October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year marks the 17th year of this initiative, co-led by the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA). This month we will be feature tips & tricks for how you can be cybersecure.
The IoT (Internet of Things) consists of devices connected to the Internet that share data with other devices and systems via the Internet. According to an Internet of Things Report from Business Insider, in 2019 there were approximately 8 billion IoT devices, and this number is projected to explode to more than 41 billion by 2027. Attackers can spread malware via IoT devices connected to your home network, which may consist of computers, tablets, gaming and entertainment systems, digital cameras, smart appliances, smart doorbells and smart thermostats.
Though increased efficiency, reduced costs, and energy conservation are some of the benefits associated with these devices, there are also risks to privacy and security. The NCSA advises consumers to connect with caution and take steps to secure devices:
- Before Purchasing a New Device, Do Your Homework: Check out consumer reviews, determine if there are any security/privacy concerns, and understand what security features the device has or lacks.
- Replace Devices: If there are known vulnerabilities that cannot be resolved or vendor support has ceased, obtain a new device. This might be typical of devices more than 5 years old.
- Always Change Default Logins and Passwords: Many IoT devices come with default passwords. Create long and unique passwords/passphrases, do not re-use them, and create a different one for each item. In addition, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible.
- Connect Only What You Need, and Isolate on a Separate Wi-Fi Network: This will prevent access to your primary devices, such as laptops and computers.
- Configure Your Privacy and Security Settings: When activating a device, immediately configure the strongest possible settings. Most devices default to the least secure settings.
- Disable Features You May Not Need: If there are features you will never need or use, disable them to protect your security and privacy.
- Keep Software Up-to-Date: Immediately update software when a manufacturer issues an update. And set it to automatically update on its own if there is a setting that allows it.
- Think Strategically When Locating Devices: Be mindful of where you place listening devices and cameras when it comes to children’s rooms and areas where you have sensitive work or family discussions. You may want to designate parts of your home as “safe” spaces from IoT devices.