By Wilgengebroed on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Last week, as part of NCSAM, there was a Twitter Chat on the widely-used term and concept of the “Internet of Things.”
So what does the “internet of things” really mean? There are a lot of different perspectives one could answer this questions from. The term or concept came up, it seems at least, as a way to label the proliferation of devices that were being developed and introduced into the market that connect, in one way or another, to the internet. More succinctly, it can be used to refer to all our interconnected devices. These devices range from refrigerators that can see when you are low on milk and send you an email, to lightbulbs that are connected to your smartphone through an app to help you conserve energy.
So why would this be something to talk about as part of a cybersecurity awareness discussion? Simply to increase awareness. As covered in the chat, “[a]ccording to Cisco, there will be 50 billion Internet-connected devices by 2020.” If this prediction comes true, that would be 3 times the devices today. The more devices that connect to the Internet, the more devices that need to be kept up-to-date and protected against the threats we face on the web.
Here are a few things to consider to better secure all your “Internet of Things” devices:
- Understand what your device is capturing and what it shares. Many devices collect information and then upload it to a service that your associated app then connects with. Read and make sure you are looking out for what information is captured, what if any is shared with a third party, and how securely is the information transferred/stored between the device(s) and the service provider.
- Keep your device software up to date. Like all your “smart” devices, make sure that the application it runs on is kept up to date with patches, fixes, updates, and upgrades from the manufacturer or trusted application provider. The more devices out there, the more vulnerabilities that will eventually be found, so keep them current.
- Use separate networks at home. If you have multiple devices at home that are interconnected through your wireless router or access points, consider running a separate, dedicated network for those devices. This way, a compromised lightbulb or treadmill will not propagate malware or otherwise compromise devices on your other network where you would connect your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Reasoning is that the devices you may store sensitive data on, smartphone or laptop. These “smart” devices are made with the main focuses being interconnectivity and ease of use, which means there may be some security tradeoffs.
Feel free to comment with any of your suggestions.