Securing Your IoT Devices Against Cybercrime and Oversharing
The Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses the billions of devices that are connected to the web all over the world. Smart home devices, like virtual assistants, make our lives more convenient but can also present serious security risks and personal intrusion. With over 26 billion connected IoT devices in use worldwide and growing, there is no better time to secure your home against cybercriminals seeking information that could be used against you or your family, and lockdown devices that may be collecting more information than you want to share.
Your security camera knows when your children leave the house and when they return. Your fridge scans its belongings and places a grocery order when items are low. Your home is filled with the latest “Smart” speakers, medical devices, children’s toys, and beyond — and all these gadgets hold important personal information that hackers are working to access. Although they seem harmless, home IoT devices and their mobile applications often have little to no security measures to prevent third parties and cybercriminals from accessing your personal information and monitoring your daily routine.
Internet routers are the hub of connectivity for these devices, and they are relatively easy to hack. Once a router is breached, criminals can infiltrate all your connected devices. If you use a mobile app to run a smart home accessory, your family’s smartphones and all the information stored within may also be at risk.
Our devices are constantly listening, watching, and gathering information. If cybercriminals can hack into your devices at home, the amount of data they can access is literally through the roof.
A press release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns that all smart televisions are susceptible to intrusion by even the least skilled hacker, as well as collecting detailed information about your viewing habits. Malicious activity aside, through the automatic content recognition embedded in smart TVs, you are giving the manufacturer permission to track the shows you watch and then share that data with third parties for programming recommendations and ad targeting. And, it’s difficult to know what else they do with the aggregate data once it’s been compiled. They’re depending on the consumer not understanding the ramifications of those extensive terms and conditions agreements that give the manufacturer license to access and store your data.
Many smart device manufacturers are in the business of collecting and selling our information for corporate gain. Do your research to find out how and what kind of data is being collected and set limitations where possible. What would happen if that information landed in the wrong hands because of a security incident at one of those third-parties? It may be worth giving up some functionality of your smart device to keep your data private — and safe.
Before investing in smart home accessories, consider the risks associated with each new device. Be sure to purchase from manufacturers that have a strong reputation for security. Review the types of information gathered and change permissions to reduce the amount of accessible data, especially if the accessory includes a mobile app you install on your phone.