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As Silicon Beat has written in their recent article, 2016 could be the year for the Internet of Things. In many ways, we wouldn’t expect anything less as we inch closer and closer to a fully connected world. Yet, the devices that are commonplace or are on their way to becoming commonplace, come with their own set of risks that are often not transparent. When it comes to buying and owning IoT devices, it’s smart to take security into consideration. Here are some of the devices you’ll want to pay close attention to:
Indisputably the most commonly owned smart device is the smartphone—making it also the most commonly hacked. According to this article by CSO Online, “more than half of smartphone owners use mobile banking, and 1.4 billion people log into Facebook each month using their mobile devices.” The frequency with which smartphones are used to access sensitive, private data makes these devices a huge risk.
Suggested tip: Use as many of the built-in security options as possible (e.g. passcodes, fingerprint recognition, software updates); use unique passwords; only log onto sensitive sites when the WiFi connection is secure.
Simple devices, such as baby monitors, are actually at great risk for being hacked. CSO Online reports, “security firm Rapid7 reviewed popular baby monitors from six manufacturers and found that all had significant security problems such as lack of encryption for communications or stored data.” If these cameras are easily hackable, owners should be cautious about which brands they buy and how they use these devices.
Suggested tip: Research the manufacturer of said camera-enabled device and find out what their security approach and reputation is.
While these devices may seem harmless, they are seen as what is called “a gateway device”—that means hackers can use these fitness trackers to get access to whatever phone, tablet, or computer the device is connected to. Having access to the Bluetooth connection between the fitness tracker and phone gives hackers an opportunity to exploit the data.
Suggested tip: Again, research the manufacturer or the fitness tracker; pay close attention to the data you upload in your fitness tracker app; use passcodes when available.
As you can see, the most used devices come with the greatest risk. Of course, this reflects the frequency with which they are used (the more it’s used, the more risk there is), but it also reveals that security has lagged when compared to tech developments. This comes as no surprise but reinforces the importance of best user and manufacturer security practices—good security in 2016 will require both.