On October 28th, the largest-ever denial of a service attack was carried out against a critical part of our Internet – a major DNS service that acts as an address book to map friendly website names to IP addresses. The attack essentially wiped out most of the East Coast’s internet connection, including major sites like Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, and others. What’s interesting is that this attack was carried out by an army of hacked Internet of Things (IoT) devices – such as webcams, smart thermostats, and even DVRs.
Though intended to make our lives easier, connected devices are increasingly being hacked. Although this attack was carried out against commercial sites, it also raises the question if these hacked devices can compromise our privacy. The answer is a definite yes as these devices have sensors that can tell if we are home and cameras and microphones to see and hear into our retreats. Worst, these smart devices can also aide in identity theft. With the average home now having more than 10 connected devices, what can we do to keep our families and our homes safe? Here are a few practical tips to make your connected home more secure.
Change the default password
Many routers, webcams and devices come with default passwords from the manufacturer. The hackers know that and often times, these passwords are posted on the internet boards that hackers frequent. It’s a slight hassle when setting up, but you can save yourselves a bunch of hassle down the road by doing this one thing.
Update the software
It’s impossible to find all the security issues prior to shipping the product so reputable companies continue to address these issues with free software updates. These software updates are important to prevent the latest virus from spreading to your thermostat.
Buy from reputable companies
Related to tip #2, look at buying products from companies that take security seriously. What might seem like a great deal can cost you a lot of money and headache later on. So before you spend money on the next smart doorknob, make sure that doorknob can keep out the digital thieves as well.
Invest in a secure WiFi router
Your router is the front door to your connected home and having a router with security and intrusion detection built in can help keep a watchful eye on all the devices in your home. It can act as a firewall to prevent your devices from being hacked and it can warn you if there is something unusual going on with your webcam.
We all live in an increasingly connected world and that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. In order to be safe, we all need to take Internet of things security more seriously. That starts with us. I hope you find these tips helpful. Please comment if you feel these tips make sense or if you have other helpful tips that you can add.
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