Written by Ken Hyden
The IoT, or Internet of Things, has opened up a world of exciting new technological advances, but many people may not realize that these devices also present security and privacy risks. In truth, any device that shares a wireless connection is at risk of unauthorized access or a similar security breach. Once an individual gains access to your smart devices, data about your habits can be accessed, or the functioning of the device may be manipulated. While this brings up some unnerving thoughts, there are measures you can take to make your IoT devices safer and more secure.
Understand the Benefits of Connecting to the Internet
Try not to be too eager to connect a smart device to the internet, just because it has that capability. First, see what features are available without connecting. You may find that many of the most desirable features can be accessed without connecting to the internet. If that’s the case, it may be better to leave the device offline. This can help you reduce the security risks in your home without spending a penny.
Make Use of a Secondary Network
Very likely, your wifi router is able to create multiple networks, allowing families to create a restricted network for children or guests. You may also want to create an additional network solely for your IoT devices. This way, gaining access to your connection via smart home devices won’t also grant unauthorized access to more sensitive data. A separate connection will act as a buffer, ensuring outside entities won’t be able to access shared files and other types of encrypted data.
Change Your Passwords
You already know the importance of frequently changing your passwords on your computers, mobile devices, and on individual accounts. It’s equally important to be diligent with the passwords you use with your IoT devices. These passwords should also be changed frequently and each device should have its own unique password. You can keep track of your passwords with a password manager, or you can write them down and keep the list in a safe place. Each password should be changed at least twice per year.
Disable Universal Plug and Play Features
Most smart devices have a UPnP feature, which allows different devices to find one another and to connect to each other. This makes the use of those devices that much more convenient because it means that you don’t have to configure each device separately. However, UPnP protocols use local networks to connect and are vulnerable to unauthorized access. In the event of an attack, outside entities may be able to access multiple devices simultaneously. It’s safer to just turn off the UPnP feature on each device.
Keep Every Device Updated
You should check for firmware updated regularly, or, where the option exists, enable automatic updates. This is important, because this is how new security patches are installed on your devices. As criminals find new and inventive ways of hacking IoT devices, tech manufacturers counteract those threats with new security protocols. Keeping every device updated will strengthen the security in your home as a whole.
Limit Your Use of Cloud Technology
Cloud storage is showing promise as an up and coming technology, which is why most IoT device manufacturers offer customers free cloud storage with their devices. There are still some potentially risky shortcomings with this technology, however. For one, the data you store can only be accessed with an active connection, so, if you lose connectivity for any reason, you won’t be able to access that information. Also, individuals may be able to hack into your connection, as you access your account. Before making use of cloud storage, it’s wise to thoroughly read the privacy terms and find out about the security measures used to protect your data.
Be Cautious About Where You Take Your Wearables
Wearable devices make use of wifi connections to gather and store your personal data, so it can provide you with an accurate analytics at a later date. However, if you take these devices to work or to the coffee shop, that data may become instantly accessible to anyone else connecting to the network. While the device may only be tracking fitness data, are you really sure you want your boss or a secret admirer to have access to that information? It’s best to keep your devices away from places with shared networks. At the very least, disable the device, when it’s not in use.
Get Rid of Devices That Pose Unnecessary Risks
Some devices may require a constant connection just to operate properly, or some devices may not bring as much efficiency into your life as you expected. From time to time, evaluate the usefulness of your smart devices. If they pose an abnormally high risk, or if they don’t really do much for your life, ditch them. Also, if you can invest in a device that can take the place of several other devices, make the trade. The fewer devices you utilize, the lower your risk of a security breach.
Making use of devices that rely on the IoT can make our lives easier and give us access to data that might not otherwise be available. However, just like any technology, it doesn’t come without risks. By learning about those threats and taking action to protect against them, you can reduce the likelihood of data breaches and theft.
I’m Ken and I am the founder of Best Seekers. I love online shopping but was often skeptical when buying products online. My skepticism was the inspiration for the creation of Best Seekers. But outside of online shopping, I love to hang out with my family. I’m also a big baseball fan! Go O’s!