We’re all connected. That’s not just some warm and fuzzy expression of sentiment, it’s the reality of the digital world we inhabit. That connection provides great benefits, but can also leave us vulnerable to those who would prey on any exposed weakness. Hackers and other bad actors are targeting unprotected networks to attack and hijack our personal devices for use in criminal activity.
Consider that experts are saying that attacks using the Internet of Things (IoT) jumped by 280%, as hackers become ever-savvier. The problem has become pervasive enough that the U.S. Department of Commerce has moved to set standards for security.
Do you know how to protect your safety and security online when you’re connected to smart devices? First, recognize that our personal and professional environments include the use of technology in nearly every area, and we have entered an era in which all of those devices are designed to connect to the internet. By now, most of us are aware of the risks in connecting online and have taken precautions to secure our computers and mobile devices. That’s an important step, but it’s only the beginning.
Many continue to overlook the risks of using other internet connected devices without taking proper security measures. If you think that this doesn’t necessarily apply to you yet, consider that you likely already have smart devices designed to connect to the internet throughout your home.
There are dozens of different IoT devices, and owners may not even be aware that they have them. These devices include digital media players — such as internet-enabled television sets and Blu-ray players — gaming consoles, home security monitoring devices, smart baby monitors, internet-enabled appliances and temperature control systems.
What are the risks of having these devices? When unsecured, hackers and other bad actors are capable of exploiting vulnerabilities to attack individual devices. These attacks can be designed to install ransomware, invade your privacy or take control of the device to launch secondary attacks on organizations through command and control denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks.
So, what can you do to protect yourself when using smart devices? Here are some strategies to consider.
Protecting Yourself From Cyberattacks Launched Through The Internet Of Things
1. Secure your devices, when possible. Keep your software updated, use proper filters and firewalls, practice good internet habits, avoid phishing scams and watch out for spoof sites. Be sure to also use a second layer of password protection.
2. Choose reputable vendors when buying smart devices. If you’re buying a digital media player or baby monitor, purchase the device from a vendor that has an established reputation. That corporation is more likely to have the latest security in place. The price might be a little bit higher to purchase from a name brand corporation, but you’ll save in security and peace of mind.
3. Upgrade the security to your home network. Make sure your network is configured so as to not send out data without your permission. Keep your passwords protected, and don’t give them out.
4. Consider whether you’ll be using the public or private cloud, and get educated about the risks of each. Do you want your baby monitor video going to the cloud? Consider what level of privacy you need when making decisions about which devices to use.
5. To prevent attacks that penetrate your network, use a virtual private network (VPN) on your router to add a firewall to incoming traffic.
Whatever you do, you must not ignore the risk. As we move into an increasingly connected world, we must all take the responsibility to protect ourselves and our networks from attacks.