The Cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving, between the implementation of new technologies and the creative efforts of bad actors, having a basic understanding of how to defend your network will go a long way in protecting your data. According to RiskBased Security Research “Data breaches resulted in 36 billion records being exposed in the first three quarters of 2020.” The Cyberthreat surface is no longer isolated to personal and work computers, it spans much farther with endpoint devices and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
Barracuda Networks defines an Endpoint device as “a LAN-connected or WAN-connected hardware device that communicates across a network. Broadly speaking, the term can refer to any network connected device: desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, printers, or other specialized hardware like POS terminals or retail kiosks, that act as a user endpoint in a distributed network.” While Microsoft describes the Internet of Things to be an “entire network of physical devices, tools, appliances, equipment, machinery, and other smart objects that have the capability to collect data about the physical world and transmit that data through the internet.”
Though the differences between Endpoint devices and Internet of Things devices overlap in some ways, the focus of this article is to identify different ways to secure IoT devices. Here are some tips to help secure the network your IoT devices are connected to:
1. Give your router a unique name
If you don’t change your routers default settings, it may make it easier for a bad actor to identify what make or model you are using. To keep your router safe, change the name to something that isn’t associated with you or your location.
2. Use encrypted Wi-Fi for added security.
When you are setting up your router, you can choose between different settings. Be sure to use a strong encryption method like WPA2. This will help keep your network and communications secure.
3. Set up a guest network for visitors.
You don’t want unknown devices accessing your Wi-Fi network. For this reason, it’s good to create a guest network profile for visitors, friends, and relatives. This allows them to log into a separate network that doesn’t have access to your IoT devices.
4. Always change default usernames and passwords.
Bad actors have ways of identifying default information on IoT devices. By not changing default usernames, it makes it easier for criminals to identify the device you are using and predict your default password. If your device doesn’t allow you to change default setting for enhanced security, you should consider getting a different device.
5. Keep your Software updates current.
Software updates are very important for securing devices. Software updates often include new security features and patches that improve performance and resolve vulnerabilities. If you wait too long to perform an update, you could be creating a gap for malicious attacks to compromise the device.
6. Avoid high-risk public Wi-Fi networks.
Using Public Wi-Fi is a risk because cyber criminals can use them to capture personal information. When you accept the terms to use a public network, you may inadvertently be allowing others to gain access to the device you are using. If you are using a public Wi-Fi network, avoid accessing your IoT devices because they could be accessible to other people on the public network. If you do find yourself using a public Wi-Fi network, you should be using a VPN for an added layer of protection.
The best way to secure your IoT devices is to secure the network they are connected to first. By considering these 6 tips; giving your router a unique name, encrypting your Wi-Fi, setting up a guest network, changing default settings, performing updates, and avoiding public Wi-Fi networks you can dramatically improve your IoT security posture.