Spieder. Kind of a funny word. But in the vein of how we make up words these days. Spied. Spied upon. By a giant electronic spider. Spieder. That is what the NSA has going on in Utah.

“I started to realize that it is just a data collection point. That they are collecting and storing as much data off the internet and telephone networks that they can. And they think that if you ask for a warrant later to look at the data that’s okay,” said Ashdown.

Thanks to the USA Freedom Act, in November 2015, the NSA lost the ability to directly hold information about the phone calls of millions of U.S. citizens. While the change is significant, the NSA can still collect and store your communication from the internet and social media.

“If you trust the government is going to do the right thing I think you’re alone in that respect,” said Ashdown.

Trust the government to do the right thing? There is a joke in there some where. And I’m not getting it.

And then there is the Internet of Things. And what would those things be? Tracking you and your habits. The Daily Mail was covering this in 2015 with Your home is full of gadgets that spy on you.

This was the concern back then.

If you own a ‘smart TV’ from South Korean tech giant Samsung, every word you say can be captured by the device and beamed over the internet to Samsung and to any other companies with whom it chooses to share your data.

This ability for the TV to earwig your conversations on the sofa is part of the set’s voice command feature, which enables viewers to tell the TV to change channels rather than use a remote.

Well yes. The idea of Samsung keeping track of you was a bother. But what could they do with the information? Sell you TV upgrades? A better laptop?

And then we find out that it is not just Samsung listening. It was Big Brother too.

The documents reveal that both agencies held a joint workshop back in 2014 to improve the Weeping Angel hack that specifically targeted F8000 series TVs in 2013. They developed a “Fake-Off” mode in order to trick users into thinking that their TV was off by simply turning off the front LEDs and the screen but the microphone would then be used to record conversations.

This hack only worked on some firmware versions of the same TV, it was tested by the agencies on TVs running firmware versions 1111, 1112 and 1116. They didn’t come up with a way to hack firmware version 1118 and up, going by what’s mentioned in the documents. The CIA was working on a method to prevent the hacked TVs from updating themselves automatically which would patch the vulnerability. There’s nothing in the documents to suggest that the CIA tried hacking newer Samsung smart TV models or even TVs from other manufacturers.

This is obviously something that doesn’t inspire confidence in the security of smart TVs.

Wired had an article on how to keep your TV from spying on you. But it is not just TVs. The Internet of Things can track you and your habits and depending on how you use it it could also control your appliances.

Last year, U.S. Intelligence Boss James Clapper said that the government will spy on Americans through IoT (Internet of Things):

In the future, intelligence services might use the [IoT] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.

So not only do they want to know as much as they can about you. They intend to steal your identity too. Who are you?

And by “recruitment” I assume they mean blackmail.

The best answer to all this that I have found comes from my friend Chief IO.

If it doesn’t require an internet connection to function, do not connect it to the internet.

Only connect to the internet when you need some service from it.

Do not, ever, leave anything persistently connected to the internet other than your router TO the internet. (Even that is something I’m considering periodically shutting down. If it were under my control with my backup and configuration I would already turn it off when not in use.) Yes, even a doll or teddy bear.

Teddy bear? The Chief explains.

Internet-Connected Teddy Bear Leaks Millions Of Voice Messages and Password

Monday, February 27, 2017 Swati Khandelwal

Every parent should think twice before handing out Internet-connected toys or smart toys to their children, as these creepy toys pose a different sort of danger: privacy and data security risks for kids who play with them.

This same incident was happened over a year ago when Hong Kong toymaker VTech was hacked, which exposed personal details, including snaps of parents and children and chat logs, of about 6.4 million children around the world.

Now, in the latest security failing of the internet-connected smart toys, more than 2 Million voice recordings of children and their parents have been exposed, along with email addresses and passwords for over 820,000 user accounts.

Chief IO has a lot more to say on the subject at this post and at other places on his blog. Have a look around.

And perhaps we might also see if we can get the government to adhere to this quaint rule.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.