Security Blankets: IoT Devices Can Transform Your Life, As Long as you Keep Them Secure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed this era in which we’re living into an age of automation. As such, many companies have changed how they operate and have embraced these technological developments. There is really no other option for other businesses trying to stay afloat during a global pandemic that has resulted in most people working from their homes, and, as a result, IoT gadgets being adopted at an explosive rate.

Though IoT devices offer countless benefits, including convenience and efficiency, users need to be aware of the security risks that come along with them. Here are some of the ways to keep IoT devices secure:

Change the Default Settings of Routers

Many people tend to forget to change the name of their router, instead keeping the name provided to them by the manufacturer. But, failing to rename a router, along with forgetting to change its default security and privacy settings, could impact a user’s private WiFi security, so it’s recommended to give a router a name unrelated to the user. Since most IoT devices are connected through WiFi, the first defense against online attacks on IoT devices resides at the network and WiFi levels.

Disconnect IoT Devices When Not in Use

Users need to be aware that certain smart devices – such as televisions and refrigerators – don’t need to be connected to the Internet. By closely checking the features of IoT devices and knowing exactly what devices require a connection to work, can help to maintain a user’s privacy. 

Choose a Strong Password and Don’t Overuse It

Those who use passwords such as “qwerty” or “1234” for their IoT devices get a bit more creative. Using easy-to-guess and common passwords for IoT devices makes them easy prey for hackers. Creating strong and secure passwords is one of the best ways to protect one’s online privacy.

Also, it’s best to choose different passwords for different devices, since, obviously, if hackers  can figure out one password, then they can easily attack other devices with the same password. Although creating multiple passwords can seem tedious, it will provide an extra layer of needed security for IoT devices.

Utilize the Highest Encryption Level
WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) is currently the highest level of encryption used to secure the majority of WiFi networks, which means that routers which only support WPA or WEP protocols might need to be upgraded. Since many IoT hackers target home routers, it makes sense that a smart home is more secure with a secure router. 

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication – which is usually a 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) that adds an extra security layer to a password – is often used in net banking. With 2FA, users are prompted to provide an additional proof of identity when logging in to an IoT device. This additional proof – which can come in the form of a one-time password (OTP) or via a verification code sent through email or text – can confirm that the person logging in is authorized to do so. 

Most smart devices default to multi-factor authentication, but for those that don’t, users can enable 2FA by downloading apps such as Google Authenticator. These types of reputable third-party services add security and peace of mind.

Use a Different WiFi Network for IoT Devices

Most modern routers have a secondary or guest network. When this type of additional network is available to IoT devices, it can protect the primary network from IoT attacks. Put simply: When IoT devices are connected to a different network, they are detached, which means that hackers will be unable to access important gadgets such as smartphones or laptops.

Avoid Using Universal Plug and Play

Routers, cameras, printers, and IoT devices can become vulnerable to cyber attacks when Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is used. UPnP essentially makes it more convenient to connect devices (they can automatically detect one another) without the need to do extra configuration. Nevertheless, UPnP allows hackers to see many IoT devices beyond the local network. This is why it’s best to turn off UPnP completely.

Disable Features That Are Not Being Used

Users can control most IoT devices from wherever they are. But, if they only access IoT devices through their home network, then they should disable the feature that allows for remote access. Bluetooth, voice control and WiFi connectivity can also be turned off if not in use. By taking these steps and blocking as many entry points as possible, many potential attacks can be avoided.

Keep Firmware and Software Updated

Firmware protects current security patches and lessens the chance of being attacked. If possible, users can enable a setting that automatically checks for updates, since most IoT device makers release regular updates. 

Regular updates – which include the latest preventative measures against antivirus and anti-malware – are critical when it comes to keeping IoT devices secure. Updates also help clean the system by removing security bugs from older software versions. 


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