Internet of Things

Tips for protecting IoT Devices

The internet of things (IoT) has become a point of focus for me lately.  Not too long ago I posted a YouTube video and wrote a blog about IoT and its relationship to data privacy.  In both the video and the blog my conclusion was very simple – there is an inverse relationship between more connectivity with IoT and data privacy.  In other words, the more we become connected, the more we will sacrifice privacy.  Now, with that said, I don’t want to be someone who just gives you his opinion on an obvious problem.  I want to to leave you with some solutions.  So, here are my top 5 security tips for protecting your personal data on your IoT Devices



Research the device first.  If you are anything like me, when you see a shiny new tech toy, you get excited and you want to buy it ASAP.  I want to encourage you to use restraint.  Look up some basic information on the devices before you buy it.  

Ask these simple questions: (most of this info should be found on the manufacturer’s website)

  1. Can it be password protected? If so, please change the default password
  2. Does it allow for some type of encryption?
  3. Does the manufacture release regular updates? If so, update the device regularly



Read the terms and conditions and decide just how connected you want to be.  I know, no one likes to read these.  However, they can tell you exactly what data your device is going to be collecting and inform you of what the manufacturer is going to do with it.  This may help you decide if you still what the device in the first place.  


I am meeting more and more people who are saying it is not worth it to be so connected.  They are beginning to realize the importance of privacy and the consequences of not protecting it.



Pay attention to new outgoing connections.  This may be a bit advanced for most consumers.  However, If you have a home firewall, you should be be able to view the connection table or logs fairly easily.  The reason, this is important is that you will be able to see if your shiny new toy is connecting to nefarious websites.  That is a great indication of compromise for your IoT device.  According to research from Symantec, they are seeing more cases of virus jumping from one device to another.  Imagine your smartwatch being the initial vector of compromise and that virus or ransomeware spreading to other connected smart devices in your home.



Update the software.  I alluded to this in Tip#1, but this tip is important enough to stand on its own.  Most security breach are successful because the device that was attack did not install the available updates that would have prevented the attack.  Think about this, the wannacry ransomware was successful because it primarily attacked older unpatched systems.  That means that properly patched systems are less likely to be impacted by these devastating ransomeware attacks.



Notice the little things – For example, every since you have had this new device in your home, you notice that your network is slower or there is some “Flaky” activity on other devices in your home.  Don’t ignore these things as they can be a clear indicator of compromise.  


So, that is enough of my ramblings.  I hope this information has been helpful.


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