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How To Make Your IoT More Secure

After buying your internet of things (IoT) gadget, the next thing you should think about is whether you will be safe when transmitting data between the gadget and your smartphone. Syncing your IoT gadget with your personal computer or smartphone might not be necessary unless you want to start calculating lots of data.

But for most fitness trackers, data transmission is important, particularly if you want to know the exact number of steps you have taken or the number of calories you have burned, mainly because the trackers do not feature a display.

With data flowing constantly between the devices, the risk of security and privacy rises. Smartphones are always leaking personal data, and actually other wearable devices including smartwatches and fitness trackers are not different.

Is Internet of Things Really Need security?

IoT devices are made to help us reduce energy, save money and eliminate most of the daily life hassles. To offer the benefits, IoT needs security. Just as with the other internet connected devices, IoT gadgets and appliances have security vulnerabilities potentiality.

Earlier in 2014, in a global IoT cyber-attack, hackers managed to compromise over 100,000 daily consumer smart devices. They also used those devices to launch over 750,000 venomous email communications with an intention of expanding their botnet size.

Most of the devices included wireless speaker systems, smart TVs, refrigerators and network routers. By now, you should know why securing your IoT system is important.

IoT Security Risks

If you own a device that is not a smartphone, a tablet or a personal computer but connects to the internet, it falls in the class of the Internet of Things gadgets. IoT devices include smartwatches, fitness trackers and home security systems.

However, people do not think about the many security risks the devices pose. In fact, most people believe that whenever they log into their computer to work online or to check their emails, security and privacy risks exist. You are more likely to open malicious attachments or come across drive-by download because of embedded malware on your favorite websites. Most smart computer users have already taken precautions against the risks by installing security software and antivirus.

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Nevertheless, what they do not realize is that IoT devices are also at a higher risk for security threats. As most IoT gadgets gain more capabilities and become more powerful, they are becoming attractive targets for malicious actors working to exploit the capabilities. Actually, we have already seen many attacks exploiting the vulnerabilities in home routers for use in consumer network-attached storage (NAS) devices for illegal crypto currency mining. The many risks involving IoT are unvarying and to most people, the device’s security is an afterthought.

Most of the vendors in IoT space show little or no concern relating to their customer’s security and safety. In fact, the United States’ government has already asked IoT devices producers to start building security into the devices they produce at the outset – not as an afterthought. For example, consider your smart home hubs which allow you to automate your electronics and overall security. The hubs come with many risks. Some of them are even shipping with deprecated versions of firmware that contain publicly known and new vulnerability.

How to Be Smart About Your Smart Devices

Whenever you buy an IoT device or receive one as a gift, you should take all possible security precautions with it. You should start by changing the default password and then check for unattackable configurations. Ensure that you have protected your home Wi-Fi system. Finally, check the manufacturer’s website to see whether they have provided any firmware updates or patches.

Most wearable devices in the market rely on Bluetooth connection to sync with Smartphones but you have to reconsider leaving the connection open. For a Bluetooth enabled IoT device, turn the Bluetooth off when not in use. It will save your battery and prevent other devices from accessing your device or pairing with it.

Actually, Internet of Things would not exist without the Internet. Users of IoT gadgets should follow the same fundamental security protocols they use on their personal computers. As a consumer, you should take your time to check the available security features for your device and apply them immediately. Some things like fingerprint-controlled access and passcode lockout access are not perfect. However, they are important when access control is necessary. Ensure that your home routers have stronger differentiated passwords and utilize WPA2 security protocol. A router that uses old WEP protocol with your pet’s name for access password puts your entire home network at a higher risk of data compromise. Individual devices should also have unique passwords.

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Buy your device from a reputable manufacturer

Most of the recently attacked Internet of Things devices come from the lesser known manufacturers who use cheaper hardware and rarely update their products for patch bugs or even apply the right security measures. Even though products form the widely known producers are not 100% safe, the producers are more likely to update the security features.

Remember to check the company’s reputation when it comes to bringing out updates and their response to security incidents. When buying from reputable manufacturers, you will also be certain that they are unlikely to go out of market suddenly. You will therefore receive updates more often.

Don’t connect your devices to the internet unless you need to

It feels good to have light bulbs or a fridge that can connect to the internet 24/7. However, before you connect it, you should think whether that is necessary. If you can easily see the level of milk in your fridge you do not have to rely on the internet to know that. With your device connected to the internet throughout the day, it will be at a higher security threat.

Isolate your IoT devices

If you have an option of connecting your IoT devices through separate Wi-Fi networks, you should do that. Why? Most Wi-Fi routers have support for guest networking and allow users to connect their IoT devices without allowing them to access the other devices or the shared files on the primary Wi-Fi network. After isolating your devices like that, attackers will never access all devices at a time through your home computer or laptop.

Quick Ways (Manual) to protect your IoT Devices

  • Set passwords

A large percentage of Internet of Things malware such as Mirai is programed to automatically scan for common or default password username combinations. Protect your devices to the highest degree from the malware by changing your default password and user name. Use a unique password and username for every device – just as you do with your online accounts. Avoid re-using one password across many devices. Every new device you add to your home network widens the attack surface.

  • Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) allows networked gadgets such as routers, computers and printers to discover each other automatically without requiring configuration on a network. However, hackers can exploit UPnP protocols to access all your devices remotely. Therefore, to remain safe, disable the UPnP on every IoT device in your home.

  • Create a separate network

Most Wi-Fi routers have support for guest networking. With the type of networking, visitors can connect without accessing networked devices or shared files. The separation works excellently for Internet of Things gadgets, particularly those with questionable security.

  • Update your firmware

Phones, computers and tablets automatically update themselves or prompt you to update to the latest version. However, that is not the case with most IoT devices. The devices leave much to be desired particularly when it comes to firmware update. Downloading can be a fiddly process which involves logging into your computer’s web browser and initiating the update process. Nevertheless, regardless of how fiddly the update process is, you have to install the most recent version of each device’s OS. That way, you will remain confident that all known vulnerabilities and bugs are patched. If you can, set up the automatic update feature and register to receive alerts immediately the product manufacturer releases updates. Use the manufacturer’s website.

  • Disable Remote Management through Telnet

For your IoT devices security, you should disable remote management through Telnet. By disabling Telnet, you will only allow https access from outside and disable anything else. And if you want more security, you can allow management access through internal interface solely. Also use virtual private networks when possible.

  • Be wary of cloud services

Most IoT devices highly bank on cloud services. However, internet requirement for things to function can be a major problem. Such devices will not work without internet connection and sync sensitive data offering more security risks to your home network. Start by reading the provider’s privacy policies and seek reassurances for data protection and encryption.

  • Track and assess devices.

Businesses have to track all things connected to their networks and monitor traffic flow. They have to assess their IoT devices to determine their access level, to ensure that they are fully up to date and patched and to protect data. That way, they are able to preserve their integrity. All unknown devices have to flag alerts. Understanding the type of devices you have attached to your network and their work is important for your security reasons.

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laniakea

laniakea

Futurescope’s co-author and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and new trends.
laniakea
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