If you can remember a time when a robot cleaning your floors and being able to use a fingerhut coupon from Groupon Coupons on your refrigerator was something you only saw in an episode of The Jetsons then you are probably looking around the department stores wondering if you are shopping in the future!
And while all of these new and exciting internet-connected gadgets are exciting, they bring with them a specific type of problem. IoT attacks.
Let’s Start with the Basics
Each of the devices in your home which connects to the internet has a basic operating system inside it to manage its functions. Given the basic nature of these devices, the operating system itself is basic and has little security features. After all, how secure does your baby monitor need to be?
The answer is very secure.
You see, once a hacker has discovered a vulnerability in the operating system of one of these household internet-connected devices, they are able to access an entire network of vulnerable devices. However,, their main tent isn’t to turn down the setting on your refrigerator or make your home lights flash
Instead, their goal is to collect and accumulate a list of vulnerable and infected devices which they can use robots to do their bidding.
Here’s an example:
- A hacker has a problem with a company or a service or generally doesn’t like somebody
- The hacker wants to disrupt the ability of that company to operate online through its website
- The hacker connects to and commands millions of small and basic IoT internet-connected devices to all attempt to continue access the website of their desired target
- As you know from trying to view your local news station’s website during a particularly noteworthy story, a website can only be accessed by a set number of people at one time.
- Once the server reaches its limit, the targeted website is taken down and the people responsibility attempt to restore services while still attempting to defend themselves from multiple requests for page views
While it may seem trivial, for a company, this could mean serious business lost not only through the lack of access but also through trust in the service.
How Can You Protect Your Devices?
While there may not yet be antivirus programs to run on these small and basic IoT devices, there are steps which you can take to minimize the chances of your devices being used. The most important is to always read the instruction manual to ascertain what security options are available and how to enable them. Secondly, always be sure that automatic updates are turned on or you regularly update the firmware on these devices. As manufacturers become aware of these vulnerabilities they can push out updates to address these concerns.
In addition, always educate your family about the dangers of IoT devices and how to use them safely and keep them secured so that the appliances in your home aren’t used for nefarious purposes.