Everything is smart these days. So many new products include a way to connect to the internet, share information, and work with a mobile device such as a smartphone, tablet, or watch.
While many people debate how far the trend should go or whether they should participate in the Internet of Things (IoT) economy or not, smart and safe tech users should embrace the future cautiously.
To avoid falling behind in new tech that can open new doors without exposing yourself to the full force of the internet's treachery, here are a few ways to stay safe with your tech.
What Is The Internet of Things?
IoT is a term that describes non-conventional devices that can connect to the internet. In reference to IoT, conventional devices include (but not limited to) these devices:
In many ways, the division happens at how new a device and how limited its usability can be.
In the previous list, computers with operating systems offering robust use options to the average user are included. The second half of the list includes network infrastructure devices than manage and distribute network traffic.
What counts as IoT? The list is always growing, but think of devices such as smart washing machines, smart refrigerators, and especially smart cameras.
Connectivity Means Possible Exposure
The unfortunate truth is that if a device can connect to the internet, it can be exploited. Hackers can look for ways to access your IoT devices like any other devices, allowing them to look at the settings, access stored information, or even use the device against your will.
Internet-connected security cameras are the original horror story in the IoT world, and their exposure predates the IoT era. Long before IoT or even mobile devices, standalone webcams and cameras could be hacked, allowing intruders to view the user.
This was used for everything from personal spying to illegal voyeur activity on pornographic websites. Unfortunately, the era of the biggest webcam exploits happened when many people barely used the internet for personal reasons.
The massive boost of internet users in the broadband and social media eras created a new group of users who had no idea of the dangers, or no idea how high the risk could be.
Lax Security Is More Dangerous Than Hacking
Being a target on the internet is rarely personal and often random chance. While it's interesting—and sometimes frightening—to learn about the many clever and high-impact hacks that happen, IoT exploits are often simple.
Many IoT devices use default usernames and passwords for many of their tools. For early devices, it's because connected devices were so limited in features and irrelevant on the internet that few people had reasons to hack into them.
For many modern companies with default IoT details, it's because their designers copied and pasted code that included default login information. Many non-technical people assume that a tech company should think of such issues, but you'd be surprised at the number of engineers, device creators, and tech crafters who only know how to build physical items while applying a stack of code that looks right!
How can you protect yourself? If you're tech savvy and willing to break things—which makes you a hacker, and that's not necessarily a bad thing—you can log into your IoT device and change the default login information.
If you'd rather not get your digital hands dirty, make sure to buy only from reputable IoT vendors who take security seriously. If you're not satisfied by promises, get a threat intelligence expert on your side to either give IoT brand suggestions or to secure your devices.
While you're at it, secure your non-IoT devices as well. That username and password combination is more popular on routers and modems, which allows hackers called wardrivers to park near your home, connect to the wifi, change your password information, or access your network.
True hackers hardly consider googling usernames and passwords as "hacking", but the impact can be the same if they have unrestricted access. Contact a tech consult to secure your networking devices if you need help as well.