What is the IoT, why do I care and what do I need to know/do?

What is the IoT, why do I care and what do I need to know/do? 


The Internet of Things (IoT) is simply a way of saying “devices that require little to no configuration to connect to the internet but provide information to your phone or computer. Or things you can program from afar”. Some examples are refrigerators, thermostats, home web/security cameras, your car, toothbrushes and ovens.  


Why do you or should you care about these devices?  

1) IoT devices do not inherently, have the security built-in that computers possess or offer.  

2) Or the devices do have security of some level but the initial security settings are at a simple level and easily broken in to by criminals. Examples are–easy or no passwords set, default access is set to high and does not require new owners to setup security before enabling the devices for access. Meaning, you can quickly put the devices on your home network that will then make them available to the broader internet but in and insecure configuration 

3) In an insecure state, if hijacked by criminals, an IoT device can be remotely controlled.  Your devices can be turned on/off, temperatures changed, home security cameras can be used to watch you, devices rendered useless/non-functional or even used as part of other cyber-criminal activities.  


What can I do about securing IoT devices I have or want to purchase? 

1) Read the owner’s manual.  Yes, it can be boring but the few minutes you take to get familiar with your equipment can help to protect you and those in your home from outside criminal activity.

2) Change the default password to a strong password. As it is not likely a criminal will have physical access to your device(s) you can keep a paper log and put the device passwords in it.  Then put that notebook in a place accessible to you but not readily available for anyone to stumble across. Or use an online password manager and save the information in the “Secure notes” tool.

3) Keep up with hardware patches to the devices.  Many manufacturers put software updates on their sites to help keep the devices more secure. Take advantage of this. So many cyber attacks can be halted by simply, removing opportunity from a criminal’s hands.