Your Evolving Digital Life With the Internet of Things

The hottest new trend on the Internet isn’t a new social network or app. It’s things. Dubbed “The Internet of Things”  it refers to any object you can connect to with the Internet. These "things" include an array of devices and even systems. Home security systems, connected pill bottles that send you an alert when you haven’t taken your medication or need a refill, or they might be something as simple as a light you can turn on or off from your phone. Either way, the Internet of Things promises to connect more devices than ever before.

However, as with any new technological development, there are pitfalls that come along with the benefits. The Internet of Things can make your home more secure with a security system, but it can also open you up to identity theft and other cybercrimes. That’s because the Internet of Things is mostly uncharted waters. The security systems aren’t in place to protect many of the devices yet. Any time you get a new piece of technology on the Internet of Things, you’re taking new chances with your online security.

Why You Need to Secure the Internet of Things

There are a number of ways that criminals can leverage the Internet of Things to infiltrate your home. Skilled hackers could use your home’s power signature to figure out the best time for a burglary. If your car gets hacked, you could have identity thieves spying on everywhere you go and everything that you do. Webcams have been hacked on laptops, allowing criminals access to your most intimate moments. Even if there’s no property crimes or violent crimes committed, you don’t want to be violated in this way.

It’s simply a truism of Internet usage that your identity and computer activity is only as strong as its weakest link. The problem with the Internet of Things is that there are a lot of weak links for you to lock down. Theoretically speaking, it might not be the centerpiece of your new WiFi home security system that’s your undoing, but the simple device that you use to tell whether or not a door has been opened. From there, hackers can work backward from that to your security system, to your wireless network, to every device on it. Everything is connected.

How to Secure Your Home in the Age of the Internet of Things

It’s true that there isn’t a lot of protection in the dawn of the Internet of Things. It’s also true that there aren’t a lot of dangers out there. Much of what has been described above are theoretical abilities, rather than tried-and-tested hacks. You’re in a brave new world of connectivity, but so are criminals looking to use the Internet to their advantage. While you’re in uncharted waters, there are still some ways to maximize your protection:

  • Secure your home wireless network. Remember that almost all of these devices will run off of your wireless network. The more secure that is, the harder it will be to victimize you. Hackers tend to look for low-hanging fruit.
  • Use several emails. If, for example, you have an email for your connected pill bottle, and another for your connected car, you’re not as vulnerable as someone who has all of their information associated with one account linked across several devices.
  • Always update the firmware on your connected devices. This is as important as updating the operating system and Internet security suite on your computer and mobile devices. When hackers start to attack the Internet of Things, they’re almost always going to use known exploits to do it, the kind that are patched when firmware updates.
  • Remember that your main laptop computer is part of your overall connection to the Internet of Things. So make sure to update your operating system and Internet security suite, as well as all the apps on your laptop. That’s the best way to ensure overall security on your system.

The Internet of Things offers a lot of promise, but it also offers peril. Most of the perils can be avoided by using common cybersense. 

Here are some more weekly topics for National Cyber Security Awareness Month that you may have missed:

Week one- Five Years of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. – Best Practices for All Digital Citizens:

Week two- Creating a Culture of Cyber Security at Work:

Week three- Connected Communities and Families: Staying Protected While We Are Always Connected

Week four- Your Evolving Digital Life

Week five- Building the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals