With the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine, experts warn that cyberattacks are increasing at an unprecedented rate. There were a record number of data breaches and ransomware attacks last year, reports Forbes Magazine.
The average internet-connected device in your home or on your wrist is targeted an average of five attacks per day, estimates ZDNet.
Hackers target “basically everything in your home that connects to the World Wide Web,” says the Oregon FBI. These Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices are controlled by your phone, computer, or voice.
The list of hackable items is long: smart TVs, home alarms, door locks, web cams, smart thermometers, kitchen appliances, smart sprinklers, smart lights, smart watches, fitness trackers and digital home assistants such as Alexa, Amazon Echo, or Google Home. Even your smart toothbrush and fun stuff like remote-controlled robots, games and gaming systems, interactive dolls and talking stuffed animals are vulnerable.
Researchers attribute the increase in attacks to growth in the number of IoT devices. According to Forbes Magazine, there will be over 27 billion of these devices by 2025.
When these devices are left unsecured, hackers have a path straight into your home. Once hackers compromise one device they may be able to access other connected devices on your home network, according to the Oregon FBI. Plus, they may be able to steal your identity using credit card information or passwords through digital assistants or connected computers, phones, and tablets.
Manufacturers of smart devices need to improve their built-in security. But users also need to be as vigilant about smart device security as they are with credit cards, computers and locking the house when you’re away.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:
1) Change the default password. Far too often smart device owners leave their digital door wide open by not immediately changing the password on a new device.
2) Make your passwords as long as possible and unique for IoT devices. Never use names, address or birthdays, or easy to guess passwords like ‘admin’ or ‘1234.’ Forget the notion that your passwords should be memorable. While easy for you to remember, these passwords are easy to hack.
3) Change your passwords regularly. Experts say you should change them once a quarter.
4) Enable two-step authentication. The added security layer could be a one-time pin you receive by text. Or, it could be biometric authentication, which relies on a unique thumbprint, eye-scan or user’s unique keystrokes.
5) Secure your network. Put your fridge and your laptop on different networks. Keep your private information on a separate system from other IoT devices. Get professional help if this is beyond your technology knowledge or interest.
6) Safeguard your Internet router. Set up your router with a unique name and create strong passwords to prevent others from accessing your Wi-Fi.
7) Update all devices regularly. Turn on automatic updates for software, hardware, and operating systems.
8) Disable features you may not need. IoT devices come with a variety of services such as remote access, often enabled by default.
9) If you experience a security breach, immediately take action. Update passwords, notify credit card companies and file a police report.
Stay safe by being in the know and taking needed precautions. Read more at:
• Forbes: forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/03/18/the-biggest-cyber-security-risks-in-2022/?sh=3fff2be27d7b
• ZDNet: zdnet.com/article/cybersecurity-these-are-the-internet-of-things-devices-that-are-most-targeted-by-hackers/
• FBI: fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/portland/news/press-releases/tech-tuesday-internet-of-things-iot
By Tom Kalinski is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in residential and commercial real estate. For questions, e-mail Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620, or visit boulderco.com.