The IoT technology is not only taking over the industry, but it’s taking over our households, too. The number of IoT devices is rapidly increasing everyday — all with the intent for us be able to control everything at the touch of a button.

No problems this far in the IoT home device plan. Everything sounds amazing, right?

Well, things aren’t always as simple as they seem. There’s definitely a downside when it comes to digitalizing our entire existence.

This is where we start talking about security — one of the most imperative modern world problems. The thing is that if we really want to take full advantage of the amazing opportunities that IoT is able to bring us, we must learn how to secure our devices. This will be especially essential — if your device is connected to our homes.

Hence in this article, we will go over some of the consequences of not securing your IoT devices from hackers and we’ll discuss some of the ways to avoid this from happening.

The Consequences

First and foremost, before discussing how to avoid hackers from getting into your IoT devices, we should go over some of the consequences of not securing them.

Since 2015, when the IoT devices started to become more and more popular, the technology has been a controversial subject. Recently, the FBI released a statement through which they warned people in the entire world that these devices can be as dangerous as they are useful. Of course, we had the CIA warning about the devices and connectivity — and now they are leading the charge to have all of us connect to each other — and to them. Hence, the “Zuckerberg trials,” last April. 

When you think about these dangers, the first thing that comes to mind, is cybercrime.

Cybercriminals are more than able to place malware on your devices, which can lead to stealing your personal information and and a lot worse than that. Some other consequences — the more serious ones — might include physical safety threats or even home break-ins. All of the home invasion incidences can occur because people have not secured their IoT devices.

Below, we discussed some of the best practices when it comes to securing your high-tech IoT devices.

The Security Measures to avoid a breach

From the most basic, obvious to the more techy ones — here are some of the most important security measures you should take for your Internet of Things devices:

  • PasswordsYou might think that it’s not worthy to mention this, but I really can’t stress enough how important this step is, given the fact that people have the tendency to forget about it. Don’t leave any default passwords around, no matter if we talk about your device or the router. The key when it comes to this step, is to set some passwords that are definitely not easy to guess. You could try using a phrase as your password, or even better, you can use a password manager. The best passwords are the one that contains uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. The longer it is, the better .
  • Secured connections. One thing is for sure: if you want to get the most out of your IoT devices, you will need to connect them to the Internet. But the trick is not to connect the entire Internet to them, and that’s why you’ll want to use a virtual private network (VPN). This isn’t enough, however.  For more safety, you’ll need a VPN suitable for your particular device — for instance, if you’re accessing the internet with a MacBook, you’ll need to search for the Best VPN for Mac. This is one of the most effective way to securely connect your device to the Internet.
  • Updates. No manufacturer ever will assure you that the device that they’re selling is one hundred percent secure. That’s why they always work on improving their products and regularly release updates. And it’s your job to make sure that you install those updates as soon as you can.
  • Access. In this area, it’s up to you to make a decision. Ask yourself the following question: Do I need to be connected to the Internet in order to use my device or not? In case the answer is ‘no’, you definitely want to simply limit access to your own home network.
  • UPnP. The UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) can make some devices, like your printers, cameras or routers, very vulnerable to attack from cybercriminals. It does help in setting up your devices, but from the security perspective, it would be best for you to turn off the UPnP.
  • Cloud services. A good part of IoT devices rely on cloud services and that is not so great, given the fact that you have to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to access the cloud. And that brings us to the problem mentioned above, about the secured connections and limiting access.

The Security Measures after a breach

While experiencing or after experiencing a breach in security, however, below are few steps that can be taken to cushion the attack and prevent a future breach.

  • Guard the critical data. In every system, some data are bound to be more critical than others. Some of such data may include a business’ financial records, consumers’ passwords, credit card details and so on. It’s important to reach for such data first, before trying to regain control of the whole system.
  • Retain the attack. If a particular section gets breached within a system, it’s advisable to separate that section from the rest. This can be done by changing the password of the secure sections and activating two-factor authentication as well.
  • Notify everyone affected. In a case where others were also affected by a security breach, it’s important to notify the parties involved as soon as possible so they can take security measures on their part. A good example is the LinkedIn security breach, where all users were advised to change their password on LinkedIn, and everywhere else where they used the same password.
  • Learn from the breach. From every breach, review the attack and learn what sectors of your security system is vulnerable, and what your security team is doing wrong. Then work to fix it.

If you are dealing with sensitive data, and even if you are not and you’re just using IoT devices, you must be aware of what can happen if you don’t secure these devices.

After you understand the importance of this required action, follow the simple steps that lead you to taking the right security measures and make the world a better place by blocking cybercriminals.

Milos Mudric

Milos Mudric is a content specialist and tech enthusiast. He is the founder of Silver Fox Digital and SEO brainiac and he occasionally writes interesting stories about Blockchain, IoT and Fintech.