FAMILY FIRST
Explore our Free Resources for Families to Stay Safe Online

The Internet of (Unsecure) Things

Imagine arriving home after a tricky day at work: the lights in your living room are automatically dimmed just the way you like, your favorite music is already playing in the background and the room temperature is perfect. All without you ever having to touch a thing. 

 

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a network of smart devices connected to the Internet which interact and exchange data between themselves. We can remotely manage and control them, and they are now used in homes, offices, mom-and-pop shops and in government facilities. 

We call them smart – smart TVs, smart cars, smart refrigerators, smart meters – because they all have mini-computers within them which don’t require manual interaction to function. 

Today, there are almost 26 billion smart devices installed around the world and counting – that’s about 4 times more than all smartphones and computers put together! Predictions say by 2026 these numbers will triple. They can make lives easier, help in many areas and make us feel good. But are they really that smart?

 

Smart  Dumb Things

Given all the blessings that IoT provides, their biggest curse is a lack of security. 

Hijacked coffee machines may be a problem in terms of security of your username, password, or credit card details. If they get stolen, it can mean trouble. But imagine someone hijacking your smart car. This is much more problematic and can be life threatening. Or what about a cybercriminal who hacks a CCTV camera system in a crowded office and the smart devices in your local hospital. Now the consequences of failure aren’t just bits and bytes… they are flesh and blood. 

 

How to enjoy our IoT devices safely?

The relatively recent emergence of IoT makes it difficult for the industry to keep up with appropriate security measures. There are no rules or checklists the manufacturers must follow, there are very few standards. And cybersecurity is rarely baked-in. 

What’s more, users are not fully aware of the complexity of the problem and buy these devices without thinking about some consequences. It’s like buy-one-IoT-device, get a free CVE!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using these smart devices: 

  • Be aware of vulnerabilities in the products you use. If you know what kind of dangers are associated with the items you are using, you can be prepared. And being prepared is the first step toward using them in a safe way.
  • Make sure to change the default credentials and update the passwords and usernames to be different for all your devices. Meaning, don’t reuse passwords! And never share your passwords with anyone.
  • Get to know the device well before buying it. Ask manufacturers and vendors questions about the security of each of the devices you’re planning to buy. Maybe check out reviews online from other users who might’ve had security or privacy issues. 
  • Check for updates – All devices connected to the Internet should be regularly updated. Unfortunately, many IoT devices are not, leaving them (and their users) exposed to cyberattacks. As soon as a software or firmware update comes out, download it! It’s not worth hitting “ignore,” “snooze,” or “try again later.”
  • Check how the producers are using and safeguarding your personal information. In this global net of devices, personal data gets transferred within seconds. It’s crucial to know where it’s going and what it’ll be used for. 

 

The Internet of Things is a very new phenomenon and one that is around to stay. We all have to learn how to make the most of it and stay safe at the same time. It’s finding the balance between security and convenience that helps you use cool technology with peace of mind!

 

 

Request a Demo