Internet of Things – 2017

Happy New Year!

With arrival of a new year, I thought I’d start a new discussion on the Internet of Things.  You may or may not have heard this term before, but it involves a lot more of us than you may think.  The Internet of Things, or IoT as it is commonly called,basically refers to any physical object connected to the internet.  The IoT is made up of everything from light bulbs to pace makers to vehicles.  The most common devices are things like smart home devices like light bulbs, TV’s, and thermostats.  Other devices on the rise are centralized home devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.  We now have refrigerators that connect to the internet for TV or to just keep up with maintenance.

Regardless of the type of device(s) you or someone you know may own, the simple truth is that all of our lives are becoming increasingly more connected.  Unfortunately, that also means that there is an ever-increasing threat to the security of our lives.  As I’m sure you’re aware, being connected to the internet in any way brings its own set of risks and these IoT devices are no exception.  In fact, most of them have their own inherent security holes that aren’t usually found till they’ve been on the market for a while.

What most people do not know is that there have been all kinds of reported issues and cases around these devices.  Some of them have been found by security experts testing the devices and others by actual instances of devices being compromised.  There are some common issues out there and research continues to take place and the device manufacturers themselves continue to try and fix the issues as they’re found.

What most people do not think of is that while these devices provide us with a never before seen level of convenience in our lives, they also, sometimes, provide a less than secure gateway into our homes and lives.  They can be compromised and used to do all sorts of things from send SPAM to even giving attackers full access to any connected device, including computers, in your home.

I do not write this to scare you, but more to warn you and, like we always do at Cyber Watchtower, educate you as much as we can so that you can protect yourself.  Right now, the best advice I can give you is below in a few easy points.

  • Do your research on any device you plan to purchase and buy from known manufacturers with a known good history.
  • Patch and upgrade firmware on all devices when it’s available (including internet routers).
  • Periodically check online for news or updates on your devices to make sure there haven’t been any major issues with their security.
  • Pay close attention to anything out of the ordinary in the function of your device or anything else they may be connected to.

I have no doubt that we will continue to see exponential growth in the use of these devices over the next few years.  The manufacturers are already catching on will and have started building better security into the devices too.  We at Cyber Watchtower love technology, but we want your security intact above all.  So, enjoy your IoT devices, but just be careful and cautious.

Protect yourself and have a great new year!

Austin Bynum
Chief Watchman
Cyber Watchtower

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