Today our lives are “smarter” and more interconnected than ever before, thanks to the many devices known as the “Internet of Things (IoT).” Our televisions are internet-enabled and allow us to “speak” to them and request our favorite shows or movies. We have security cameras that can send us alerts via text message/email or send us a live video. We can remotely turn our lights on or off and change our thermostat from anywhere using our smartphone. We can track our fitness goals by recording our daily steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns on wearable devices where the statistics can be monitored by an app.
While these devices make our lives easier and provide us valuable information, we need to remember that since they are connected to the internet, they are subject to the same risks of compromise as our computers or smartphones. Just as we need to take steps to secure our pc’s or phones from malicious software programs, our IoT devices also require protections against unwelcomed uses. Today’s attackers may target your IoT devices to steal information or to take over your devices to launch attacks against other devices, such as websites or other IoT systems.
In many cases, we are limited to the security controls built into the IoT products by the manufacturers, but it is important to enable any security features offered, wherever possible. These may include:
- Change the default password that comes with your IoT device, if available. The original passwords may be found in installation documents or online and can be used by an attacker to take over your device.
- Always update to the most recent software versions available. Device manufacturers may release updated software patches to improve functionality or address security risks. By updating your IoT device (and the applications that work with the IoT’s) when fixes or patches are released, you will be protecting your devices and the information they hold.
- Do your research to identify what information is being collected and/or potentially shared by your IoT device. You may be able to limit or place some controls over how information is collected and used.
By taking the time to review the security controls available on these devices, you will be able to take advantage of the conveniences and enjoyment that the Internet of Things can add to your life and minimize the risk that they will be misused or compromised.