Traditionally, only a handful of your devices at home had the ability to connect to the Internet—such as your laptop, smartphone and perhaps a gaming console. However today, almost every device in your house could be connected to the Internet, including smart speakers, smart doorbells, household appliances, lightbulbs, door locks and even your car. These connected devices often go by the name of Internet of Things (IoT).
While these connected devices bring a great deal of convenience, they also bring a unique set of challenges and increased levels of risk to both our personal information and sensitive company data. Hackers can infect your devices with malware and gain access to them, or even use them to launch attacks on others. Manufacturers and vendors can collect information on your activities. Furthermore, the manufacturers making these devices (with the exception of reputable large public companies) have no experience with cyber security standards and requirements and view security as a cost. As a result, many of the devices you purchase have little or no security mechanisms built into them.
Unfortunately, this means that more of our personal and sensitive company information is at risk of being compromised or stolen more than ever before. That’s why it’s more important to make sure they’re secure.
How can I secure my smart devices?
Security is everyone’s responsibility, so here are a few simple steps to secure your smart devices and help keep sensitive information safe.
- Change Device Passwords: Change default passwords and use unique strong passphrases that only you know and consider using a reputed password manager with a strong master password and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to safeguard all your passwords.Do not disclose or divulge these passwords to anyone.
- Keep Your Devices Updated: Just like your computer and smartphone, it’s critical to keep all of your devices up to date with the latest vendor approved patches or firmware. Many devices provide the option for automatic firmware updates—use them!
- Configure Devices on a “Guest” Network: Segregate your smart home devices on a “Guest” network rather than having them connect to your primary Wi-Fi network that you use for your computers and mobile devices. This way, if a device is infected by malware or an attacker gains access to a device, your computers and mobile devices containing sensitive data remain safe on the separate Wi-Fi network.
- Privacy Settings:Smart devices capture and transmit large amounts of private information about us, our daily routines, our fitness, and our health habits. It’s important to understand how smart device manufacturers are using this information and if they’re selling it to other third parties. Review device privacy settings and ensure that you limit the amount of information your smart device collects and shares. Consider turning off information sharing capabilities all together.
- Purchase from Reputable Vendors: Purchase your smart devices from a company that you know and trust. Look for products that support security, such as allowing you to enable automatic firmware updates, control privacy settings, and change default passwords.
- Connect Devices That You Need: The simplest way to secure a device is to not connect it to the Internet. If you don’t need your device to be online, don’t connect it to your Wi-Fi network.
- Turn on Only Required Features:Features like location services, Bluetooth, cameras, and microphones can and should be turned off when you’re not using them to prevent avenues for attack by potential hackers.
- Be Wary of Voice Enabled Devices:If a device can process your voice commands, then it’s constantly listening and has the ability to record sensitive conversations. Where possible, consider this when you determine placement of voice-enabled devices at your home and office.
With today’s technology we’re more connected to each other than ever before. But don’t neglect your security: you not only put yourself at risk, but others and your organization as well.
Security starts with you!
Varicent provides a vigilant watch for the delivery and design of sales performance management (SPM) systems in the cloud, so you can sleep at night and focus on sales. Help protect yourself and the organizations that you work for when using smart devices.
If you see something, say something: Report any suspicious activity or concerns to your organization’s information security team to protect the integrity of your business.