Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SMART TV- Secure Your Smart TV Like Your Computer

The capabilities of our TV’s have been rapidly improving over the years so that now not only can we watch TV shows that we like via a cable or satellite provider we can watch live shows via streaming or even “surf the web” over the internet. And recently, cable services and TV manufacturers have been advertising the capability to control your TV by voice. That sure beats messing with a remote!

Smart TV’s are entering the realm of the “Internet of Things” (IOT). IOT can be any device that can send or receive information via the internet. IOT devices can include:

·         Your car.

·         Healthcare devices such as a Fitbit which monitors your health and sends that information to the cloud.

·         Appliances, manufacturers have been trying to push internet capable refrigerators for several years.

·         Wearables, including Apple watch and Fitbit devices that can pass information about you.

·         Lighting, yes light bulbs are coming out that can turn on and off automatically and extend the range of your wireless network.

·         Home security devices such as alarms, cameras, sensors and locks that can inform you of activity around your home on your smart phone or tablet computer. Some systems can also allow you to unlock doors, turn on lights, etc.

There have been a couple of warnings about smart TV’s. With their new capabilities, it is now best to treat your smart TV like your computer. Not only can you browse the web you can run apps to play games or many other tasks like you can on your smart phone. Scammers can hack into your smart TV, just like they can hack into your computer or smart phone. On your smart TV they can access voice controls, cameras, or gain access to other devices on your home network to gather usernames and passwords.

Samsung recently warned that its voice enabled smart TV’s listens to conversations in the room. The TV is listening for certain command words to take action. But to do that, it listens to any words that it hears and sends those words to a third party who processes them looking for voice commands. While on a daily basis there probably is not a function saving everything said in the room, there apparently is a chance that your TV or the third party’s server could be hacked, and a criminal or another entity could record those conversations. So, Samsung says, do not talk about sensitive or personal matters in front of your Samsung smart TV.

The Better Business Bureau recommends that you take action to keep your smart TV secure:

·         Avoid malware by staying away from suspicious websites and being careful about clicking on strange links.

·         Keep your smart TV up to date, like you should with your computer, by installing manufacturer updates when you receive them.

·         Use the firewall on your smart TV and your network router.

·         Be sure that your network is secure by using strong passwords and keeping your software up to date.

·         Assume that the smart TV’s camera and microphone are turned on. An extra precaution that you can take is to place a piece of tape to cover the camera.

Some basic precautions can help you avoid problems on the future.

Better Business Bureau:

The Week:



Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Many local governments, including the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, have been experimenting with using social media to inform the public. Notices to neighborhoods from local governments as well as postings from neighbors in Facebook groups or Nextdoor all help citizens become aware of crime, traffic, or natural disasters. This issue of the Sheriff’s Office’s crime prevention newsletter discusses the benefits and problems of social media.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

One problem is reporting a crime to your neighbors but not to 911. This recent article in The Herald discusses an incident where an attempted robbery was not promptly reported to 911 but did receive extensive coverage in Facebook. This led to a missed opportunity for a local police department to apprehend the suspect. Remember, if you see a crime in progress or suspicious activity call 911 first then let your neighbors know about it via email or social media.

The Herald:



Monday, February 8, 2016

SNOCAT- Deputies Arrest Car Thief Who Stole 100 Cars for the Ride

Car theft remains a problem for drivers in Puget Sound. However, the Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force (SNOCAT) recently arrested a prolific car thief who averaged 5 car thefts per week to go from one place to another.

According to one task force detective, it was easier for the thief to steal a car, instead of waiting for a friend for a ride or waiting for a bus.

According to an article by The Herald, the car thief was very candid with task force detectives. He used shaved keys, which he called “jigglers,” to enter Hondas. Older Hondas tend to be popular with car thieves because they are easier to steal. He only used shaved keys on Hondas; he would steal other cars because the owners would leave an extra key inside.

He also told detectives that when he was finished with the cars, he would often leave them in a visible spot so that they would be found.

While his motivation was transportation, detectives believe that he did also steal items from inside the cars to feed a heroin addiction. They do not believe that he took cars for parts.

This account shows how car thieves work and suggests how you can beat them:

·         When you park, take your keys with you, lock your car, and do not leave any spare keys in your car!

·         If you own an older vehicle such as a Honda, use an anti-theft device such as the club. Anti-theft devices often prevent car theft.

Also, don’t leave your car running when you are away from it. This is the time of year when some people warm up their cars before they go to work. Also some people keep their cars running when they dash in (just for a second!) to a convenience store. That’s a big no no!



The Herald: