22 May, 2020
IoT When mobile phones were first introduced, if someone were to tell you that your mobile phone could be used to copy your fingerprints or steal passwords to your emails, you would have most likely laughed at them and told them that they have been watching too many science fiction films.
However, if someone today told you that a hacker could use your toaster to break into your email, you would panic and immediately get rid of your toaster. IoT (Internet of Things) products and services are quickly encroaching on almost all aspects of our lives. From self-driving cars to smart homes, soon you will be able to virtually connect to any digital device.
With the increasing reliance and deployment of Wi-Fi networks and the advent of IPv6, IoT will only continue to grow. In fact, Gartner has projected that there will be over 20 billion internet-connected devices by the year 2020. There are countless types of IoT devices in healthcare that monitor patients and collect medical data, in manufacturing that monitor and control production operations, in industrial controls and more. What about consumer IoT devices that are making their way into the workplace? Hello Alexa!
These devices will help us do things that we would have never imagined before. However, just like other good things, IoT has its share of shortcomings. These products are now being targeted by hackers. This means the more connected devices, the more avenues for attack and a higher possibility of cybercriminals targeting IoT device users. Both hardware and software will need to be secured for IoT devices to work effectively. Here are seven tips for securing your IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
- Install software updates immediately
When IoT vendors discover bugs and vulnerabilities, they release software updates that help rectify the problem. Unfortunately, not all IoT devices have automatic software update installations similar to that of a PC or server. Therefore, you will have the responsibility of keeping up with recent software updates and installing them. Failure to do so will leave your connected IoT devices vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
- Use strong passwords to shield your IoT devices and accounts
You should change the generic password that comes with each IoT device as soon as possible. Also, ensure that all the devices you manage through internet-based accounts are protected with a strong password. This includes a combination of numbers, letters (both upper and lower case), and symbols. Remember, you should never use the same password for all your accounts. Having different passwords will make it more difficult for hackers to access multiple accounts.
- IoT devices have inferior and insecure encryptions, and very few of them use encrypted communications during their initial configuration. Instead, most devices use common web protocols to communicate across the internet and this makes it easy for hackers to observe network traffic and detect any weaknesses. It is important to make sure that all your web traffic is using HTTPS, TLS, DNS, SFTP, or other secure communication protocols.
- Switch off the UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) feature
Although this feature is meant to make connectivity between devices and networks easier, it leaves your devices vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Additionally, this feature slows down your router’s response time and hackers can use this unsecured loophole to access your network.
- Avoid devices that need a constant internet connection for them to operate
You will find several IoT devices on the market today that are factory-paired with cloud-based services. This means that they should always be connected to the internet for them to operate. Consistent internet connection increases the probability of sending crucial information back to the manufacturer and can create another security issue.
- Choose devices with a failover design
IoT devices should work even when internet connectivity is disrupted or lost. However, only a few of them are designed to function when there are failures such as internet or data disconnections. A failover design is important for user safety devices such as video monitoring, door lock mechanisms, and alarms. Such devices should have manual overrides in case of any disconnections.
- Create a separate network for your devices (aka Network Segmentation)
Many Wi-Fi routers permit guest networking, allowing you to create another connection to your network so users cannot access your networked devices or shared files. You can also use this Wi-Fi feature to create different networks for your IoT devices that are not well-secured. This means that if your IoT network is breached, a hacker won’t be able to access crucial computer files.