In June 2018, news came out that a researcher at Tripwire discovered security flaws where Google Home and Chromecast exposed users locations.
How This Happened, Why It Matters, and What Can You Do
Google operates by connecting and mapping WiFi through a giant list of locations. This includes information taken from smart cars as they traverse streets (used for street view) and connect to various WiFi signals.
Other times, Google retains data adapted from Android devices which are connected to GPS in addition to WiFi. Letting people know where you live without your consent puts your data and information at risk from malicious hackers.
Here is what the discovery explained: A hacker or criminal could use a technique named DNC rebinding to allow malware (via malicious advertisements or websites) to connect with the user’s home equipment and networks! This hack was enough to give a location a mere 32 feet from the right home or business!
This would then allow potential scammers or spammers to hack into all devices (computers, smartphones, etc.) on your network. This was of particular concern as it could risk honest individuals being blackmailing (fraudulent calls from fake FBI or debt collectors saying money must be paid, lest threat or punishment occur), etc.
While this discovery gave Google notice about what it needed to fix (and fast, though Google first denied this was a problem), it also lets Google device users know what security measures to take to avoid future problems.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Always stay up to date on potential safety fixes or newly discovered hacks against the devices you use. Concerned about your information might be appearing on the web where you don’t want it to?
Search your name, usernames, and even by image search through Social Catfish and track your web trail. This is the most comprehensive way to search all major search engines with an exact algorithm based search.
Create a Guest Network
Although some routers don’t allow this, most new and up to date routers will. By creating a guest network, you can connect your Google Home and Chromecast (or any smart devices) to that while keeping more valuable PC’s (home computers) on your primary network.
If you have any specific devices or suspected security concerns, have those keywords listed as a Google Alert. This will allow you to receive an email when any of those items appear together in a news story. Visit Google Alerts to create your own: https://www.google.com/alerts
Keeping your personal and financial information private is an ongoing battle in a world where malware from hackers never rests. Stolen identities and fraudulent activity can cost thousands of dollars and take years to clear up, if not caught quickly. Ethical hackers find security fixes all the time. Stay up to date and use proxy servers or VPN connections to enhance security.