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IoT and Cyber Threats: How to Make Your Smart Devices Secure

Is a new IoT device on your shopping list? Before heading out to get it, read through this post. In this post, we’ll give you advice on how to bring in new devices without endangering your cybersecurity.

Why Do I Need to Secure an IoT Device?

You probably understand why it’s essential to secure your computer and phone. You might be less clear on other devices. After all, what point is there in hacking a smart light bulb or kettle.

It’s true that those devices don’t store any personal data on them. Are they connected to your phone or computer through an app? If so, they present a security risk.

Why?

These devices have minimal security features. Hacking them takes hardly any effort. We already see about 5,300 cyberattacks on IoT devices a month.

Through them, hackers can gain access to your network and so your computer or phone.

Securing Your IoT Devices

Before we start looking at the IoT devices themselves, let’s look at securing their gatekeeper. Your router connects all the devices in your home. It makes sense to secure your router before starting anything else.

Securing Your Router

There are a few simple steps here:

  • Rename your router: The default name will often include the make and model of the router. Cybercriminals can use that to see which type of attack will work best.
  • Create a strong password: Change the default password to something that’s very strong and that no one can guess.
  • Set up a guest network: Don’t link it up to your main devices, phone, or computer. When someone visits, give them this password. This limits the access that guests have to other devices on the network.
Securing Individual Devices

If you’ve already got a few IoT devices, this section is going to get a little tedious. Following the steps anyway is important to ensure the cybersecurity of your home or office.

Change the Default Names and Passwords

The goal here is to make life harder for hackers. Change the device name, and they won’t know what device they’re dealing with. Change the default password while you’re there. Many companies use a generic password. Cybercriminals can find these passwords quite easily.

Use Unique Passwords

It’s difficult to remember a bunch of different passwords. At the very least, you must use a unique password for your computer, router, phone, or tablet. If you can’t remember these, consider using a password keeper.

Check Your Settings

The default settings on devices might include the transmission of data to the manufacturer. They might also be set at lower security levels to optimize performance. Go through the settings and set them as high as is practical for you.

While you’re at it, have a look at which features are enabled. Will you use all of these features? If not, disable the ones that you won’t use.

Conduct Regular Software Updates

Updating your software is about more than just getting the latest features. You’re also getting security patches. Update these devices regularly or consider turning on the automatic update feature.

Run a Device Audit

If you have older devices, it might be time to change them out. If the company no longer supports those devices, it’s time to replace them.

Why?

Their software might no longer provide optimal security. If the company no longer supports the model, they’re also not releasing new security patches.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

This is a tip that we should all implement more often. Two-factor authentication provides yet another barrier for hackers to overcome. Consider using email verification or a formal random code generator where possible.

Verification through a mobile phone is less secure than it seems. Criminals may opt to swap out your sim card to overcome the standard SMS verification.

Avoid Checking on Your Devices on a Public Network

You never know what other users are on a public network. It’s best to avoid using them altogether. If there’s no option, use a VPN whenever you sign in.

Final Notes

Your devices might not contain as much information as your phone and laptop. They do, however, provide a portal that a hacker might use to gain access to your network. Treat each IoT device as you would a computer because that’s what it is essentially, and secure it accordingly.

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Josh Wardini

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at Webmastersjury. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.

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