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IoT or The Internet of Things

This is the technology of the future: Smart home devices, smart thermostats, doorbells, outlets controlled from your phone, vacuum cleaners, TVs, Amazon Alexa- any type of device that can be connected to the internet for “smarter” use is an IoT device. In many households, this idea of a “smart home” is becoming more common. You can adjust your thermostat from anywhere, start your coffee pot from your phone, or schedule your vacuum cleaner to clean at a certain time, get a notification on your phone when the filter needs to be replaced, see when someone rings your doorbell, or turn on your lights remotely.

These devices are all so great because they connect to the internet, and it makes life easier for you. The underbelly of this is that because they connect to the internet, it can become a gateway into other devices on your network, or become a middleman for information to be given to marketers. With the Internet of Things, everything is connected to one source, your network. With this, if one device is vulnerable, then the rest of your technology becomes vulnerable too.

If you are thinking of purchasing any IoT devices here are the things you should be aware of:

  1. While every device is different, the general rule of thumb is to always purchase a well-known brand name instead of maybe a cheaper option. There are a lot of cheaper IoT devices out there that will perform the same actions as reputable brands, but their support and care are not up to standard. Many cases we see with knock-off items, is that once they are developed and pushed out, they are no longer supported, there are no updates happening, and this leaves a gaping hole in your security for attackers or hackers to use to their advantage.

  2. Many IoT devices use specific port numbers to communicate with the outside world so that they are different from other devices and they can identify when they come back into your network where that traffic should be sent. For example, a simple command can be to turn on a light from your wireless phone. By doing this command, your network’s firewall has to allow that communication and that port number to be utilized. If the device wasn’t developed very well, an outside attacker could scan for open ports on your firewall and either spoof traffic to that port as a way in or use that open port to compromise that device or other devices on your network.

  3. A lot of IoT devices will project their own wireless network that is very short-ranged so that you can start the initial set-up for it. This can be compromised easily if that is still being broadcasted even after you have set everything up. Somebody could either locate that network or know the default credentials for that network, which would then give them access to the rest of your home network and the devices connected to that. Change your default credentials!

While these IoT devices are amazing for improving your life, regardless of what device you have, the most important thing you need to do is change your default credentials. In doing this, you close off the access for so many attacks and hackers to come in and take advantage of you. So once you buy a trusted IoT device, change the default credentials, and change them to something complex. Then enjoy the satisfaction of having everything at your fingertips.

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