Think you're immune from hackers just because you've got an updated antivirus program on your computer? Well, think again. Hackers are regularly finding new and innovative ways to break into the various connected devices in your life. And security researchers are always publishing research demonstrating strange new methods that a determined hacker could use to invade your life. Here are a few of the terrifying threats we've come across lately.
Hacking Your TV to Spy on You
In the wake of revelations about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, some observers expressed concern that the agency could compel Microsoft to use the camera attached to the new Xbox One to spy on users in their living rooms. But it turns out you don't need to be a government spook to watch people through their TVs. At last month's Black Hat security conference, researchers showed vulnerabilities in Samsung "Smart" TVs (which have Internet connectivity, webcams and other computers-like features) that could allow a hacker to take control of the television. And on Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for security standards to make sure that hackers couldn't use the built-in webcams to watch you while you watch TV.
So if you don't want hackers watching you sit on the couch in your underwear, take the advice that the Black Hat researchers gave Mashable: "When in doubt, there's always a piece of tape or a post-it you can put on the camera."
Hacking Your Phone Through a Charger
If you've ever been stuck in an airport with your phone battery reading 10 percent, the sight of a charger plugged into a wall can look like an oasis in a desert. But wait! Is that really a charger?
Not necessarily. Another demonstration at Black Hat showed an iPhone charger that was actually a micro-computer in disguise.
Plug in your iPhone and the tiny computer could upload a fake Facebook app that looks like the real thing but is capable of accessing your contacts and stealing your passwords, among other mayhem.
Apple has promised to fix the vulnerability -- but not until its next operating system, iOS 7, comes out sometime this fall. In the meantime, be wary of any chargers you see lying around.
Hacking Your Toilet
OK, probably not your toilet, assuming you have a regular toilet that relies entirely on pipes and water and doesn't have electrical components. But one brand of pricey, high-tech toilet is apparently prone to being hacked and remotely controlled.
For some reason, the Satis Toilet has a mobile app that can control certain functions of the toilet over Bluetooth -- raising and lowering the lid, flushing, and even operating the bidet. But it turns out that the app isn't password protected, which means anyone in the vicinity of your toilet who has the app could make the toilet go crazy.
Since there's no apparent financial benefit to flushing someone else's toilet, we're guessing hackers aren't lining up to take advantage of this. Still, turning on the bidet while your roommate is sitting on the toilet would be a great prank.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.