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The Internet of Things: Keeping An Eye On What’s Keeping An Eye On You
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The Internet of Things: Keeping An Eye On What’s Keeping An Eye On You - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Keeping An Eye On What’s Keeping An Eye On You

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Keeping An Eye On What’s Keeping An Eye On You

It seems every week brings a news item about some Internet-connected device that has been collecting data on its users without permission. A major manufacturer of smart TVs came under fire when it was revealed that hackers could listen to conversations through the TVs even when the sets were turned off. A WiFi-connected teddy bear, used by parents to send messages to their children from smart phones, left login credentials and recorded messages themselves on unsecured servers, allowing hackers to retrieve these messages and to release them publicly. These are just the latest in what is clearly a trend, something to keep an eye on in tech this year.

Despite the disturbing stories, IoT devices continue to fly off the shelves. Voice-activated smart home control centers were the hot gift last year, and they remain popular. Meanwhile, we keep adding fitness trackers, printer-scanners, and music players to our home networks, and why not? Everything is so user-friendly now that most of us have them running within minutes of taking them out of boxes.

Many technologies in our past followed the same path as these new smart devices. Consumers’ demand for new product opens the floodgates, and before long mischievous or malicious people take advantage of vulnerabilities, and eventually manufacturers and purchasers find some kind of acceptable ground where safety and security don’t have to interfere with ease of use. As we’ve pointed out before, WiFi routers used to come without preset passwords, and although setting them was extremely easy, most users didn’t bother. Now most devices come at least with a preset password, and their users have become tech-savvy enough to handle them, even if many are too lazy to change passwords out of the box.

This IoT terrain is still such new ground that we don’t know yet how things will settle. Manufacturers are competing to set the standard, and consumers want the best of everything, which means all kinds loose connections and holes in the armor. Yet, just as we eventually learned to put virus protection software on computers, to use firewall software on our networks, and to set passwords on our routers, we’ll sooner or later get to a place where we’ve got a better grip on—that is, more awareness of and more control over—the devices connected to our networks.

Until then, there are a few things you can do on your own that will lessen the chances that your devices will control you. First, know what’s connected to your network. That software you installed when you installed your router almost certainly has an option to see how many (and what kind) of devices are connected. Most offer a kind of schematic diagram, letting you see, for example, that this is a laptop, this is an iPad, this is a printer, and this is a smart phone. You can go a little deeper and look for data suckage, too: weird spots in your network where more data is being sent up or brought down than seems normal for the device. Once you know for sure what’s connected to your network, you can systematically secure each device with its own unique password, if it will take one, and keep all software associated with the devices up to date, if it they will let you (many don’t!).

Most of us think of a firewall as application software, something we install on our computers to keep the nasties out. But manufacturers are putting out new “smart” firewalls, physically inserted between our network service provider and our routers themselves. Rather than, say, a cable coming out of the wall and into your router, your setup would be a cable from your wall into a small device, with another cable coming out of the device and into your router. The Daily Dot recently offered a quick rundown on three new firewalls designed to protect home networks in this new age of IoT (link below). The smarter and more connected your home is, the higher a priority you should place on getting something like this as soon as possible.

Electricity and water are both amazingly useful tools—useful enough to be considered necessities—with very dangerous risks. Rather than cast aside the tools for fear of the risks, we work instead to minimize danger and teach our children to use these tools safely. Although a smart refrigerator may not quite rise to the level of necessity as either of those, if it makes our lives better, it doesn’t make sense to do without. Yet it remains crucial that we are aware of the risks and do our best to make sure we remain in control. Are you doing everything you reasonably can to protect your home network from snoops and thieves?

Reference link:
The Daily Dot: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/best-smart-firewalls-internet-of-things-security


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The Internet of Things: Keeping An Eye On What’s Keeping An Eye On You - Executive Leadership Articles

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