Our world is on its way to being completely connected and at our fingertips, thanks to the Internet of Things. But with those millions of possibilities comes the millions of threats of security breaches connected devices pose. It’s an issue that is slowly getting attention, but it will probably take many more attacks like the one on Dyn in October before a change in culture is brought about.
If you use devices such as cameras to monitor hallways or medical devices for patients (of particular concern to the cybersecurity industry), researchers at several conferences have shown how they can easily become hacked and cause damage to other organizations by being used in botnets or worse, put lives at risk. And with the IoT projected to reach 50 billion connected devices by 2020, it’s ripe for the hacking. How can you keep your devices from being compromised and used in botnets?
It’s important to recognize that, unfortunately, while you can’t build the device yourself with the security you should have, you can be a voice of change and bring awareness to the situation. In the meantime, here are a few simple things you can do to keep your devices from being used in someone else’s attacks:
- Do your research on devices: Not all devices are created equal. Look for ones that fit your organization’s needs while still offering a means of protection. Be vocal when courting prospective salespeople about how important security is to you.
- Change default passwords: It’s tempting to keep “password1234” because it’s so easy to remember, but it’s also absurdly easy to crack.
- Along with changing the default password, make your passwords different for each device. This is no small feat if you have a lot of devices, but many hackers will attempt a universal password to access all connected devices.
- Keep your devices updated: Security flaws and vulnerabilities are constantly being pointed out to device manufactures, who then push out updates to the public. Stay informed and keep your devices up to date to prevent them from being exploited by known vulnerabilities
- Create a firewall for your devices. IoT machines have vulnerabilities, too. Putting a firewall in place helps keep unwanted traffic from entering or exiting your network. You do it for your computer, why not for your other devices?
The IoT market is an exciting and new place for growth, but the security problems it already has need to be addressed now before they get worse. It’s easy to dismiss security researchers and industry analysts as being paranoid, but when the individual consumer gets involved and demands a change, companies are more willing to listen. Until then, make sure you do your research, keep your devices updated and change your default passwords on all devices. The last thing you need as an organization is a data breach that not only threatens the life of your business but potentially the lives of your clients.