How to know when your phone’s mic and camera are being accessed. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Getty Images)
At dinner, I mentioned that I would like to go hiking in Patagonia. I never searched for these trips or anything like it. Yet, an hour later, I started getting ads on my phone about hiking adventures in Patagonia.
While there’s been no concrete evidence that your device’s microphone is always listening, many Americans believe apps and sites routinely collect their voice data and use it for marketing purposes. Your smart speaker with its virtual assistant is always listening. On my site, you’ll find the exact steps to disable the camera and microphone in your digital life from your Amazon Echo to Facebook.
Your smart TV is smart because it’s also collected valuable data on your use. Tracking happens on the pixel level that can identify every ad,
506781—the two-factor authentication code needed to access my Dropbox account on November 15, 2015. I know because it’s still there in my SMS history, a permanent record of my accessing Dropbox from new devices. I have full iCloud history in much the same way—332486 was the code on October 4, 2014. I can see the same for Microsoft, Uber, Sony… You get the point.
As I’ve written before, SMS messaging is best avoided—it’s an archaic and unsecured platform with no place among the myriad end-to-end encrypted alternatives we can now use. If you want to message family, friends, colleagues, then skip SMS and use iMessage (blue bubbles only), WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram (albeit its encryption is more complex than the others). And while you may consider your private messages to be of little interest to others, you still seal envelopes despite trusting the postal services and