We are all part of IoT, the Internet of Things, but what exactly does that mean?
posted by Stephan Thomasee on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in SHAZAM Blog
Tech media uses the term IoT, or the Internet of Things, but what does that mean and how can it impact you?
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things describes the network of all physical objects – “things” – that are embedded with sensors, software and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.
While we may think IoT to relates mostly to our personal or work computers and cell phones, have you considered the implications of a cybersecurity breach of your kitchen appliances, thermostats, cars or medical devices? For example: what would happen if your facilities’ thermostat were hacked and the heat turned up so high that it overheated the computer operating equipment at your institution? Not a great scenario for a Monday morning.
By the end of 2020, there will be an estimated 31 billion IoT-connected devices in the world. Right now, heightened cybersecurity awareness is a must.
How bad guys use it
Many devices have known security flaws their manufacturers have patched, but how many people take the time to apply them? It’s hard enough remembering to update our computers, let alone applying a security patch to lesser, lower-profile items.
Bad guys can infect and use these devices as part of a bot net, which is a large network of infected computers that can be controlled remotely to conduct cyberattacks. The fear is an attack on a large scale could represent the largest denial of service attacks we’ve ever seen. Bottom line: prevent attacks by ensuring all devices are patched regularly.
How to protect yourself
Anytime you purchase a new internet-connected device:
- Sign up for automatic updates to ensure you won’t miss any new security patches.
- At a minimum, sign up for security alerts from the manufacturer.
- Update the default password with a complex password or better yet, passphrase.
- At the office, work with IT staff to ensure all default passwords are changed and that the devices are patched regularly.
The IoT isn’t inherently bad, scary or dangerous. The benefits are enormous; we just need to ensure we’re practicing safe and smart usage of our devices.
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