How does the Internet of Things affect cybersecurity?

06/15/2020 | by Josh Yarbrough

future of IoT

The internet can be wonderful. It can provide convenience and capabilities that would otherwise be impossible. It is potential at our fingertips. I remember years ago, as a child, watching my mother “surf the web”. Back then, those simple HTML websites were so cool to me. Especially if they had background music that played while you were on the page (please don’t do that now, people). Never did I imagine back then that we would leverage it to such a degree in our lives as we do now. Everyone and their pet are on social media, everybody goes to it for movies and entertainment, businesses are moving to cloud-based decentralized infrastructure management models, etc.

Not only are people more connected to the internet but so are devices and hardware. Smartwatches and accessories talk back and forth. People are also taking a “Smart House” or “Home Automation” approach when buying a  new home or upgrading their existing premises. We now have options available to monitor and control stoves and ovens, refrigerators, washers and dryers, lighting, speakers, air conditioning and heating, security cameras, and door locks. The list gets larger and larger every year. This is all encompassed in what is known as the “Internet of Things” or IoT for short. It covers anything that connects your network and the internet.

What about security?

With all of these exciting new devices connected to the internet, it raises concerns about security or at least it should. We know that computers can be hacked and account data compromised but what about all of these devices? This is a valid issue and one that we should be prepared to address. Thankfully, a good number of smart appliances have proprietary apps for controlling them. This means that hackers and malware creators have to make special efforts to gain control of these devices. The downside is that as these devices become more and more standardized and unified, so does the access to them.

So how can we stay safe while taking advantage of this new technology?

First and foremost,

  1. Keep your computer and mobile devices up to date on their security patches via system updates.
  2. Next, be sure that you are using good anti-virus software on your computer and that its software firewall is enabled. Most anti-virus companies now offer packages that include protection for mobile devices as well. Pricing for these combo deals is usually pretty good.
  3. Consider purchasing a hardware firewall. These are super “internet boxes” that can replace your router and keep intruders from gaining access before their digital feet ever get in your network door. They are generally higher priced than a regular router but well worth it when you consider the risks and what they block. Some anti-virus vendors are now offering hybrid systems that combine anti-virus and firewall protection across your whole network via a single box. I think that we will be seeing more of these options in not too distant future.
  4. Lastly, just as we have said in prior articles, nothing beats good judgement. Reconsider clicking the link if you aren’t sure about it. Don’t open those emails and attachments if you weren’t expecting to receive them. The same goes for installing apps from the mobile markets. Don’t install before doing some research first and checking those reviews and the number of past downloads.

Summary

It really comes down to this; The future of IoT is a fast-growing technology, with new and exciting gadgets coming out every day. Who knows what else will soon be interconnected? Maybe your floor will be able to see where you are going and predict that you are going to store. It could then open the garage door, start the car, and load your grocery list to your phone, all automatically, without your interaction. The potential is endless. Just remember to stay secure by getting those updates, using good anti-virus software, and never losing your common sense.

If you have any questions about things written above, including updates, patches, good anti-virus software to use, or are considering purchasing a firewall, please give SandStorm IT a call at 901-475-0275.

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