Internet Safety Corner – IoT

 In Internet Safety Corner

What you need to know about “IoT” and how it could affect you.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices and gadgets are increasingly creeping to the top of the wish lists for Christmas presents, birthday gifts and others are simply saving up to get some of these great devices.  IoT devices cover a massive variety of primarily “connected” devices which range from Laptops, Home Automation, TV’s, Speakers, Health & Fitness gadgets and Sensors to drones or even connected toys. Many of us love the idea of having cool gadgets that we can connect to the internet but do we all know how they work or what kind of vulnerabilities we could be exposed to?

IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

It is impossible to list the amount and variety of IoT devices available today in the marketplace.  From wearable gadgets, connected fridges, home automation sensors, cameras, smartphones, tablets to media players and all kinds of gadgets we can connect to the internet.  Each one of these IoT devices is engineered and designed to somehow “make life better” and the chances are that their good intentions are 100% legitimate. The problem is that in this price competitive field, there are thousands of different electronic components that can be chosen by the manufacturers to build their devices.  Some have huge budgets to run security checks but others do not. The bottom line is that our IoT devices may have electronic components which may or may not have known vulnerabilities. Once your cool gadget is “connected” to your network it may perform just as expected, but if you are unlucky, it could also be a “trojan horse” inside your network!

What damage can this do to you?

No matter how much effort you have put into building yourself a nice and secure network, it takes just one “cool gadget” to create a vulnerability which could be harmless or could become a serious problem.  For example, you buy a nice and cheap smoke sensor online for your home and you connect it to your WiFi so that it can alert you anytime. If you are unlucky, this smoke sensor could have exploitable electronic components which might be known to hackers and keep a “door open” to your network.  This could allow a hacker to access your home network through the smoke sensor to then have access to files on your computers or even view video footage of your webcam. If you have home automation devices, a hacker could even disable alarms or sensors. The damage ranges from loss of privacy to stealing data or gaining access to your property.

What can you do to reduce the risks?

As usual, the chances are very low that you could be a target for any kind of “hacking” even if you did have an IoT device with a security vulnerability, but it is important that you have at least some kind of idea of how they work and how it could affect you.  We would recommend that you purchase IoT devices from manufacturers that you feel you can trust, maybe companies who have cutting edge safety & security procedures and invest heavily in the production of their products. The truth is that this is all still too new to know for sure, and evolves at such a rapid pace that it is hard to keep up with it.  In the meantime, think about the gadgets you buy, if you really need them, if they really need to be connected and if you feel you can trust the company who manufactured it!

We sincerely hope this information was useful and we look forward to sharing some more tips with you in due course.

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