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Securing the Internet of Things (IoT)

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Securing the Internet of Things (IoT)

Web-connected products are all the rage, but are you at risk?

As technology continues to evolve, everyday objects are created to connect to the Internet resulting in the usage of the term “The Internet of Things” (IoT). Connected devices, such as your smart TV and your smart car, are interconnected and automated over a wireless network.  The objective is to allow people to seamlessly retrieve knowledge and utility via the Internet, without having to sit down at a computer or interact with another human being.

Consider Amazon’s Echo for example, which allows you to connect to music or provide information with a simple voice command. In effect, the IoT can allow you to turn on your television as you pull into your driveway or begin baking a casserole an hour before you arrive home from work.

The IoT can be both convenient and fun, but there are also risks. Security gaps are inherent in products that are manufactured to get to market quickly with little thought about security. Users who poorly configure their devices and Wi-Fi networks unknowingly put their devices and privacy at risk. The IoT is not a case of “just connect and you are done.”

It’s best to proactively secure your devices and your network to prevent your TV or smart phone from becoming a backdoor into your privacy.

  • Secure your wireless network with Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol and a strong, complex password.
  • Disable guest network access entirely, especially if you allow access without a password.
  • Use a router that can handle multiple Server Set Identifiers (SSIDs) and create two different Wi-Fi networks: one for computers and smart phones and another for online banking and purchases.
  • Employ a firewall to restrict incoming connections.
  • Install a unified threat management appliance (UTM), if you have a highly-connected home or office. The UTM will handle intrusion detection and prevention, manage the Internet gateway and provide network antivirus protection.
  • Install security software wherever possible, such as on mobile devices used to control IoT devices.
  • Check manufacturers’ websites for firmware updates, as they can be slow to patch vulnerabilities.

Although the race to create IoT devices and systems has just begun and widespread adoption is slow, there is no doubt that criminals are already scheming to take advantage of vulnerabilities. You should be able to use smart devices without worry. Before you decide to make your home or office “smart,” learn what it takes to secure it from attacks and other risks.

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