Even governments seem unsure of the best approach to secure the exponentially expanding Internet of Things (IoT). California recently passed an IoT law (which some say doesn’t go far enough to protect individuals), the Japanese government is planning to hack into its citizens’ unsecured devices, and Europe’s newest proposed cybersecurity law does not even address IoT.
As IoT technology expands and devices multiply, it means more devices listening, more data collected, and more devices connected to each other sharing that data and interacting with each other. What currently may seem without great risk could easily become a significant threat. The easiest steps may end up being the best to take: secure any IoT device being used.
How Did We Get Here?
From medical implants to sneakers, the IoT has been growing for years. The first mention of interconnected devices goes back to the 1970s, with the first internet connected device being a Coke vending machine in the 1980s. However, the term “internet of things” was first mentioned in 1999 in a Proctor & Gamble meeting by Kevin Ashton.
A lot has changed in the 20 years since it was an idea. Now, fitness trackers, baby monitors, home assistants, lights, thermostats, health care devices and a myriad of other hardware connects wirelessly to the internet in an ever growing ecosystem of IoT. This year, there will be 26.66 billion IoT devices being controlled remotely via a combination of advanced sensors, Ai, and human input. Within the next 5 years, that number is anticipated to grow by another 50 billion.
When dealing with any technology, it’s important to remember that “the smarter the object, the more likely it is to be hacked.” And this holds true for all things IoT. Hackers have wreaked havoc with individuals’ thermostats and even creepily spent time talking to and watching other people’s babies via connected monitors.
Keep IoT Devices and Their Networks Secure
Here are 8 tips for keeping any IoT network secure:
1 – Change any default setting that comes with the IoT device. Rename and secure the router. Do not use obvious choices in renaming that might still give away the location or type/model of the device. Update any default passwords to strong and unique combinations. Disable features that are not needed.
2 – Set up a guest network. Have friends and visitors log into a separate network that isn’t connected to your IoT devices.
3 – Use strong encryption for the Wi-Fi and two factor authentication whenever possible for any device, account, or network.
4 – Keep the software up to date.
5 – Avoid public Wi-Fi networks — which means changing default setting to not automatically attempt signing on.
6 — Power down devices when not needed or have them learn your schedule or voice to improve safety.
7—Turn off universal plug and play options (UPnP).
8 – Always create and use strong, unique passwords for each device, network, and account. Do not reuse passwords — ever.
Remember that when discarding IoT objects that they may contain sensitive, unencrypted information. Find out how best to safely dispose of them.
Even though the world of IoT is constantly expanding, maintaining good security practices and maintenance of devices can minimize both risk and exposure — and may help citizens stay safely away from prying eyes and legal consequences.