Skip to Content
5 physical cybersecurity threats to avoid in 2023
Photo | Photo | Photo |
Tech tips

6 everyday objects that can threaten your cybersecurity

We have to worry about many forms of cyberattacks, from phishing to spyware. Since we know about these digital threats, we tend to be more careful online. However, you also have to defend against physical cybersecurity threats.

Scammers will target you in person and online. Some crooks will even show up at your door and demand money. If they’re willing to bully you, they’re more than willing to dig through your trash.

As gross as it sounds, they think it’s worth the effort. Poor data security habits can turn your trash cans into goldmines. Criminals can find personally identifying information (PII) in the papers you throw away.

Not only that, but old gadgets are also physical cybersecurity threats

Everyday objects you don’t think about can cause chaos in your digital life. Check your house for these five household items that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. They may seem menial at first glance. But a savvy criminal can turn ordinary household products into security-compromising weapons.

Scroll down for a few surprising things that put you at risk for hacking, data breaches, identity theft and more.

1. Printers are overlooked security risks

Printers are helpful gadgets that complete your home office. But hackers see them as easy access points to infiltrate your systems. Cybercriminals could steal your data and slip into your network if you have an unsecured printer connected to the internet.

Plus, printers store sensitive data you need to protect. For instance, your all-in-one printer may have vital information stored in its memory, like:

  • Documents.
  • Tax return scans.
  • Print logs.
  • Fax logs.

Thus, if you’ve ever printed personal documents, you should secure your printer so hackers can’t rifle through your secrets. Luckily, it’s easy to do. Use these five critical security steps to keep hackers out.

2. Your trash bin is a treasure trove for identity thieves

Thieves can find plenty of personal information in your garbage can. They look for documents with personal information, like:

  • Pre-approved credit card offers.
  • Credit card bills.
  • Bank statements.
  • Medical records.

Paperwork like this can contain your address, Social Security number, phone number, email address, employment history, bank account information and more.

Once they get this information, they can steal your identity, open credit accounts in your name and get you into legal trouble. They can even commit employment or tax fraud to steal your benefits. So be careful when throwing away junk mail. Your trash is a criminal’s treasure.

Your best bet is to purchase a paper shredder to protect sensitive data. Most modern shredders can even shred old credit and debit cards. Don’t risk important information getting into the wrong hands. A paper shredder is a wise and affordable solution. Here are a couple of nice options.

3. Hard drives can also become physical cybersecurity threats

You should erase your hard drive when you get rid of an old computer or laptop. It might initially seem scary since there are so many important files and images on our hard drives. That’s why you should back them up to the cloud.

Now that you saved everything necessary, wipe the hard drive. Otherwise, you could give away your secrets when you donate or sell your old machine. There are tons of tech-savvy cybercriminals who can find information on your hard drive — up to your SSN.

You shouldn’t take hard drives for granted. See them for what they are: a gold mine of private files and data scammers would love. Luckily, you can easily erase old hard drives with software solutions. Tap or click here for steps to wipe a hard drive on a Windows PC or Mac.

4. Even a USB can threaten your digital safety

You’re walking around and you see a USB on the ground. Maybe you decide to pick it up and return it to the owner. If there isn’t a lost and found nearby, you might plug it into your computer. That way, you can find out who the owner is.

Not so fast! This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Criminals have used this physical cyberattack for years. They twist your curiosity into a Trojan horse of sorts.

The minute you plug the USB into your computer, you introduce malware to your machine. It’s even worse if you plug the USB into a work computer. It could infect the entire network and lock down company files, triggering a ransomware attack.

You should also be cautious of your personal USBs. If they carry sensitive information, a lost USB could be a dangerous tool in the hands of a criminal. They could steal your identity with the sensitive files inside.

Unfortunately, USB drives are too easy to lose. To protect your data, attach them to one of these lanyards. They’re must-have accessories for anyone who values digital security.

5. Routers can put your home network at risk, too

Are you still using your router’s default password? Bad idea. Most routers have a default password that is the same for multiple units. If cybercriminals attempt to log into your network with the default password and you haven’t changed it, you’re in serious trouble.

It’s not difficult for anyone to find default router passwords. There are plenty of databases online that compile default router passwords from different brands.

Sites like RouterPasswords are helpful resources for people with router issues. Unfortunately, they’re also jackpots for cybercriminals. So don’t make it easy for hackers to infect your wired or wireless router.

Tap or click here for the steps to change your router’s password.

6. Old smartphones can endanger your digital life

Let’s say you just bought a new phone. What do you do with the old one? Sure, you could throw it in a drawer and forget about it.

But if you’re savvy, you might want to turn around and sell it. However, you shouldn’t just stroll into a secondhand store and sell it immediately. You should wipe your old device first. We mentioned doing this for desktop computers and laptops earlier. But it’s also wise to wipe smartphones and tablets before getting rid of them.

Whenever you’re giving away or selling old devices, erase them thoroughly. Otherwise, they could come back to haunt you later.

Tap or click here for steps to properly wipe old devices from PC to Mac, Android to iPhone.

We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community

Get even more know-how in the Komando Community! Here, you can enjoy The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, ask your tech questions in the Forum — and so much more.

Try it for 30 days