Staying Safe in an IoT World

For those of you following the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, you will see that one of the major topics being discussed is how commonplace electronic devices are using the Internet to make life easier and more convenient. The Internet of Things (IoT) is when everyday objects use the Internet to send and receive data to stay interconnected and to enhance functionality. For instance, ThroughTek Co., one of the 4,500 exhibitors at the event, is showcasing how you can transmit voice, video, and other data in its arsenal of video surveillance cameras, wireless doorbells, and other devices.  As presented, these devices come with an array of benefits but you can’t forget about the security risks.

Here are three things you can do to stay safe in this ever-changing landscape of interconnected appliances, thermostats, smart locks and more.

  1. Secure your network. Most consumers and home Internet users don’t really think about having an extremely secure home network. You need to do more than just use your ISPs default router settings and passwords. Make sure you are set up with the latest firmware updates and you change the default password to something more secure. You should also change your password regularly and don’t forget you can hide your network making it harder for hackers to use. Also, set up a “guest” network for your IoT devices. This will separate the connection they run on and will add a line of defense to where your main computers are connected. Lastly, look into getting a managed cloud firewall that not only detects networks intrusions but also blocks and reports them.
  2. Effectively manage your IoT products. In an effort to produce products at a cheaper cost, manufacturers are skimping on security standards in the devices they make. Because of this you should be vigilant and only buy from reputable brands that are known for investing in security. Even then, you can never be totally safe so you have to effectively manage your devices. For example, turn off microphones and cameras in devices that aren’t being used and make sure you always have the latest software updates.
  3. Protect your workstations. Keeping your PCs, Macs, and mobile devices safe needs to be a priority when using IoT devices at home or on the go. Staying up to date with the latest security software to block malware and ransomware is essential but you need to do more. Regularly backup your data to an off-site, encrypted location and keep several versions of your backups. This way if somethings seeps into your expensive MacBook Pro from an IoT device in your home, you have a way to restore and get back to working condition pre-infection.

Use these three things as a starting point and remember that while IoT does come with some risks, the benefits we are realizing from these products is something to be excited about. As each year passes, there are so many more exciting features that come out so embrace it and make the most of it! Just stay safe in the process.

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