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Securing the Internet of Things

Monday, October 16, 2017
courtesy of  

Internet-aware devices like thermostats and appliances can be targets for cyberattackers.What do a refrigerator, a thermostat, a light switch, and a car all have in common?

That question might sound like the setup for a bad joke, but in the IT security world, the topic is quite serious. All of those devices are examples of items that can be connected directly to the Internet. Of course, not every light switch or refrigerator is Internet-enabled, but each year more and more devices are sold that either can or must be connected to the Internet. This trend commonly is referred to as the Internet of Things.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NSCA) estimates that 67 percent of households already have between one and five home devices connected directly to the Internet. As we move closer to a world where everything is connected, keeping our devices secure is of utmost importance. 

Tips to keep your Things secure

Follow these tips to secure your Internet of Things devices like home routers, smart TVs, and wireless appliances. 

Connect only what you need

Just because a device can connect to WiFi doesn't mean it should. If you don't need the features that come with Internet connectivity, it's best not to connect that device.

Keep devices up to date

Understand how to keep your Internet-enabled appliances and gadgets up to date. If those appliances come with mobile or computer apps, make sure you always use the most recent versions. Don't forget to include your home WiFi router, too. Router companies often release firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities.

Use strong passwords or passphrases

To minimize the chance of someone hacking directly into your gadgets, set passwords for them all, the longer the better. To make long passwords easier to remember, consider using a phrase or sentence.

Own your online presence

Check device manuals and app terms to know what data your devices collect about you, where that data goes, and what protects it. If your devices or apps include privacy options, enable those.

Learn more

Check out the Internet of Things newsletter (PDF) from SANS' Securing the Human to learn more about how to protect your appliances and home devices.


Related Links

Internet of Things (PDF) 
OIT Security