Smart devices are taking over our world and invading every corner of our lives. From smartphones to smartwatches, even our kitchen gadgets are turning smart – such as the latest range of smart ACs, fridges, ovens, etc.
These internet-connected devices are constantly growing as a crucial part of our homes and our business. According to Gartner. 5.5 million new IoT (Internet of Things) devices are getting connected everyday in 2016 and it’s expected to increase to more than 20 billion devices by 2020.
While these amazing smart devices bring us comfort and new features such as ease of communication and constant connectivity; they come with a myriad of security concerns such as viruses, randomware, lack of privacy and so on. However, there are a few ways that you can secure your IoT devices, to reduce the chances of your devices becoming hacked or compromised.
Here are 10 different tips that you should keep in mind when you integrate a new IoT device in to your life:
1. Turn off Universal Plug and Play (UpnP)
Plug and Play (UpnP) is when your devices automatically connects to the internet or other devices, such as your smartwatch connecting automatically with your smartphone when it is within range. Other devices include printers, routers, cameras, etc. that have the option to automate connection. These devices have a gaping vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers, where they can highjack your connection the break into your device. You should definitely disable plug and play completely to ensure that your devices are not hacked via the discoverable network.
2. Know What’s Connected
Another way to keep your devices secure is to ensure that you know what device is connected to which device and network. Before you begin to secure your devices, you should also understand which device is vulnerable to what security flaw. Name your devices so that you know which device is what and monitor your networks for connections to ensure that no other device is connected to your network. A simple monitoring of your network connections can ensure your safety against potential invasions.
3. Password Protect Everything
Every IoT device that requires connecting to the internet comes with the option of password protection. Ensure that you use proper usernames and proper secure passwords to protect your devices. Any device that is unprotected and connected to your network can become a gateway to hacking your network and compromises the security of all your devices. Also, ensure that your passwords include a combination of alphabets, numbers and symbols – this makes your passwords harder to hack rather than a simple birth date or name.
4. Update Your Devices
Updates are important as they eliminate any bugs that were released with the previous version which provide a vulnerability for your device. Many of the updates that are released are often security bugs or loop holes that can be manipulated to compromise the security of your device or software. So, regularly updating your device will ensure that you are on top of the latest security update that the company has issued.
5. Load Up On Antivirus Software
In case there are any security vulnerabilities in your device’s software, then antivirus is the best way to provide an extra layer of protection to your devices – especially PCs, laptops and smartphones. Antivirus software provides a wall against the latest viruses and randsomeware out there, and in case any do slip through, a simple scan can help you remove the infected file or files from the computer, thereby ensuring that the rest of your system is secure.
6. Don’t Open Unknown Files or Links
Everyone has received an email or a link that suggests that they can become rich overnight by simply clicking on the following link. Spoiler Alert! It’s a SPAM! It’s always SPAM. These emails or links are often the only thing standing between you and a virus that is waiting to get into your system. Smartphones also became vulnerable with links or files that are being shared through links on social media platforms or even instant messaging apps. Ensure that you do not open files or links from untrusted sources.
7. Set Up Different Networks for IoT devices
If you are one of those people who have a lot of IoT devices like tablets, smartwatches, smart locking systems and so on – well the best thing you can do is to create different networks. Many routers have the option for creating multiple devices to ensure that one infected device cannot infect other devices.
You can create a separate network for your IoT device so that they cannot access your devices that have your most sensitive information, such as PCs or smartphones.
8. Keep Personal Devices out of the Workplace
A major threat that is now coming up is one that includes personal devices infecting computers at workplace. Many business that deal with extremely sensitive information require their employees to not carry their smartphones or smart devices to the office. Even if they do, they are asked not to connect it to the office network. The sole reason for this is to ensure that no infected devices can comprise the network at the office and hack the company’s sensitive data.
9. Disconnect Devices When Not In Use
Turn off your connection to any smart devices when they are not in use, particularly devices such as cameras or microphones that can be hacked into and in addition to compromising your privacy, it can be dangerous. Hence, it is best to disconnect any device that is not in use and connect it only when you are using it. For some devices such as thermostats or coffee makers, you need not disconnect the device, but you can definitely use other methods such as setting up a different network for specific devices.
10. Provide Feedback
This is one thing that not a lot of people do, but definitely should – provide the company feedback on their product. There are many times that companies cannot catch bugs or rather bugs slip through their testing phase. In this case, the company depends on the public to let them know in case there are any bugs. If the customers report security bugs, the company can then swiftly release a security patch for the said bug. Hence, providing feedback is extremely important – companies cannot fix what they do not know, now can they?
These are some amazing tips that can keep your IoT device and information safe. It is important to understand that your devices are a gateway to your entire life. You end up storing a lot of things that you don’t want getting into the hands of hackers, such as passwords to bank accounts, email accounts, IDs, personal photos and videos, etc. By following the steps above, you will ensure that your information remains in your hands, safe and secure.
If you have more tips on how you boost your online security, please let us know in the comments section below!