Criminals are getting smarter. In the last year, new hacks that use social engineering tactics, authentic-looking "market surveys" on phones - and even gift items that arrive in the mail - are all intended to deceive and annoy.
Worse, some new hacks use the computer as a surveillance system - to find out when you are not at home. Be wary of these 9 emerging exploits from hackers wanting to get at your home.
1. Free gift card in the mail
When something arrives in the post, it automatically gets a stamp of approval -- literally. But be on guard, says Chris Faulkner, the CEO at
Constellate: hackers are increasingly sending out documents such as a a jury summons, or gift cards that say you just need to visit a website and enter your credit card details.
2. Fake delivery drivers
Is there a way to be sure a delivery driver is really there to pick up your packages? Matt Sarrel, a security expert with Allbusiness.com, says you must ask to see photo ID. He says hackers have also posed as cable and broadband installers who install a keylogger on your PC and then leave suddenly.
3. Free USB keydrive or CD-ROM in the mail
Another new tactic is for hackers to send a free USB keydrive or CD in the mail or leave one laying around with authentic-looking corporate markings. Ryan Meyer, president at Meyer Technology Group, says the device uses autorun to install a virus, keylogger, spycam, or spyware software - even though the drive itself appears to be faulty.
4. Intercepting voice calls
Another new tactic is to intercept voice phone calls, says Sarrel. Hackers build a homemade hacking device with parts purchased online that cost about $2,500. The hacker records what you say, then blackmail you or use the information for personal gain.
5. Social engineering by stealing your email
Sarrel says another common tactic is for hackers to steal your email password, usually by guessing based on your birthday or a child's name, and then find out when you are not home to rob you, sd well as determine if there is any information they can use for blackmail, or other private data.
6. Garage door openers that do not use encryption
This one is more common than you think, Many garage door openers do not use any encryption on the wireless signal, which means hackers can use the same make and model to program it to open your garage.
7. Bluetooth sniper rifle
A few years ago, John Hering, the CEO at Lookout, demonstrated a Bluetooth sniper rifle that can be used to tap into smartphones in a home, even from a few streets away. According to Hering, these remote devices are becoming more common as a hacking tool since the criminal stays a distance away, but they are easy to build and can penetrate through walls and windows.
8. Facebook survey ploys
Hackers are now also using a new tactic related to Facebook. Posing as a job hunter or someone doing a survey, they contact you through chat or email and ask you a few innocuous questions. At the very end, they ask a killer question, such as getting hold of your National Insurance/social security number.
9. Laptop webcam records video
As reported by CNET earlier this year, the LANRev program is a common tool hackers use to record remote streams from a webcam. The truly heinous aspect: criminals are able to find out when you are normally not home and rob you.
Sign up to receive daily breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis, deals and more from the world of tech.
John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.