Don't Let Hackers Into Your House

Don’t Let Hackers Into Your House

By Mike Pepper

Everything is connected to the internet these days; or so it seems. It’s very close to true. What isn’t already connected to you through the internet, somebody is going to figure out how to connect it soon.

This is the “IoT” – the Internet of Things.

With all this interconnecting going on there are bound to be bad actors trying to take advantage for greedy and wicked reasons. So; while having IoT things in your home is mostly a boon to fun and convenience, IoT can also be a serious crack in your internet security.

All IoT devices, no matter how trivial they may seem, are computers connected the internet. – and they can all be invaded and commandeered by pirates and hackers. It’s just not safe to assume IoT devices are secure, because, in fact, they are not.

Change the password!

Leaving IoT devices unsecured is the internet equivalent of leaving your house unlocked. When IoT comes to your house, you, personally, need to make it secure. Here are some things to do or consider:

Let me repeat: Change The Password!

Seriously; you must do this. You may have read about security cameras being “hacked,” but what really happened in most of these cases is The Owner Didn’t Change The Default Password. There are lists online of the default passwords for every imaginable IoT device, so the bad guys already know where to start attacking yours.

Make up unique passwords and use a different password for every device. Even if you just change a number in the password for each device, do it!  Make it a weird number, like a series from your favorite multiplication table. Like, “0PassTree,” “9PassTree”, “18PassTree”, “27PassTree”. You get the idea. Make them different!

If a hacker does figure out one of your passwords, be sure that they will try that password with other services and devices. Count on it. Reusing passwords is not a good idea.

Update your devices to the latest firmware.

Firmware is the software that is loaded into device hardware to make it work.  When you first set up new IoT devices, follow the maker’s instructions to be sure that you have the latest updates. If there’s an option to automatically update the firmware, use it.

If automatic updates is not available then set a schedule for yourself to check for updates every month or so.

Be wary about external internet services.

Make sure you check out the service provider’s privacy policy and reputation. Look for assurance that they encrypt and promise to protect your data.

Be wary of strange devices on your network.

If friends, and kids’ friends, bring internet-connected devices to your home, remember that you don’t know what malware these devices have been exposed to.

When you use the internet, you deal with sensitive data – banking, shopping – and, even just surfing the web you expose private information about yourself. Protect this data and yourself.

I hope I haven’t scared you away from the IoT. The conveniences and amusements it brings are many and worthy. Just try to stick to to these rules, and have a safe and happy IoT New Year!

Hoping, as always, that this is all quite clear and useful; nevertheless if I can fill in some details or help with anything on your computers, please don’t hesitate to call: Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy.