No doubt you’ve already heard of the Internet of Things (IoT)… where devices that weren’t designed with web browsing and the digital world in mind are connected to the internet for control purposes. There are clear benefits to this for busy homeowners, who are now able to control aspects of their home life remotely, no matter where they are – just at the touch of a couple of buttons here and there.
But it’s worth noting that this hyped-up level of connectivity can mean you’re putting your house at risk, while businesses can be similarly affected, with a new report from cyber security company ForeScout revealing that IoT devices in smart buildings (including automated heating and ventilation systems) are vulnerable to attack from hackers, Sky News reports.
An investigation by the security firm revealed that there are in fact thousands of vulnerable devices out there, many of them located in schools and hospitals. After developing its own malware, the ForeScout team found that heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems were among those that they could have assumed control of.
Senior director at the company Elisa Costante was quoted by the news source as saying: “In recent years, hackers have become increasingly sophisticated in their attacks, and are nowadays well-equipped to identify and target vulnerabilities across most business and consumer technologies.
“By targeting industrial heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, bad actors can disable cooling systems in data centres and server rooms, leading to downtime and, in a worst case scenario, to the complete loss of data.”
The good news for homeowners and businesses alike is that there are steps you can take to protect your IoT devices from hackers. Firstly, make sure that your WiFi router is secure, as this is the front door to the rest of your connected devices, and always change the name of the router so that it doesn’t identify the make or model and so it doesn’t give away any personal information.
When setting up WiFi access, also use a robust encryption method such as WPA2 as this will help to keep the network more secure. It’s also advisable to consider setting up a guest network so that friends and family can still take advantage of WiFi when they’re at your house but without compromising the security of your WiFi account.
Always install software updates when prompted to by the manufacturer, as delays could mean your security isn’t as strong. Download updates and apply them to your various devices to help them stay protected.
Be as proactive as you can be where the IoT is concerned and you should be well protected against hacking attacks, but it’s certainly worth taking the time to see what changes can be made and where.
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