Did you notice a trend this year during holiday time? All your friends were posting pictures and videos of their Internet of Things WiFi enabled gadgets, from dog crates to coffee makers. Anything that can be connected to your smartphone is being connected to your smartphone. There’s just one problem- no one is stopping to ask whether they should.
When you connect things to the internet that have never been connected before, you run into security problems you may have never considered before. Even back in the early 2000s Dick Cheney had the WiFi signal to his pacemaker disabled while he was the Vice President to prevent hackers from gaining access to his heart. Hackers have seized control of WiFi enabled vehicles, weapons, and even baby monitors. A WiFi enabled refrigerator was recently found to leave Gmail accounts vulnerable. With all these potential security risks exposed, why are people rushing to buy more and more IoT devices?
The novelty of having access to something when you are away from home, or even just having something no one else has, is a big driver behind the Internet of Things. Security experts have long been saying if you don’t NEED an IoT fridge you shouldn’t have one, but the reality is most people aren’t stopping to ask whether they need something and instead they are just jumping headlong into having it.
So the security challenge now is how to prevent all these IoT devices from taking over the world. And if you think that is hyperbolic, just look at what teenage hackers were able to do in late 2016. IoT devices were used to wage a DDoS attack on over 80 websites, effectively shutting down sites like Twitter and Netflix for almost an entire day.
Taking basic security measures can prevent most of these hacks. Start by segmenting your wireless router so that unsecured things like your camera and refrigerator can be on their own segment where they won’t have access to your laptop and other secured items. Turn off your WiFi when you aren’t using it and make sure you keep your software and firmware up to date. But the most basic and easy way to avoid these issues is to ask yourself whether you really NEED to control your crockpot remotely. Learn more about the security challenges of the Internet of Things from this infographic and get busy beefing up your home’s security protocols!