The Internet of Things

Editors Note: This blog post is part of Week 04 of #CyberAware month and the #NCSAM Planning Kit.

Connected technologies, smart devices, Internet of Things (IoT) - they all mean the same thing.  Every day devices that you commonly use but are also connected to the Internet. These are devices such as baby monitors, security cameras, thermostats, DVRs, light bulbs, gaming consoles or perhaps even your car. This connectivity brings great convenience  but also additional risks.  Here are three simple steps you can take to make the most of these devices while being secure.

  1. Know What You Have:  First and foremost, know what you have that is connected to your home network.  You may have connected devices on your own home network and not even realize it. One way to determine what you have connected is scan your network.  If you are a geek your scanning weapon of choice is most likely Nmap, the world's most popular (and free) network scanner.  But for 99% of the rest of the world, you probably want something simpler and perhaps even runs from your mobile device.  There are surprisingly alot of choices, one of my favorites  is Fing.  As always, when installing a mobile app download it only from trusted sites, and check both permissions and privacy options.
  2. Connect Only What You Need:  Now that you have found everything connected on your home network, do all those devices need to be connected?  The most secure device is the one never connected to the Internet.  Does your tea kettle really need to be on your home network?  If not disconnect it from your network.  If it does need to be connected, then let us continue to step three.
  3. Change the Password: For all the other devices that do need to be connected to your home network, change the default password.  Yup, that's it.  That is the number one thing you can do.  You would be stunned at how many of those devices come with default passwords that any cyber attacker can easily find on the Internet.  Bad guys simply look up those default passwords and scan the Internet looking for any that have not been changed.  They are finding millions of them, don't be one of them.

To learn more about securing your household devices, we highly recommend the OUCH! newsletters on Securing IoT Devices, Passphrases and Password Managers.  As always, OUCH! newsletters are free and translated into over 25 languages.