Ben Dickson* follows the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and warns that every addition is a potential threat to privacy and ID security…..
As the smart home device sector of the technology market grows exponentially each year, more and more devices are being connected to the internet every day.
Many of us find ourselves relying on this modern technology to assist us with our daily routines.
However, connecting these devices to your networks can leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks if not properly secured.
It’s estimated that by 2025, there will be over 64 billion IoT smart devices worldwide.
The makers in this space are not done creating new and innovative products either.
We’ve seen a huge advancement over the last decade in the variety of devices available from everyday home appliances to luxury technology.
There is practically a “smart” device for every aspect of your life and many of them are affordable.
But many of these devices are dumber than they appear at first glance, especially when it comes to security.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern for many individuals in today’s modern world.
As new technologies emerge and everything becomes connected to the internet, attack surfaces and points of entry for cybercriminals increase as well.
Though security measures are made on the developer’s front-end when creating these devices, it’s not always enough.
Therefore, it’s up to the owners to take further precautions in protecting themselves against all possible cyber threats.
Just 10 per cent of smart device manufacturers are confident that they have adequate security safeguards in place.
Cybercriminals have become increasingly smarter with every attack, learning new ways to hack into our devices, so it’s important to always be thinking ahead.
The importance of smart home security
Many consumers often refuse to believe that these risks will affect them and their devices, but cybercriminals will target anyone or any vulnerable device.
Malicious hackers can easily spot unprotected IoT devices on search engines such as Shodan and target them with malware.
These cybercriminals may use your devices to access your home’s network or spy on you.
Alternatively, they can enlist your devices on their botnet army to launch massive DDoS attacks like the 2016 attack on U.S. DNS provider Dyn.
Or they might use their new foothold to launch a ransomware attack against you or other connected devices nearby.
In its 2017 Internet Security Threat Report, Symantec reported that at times of peak activity, the average IoT device is attacked once every two minutes.
Once a cybercriminal has accessed these devices, they will infect them with malware that helps them access your personal information.
This can lead to property theft, damage, financial loss, or identity theft. Thankfully, there are many steps that you can take as a smart homeowner to protect your devices.
Securing your smart home devices
Secure your devices immediately upon purchase and set-up as to give yourself the best possible protection from the beginning.
Many of these devices often have little to no built-in security, so it’s crucial to incorporate it yourself.
There are four main aspects to focus on when protecting your device:
A strongly encrypted wireless router is the basis for all future safety precautions.
This process works by securing the information being transmitted between your device and the internet and preventing outsiders from accessing it.
Implement a WPA2 (or Wifi password) on your wireless router so that it will be secure and private.
It would also be beneficial to consider using a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts your devices by hiding your IP address so that outsiders are unable to access your information.
It’s important to set up proper authentication your devices so that you can maintain their security and the privacy of the data they generate.
Only allow those with proper access to interact with the devices. This may require setting up passwords, or guest accounts.
This is particularly wise with smart speakers as you may not want others to gain access to your search history or preferences.
It’s best to remain as private as possible.
If your device allows you to set-up two-factor authentication and voice recognition software, do so.
This will create a second layer of privacy ultimately increasing your chances of stay protected from outside threats.
Research the software that the device runs off of and its internal platform to know how well it has performed for others and whether it has any security holes.
Many companies use offshore programs that carry a large spectrum of security flaws, so it’s important to be aware of these ahead of time.
Instead, opt for well-respected brands in the smart device category as these companies often use regulated and sophisticated platforms that are better prepared for handling your security needs.
Attackers pray on IoT devices that are left in the open.
Keep your smart home gadgets out of sight. Move them away from windows, doors, etc. so that criminals who may be sniffing out houses in the neighborhood to break in are unable to see them.
Leaving a device in plain sight is a clear signal that you own valuable possessions in your home.
Always remember that if you are going out of town, lock any devices you have out in a secure location such as a personal safe.
Additionally, be cautious when putting boxes from newly purchased devices out onto the side of the road, as these can also catch the eye of a criminal.
* Ben Dickson is a software engineer and the founder of TechTalks. He tweets @bendee983
This article first appeared at bdtechtalks.com