Like it or not, the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a way of life. With over 20 billion devices projected to be connected by 2020, security concerns are running rampant among the wireless tech industry. While awareness is relatively high about the vulnerabilities IoT devices possess, most corporate entities in the wireless tech field are in the early stages of finding better ways to shield their networks from hackers and other malicious infiltrators. Granted there are never any guarantees of your network or device’s complete safety, there are ways you as a consumer can protect yourself from hackers and other malicious entities that may try to breach your devices and WiFi network.
Two of the most fundamental actions any IoT user should take are picking strong passwords for each individual device and having a guest network. Many servers offer guest networking so visitors can get online without accessing your shared files or devices connected to the main network. This bodes well with IoT devices that have security concerns, because guest networks act like a figurative barrier separating your online connections from devices your system is unfamiliar with (think of it as a guest house for IoT gadgets).
While most people acknowledge that password selection and individualization is a no-brainer, 55 percent of Internet users use the same password for most (if not all) their online user accounts. Once a hacker obtains one of your passwords, they’re more likely to try using that same code to access as many of your devices as possible. This is why making intricate passwords for each of your online accounts and devices is important, despite how many people pay no regard to this suggestion.
It’s always important to keep tabs on your devices. Always follow up on software updates, thoroughly assess your IoT collection to determine the degree of privacy and online access each device needs, and understand what each gadget does when connected. This may also help you determine how necessary it may even be for some of your IoT devices to be connected to the Internet. While I’ve praised IoT devices in previous works like hairbrushes, refrigerators, and even sneakers for their capabilities through online connectivity, mitigating the number of connected devices not only frees up bandwidth on your network, but gives malicious entities one less device they can potentially infiltrate.
These guidelines also apply to whether you should bring IoT devices to your workplace, and connect them to your employer’s WiFi network (unless they offer an outlet for guest devices). With so many security concerns surrounding IoT wearables (which are mostly the kinds of devices people carry around with them), restricting what devices you bring to work or anywhere with you reduces (or eliminates) the likeliness of being compromised or your devices spreading any malware to an entire network. This is why many companies now have guidelines and restrictions on what gadgets employees can and can’t bring. Always seek permission from your IT department before connecting an IoT device to your employer’s WiFi network.
Sharable interfaces like Universal Plus and Play (UPnP) and cloud systems are ideal targets for hackers looking to infiltrate multiple devices at once. UPnP systems are specifically designed for devices to connect without being configured by helping them automatically discover each other, while users are also reliant on cloud services for Internet connectivity. Hackers can use these features to their advantage, are capable of discovering UPnP’s from beyond local networks, and utilize a cloud service’s capabilities of syncing private data.
Aside from being beacons of stored information, hackers can practically hold people’s connectivity hostage if they overtake these systems, preventing people’s devices from accessing the Internet. Instances like these are how malware like ransomware or DDoS attacks are implemented, which I covered in one of my recent pieces. It’s ideal to avoid using these connectivity systems and if you do, make sure to be weary of your device’s privacy settings before connecting.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)