Did you know your home might at this very minute be helping a hacker on the other side of the globe launch a cyber attack? Over the past couple of weeks, several massive cyber attacks have crippled parts of the Internet. On Friday, the attack was so large it knocked Twitter, PayPal, and Spotify offline. These attacks have been made possible by something called the “Internet of Things,” or the IoT. What exactly does this term mean? Quite simply, your refrigerator could be used as a weapon by hackers. Yeah, imagine that.
Making sense of the Internet of Things
For years now, we’ve heard about the “smart home.” However, smart devices are no longer science fiction, they’re for sale in almost any home improvement center. Thermostats can remotely control temperature, switches turn lights off and on automatically, and security monitoring systems protect your home from intruders. Let’s not forget the appliances, which includes everything from your refrigerator to your microwave to your TV.
You may have seen commercials about how you can prepare your home for your arrival using a smartphone. All of this is made possible via Internet connectivity. In other words, if you have something like a Nest thermostat, it connects to the Internet, which makes it possible for you to access the thermostat from your phone. Therein lies part of the problem. Because the device is available to you via the Internet, it’s available to anyone with the security code.
Security and the Internet of things
The real problem, though, is the security of the devices on the Internet of Things. If you thought it was hard to keep track of your passwords for the accounts you use on your computer, just imagine managing passwords for all of the devices in your home.
Every Internet-enabled device in your home must connect through some sort of network. It’s really just an extension of the networks we’ve used to connect our computers in the past. In the future, the devices on the network will include a much wider variety. If a weak access code is used to protect the network, the entire network becomes vulnerable and can be used by a hacker.
A simple solution to the problem
When you install a device, do not use the default password. Hackers can scan the entire Internet looking for these default passwords. By changing the password, your device won’t become a part of their arsenal.