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Securing our 'smart' devices

October 31, 2017

Hackers can use connected "smart" devices to conduct cyberattacks on our infrastructure.

As we round out Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are some tips to protect your devices.

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We want to thank Stay Safe Online for this post's content. If you want even more help, visit our cybersecurity tips page, or download the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. toolkit.

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Securing our 'things'

DON'T GET TRAPPED IN A BOTNET

Vulnerable Internet-connected devices are the perfect targets for cyber criminals. Hackers can manipulate our "smart" devices into becoming an army of "bots." This army can then be used to conduct large, coordinated attacks that often inflict major damage.

Last year, cyber criminals took down a big chunk of the Internet for most of the Northeast. They did this by directing a "botnet army" at a New Hampshire Internet infrastructure company. These criminals used a vulnerability found in video cameras.

With the benefits of increased connectivity come the challenges of increased risk. Cyber criminals are evolving and so should we. By protecting our "smart" devices and practicing safe online habits, we can keep our connected systems safe.

SECURE YOUR "SMART' DEVICES:
  1. Secure an Internet-connected device right after you buy it. Before setting up your new device, visit the manufacturer’s website. You should download any new security patches and updates to the software and apply them. Always reset a default password to your own unique, complex, and secure password. Do this for ALL web-enabled devices.
  2. You should also consider turning off features that allow devices to talk to each other:

    Disable Universal Plug-and-Play (UPnP)
    The UPnP comes enabled by default in every "smart" device. But, using it creates a hole in your router's security. This could allow malware to infiltrate any part of your local network.

    Turn off Bluetooth
    A new report reveals attackers were able to gain access to 5.3 billion devices via Bluetooth. Many wearable devices need a Bluetooth connection to sync data with a smartphone. Consider syncing your data manually.

  3. Verify your apps. Only download apps from trusted vendors.

More cybersecurity tips