Are you being smart with your smart devices?

James Baird
By James Baird
A quick tot-up of the wi-fi enabled devices in your life may surprise you.
Are you being smart with your smart devices?
From tablets, laptops and game consoles to fitness trackers, televisions and even fridges, we’ve never been more connected. Which not only begs the question: is there anything that can’t be improved with wi-fi? But also: just how vulnerable are we making our homes and businesses?
 
The use of smart devices, known as ‘The Internet of Things’ (IoT), is widespread, but they can also be easy to hack if users don’t implement stringent security measures or are using insecure encryption mechanisms.
 
We all know that everything connected to the internet is vulnerable and at risk of being compromised and, as the number of internet-connected devices increases, so do the potential security challenges of such devices. Research found recently that more than 100,000 smart TVs, refrigerators, and other smart household appliances have been compromised by hackers to send out 750,000 malicious spam emails.
 
The market for unsecured internet-connected smart devices is massive, and only looks set to grow. With reports estimating that, by 2020, there will be more than 50 billion internet-connected devices, isn’t it about time we started to look seriously at preventing their exploitation?
 
At the start of this month, a group of US senators introduced a bill to try and establish minimum cyber security standards for Internet of Things devices sold to the US Government. The legislation will require companies who provide devices, software and firmware to certify compliance with specified security controls and requirements relating to vulnerability patching and notification.
 
Could this be the start of tighter controls over the Internet of Things?
 
Protect your network
 
We don’t recommend that you wait for legislation before taking steps to protect your business or home. There are things you can – and should – be doing right now to make sure you, your business and your staff continue to benefit from the technological advances that the Internet of Things offers, on a network that is secure.
 
The main problem with wi-fi enabled devices is that cyber attackers can use them as a back door into your network. To protect the connected devices in your business or home, the single most important thing you can do is protect your network.
 
We see it all the time. People go to the trouble of setting up a secure network, only to plug in a router without even so much as changing the password. If you’re taking cyber-security seriously, at the very least you should change passwords on new devices straight away.
 
And, if you’re really doing things properly, we would advise setting multiple network ‘Service Set Identifiers’. This means that you’ll essentially use different networks for different devices. For example, one network could be devoted to computers and printers, another to TVs and another to mobile devices. This way, even if one of your devices is hijacked, the attacker is limited to a single network and the potential for wider damage is minimised.
 
There’s a lot you can do to minimise risk and reap the benefits of IoT connectivity in your business. If you’re making full use of the Internet of Things in your organisation but feel you would benefit from more information on protecting your network, get in touch with Dynamic Networks today.
 

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Meet the MD: James Baird

Meet the MD: James Baird

"James Baird has been inspired by the integrity his grandad and father displayed, as he has navigated his career through being an electrician, starting his first business in electrical services and his current business, Dynamic Networks Group."