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Big Brother is Watching: Lessons from Black Hat and Def Con

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on August 02, 2013 10:55 AM

It's been a busy month for nerds. Two weeks ago comic geeks converged on San Diego for Comic Con, and this week computer hackers swarmed to Las Vegas for Black Hat and Def Con. Both are hacker conferences, but Black Hat is geared toward the "buttoned-up corporate and government security analyst crowd", while Def Con targets the "counter-culture types," reports the Las Vegas Sun.

Cyber-security is a huge deal, especially now, with all of the Edward Snowden hoopla. The highlight of the conferences was probably a talk given by NSA Director General Keith Alexander at Black Hat, reports Ars Technica. But honestly, we're beginning to be more afraid of hackers than the government -- you won't believe what these hackers can do.

Basically if there's a computer in it, hackers can get to it. And these days, there's a computer in everything. For example:

1. Your Body

Your body is no longer sacred. Hackers can get into a hospital's computer files and change, or erase, everything from medical records to surgery schedules. That's not all, they can hack into a pacemaker or other medical devices. Basically, hackers can kill you.

2. Your Stuff

You know all those computers you use all day? CBS News reports that your phone (and even the charger) -- and even scarier -- your car, . Hackers can listen in on your phone calls (with only $250 of equipment), and find all those nude selfie photos, that you thought were long gone. They can even control your car by doing things like kill your breaks or power steering, or play with the speedometer or GPS.

3. Your House

No, that's not a ghost adjusting your thermostat, it's a hacker. Your Wi-Fi, smart TV and computer are also all at risk.

4. Your Anything You Lock With a Key

This is almost bad as 3D models for guns. You can get software that will create a 3D pattern for any Schlage Primus lock -- all you need is the lock's serial number, reports The Verge.

5. Your City

Small sensors around your town can track cell phones, so they know every move you make. That's not all. Hackers can access power plants and power grids and disrupt service, or shut it down entirely.

There, doesn't that make you feel safe? If you always feel like someone is watching you, you're probably right.

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