.

That baby monitor? An example of technology's use at it's best and most convenient. Most parents would say so.

But there is a dark side.

"Alexa! Tell me what digital hacking means!"

The convenience provided by technology can’t be denied, however parents need to be vigilant about the security and privacy of their devices, particularly the ones that watch over their little ones.

As hacking becomes more commonplace in daily life, the instances of home-based digital tools being compromised will also increase. Alexa, Siri, "Hey, Google." How many times are these digital assistants summoned every day? While the convenience of being able to walk into the room and have your immediate need addressed, there's a flip side to the ability to do so.

Data vulnerability is a reality and no system is perfect. There's sadly an incentive for hackers and those with nefarious aims to exploit these vulnerabilities for their own gain. To this end, parents need to be particularly digiligent about how they use the latest technologies that make their lives easier.

We’ve seen a rise of incidents where personal information has been hacked via email, cell phones and cloud accounts, but did anyone really anticipate that baby monitors would be a target too?

It’s scary to think that our most precious assets could be open to being spied on, secretly viewed, spoken to by strangers, or worse.

CHART: Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Report - Statistics

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(Source: Comparitech)

Some sobering statistics

Recent studies have found some alarming statistics related to data breaches and hackers' ability to gain access to personal data in various ways. A University of Maryland study revealed that a hacking attack in the United States occurs as often as every 39 seconds. Perhaps more frightening is the finding from Verizon's report that 55 per cent of all data breaches and hacking are done by organized crime. Definitely not the type of folks people would want to have access to the most intimate of spaces, their baby's bedroom.

A University of Maryland study revealed that a hacking attack in the United States occurs as often as every 39 seconds.

VIDEO: The 5 Scariest Things Caught On Baby Monitors

Thankfully, there are a number of simple things that worried parents can do to make sure that their personal privacy and precious babies are safe from prying eyes.

How to stop hackers from gaining access to baby monitors or similar devices

1) Get Educated – Parents need to make sure that they fully understand the technology that they're using, especially in their children's rooms. This means setting up a secure and hacker-proof network and passwords that are difficult if not impossible to breach. For those who are not familiar with how to do so, there are many videos and online resources that teach the basics of data security and privacy.

2) Err on the Side of CautionWhen in doubt, don’t. If there are any concerns or misgivings about the technology behind any particular device, parents are urged not to use it until they're confident about it’s security. Better to feel comfortable and satisfited that it meets the highest standards or else it may be time to choose another option altogether.

3) Create a Bullet-Proof Password – So many people make passwords for their devices simple and easily hackable. It's amazing how many folks have "123456" or similar as their login credentials. When creating passwords, experts advise using one that is not easily-guessed or identified. This means having a combination of letters, numbers (both upper and lower case) and symbols that do not make sense to outsiders. As well, one that is changed frequently will result in less of a likelihood that it will be cracked. The key is making it as difficult as possible for hackers to gain access to a personal home network.

4) Limit the Use of Devices – Parents are advised to limit the number of devices used to monitor their children. The more gadgets attached to a network, the more of an opportunity the hackers have to get in. Making it as difficult as possible for unwanted digital intruders to gain access will result in a more secure, locked and impenatrable guard for the home.

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I write about Lifestyle content with a focus on Parenting, Society and Trends. I also talk about how things have changed on my podcast, "Parenting Then and Now."

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