Hackers and hacking have been around for a long time.
Cybernews, an online research-based publication that investigates and tracks hacking, said the term "was first used in relation to using technical know-how back in 1955 at a meeting of the Technical Model Railroad Club. In the meeting minutes, it was used to describe how members modified the functions of their high-tech train sets."
More than 60 years later, there are lot more items around capable of being hacked than just high-tech train sets. So the folks at Bespoke Software Development (www.bespokesoftwaredevelopment.com) commissioned a study to find out what household items could be targets for hackers.
Using an online analytics tool, the company's study found the No. 1 item, by far and away, was the cellphone. Worldwide, the study found that the phrase "How to know if your phone is hacked" or similar phrases were used 716,400 times during the study period, which took place earlier this month.
There were nine other items that made the list. Combined, the number of searches for those nine items totaled about 151,680 — less than a fourth the number of the cellphone searches.
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Coming in a distant second was "computer hacked" (31,920 searches), followed by "iPad hacked" (29,160) and "wifi hacked" (23,760).
Drawing the least interest was "TV hacked" (12,960) and "baby monitor hacked" (9,840).
"As phones have become integral to modern life, it’s no surprise we are worried about them being hacked, with important passwords, financial and personal information all being at risk," a spokesman for Bespoke said. "Spikes in data usage, performance issues, pop-ups, or changes to your screen are all indicators that your phone has been hacked."
The spokesman went on to offer some simple tips to make electronics more difficult to hack:
• Change default passwords; use a password manager. Use different passwords for different accounts. The password manager can generate strong passwords and store them in encrypted form. Some password managers can be placed on a flash drive and used on different computers.
• Keep operating systems and apps up to date. Companies are constantly updating the security of their products and squashing bugs.
• Watch out for "phishing." Many users have seen the text message saying their account will be closed unless information is updated; or that money is awaiting but needs a routing number; or a large purchase has been made — click on this link if it is a mistake. Clicking on the link will likely be a mistake. Check the validity of the email address before doing anything.
• Enable two-factor authentication. Yes, it's a bit of extra trouble. It means using a password, and then a second step for verifying that you are who you say you are. Usually, that's a number sent to your cellphone that is then sent back to the website.
Lonnie Brown can be reached at LedgerDatabase@aol.com.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Worried about your cellphone being hacked. You're not alone