Cybersecurity Basics: Is Protecting Your Computer and Phone Enough?

We live in a connected society. Even now, you’re probably sitting beside several things around the home that are currently connected to the internet, to each other, or both. These devices are almost always on in the background, silently working away to improve our lives in some big or small way.

These Internet of Things devices have made our lives so much easier. And it’s no surprise they’re becoming more popular day by day. Business experts predict that the IoT industry will continue to rise in popularity, with an estimated 41 billion devices expected to be online by 2027

With these kinds of projections and the amount of data IoT devices can contain, it’s no surprise that there’s an equal surge in criminals trying to exploit these devices.

In this article, you will learn what an IoT device is and why it’s just as essential to protect it as your computer or smartphone. To do this, you’ll discover simple steps you can take to bolster their defenses and ensure they don’t expose you to a cyberattack.

 

What are IoT devices? And why do they need protection?

IoT stands for ‘Internet of Things’ and describes any device with sensors, a processing ability, or software that connects and exchanges data with other devices.

It’s a wide-ranging term that includes entertainment devices like smart TVs and virtual assistants like Alexa, fitness and medical devices, smart appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators, heating and lighting systems, cars, trucks, and more. And with every passing day, brand-new technology and devices are created to help manage our daily lives. 

Unfortunately, this convenience can come at a price. That’s because, with every new IoT device we own, we increase the attack surface of a cyberattack. 

Think about it – these devices contain an enormous amount of sensitive data about our lives and daily work. And with every new device we own, we increase how a hacker can try to steal our information. 

For this reason, you must take the necessary precautions and protect all smart devices in your home.

 

How do you protect IoT devices?

Despite their sophistication, IoT devices require some help to repel common cyberattacks. Below are simple ways of bolstering their defenses:

 

  • Separate your network

You can minimize the risk of IoT devices at home and work by separating them from other essential devices on your network. Keeping them on a different network helps create a digital barrier so that if one does become hacked, it is isolated from everything else.

This is a helpful way of keeping work and personal devices separate at home. Moreover, creating a separate network for IoT devices is relatively simple. 

You also create a ‘Guest Network’ through your router with a unique password. Using a dual-band router, you can set essential devices like your smartphone or PC to the 5GHz band and simpler IoT devices to the 2.4GHz band.

 

So many of our IoT devices need a constant connection to the internet to work. Moreover, devices like fitness watches, security cameras, or AI assistants monitor sensitive information about our daily lives. So, how do you protect these devices if they’re always online?

A VPN is an essential cybersecurity tool to protect IoT devices. It encrypts internet connections, making it impossible for hackers to monitor your online activity. They won’t even be able to see that you have IoT devices in your home.

A VPN installed on your router can encrypt all connections made. This ensures that no matter where your device is in your home, it can enjoy complete privacy protection. 

A VPN also has many other benefits that can help unlock the true potential of your IoT devices. For example, a VPN for smart TVs can unlock geo-restricted content on streaming platforms that would otherwise be blocked content.

 

  • Use stronger passwords

Passwords are an essential part of cybersecurity, including your IoT devices. That’s because so many of our devices are linked to apps and accounts that we regularly log in to control.

Set strong passwords on all your accounts to protect your IoT devices from abuse. This includes setting longer passwords of at least 12 characters and using a variety of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.

Avoid using personal information in passwords; never repeat passwords for different devices. If one of your accounts is compromised, all your IoT devices are vulnerable.

 

  • Keep everything updated

As sophisticated as IoT devices are, many people forget how limited they are in computing and memory. Many lack a simple interface or the ability to install software, rendering things like antivirus protection impossible.

One way to rectify this is to update your IoT devices regularly. Developers constantly release critical security information that can help IoT devices defend themselves against cyberattacks. 

Where possible, and if your IoT devices are linked through an app, you can set updates to be downloaded and installed automatically. If your IoT devices are of a certain age, and the developer no longer supports them through updates, consider replacing them with a newer model.