During the holiday season chances are you probably gave or received a gift that uses internet-connected technology, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT.)
Nowadays, this type of technology is part of many people’s daily life, with smart assistants like Siri and Alexa to cars, watches, toasters, fridges, thermostats, lights, and so on.
The problem is, each and every one of these devices needs to be secure, however, the majority of the companies who make these smart devices are more concerned with performance and less concerned with security.
The perfect example of this issue was recently shared at a security conference when it was revealed how even the tiniest device can be hacked.
You see, a large North American casino (name withheld for security) had their wireless network hacked, all by a fish tank.
The casino had a large fish tank that had sensors wirelessly connected to a computer, which regulated the temperature, food and cleanliness of the tank.
In other words, the device in the fish tank was similar to many other smart devices such as lights, locks, or thermostats, which send real time information and updates to the user via an internet network.
The way it worked was the hackers exploited a vulnerability in the thermostat device to get access to the network.
Once inside, they managed to access the high-roller database of gamblers and then pulled it back across the network, out the thermostat and up to the cloud.
Roughly 10 GB of data was moved through the fish tank and into the hacker’s hands.
According to Hemu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor for computer crimes, “This one is the most entertaining and clever thinking by hackers I’ve seen.”
As I previously mentioned, more and more products are being manufactured with the ability to connect to the internet.
With the increasing number of these devices, the FBI recently released a warning to parents that many toys they may purchase during the holidays could reveal personal information about their child including their name and location.
The reality is, hackers will always target these types of devices because they know there is very little security in place to prevent hacking.
Since you or someone you know may use these types of devices, I want to share with you a few basic tips to help keep your information secure.
Research the security.
Most companies are beginning to realize they have to address security when it comes to smart devices.
For this reason, before buying a specific brand check around to see who, if any, offer any type of security features along with the item you are looking to purchase.
Let’s say you get a brand-new device as a gift, the first thing you should do once connecting it, is to update the software.
The fact is, this specific item could have been sitting on a shelf for 6 months before it was purchased.
The software could have been updated before you bought it, so make sure to update it immediately and on a regular basis after that.
Change the password.
Oftentimes, any type of internet-connected device will come with a default password and this will be the same among all similar devices.
In other words, if you simply leave the default password the same hackers will easily gain access to your information.
Create a second network.
Most internet routers will allow you to create more than one network. For instance, maybe you have created a network called “Guest” for people to use that are visiting your home.
You should do the same thing for your own personal use separating your computer or tablet and the smart devices in your home.
This way, even if a device is compromised the hacker will not be able to leapfrog to other devices on the same network such as your computers and smartphones.
Disable what you don’t use.
Many features of internet-connected devices are automatically turned on when you initially set up the device.
However, you should disable any feature that you don’t plan on using to reduce the risk of hacking.
For instance, a variety of features such as remote access are often enabled by default, so if you aren’t going to use these, simply disable them right away.
So many things we buy these days for our homes are moving toward internet connectivity, but the last thing you want to do is have your fish tank give away all your personal information.
Good luck explaining to your bank that a fish tank stole your credit card.