Tag Archives: Internet of Things Privacy Protection

IoT Vulnerabilities Associated with Top Holiday Gifts

The Holidays are over and 2019 is in full swing. Now that the family is gone, it’s time to get serious about tackling network security, specifically for new smart devices. Smart or Internet of Things (IoT) devices make life easier. However, many IoT devices have serious security vulnerabilities.

IoT Vulnerabilities Background

This holiday season saw an explosion in the purchase of IoT devices in the US. One of the largest areas of growth came from smart speakers, potentially this season’s hottest gift. According to recent estimates, during the 2018 holiday season, smart speakers saw an increase in sales of 78%, as compared to 2017. Currently, around one in every ten Americans has a smart speaker device. In fact, in the US alone, there are 101 million active smart speakers.

Like any other device that connects to the internet, IoT devices have vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, fancy new devices like AmazonBasics Microwaves with Alexa or Ember Smart Mugs with Apple Health Caffeine Intake Tracking most likely offer little in regards to security. In fact, the same can be said of all other types of Smart Home and IoT devices as well.

Last month, FlashRouters covered privacy concerns regarding Amazon Alexa and the potential for hackers to take advantage of its “listening mode”. Furthermore, just last Christmas, hackers managed to remotely access Bose and Sonos Speakers.

How Can I Protect My New Holiday Smart Home Gifts from IoT Vulnerabilities?

Taking advantage of a Virtual Private Network is the best way to ensure smart speaker security, prevent Alexa spying, and reduce IoT vulnerabilities. Here are some excellent providers for protecting your network:

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Unsure which VPN provider is best for you? Send us a message.

A Virtual Private Network encrypts connections by tunneling user traffic through a remote server and back. For example, any prying eyes, such as a snooping Internet Service Provider, will be able to see the VPN tunnel, but none of the traffic moving through it.

In order to use a smart device or IoT device through a VPN, you will have to use an Open Source router. IoT devices do not have native VPN support. However, connecting to an Open Source VPN-ready router will encrypt all devices on the network, including any Smart Wifi device.

Routers with factory firmware are frequently full of bugs and hacker-ready backdoors. Flashing a router with Open Source DD-WRT firmware eliminates these bugs and allows for a slew of previously unavailable feature sets, like the ability to use a connection to a VPN server on the device.

Using a FlashRouter to Prevent IoT Vulnerabilities

Best Netgear DD-WRT IoT Vulnerabilities

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 R9000 (pictured above) boasts a 1.7 GHz processor alongside 4 high powered external antennas. If you are looking for a device robust enough to handle a large amount of traffic through a VPN, look no further.

The Netgear Nighthawk R9000 is the perfect device for smart speakers security in any large home or for any situation involving heavy WiFi usage.

Some of our other high-end recommended routers include:

Netgear R6400V2 AC1750
Linksys WRT1900ACS/AC v2 AC1900
Netgear R7800 AC2600
Wireless-AC1750 Mbps
1 GHz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
Top Economy Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Great for Streaming
Wireless-AC2600 Mbps
1.7 GHz Qualcomm Processor
4 External Antennas
One of Our Most Powerful Routers
$199.99$299.99$349.99

FlashRouters Privacy App Solution to Tackle IoT Vulnerabilities

Every DD-WRT FlashRouter comes with the free FlashRouters Privacy App. The FlashRouters Privacy App revolutionizes and simplifies using a DD-WRT router with a VPN.

With the Privacy App, users can:

  • Switch between VPN locations with the tap of a button
  • Manage which devices go through the VPN and which don’t
  • Change VPN Providers with a few clicks on the same device

Want better support for your entire network? The FlashRouters Privacy App is here to help.

Is Your Smart TV Spying On You? US Senators Think They Are.

Is Your Smart TV Spying On You

Another day, another way for shady companies to spy on you. US Senators believe that the newest way for nefarious agents to snoop is through your Internet-enabled Smart TV. So is your Smart TV spying on you? The answer is yes, and you should be concerned.

US Senators Are Concerned About Smart TV Spying

Two Democratic US senators have asked the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, to investigate Internet-enabled Smart TVs. Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons addressing their concerns:

“Many Internet-connected Smart TVs are equipped with sophisticated technologies that can track the content users are watching and then use that information to tailor and deliver targeted advertisements to consumers.”

“Regrettably, Smart TV users may not be aware of the extent to which their televisions are collecting sensitive information about their viewing habits.”

Markey and Blumenthal are asking the FTC to “launch an investigation into the privacy policies and practices of Smart TV manufacturers.”

While there are laws preventing cable and satellite TV companies from harvesting customer data, these protections do not cover companies using Internet connectivity. Essentially, Federal Law does not account for privacy problems and concerns raised by Internet-enabled Smart TVs.

This is not the first time that this issue has been brought to the public eye.

VIZIO Ordered To Pay $2.2 Million To FTC And State Of New Jersey

VIZIO Logo

The Senators’ letter also mentions the FTC’s 2017 settlement with VIZIO.

Last year, VIZIO agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the FTC and the state of New Jersey. VIZIO, one of the largest Smart TV manufacturers, installed software on its TVs to collect viewing data on over 11 million consumers.

Data included second-by-second information displayed on the Smart TV. This includes video from cable boxes, broadband, DVDs, and even streaming devices. Furthermore, VIZIO attached specific private data such as sex, age, income, marital status, education value, and household value to VIZIO viewing data.

Data was collected without the consumer’s knowledge and consent and was then sold to third parties. These third parties used this data to create target advertising across all of the consumers’ devices.

How Much Information Is Samba TV Collecting?

The Senators further their concerns by referring to Samba TV, an app designed to find and curate TV shows according to your viewing habits.

Recent reports suggest that Samba TV, one of the largest companies tracking smart TV users’ viewing behavior, offers consumers the opportunity to enable their tracking service, but does not provide sufficient information about its privacy practices to ensure users can make truly informed decisions. For example, when prompting consumers to opt into their ‘Interactive TV’ service, Samba TV denotes that the service allows users to obtain ‘exclusive content and special offers,’ but does not clearly convey how much sensitive information about a user will be collected or whether the data will be used for targeted advertisements across different devices.

Samba TV told The New York Times that they “will work with any member of Congress on this issue” and that they have already revised and clarified their opt-in policies.

How To Prevent Smart TV Spying

What Makes a FlashRouter Different?

The best way to protect and encrypt your online data is through a Virtual Private Network. A VPN service protects your data by routing it through a secure and remote server. Unfortunately, Smart TVs do not natively support VPNs.

Luckily, FlashRouters has a solution. FlashRouters come pre-installed with open-source, community security vetted DD-WRT firmware that enables a VPN connection through your wireless router. This allows for any connected device to be protected under the VPN service.

Furthermore, a FlashRouter enables your Smart TV to connect to its VPN network, preventing shady companies from harvesting and selling your personal data.

Each FlashRouter also comes included with our VPN Privacy App, allowing for easy device management if you ever feel the need to use your Smart TV without a VPN.

VPN Privacy App Device Management

Check out some of our best FlashRouters of 2018 to start protecting your data today!

Have any questions or concerns? Contact our support team for more information!

How To Secure Any Internet of Things Devices By Default

iot-internet-of-things

Take a quick look around your apartment or house. How many things are running on WiFi or are connected to something running on WiFi?

The answer is “a lot”, isn’t it? The days of just running your computer off of your wireless network are long over. Now your smartphone, your sound bar, your waterproof shower radio, that Fitbit on your wrist, and everything on your entertainment center and more require some wireless communication to work properly.

This phenomenon commonly referred to as “The Internet of Things” or “IoT” has inarguably made some things much easier. But with any major technological improvement, there are always drawbacks. Namely, the security of your data.

Internet of Things Hacking & Privacy Issues

One IoT or smart device after another has been hacked in recent years. Smart cars, smart guns, even smart baby monitors… all of these things and more have been shown to be easily compromised.

In addition to these examples, the terrifying Ransomware trend finds Internet-capable devices held hostage by hackers. Hospitals, police departments, and in some cases, small towns have paid out large sums of Bitcoins in order to regain access to their files and IoT devices. Over one billion dollars in Ransomware has been paid out this year alone, according to ZDNet. Moreover, Ransomware delivery vehicles are found in nearly half of all cloud-based malware, per CSO Online.

Even seemingly mundane IoT devices are susceptible to hacks that can create major problems for users. You’d be reasonable to think a “smart fridge” can’t give up too much pertinent data, even if it’s hacked. You’d be wrong, as this Samsung smart fridge that accidentally gave up users’ Gmail credentials evinces.

In conclusion, if it needs the Internet to function, it’s hackable. If it’s hackable, it’s a danger to the security of your private information. So the real question is are these these IoT or smart gadgets really smart enough? Maybe they need a little more help then they thought in being fully secured for now and into the future.

How To Secure Internet of Things Devices By Default

The Internet of Things will always be dangerous, according to some. There are those in powerful positions losing sleep over the issue. And it’s certainly easy to see their point. Hacked cars and rifles are no one’s idea of safe, and you’re making your home more hackable by increasing the amount of hackable items in it.

But you’re not about to swear off Internet-capable devices. Therefore, we must learn to live with the safety issues raised by the IoT or smart devices. And for that, you’re going to need VPN encryption on all devices as a default.

For those who are already familiar with VPN service providers, this simply means making VPN your default wired of wireless network. For the unfamiliar, it’s past time to get to know VPNs.

VPN, or Virtual Private Networks, are subscription-based services that provide an additional layer of cybersecurity protection. Connect a device through a VPN and all of your online data is tunneled through encrypted servers set up around the world. This process makes your data untraceable, and therefore effectively secures it from hackers eyes.

That’s why you need VPN encryption by default on your entire network. If you’re going to run an increasing number of devices off your WiFi, it better be secure WiFi. It better be a VPN.

VPNRecommendation
ExpressVPNPopular premium VPN provider with top performance in Asia and Australia.
NordVPNAn increasingly popular service for users in the EU.
IPVanishOffers some of the fastest Level 1 server speeds worldwide & popular in countries like Saudi Arabia & the UAE.

Support Your VPN and IoT Devices With a FlashRouter

Meet the Netgear R7000 Nighthawk DD-WRT FlashRouter

Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk DD-WRT FlashRouter

Your VPN supports your online security, just as one of our FlashRouters will provide the support your VPN requires.

VPNs encrypt and decrypt a lot of data in real time, which is what it takes to keep you safe. Due to this constant flood of activity, VPNs require a lot of bandwidth to work properly. As a result, you need a powerful router to process all of that bandwidth, and therefore you need a FlashRouter.

FlashRouters revolutionize wireless networks. Routers typically come burdened with stock firmware that are loaded with inadequacies and flaws. At FlashRouters, we ditch the stock firmware in favor of third party replacements like DD-WRT and Tomato. DD-WRT and Tomato are open source, which consequently means the open source community are continuously updating them.

What’s more, FlashRouters designs our devices to be VPN-friendly. We’ve partnered with some of the best VPNs around the world to ensure our devices are as secure as possible. Furthermore, subscribe to any VPN on our supported provider list, and we’ll send your router with your VPN subscription fully installed.

Check out our alternative VPN setups, and find out some of the ways you can create a unique and simple to set up to make your VPN usage that much more effective.

How to Choose the Right FlashRouter

FlashRouters create devices like the Netgear R7000 Nighthawk Tomato to handle more online activity than any 10 people can produce. These routers guarantee power, speed, and versatility. Here is the R7000 alongside some other recommended devices…

Linksys
Linksys WRT3200ACM AC3200 R7000 NighthawkLinksys WRT1900ACS/AC v2 AC1900
Wireless-AC3200 Mbps
1.8 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Top Gaming Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1 Ghz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
One of our Most-Popular Routers
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Use in Small-Medium Homes
$349.99$299.99$299.99