We love smart devices! Many household items such as home security cameras and motion sensors, baby monitors, toys, light switches and bulbs, window blinds, home thermostats, fire alarms, toothbrushes and even fishing rods controlled by smartphone apps are growing in popularity.


Experts estimate that 7 billion smart devices are currently in use, the most common of which are smart TVs. Though these app-controlled devices make our day-to-day easier, they can easily expose you and your family to hackers.

Here are some recent examples of hackers using smart devices to access private information:


  • May 2019 — researchers from the cybersecurity company Sophos discovered a flaw in software used by two million wireless home devices that allow hackers to control them.

  • April 2019 — Bloomberg reported that Amazon Alexa team members around the globe had access to users’ personal information gathered by Alexa devices.

  • July 2017 — Hackers accessed a hotel's database of gamblers' private information by taking control of a wireless fish tank thermometer in a Las Vegas casino.

Tips from New York University Cybersecurity Professor Judith Germano

Click on the microphone icons to listen to snippets of Germano's presentation on smart devices and hackers.

Smart devices are convenient, but Germano warns that many manufacturers try to get new products out the door quickly rather than focusing on your safety.

Click on the blue arrow to listen.

Germano recommends giving your home Wi-Fi network a name that does not identify you as the owner and always keep your Wi-Fi software up-to-date.

Click on the blue arrow to listen.

What does Professor Germano do to keep her family safer?

Click on the blue arrow to listen.

Click on the “7 rules for using smart devices” image to download and print the document as a reminder of how to keep wireless devices in your home out of hackers' hands.  

CPS _ Smart Devices.001.jpeg

WhatsApp, the instant messaging app owned by Facebook and used by 1.5 billion people worldwide, was recently breached allowing hackers to gain access to cameras, microphones and personal information on a still unknown number of users' phones.


If you use WhatsApp on your personal iPhone or Android phone, the company urges you to visit the app store, search for "WhatsApp" and update to the newest version of the app in order to secure their phones

Beware of suspicious emails that appear to come from your organization’s talent department or payroll service instructing you to update your direct deposit bank account. Entering your account information may give fraudsters access to it. 

In the example below, the email instructs you to click and download a document from the "payroll company," however so will install malware on the computer. 

Review the images below to help you learn what clues to watch for when identifying a phishing email. Grab the slider bar and drag it from left to right.

Source: IBM Security

In the upcoming edition of Cybersecurity News
from the Chicago Public Schools Cybersecurity team:
The biggest misconceptions about using your computer safely.

Cyber Cartoon: © Marketoonist

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May 2019 b • Edition #70

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