Do you know how many devices in your home are connected and communicating over the internet? What about your mobile devices, smart television, smart appliances, security systems, cameras, and more? Most people don’t think about the devices in their homes transmitting and receiving data to and from services on the internet and the associated risks. It is increasingly necessary to be aware of those devices and dangers and to protect yourself from unauthorized access and communications.
What is Internet of Things?
Have you heard the term Internet of Things (IoT)? It describes the devices in your home or office with sensors, embedded software, and processing power connecting to the internet to transmit and receive your data. That data may or may not be used for malicious purposes. However, you should be aware it is happening.
For example, consider smart refrigerators and other smart devices connected to the internet in your home. It provides helpful features along with risks. Someone breaking into your home network may gain access to any number of IoT devices in your home. Those same devices can transmit data about you and your family to services on the internet without your knowledge.
Many IoT devices pose significant risks to you and your family. One that you should be especially aware of is the home security system. Someone gaining access to that can perform several malicious acts like spying on you or disarming the system. Other devices are the smart TV, smart speakers (e.g., Alexa), security cameras, smartphones, and tablets. All those devices establish a way in and out of your home network, devices, data, and, therefore, you and your family.
What can you do?
What can you do to protect the IoT devices in your home or office?
Be aware that devices in your home are connected to the internet and transmitting and receiving data. Those devices pose a risk since they tend not to be monitored. You should never forget that your home is connected to the outside world via the internet. Don’t take for granted that you are safe. Take measures to make yourself safe by first being aware.
Protect Home Network
Protect your home network. It is best to monitor the devices connected to your home network, especially the WiFi network.
The first step to protecting your WiFi network is to protect and become familiar with your router. Keep the router’s sign-in credentials in a safe place, i.e., a password manager. Sign in to the router and become acquainted with the interface. Examine the section that lists the devices connected to your network. Can you identify them all?
Use a strong password for the WiFi network, and not use the default password provided by the manufacturer. I also recommend that you change the name of the wireless network to be something that doesn’t necessarily identify your specific location. For example, instead of using “HamiltonNet,” use “MXK543” (make something up). You will know what it is along with everyone else in your home.
The wireless signal can extend beyond your house, making it possible for someone outside to hack into it if it is not secure. Therefore, do not make it easy for someone to hack into your network.
Control access to the IoT devices in your home, especially your computer systems. IoT devices typically involve apps for your mobile devices, which should also be protected.
Control access to your wireless network as well. Use the security features on the router to help secure your network. Don’t blindly give your wireless credentials to anyone who wants to use it. Most, if not all, routers provide a way to only allow registered devices to access your wireless network. The MAC addresses of the devices are used to maintain a list of approved devices for accessing the wireless network.
Security is many times inconvenient, which is why so many people overlook it. However, a minor inconvenience can save you much heartache later if someone gains unauthorized access to your network and its devices.
Many devices in your home and office connect to the internet and transmit and receive data. Anything connected to the internet risks the network it participates in, i.e., your home network.
Therefore, we should be aware that those devices, even Internet of Things, are communicating. You should protect your network, the participating devices, and any data accessible on the network.
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