Securing the Internet of Things

Over the last few years that has been an explosion in the industry that professionals have labeled the “Internet of Things.” What does that even mean? Well, in this post I will define the term, give you examples of devices that fall into this category, explain how these devices can be incredibly helpful and at the same time explain how they can be dangerous if not secured properly.

The Internet of Things

In non-nerd terms, the Internet of Things refers to all devices that can be connect to a network. This can include things like lights, cameras, thermostats, alarm systems, vacuum cleaners and much more. In 2018, there were 23.14 billion connected Internet of Things devices. In comparison, 2015 saw 15.41 billion connected Internet of Things devices. As you can see, the amount of devices is growing exponentially.

The Good

There are many good aspects to the Internet of Things revolution. Things like thermostats and lights can help with energy efficiency when configured correctly. Voice control can help those that have trouble with mobility control various components in the home. Notifications for various events can be sent directly to someone’s smartphone. These events can be serious like a house fire or basement flooding. They can also be something not so serious like informing you that your lights have been turned on due to a routine you have setup.

While it is easy to see the positive ways that the Internet of Things can help benefit us, there is also the potential for people to exploit it.

The Bad

“Internet of Things” devices are by their very definition connected to a network and networks can be hacked. There have been documented cases of hackers compromising smart devices. Devices such as baby monitors, cameras and various other devices for example. I have witnessed the iPods installed with a baby monitoring apps used by a man to spy on his ex-girlfriend. This is why it is very important for people to be vigilant when setting up these devices and securing your network.

Security Tips

Here are a few quick tips for helping you mitigate the risk of having one of your devices hacked.

Step 1: This is the most critical step. Make sure that your wireless network is secure by using a complex password. You should always have a guest network setup for friends or family to use while they are in your home but in the event that you give someone your main wireless password, make sure you change it as soon as they are gone.

Step 2: Many smart devices are accessible by using a website. This is the case with Nest devices as well as many other. In this situation, make sure that you secure your account with a strong password and utilize multi-factor authentication if offered. Many of the bigger brands do offer some form of multi-factor authentication.

Step 3: If your device comes with a default password, change it immediately.

Step 4: Always make sure your devices have the latest software and firmware updates.

The last tip I will give you is a big one. Many smart home devices allow you to share access with others. This may be a spouse, family member or friend. If this is the case and there comes a point in which you no longer want that person to have access make sure that you revoke it.

If you do not know how to do this, you can either contact the manufacturer of the product or contact an IT or Cybersecurity professional to help.

Thank you for reading.

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