The ‘internet of things’: Preparing for the typical ways smart devices and phones get hacked

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Cyber Safety for Families with Joanna and Jodie on The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM The Fish

Photo: Virus blaster via

Photo: Virus blaster via

Last month, my personal email was compromised and I realized this because a friend inquired about receiving a strange email from me. Once I verified there was malware involved, I sent out a notice advising folks to beware of this email spoof. While I know that most people have been conditioned to ignore such things (recognizing when emails are not authentic and then deleting them), it is important to communicate with one another when we witness something like this has happened especially when you know in your gut that it is a spoof. If you receive an email from someone you know and it is out of character, really cryptic, or just seems odd coming from that person, let them know you received it so they can investigate it, if they have not done so already.

In this way, it is true that cyber safety takes a village in that we can form a united front to thwart cyber attack attempts.

The “internet of things” or IoT

Email hacking is just one of the many ways in which cyber criminals seek to access personal information in order to exploit and plunder. As people become more accustomed to smart devices, every consumer product is web-enabled. The common term for this new reality is the “internet of things”, or IoT. Literally everything from cars to refrigerators and baby monitors are equipped with internet-enabled programming to operate remotely, according to consumer-prescribed settings which enhances convenience (for setting alarms, timing events and enabling remote access) and also introduces an element of risk from cyber hackers.

Tips for kids and parents

Kids and texting. Children need to beware of incoming texts that invite them to claim a prize, with a link. This can result in malware that disables the phone so that the hacker has access to all of your personal data, and you cannot. Once the hacker has your contact list, they can send out similar links to your friends, and access their personal information. Once inside your device, the hacker/pedophile has access to all the information they need to be able to study a child and know where they hang out, what their interests are and then how to gain their trust and or/impersonate them. If you suspect your child’s device has been compromised, take it to your local repair shop, or go to your carrier local retail outlet (i.e., Apple Store, AT&T or Verizon, etc.)

Family wi-fi and device network management. The FBI has recently issued warnings to consumers and manufacturers to beware of the cyber hacking of appliances and devices. Cyber criminals are very sophisticated and are able to introduce malicious code in very secure circumstances. And so it is very important that every individual using these devices, parents and children, remain vigilant about maintaining security measures as well as observing unusual activity that might indicate a security breach. Below are some tips from the FBI regarding the family network:

  • Understand your IoT devices. Many come with default passwords or open Wi-Fi connections, so change to a strong password and only allow the device to operate on a network with a secured Wi-Fi router.
  • Protect your Wi-Fi networks—set up firewalls and use strong, complex passwords, and consider using media access control address filtering to limit the devices able to access your network.
  • Many routers give you the option to set up more than one network—if yours does, separate your computing devices from your IoT devices and spread them throughout several different networks. That way, if cyber criminals break into one network, the damage they do will only be limited to the devices on that one network.
  • Disable the Universal Plug and Play protocol (UPnP) on your router—UPnP can be exploited to access many IoT devices.
  • Purchase IoT devices from manufacturers with a track record of providing secure devices, and set your devices for automatic updates when available.


ABOUT:  Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.

Jodie Stevens, Hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM, with her cyber mom, Joanna Jullien. They talk cyber safety on Tuesday mornings.

Jodie Stevens, Hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM, with her cyber mom, Joanna Jullien. They talk cyber safety on Tuesday mornings.

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.