The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical devices (also called “smart” or “connected” devices) that connect to each other and the Internet, as well as collect and exchange data using embedded technology. These devices range from thermostats that can be adjusted from your smart phone, to doorbells equipped with cameras that send images to your tablet, to pedometers that automatically post your walking statistics online.
There are many advantages to these smart devices. They can be fun, help you become more efficient, give you peace of mind, and free you from some tedious tasks. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that if you can access all this data remotely, so could a cybercriminal.
Using malware, hackers can turn devices into remotely-controlled "bots”. These “bots” can then be used to spread viruses and other malware, and even conduct a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) against other systems. Once compromised, a device’s camera and microphone can also be used by the hacker. In fact, some baby monitors, children’s toys, as well as certain insulin pumps and pacemakers have been shown to be easily hackable., An added concern is that some manufacturers of smart devices reserve the right, in the terms and conditions, to store data and share it with undisclosed parties.
As more and more everyday objects become connected IoT devices, there are important measures you can take to protect your privacy and security:
- Use strong passwords for your Wi-Fi network and smart devices.
- Maintain good cyber security practices (e.g. keep software updated, don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know, etc.)
- Turn off geolocation when it isn’t needed; if an application can see your location, a hacker could too.
- Read and understand the terms and conditions of a new device or toy before you buy it, particularly what data will be kept or shared by the manufacturer.
- Power down anything with a camera and microphone when you are not using it.
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