A very important branch of technological advancement is based on comfort, from which the idea of smart homes and all the devices that would make our lives easier by performing tasks for us. From this source drink directly the virtual assistants like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Thanks to them, we can ask their star devices for simple things, such as the time or the weather, even other types of work such as turning on lights, playing music, announcing a message on all the speakers in our house, opening or closing blinds, adjust the temperature of the heating in our house or connect devices such as the well-known automatic vacuum cleaners. All this is what is also known as home automation.
Due to their operation, IoT devices can be exposed on the net. That is why you must protect them at all times and avoid possible data leaks, vulnerabilities that can be exploited or allow an attacker to compromise security in any way.
How to improve the security of IoT devices
It is important that we always pay attention to the safety of our equipment. Any device connected to the network can be a problem for our privacy. However, there are certain systems and devices that may be more susceptible to attacks. This is what happens with what we know as the Internet of Things and all its derivatives.
Always keep equipment up to date
Something basic that cannot be missing if we always want to maintain security in our IoT devices is to have them updated successfully. On many occasions, vulnerabilities can arise that are exploited by cybercriminals to deploy their attacks. It is important that we have the latest updates and patches available.
This is something that must be applied to any type of device that we have, but without a doubt it is the IoT devices that can be affected the most and be a major problem.
Install official software
In the same way it is vital that we always install official software. Our devices can accept accessories and additional equipment that provide us with added value. Now, not all the programs that are available are going to be legitimate and safe. In many cases it could be a trap, software that has actually been created to steal data.
It is very important that we always go to official sites and stores and download the programs from there. We need to avoid third party links that may lead to security issues. Hackers use a wide variety of strategies to steal passwords or control computers, and one of them is through fraudulent programs.
Change factory settings
Something that is highly recommended to do is change factory settings. By this we mean the name of the device, as well as any information that can be generic and used by hackers to deploy their attacks. It is convenient to change these values and not leave the ones that come when you buy the device.
Many times IoT devices come with factory passwords. It is true that this is better than nothing, but we recommend you change it to protect security and that there are no problems. It is the same thing that we recommend doing with the router, for example. Always change the passwords on all kinds of devices you buy.
Be careful with the configuration
It is also interesting to be careful with the setting. They may allow us to change certain security and privacy settings. We must be careful with it and not enable it beyond what is really necessary if we do not want to have problems that put our data at risk.
It is advisable that you carefully review any changes you are going to make in the settings. Don’t make it easy for hackers to do their job. Ideally, you should always maintain a configuration that protects the privacy and security of the devices. Beware of changes to the settings that may pose a problem in the future.
we must also review privacy settings on IoT devices, these permissions are set by default and are really open to collect all kinds of information, but above all, commercial information so we recommend its restriction.
Use strong passwords
Of course you can’t miss one good password. It has to contain letters (upper and lower case), numbers and other special symbols. In this way we will create a key that is totally strong and cannot be found out. It is vital that it is unique and that it is totally random.
Never use words that are easy to remember, such as your name, as well as dates of birth and the like. You should also not use an access key that you are already using on any other online service or device. The latter could cause what is known as the domino effect and affect your devices.
Each IoT device has its own application, this application will need us to log in with a username and password, which we can change, but most users leave the information that comes by default, which is one of the first and largest mistakes we make when configuring an IoT device, we will always change the username and password for this type of application, defining one that complies with the security features.
The network must be protected
Finally, our network has to be properly protected. We are talking about devices that connect to our network and we must protect it. You have to use good encryption and avoid obsolete ones such as WEP encryption. It is also important that the password is strong.
Having a constant check on the Wi-Fi network is important. Always keep in mind the essential security tips, such as having the router updated, using correct passwords for both the configuration and for the wireless network, and using current encryption, such as WPA-3 or, failing that, WPA-2.
We must also pay attention to the place from where we make the connection, today, we can act on all the devices of our smart home both from within the home connected to the Wi-Fi network, and outside it connected by 3G/4G/ 5G. We can and should restrict access to these devices from the outside, or at least contract a Cloud service that verifies access from outside in a secure manner.
In addition, and this point can be very important to take into account, we must create an extra Wi-Fi network only for IoT devices in which we will not connect any equipment with essential information such as computers, smartphones or tablets. This will isolate those devices and you will avoid possible problems that affect others.
By following these tips we will avoid any unnecessary scares, and we will have all our data safe from malicious attacks by third parties, we can make our lives much easier and more comfortable within our home thanks to the world that IoT devices offer us, but we cannot forget of security in no time so that security and comfort can coexist under the same intelligent roof.
What to consider when buying an IoT device?
Each IoT device depends on communication protocols used by the manufacturer that created them, which directly adheres to the cybersecurity policy that it has. Most of the devices that we have on the market are “maintenance-free” devices, that is, we pay for the device and we do not make any more expenses related to it. This may be a mistake, since These are devices that do not receive regular updates against new threats and they are only intended to deal with threats that existed at the time of their design.
In reality, there are very few devices that have maintenance on them, which is subject in most cases to a subscription which we must pay monthly to be protected against the attacks of the new vulnerabilities that arise for this type of device, as is the case of Nuki’s automatic locks. This manufacturer focuses its efforts on keeping its devices up to date with any new attack, since they protect a fundamental point in our homes, the front door.
This brings us to the fundamental point for the protection of our home, the final user configuration on the router. This configuration, by default, is made by our network operator, which follows its own parameters that are not focused on this type of technology.
Types of attacks against IoT devices
After explaining what you should do to protect your IoT devices, let’s talk about what types of attacks can suffer. You will see that if you do not protect these devices well, you could have major problems. For this reason, you should carefully review the advice we have given to always keep privacy and security safe.
A first type of attack against Internet of Things devices consists of use them to spy. They can use them to listen to conversations, collect usage data, detect other devices you connect to them, etc. They can do this through fraudulent programs that you install, for example.
They could also exploit vulnerabilities to spy on or sneak in spyware. That is why it is very important to use guaranteed devices that are up-to-date and not fall into the trap of installing applications that could be dangerous.
brute force attacks
Also, brute force attacks are very present in IoT devices. It basically consists of trying crack the password to take control. They can try common passwords, as well as use dictionaries and tools to try multiple passwords until they find the right one.
By using strong, completely random passwords of a suitable length, you can avoid brute force attacks. They will generally succeed when you use simple keys, such as 123456 and the like.
Cybercriminals will also look for attacks to achieve privilege escalation. In this way they will be able to take control of the devices. They will act as if they really have permissions to run tasks, install programs, collect information that may even be confidential, etc.
This is a common strategy for hackers to attack computers. It is something that we can also see with viruses that affect Windows, Android and other systems.
Of course, IoT devices can be subject to DDoS attacks. What does this mean? Cybercriminals can even make those devices stop working. what they do is send multiple requests so that it crashes and does not have enough capacity to function properly.
This is something we can see on security cameras, for example. It is the same as what can happen with a server and cause a web page to stop working.
Therefore, as it is, there are different attacks that can put your IoT devices at risk. It is essential that you protect them, that you always have them updated and that you do not make mistakes when using them. This will allow you to make them work correctly and never put your security and privacy at risk when browsing or using devices connected to the Internet.