While smart homes make our lives comfier, IoT devices are notoriously prone to hacking and exploiting vulnerabilities.
So much so, that the dark web is riddled with tips on how to exploit smart devices to spy on their owner.
But you shouldn’t have to give up all comfort in the name of privacy.
It’s enough to know how to secure your devices.
IoT security is still in its infancy
The Internet of Things is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
Devices used for your home automation, like smart thermostats, doorbells, lights, and so, or your smart TVs, speakers, toys, wearables, or appliances, they’re all IoT.
Because the field of networked consumer appliances is still young, security hasn’t yet turned into a priority. The focus is still on testing the waters and trying to develop a fast-selling product.
So, ensuring end-to-end security in an IoT environment is a challenge.
Vulnerabilities by design
Because they need to be ergonomic and aesthetic, IoT devices don’t often pack a computational punch. So, they don’t really have the resources to offer advanced security features.
For example, sensors that monitor humidity or temperatures can’t handle encryption.
But the major issue with IoT security is the use of hardcoded or so-called default passwords. These often lead to security breaches.
And since many IoT devices work on a set-it-and-forget-it principle, they hardly ever receive security updates or patches.
A beacon of hope
The U.K. government has recently proposed a law aimed at securing IoT devices, with three mandates for manufacturers:
- All consumer IoT device passwords must be unique and not resettable to universal factory settings
- All IoT device manufacturers must provide a public point of contact so that anyone can report a flaw
- All IoT device manufacturers must explicitly state the minimum length of time for which devices will receive security updates.
This law is one of the few of its kind regulating IoT device security. And while it’s a step in the right direction, now we’re still dealing with smartwatches like TicTocTrack, which could allow hackers to keep an eye on children. Not to mention the flaws in more than 2 million IP security cameras, baby monitors, and smart doorbells that can be hacked to spy on people.
8 ways to improve your IoT security
For now, IoT security seems like a distant dream, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on smart devices.
Instead, here are eight ways to improve the security of your IoT gadgets.
1. Give your router a customized name
A router’s default name usually gives away the manufacturer and the model. Armed with this information, you can then learn all about the firmware and its vulnerabilities.
Ditch the default name, have fun picking an original one, and make hackers’ lives more difficult.
2. Encrypt your Wi-Fi network
Your router may support a native encryption method, like WPA2. If so, it’s a good idea to activate it.
3. Change your default credentials
Cybercriminals already know all the default usernames and passwords that come with IoT devices. So hijacking them is like taking candy from a baby.
Go through all your devices and protect them with unique passwords. It doesn’t have to be a hassle, and it’s well worth it.
4. Use strong, unique passwords
A lot of hackers use force brute attacks, trying to guess passwords and get into computers, so steer clear of password and 123456.
Having a strong, hard-to-guess, unique password is an essential layer of protection for protection. Make sure to check out our five tips on how to create a password.
5. Check your settings
Most IoT devices don’t have their privacy and security settings activated by default. But you should definitely use them.
And while you’re at it, you can also check for any opt-out settings and disable personalized ads. Limiting the data your devices send to the manufacturer can help minimize the impact of a data breach.
6. Keep your software up to date
Updates for IoT devices are normally rare and important, so don’t skip on them. You might be one tap away from an essential security patch.
Not all your IoT gadgets have an automated update system, so check out the manufacturer’s website from time to time to make sure you’re still using the latest software.
7. Enable two-factor authentication
This is an easy and effective way to prevent unauthorized access to your devices.
From a code sent to your phone to single-use access codes, this is the last frontier of protection in case your credentials get exposed, or you lose your IoT device.
8. Use your hotspot
If you need to use your IoT devices when you’re on the go, connect them to your hotspot.
Don’t rely on public Wi-Fi networks, as they are notorious for being unsecured and prone to exploits.
Use these eight tips to enhance your IoT privacy and security is the best thing you can do for your digital life right now.
Maybe IoT manufacturers will up their security game in the future, but you can’t rely on that.
Do you think the rest of the world will follow the U.K. government’s plan to regulate IoT devices? How do you see this implemented?
Let me know in the comments below! 👇
Until next time, stay safe and secure!