Beware the Byte: 10 Emerging Tech Scams in the Age of IoT You’ve Never Heard Of

In today’s world, where everything seems interconnected, the Internet of Things (IoT) has woven itself into the fabric of our daily lives. We’ve welcomed devices like smart thermostats, fitness trackers, and voice-activated assistants, seamlessly integrating them into our routines. However, as we revel in the ease and convenience they bring, it’s crucial to remember that with great technology comes great responsibility. We must stay vigilant against the rising tide of emerging tech scams that can put our digital security at risk. In this article, we’ll look at ten scams and offer advice on shielding yourself from them.

Beware of Counterfeit IoT Devices

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As the world of IoT continues to expand, so does the market for counterfeit devices. Crafty scammers create copies of popular IoT gadgets that may not work as they should or, worse, can jeopardize your data. To stay safe, always buy your IoT devices from trusted sources. For instance, back in 2018, authorities in the UK discovered a large shipment of counterfeit Fitbit devices. They looked like the real deal but lacked the quality and functionality of genuine Fitbits.

Watch Out for Dubious App Stores

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Be cautious when you come across third-party app stores claiming to have exclusive IoT applications. These stores can be hotbeds for malware or fake apps designed to steal your personal information. For safety, stick to official app stores like Google Play or Apple’s App Store. In 2020, researchers stumbled upon a fake Huawei app store distributing malicious apps targeting Android users in Asia.

Verify Firmware Updates

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Scammers sometimes send deceptive firmware update notifications to your IoT devices, hoping to trick you into downloading malicious software. Always double-check updates through the official website or app of the device’s manufacturer. In 2019, a malware campaign specifically targeted D-Link and Linksys routers by sending fake firmware update notifications, causing significant harm to these devices.

Unauthorized Access to Your IoT Devices

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Hackers can gain unauthorized access to your IoT devices, potentially eavesdropping your conversations or activities. Ensure your IoT devices have strong, unique passwords, and turn on two-factor authentication whenever possible. An unsettling example from 2019 involved a family in the US who had a hacker gain access to their Ring doorbell camera, resulting in verbal harassment through the compromised device.

Be Wary of IoT Phishing Emails

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Phishing emails aimed at IoT users can be compelling and may ask for sensitive information. It’s crucial to be cautious and confirm the sender’s identity before clicking links or sharing personal data. In 2020, a phishing campaign impersonating the US Small Business Administration tricked recipients into clicking links directing them to fake websites designed to steal personal information.

Protect Your Wi-Fi

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Weak or default router passwords can be exploited by hackers, giving them access to your entire IoT network. Make it a habit to update your router passwords with solid and unique combinations regularly. In 2019, a hacker used a tool called “Routerpwn” to exploit vulnerabilities in routers, altering DNS settings and redirecting users to malicious websites.

Guard Against Deepfake Voice Attacks

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As deepfake technology advances, scammers can convincingly mimic your voice, potentially gaining access to your financial accounts or sensitive data. To protect yourself, use multi-factor authentication and be cautious when sharing sensitive information over the phone. While deepfake voice attacks are a growing concern, specific documented cases may not be widely available. However, they often target businesses where scammers impersonate executives to manipulate employees into transferring funds.

Secure Your Smart Home

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Hackers may exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices to take control of your smart home systems, such as locks or cameras. Keep your devices up to date by regularly updating their firmware and changing default passwords. While documented cases of hackers gaining access to smart home systems exist, they might not always make headlines.

Be Cautious with Medical IoT

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Connected medical devices are attractive targets for scammers and can jeopardize your health. Ensure you only use IoT medical devices recommended by healthcare professionals and trusted sources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were reports of fraudulent medical devices, such as counterfeit thermometers and pulse oximeters, targeting individuals seeking accurate health data.

Investigate Crypto IoT Devices

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Exercise caution when considering IoT devices that promise to mine cryptocurrency or manage your digital assets. Some of these may be scams or come with hidden fees. Always do thorough research before investing in such devices. Cryptocurrency scams are widespread, and IoT-specific crypto scams might involve fraudulent “mining” devices that entice investors with promises of high returns but ultimately turn out to be schemes designed to siphon off investments.

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