As we steadily adopt smart devices into our lives, we shouldn’t forget about keeping them secured and our data protected.
As we aim to make our lives simpler to manage, especially in this hurried day and age, we increasingly rely on our connected devices. With Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices becoming cheaper and more accessible to the masses, it’s easier to incorporate them into our lives. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t used their smartphone-based voice assistant to dictate a note or jot down an appointment in their calendar? Or for that matter, made additions to their household in the form of smart devices; smart televisions, for one, are hard to avoid nowadays.
However, the proliferation of all these devices in our everyday lives also poses a security risk, as the gadgets and gizmos, unless secured properly, can be used as new avenues of attack by cybercriminals. So, what steps can you take to ensure the security of your internet-connected devices and mitigate the chances of falling victim to a cyberattack? As Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) is upon us, we highlight the ways you can protect yourself. After all, the initiative’s key message this year is: “If you connect it, protect it.”
Secure your Wi-Fi router
Securing your router should the first step you take towards securing your internet connection; after all, it is the gateway to all your connected devices. A common mistake people make once their Wi-Fi router is installed is that they will stick to the default settings. While it is convenient it can pose a huge security risk, therefore you should immediately change both the password used to connect to the router as well as the password used to access its settings. When changing the router’s password choose the WPA2 option (or WPA 3 on newer routers if all your devices can connect to it). And, as with all devices, don’t forget to keep it updated to the latest firmware; while many routers do that automatically, it doesn’t hurt to check every now and then to make sure that everything is up to date. For further advice, you can check out our handy article on ways to check if your router is configured securely.
Encrypt your web traffic
While we’re on the topic of securing your connectivity and addressing your router, another way to increase your web security is by encrypting your web traffic. The simplest way that could be achieved is by setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will work as an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic. Besides shielding data from prying eyes, it can also allow you to securely access data stored on your home network even if you’re a half a world away. It may also prove to be a prudent measure to set up a separate VPN for all your connected smart devices to mitigate the risks of getting hacked.
Be smart with your smartphone
The smartphone is probably the device that most of us use the most. We don’t just use it for calls anymore; it’s used to take photos, store files, receive and send emails – basically a small computer in the palm of your hand. And since it’s connected to the internet, you have to protect it. Most smartphones can now be protected with an endpoint security solution that can keep most threats at bay. Meanwhile, for added protection, you should also encrypt all the sensitive data on your phone, so you’ll make it harder for cybercriminals to make use of your data even if they worm their way into your device. You can boost the security of your smartphone by applying the tips we listed out in our 20 tips for 2020 article.
Update your devices
We cannot stress this point enough: update your devices regularly. True enough, with many connected devices it may not be exactly easy, or even possible, to put this advice into action. Still, any fixes, security patches, and updates should be applied as soon as they are released either to remedy specific vulnerabilities that, if left unattended, could be exploited by black hats or to boost the security of the devices further. Do not disregard update prompts or hold off on installing a patch if you learn that one is available.
Protect your smart TV
Nowadays finding a TV that doesn’t have smart features embedded is a rare occurrence, and while non-smart TVs still do exist, people miss the utility and convenience of the smart features so much they upgrade them with external streaming devices like a Chromecast or Roku. However, like various other devices, smart TVs can be compromised and hijacked by cybercriminals as well. Black hats could exploit vulnerabilities to control the TV remotely, or it could be infested by malware. To protect your smart TV, you should start by properly configuring it and going through its settings in detail; while you’re at it you should check for any firmware updates as well, and last but not least there are security solutions available that can be downloaded that will boost the security of your device.
Do your bit!
With the number of connected devices in most households steadily increasing, we must adapt and adopt better cybersecurity practices as well. While the convenience that smart devices provide is great and makes our lives simpler, we should never forget about the security aspect as well. A tiny crack is all a cybercriminal needs to make a dent in your wallet. So, don’t forget: “If you connect it, protect it!”
written by Amer Owaida, ESET We Live Security