Keeping Smart Devices Safer

 

Tech Tips

Keeping Smart Devices Safer

What is a smart device?

Smart devices are members of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT refers to the many connected devices with sensors, software, processing ability, or other technology that transmit data without a lot of human input. Many items with “smart” in the name can be included—smart watches, smart TVs, and smart speakers. IoT also includes printers, pacemakers, and industrial pressure monitors. Further, smart devices can include autonomous cars, doorbell cameras, and coffeemakers. Clearly, the list goes on.

Why bother?

The importance of securing some smart devices is immediately clear. Nobody wants someone hacking into their smart locks or baby monitor.  It may seem unimportant to make sure devices like a coffeemaker or a gaming console are made safe, but almost everyone wants theirs to work right. A hacker may be less interested in your device and more interested in its computing power. Attackers harness the power of your smart devices by patching them with other unsecured smart devices into a botnet. Alternately, attackers may be interested in getting further into your organization by using your smart devices as a back door into your networks.

5 Ways to Keep Your Smart Devices Safer:

  1. Check for updates. Every patch you apply is a free security upgrade. Patches are bits of code made to modify your software or firmware to take care of known security vulnerabilities.
  2. Use brands with a reputation. You want to start out with the most protected smart devices possible. That means starting with a current model from a known brand of good reputation. These are less likely to source vulnerable components and are more likely to work on patching security vulnerabilities.
  3. Disable Universal Plug and Play. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a feature that allows devices to connect with other devices automatically. It makes using a new device very convenient, but one device infected with malware can take advantage of UPnP to access the devices on the rest of your network.
  4. Control access with great passwords. Choose smart devices that will let you change the password from the default—then choose a good one. A device with only default passwords welcomes intruders.
  5. Protect your network. Firewalls and DNS filtering help keep the riffraff out of your networks by controlling what can pass into them. Using separate networks for smart devices keeps your main network (where you access banking and other sensitive information) away from any malware that may have snuck past other protections. At the very least, make sure you have changed your name and password on the router from the ones listed by default.

Want to know more?

Get more details about a recent hack into an organization’s network through their HVAC and other building automation systems from Bleeping Computer here.

Mirai is the botnet responsible for one of the most famous DDoS attacks in 2016. Find more out about Mirai—and the splinter botnets that are still affecting cybersecurity—from ZD Net here.

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