Dan Rattiner's Stories

Objects Spying on Me: Trouble with My Alexa, My Earbuds and My Scale

Russian hackers are using my devices, but not the toaster.

After Trump met with Putin in Helsinki in July, the Russian hackers went quiet for a while. But now they are back at it again. Two weeks ago, we learned they have hacked into some American Catholic websites. A week ago, we noticed they were hacking into American conservative think tank websites.

What are they up to? We also did notice that, so far, the Russians are holding off breaking in to disrupt our 2018 midterm elections. But that may not last. What else are they up to?

I am almost certain the Alexas in my house are part of their operation. I have one in every room here. But yesterday, I did a test. I came home unexpectedly. I opened the front door and for a split second I heard them chattering to one another. Then it stopped.

I gathered them all up and threw them in the garbage. I advise you to do the same.

I have also thrown in the garbage the new bathroom scale one of my sons got me for my birthday last week. I know he meant well. You step on it, wait for the zero, then get off and get back on. It gives you not only your weight but also your body fat, your bone density, your water percentage and your muscle mass.

I went through all the steps to set it up. They really get to know you. You enter your age, your height, your weight, your sex. And it works perfectly. But then I read something in the manual that scared me. This is from the Russians.

It said I should be sure to step on the scale barefoot and just after wiping the bottoms of my feet with a damp cloth. The reason is that to get the measurements, the scale sends out a mild electrical current up through my feet and legs to learn of my body fat and muscle mass. The action is called a “Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis.” I threw it in the garbage.

I also want to warn you all about these new Apple earbuds you can get which do not have wires. They hook up to your iPhone to give you a really excellent sound for music or telephone calls. They tell you the hook up is through the Bluetooth.

They are not cheap. They sell for $149, and what you get is a small, smooth white-plastic case about the size of a small pill box. You flip up the top of the box and take out the earbuds and, one at a time, snuggle them into each ear separately. When the first earbud goes into your ear, a pinging sound is heard through it. But nothing else. It is hooking up with your iPhone. It is when you put the second earbud into your other ear that the problem takes place.

Suddenly, you are hearing your music in stereo through both of them. The bud in one ear has sent a signal through your brain to the bud in your other ear. The Russians can pick you clean. Off my new earbuds went into the garbage.

When I learn more, I will let you know.

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