IoT Security – How To Stay Safe in 2018 and Beyond!
Internet of Things sector is on a constant growth. It represents not only the technological future but the future of the economy as we know it.
Unfortunately, with such a rapid growth there are glaring issues which haven’t been addressed along the way. Perhaps the biggest problem with IoT today is its security. Better yet, lack thereof.
Keep in mind there are approximately 8.4 billion IoT devices being used today. They represent a bridge between physical and virtual. We can use them each day, around the house, office and for numerous other things. They have a wide application and there are lots of indicationsthat these items will further improve in terms of functionality and usefulness.
Even though there are lots of people who don’t use them yet, this is about to change. Just remember the cell phones; there were lots of skeptics at the beginning but nowadays everybody is using them. IoT devices are similar in that way as it seems there is no limit to their potential.
Stick with us as we dive deeper into IoT world and discover all the potential issues these devices carry with them.
Why Is IoT A Security Hazard?
Internet of Things represents a big network used by appliances and devices. Through it, these items are able to exchange data and perform various tasks.
An interesting thing about IoT as a concept is that it integrates various technologies. IoT, as well as IoT devices, are relying on machine learning, data analysis, cloud computing and various other processes. In a way, it is a culmination of everything we’ve invented so far regarding computers, internet, and mobile devices.
As mentioned, all these products are able to communicate with each other and perform various tasks. Furthermore, they are reliant upon each other. Smart TV, smart appliances, smart speakers are just some of the devices that are using the technology. Experts believe that one day we will be able to automatize the majority of processes within our home.
But with all these benefits come certain risks.
The major issue of IoT lies within its core concept: Connectivity.
While it's great having all these devices exchanging information on a constant basis, it is also a potential hazard. In other words, it means that a hacker can jeopardize the whole system by accessing it from any single point. Every device has to be well protected because if you have even one weak link, it will be easy for a malicious person to gain your sensitive, personal information.
Furthermore, if the security of IoT devices is not improved going forward, all of them will become a major target for organized crime and espionage. It opens a door to a completely new form of cyber-criminal.
You are probably wondering now: “If this is such an issue, why didn’t companies address it sooner?”
There are several reasons but if we have to sum it up, it is probably due to the fact that all these devices were rushed to the market.
IoT products are very appealing and it makes sense for people to want them. As a result, companies have prioritized developing their usefulness and functionality with just a minor focus on security and privacy. Keep in mind that if just one device made by one company lacks in security, the whole network can be compromised. This makes protection that much harder.
So far, we’ve mentioned that your private data can be jeopardized. What else can be affected?
- Functions within your home(heating, lighting, door locks, etc.)
- Cars, boats and other vehicles(navigation, lights, movement, etc.)
- Factories, offices, and other facilities(door locks, lighting, machine controls, etc.)
- Financial markets(by performing unwanted trades, tinkering with trading platforms, etc.)
Given that today everything is connected in one, big melting pot experienced hacker can do lots of damage to various systems and facilities, cripple financial markets, spy on people within their home, cause traffic accidents and so on.
This goes hand-in-hand with the modern approach to technology and how we like to have everything in one place. It is really great when you can connect to Gmail, Facebook, and other platforms from one computer just with one login, but we never think about the potential repercussions of such interconnectivity.
Although companies producing these devices still have to work on security and privacy features, you also have to be vigilant.
- Purchasing process
Needless to say, all of this can be avoided (at least to an extent) by purchasing the right stuff.
Now, keep in mind that like with computers, you can never be 100% safe and there is no guarantee that the product you buy will be bulletproof. Still, you can reduce the odds that the apps and devices are a liability.
Always prioritize companies that put safety first. At this moment in time, this is a big thing and you might get more benefit by simply having reliable IoT products than trendy ones. Check their site, read the reviews, see what other people are saying and how often they update their software (not only should these devices be reliable at the moment of purchase but later on as well).
Right now, there is one big issue when it comes to IoT devices – users are not trying to protect them enough.
The majority of them are really easy to set up; they are not like most programs, software and other application forms which take lots of time to enable. Instead, the setup is rather rudimentary. Thinking they are safe while using Amazon Alexa or some similar device (as they are using it within the confines of their home).
This is why you have to prioritize your password. Make sure to use different passwords, which you’re not using otherwise, and set up two-factor authentication. This might seem like a hassle but it is a good first step to protecting your information.
Besides device’s own password, you have to do the same with your Wi-Fi password. It has to be changed regularly. If you need some additional security, make sure to change it up from time to time.
- Security software
Needless to say, IoT devices have to be protected in the same way as your PC. In other words, you have to get a firewall and anti-virus protection. There are various potential threats that can endanger these items so you have to invest some money in proper internet protection.
Make sure to buya professional software; don’t settle for trial versions. Always bear in mind that each one of them requires separate protection and a new password. So, if you have several devices, whether at home, in a car or at your office, you will have to protect each one of them separately.
Virtual Private Network is a term that is often associated with piracy and some other unwanted activities. However, there is also a big positive for using one of these networks.
VPN encrypts data coming from your computer and puts you in a different geographic position. Most of the tools which you can subscribe to give you an option of choosing a country from which your IP “is coming from”. This gives you a lot of leeways when surfing the web.
These networks are especially great if you’re browsing from an insecurelocation: coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places are notorious for their lack of protection. In order to safeguard your data, use VPN in these situations. Even if you’re at home, perhaps it would be better to encrypt your IP address as it provides you with an additional layer of security.
What makes IoT devices so hard to protect is the fact that a hacker can enter from various points.
Let’s say you have several devices connected together and your child decides to take one of them to surf the Internet while unprotected. Even with your best attempts to maintain your privacy, unwanted situations may occur.
What do you do then? Put all these devices in one network.
By creating a guest network, you can rest assured that attack on one device will not cause a cascade effect endangering other products.
As mentioned before, security issues are a current thing. We can tell with a relative certainty that future devices and networks will be better protected and will not expose users as much.
Luckily for us, we tend to replace our mobile devices and applications rather frequently. Whether this is a good or bad thing, it is hard to tell but in this particular case, it will work wonders.
By getting newer versions of IoT devices you can rest assured they will have better protection than the previous ones. Naturally, this might be a big investment for most people. Instead of getting a new product, you can simply update the software and get better, newer programs for your old systems.
- Turning off
Of course, the simplest solution you can do is to simply turn off anything that you’re not using.
Today, we are used to having all these devices around us, working without end. This is especially true for products such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa. While it may be easy, it definitely is a threat.
Turn off anything and everything that you’re not using. This also goes for parts of devices. For example, external devices such as hard drives, microphones, and cameras can be used against you. So, as soon as you stop chatting or communicating, plug them off.
What is the future of IoT devices?
These products are definitely here to stay.
As we go forward, automation and artificial intelligence will increase in importance. Furthermore, certain industries are starting to replace their traditional human-focused solutions giving an advantage to the machines. In that regard, not only will these and similar devices be present in our homes, but we can also expect to see them in factories and offices.
IoT products have so much to offer. If you have a modern, smart home, you can do almost anything with them. They can automate various tasks regardless of whether they are small or big. Needless to say, they can also provide a big assistance to people with disabilities.
However, there is one thing that seems a bit concerning at this point – lack of diversity.
Suddenly, there are numerous items hitting the market. Unfortunately, most of them are similar when it comes to characteristics. It seems that big corporations such as Google and Amazon are simply trying to keep up the pace and be present without actually innovating. This is a big issue affecting security as well.
In future, it’s expected that IoT devices will become more diversified intheirquality, price and options. Also, there will likely be much more companies vying for a market share. This flexibility is one of the reasons why we can presume that the quality of IoT protection will increase as well. It will be a big win for all consumers.
For now, we have to settle forwhat we have. Although IoT has its threats, they can be easily circumvented if you behave responsibly.
Turn offyour devices when not using them, regularly update software and hardware, get some quality firewall protection and you will be fine!