If you connect it, protect it

October 08, 2020

This is the first in a series of four articles about cybersecurity from the Department of IT.

The line between our online and offline lives is indistinguishable. This network of connections creates both opportunities and challenges for individuals and organizations across the globe.

A popular term often used to describe these devices that are used to sense and control data and activities, is "Internet of Things" (IoT).

In general, IoT devices are about automation. Most do not need human involvement to do what they're designed to do (unlike PCs, smartphones, and tablets, which are not part of the IoT). Popular IoT products include fitness trackers, security systems, cameras, and home and convenience devices like Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, appliances, car systems and monitoring devices.

Nevertheless, here are a few things you should think about when using internet-connect devices.

  • Change default passwords on new devices
    • Hackers can use default passwords to compromise your device.
    • Refer to the manual, do an online search, or contact the manufacturer for advice.
  • Apply updates regularly
    • Manufacturers patch bugs and flaws on an ongoing basis -- and so should you. Sign up for automatic updates or software update alerts when possible.
  • Create strong account passwords for cloud-controlled devices
    • Some devices are controlled via cloud services, so you need to be secure there as well. Pick a unique, hard-to-guess password or passphrase for each account.
  • Update your home network security
    • If you've never adjusted the settings on your home Wi-Fi network, you are vulnerable to basic attacks.


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