Securing the Internet of Things

22 Jul, 2020

More homes are embracing internet-connected devices and with home working becoming the ‘new norm’, exactly how secure is a connected home and what can you do to increase cyber security?

Whilst working from home during the coronavirus pandemic brought new challenges, it also brought a positive experience too.  Many businesses are now reviewing their policies to incorporate home working in to the ‘new norm’ but with smart homes creating new opportunities for cyber criminals, exactly how secure is home working?

During the coronavirus pandemic, cyber criminals launched a wave of cyber-attacks on home workers, with malicious email traffic increasing from 12% in March to more than 60% just six weeks later.   Other attacks targeted the tools used by remote workers, including fake requests to reset VPN accounts, fake Zoom sign in pages or accepting incoming ‘chat’ from a colleague on supposedly corporate messaging systems.  These groups are increasingly turning their attention to the Internet of Things (IoT) which provide them with multiple entry points to your devices.

The IoT is basically anything that is connected to the internet or each other.  A study from Aviva revealed that the average UK home now has 10.3 internet-enabled devices, equating to more than 286 million nationally, an increase of 26% in the last three years.  These devices include your smart-TVs, smart thermostats and assistant devices like Amazon Alexa.  Whilst they are designed to make our lives easier and homes smarter, they also make us vulnerable to cyber-attacks with security vulnerabilities being found in everything from toy dolls to smart ovens.

So, how can you build a secure smart home?

Wi-Fi routers are top IoT targets for hackers because they have little to no built-in security, making them vulnerable to malware.  Here we provide some top tips for secure home working:

Protect your Wi-FI

The most important thing you can do in securing your home is protecting your Wi-Fi router, the foundation of all of your connected devices.  Don’t stick to the default name and passwords provided by the manufacturer, instead update them.  However, make sure you don’t use any easy to guess passwords or give away any personal information.

Use strong passwords 

Password protect all your devices and change any default passwords you were given.  When choosing a password remember:

  • Don’t use easy to guess passwords like names, local football teams or a favourite band.  Instead combine three random but memorable words together.
  • Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.  If it is cracked once, they will have access to everything.
  • It sounds obvious but NEVER give your password away or write them down.

Install the latest software, firmware and application updates 

Your devices, whether a desktop or smart phone, will usually tell you when an update is available.  Don’t put these updates off as they may contain fixes for security flaws.  If possible, you should refrain from using anything that can no longer be updated.

Protect against viruses

Make sure you have up to date antivirus software on your devices.

Switch on your firewall 

Firewalls protect your device when you’re connected to a network.  Whilst popular operating systems such as Windows and MAC now include a firewall you need to ensure they are switched on.

Never back up to your personal storage

When it comes to organisational data, never back it up to your personal storage space. This can easily be done without you realising so it’s important to discuss this with your IT department.

Only use approved software and collaboration tools

Before downloading any software or tools for work purposes, check they are approved by your organisation.

Protect your business with ISO 27001 Information Security 

An ISO 27001 Information Security Management System helps keep your systems and data safe from all manner of threats, including remote working.  Find out more about the standard here or sign up to either our remote training or FREE online module ‘introduction to ISO 27001’.

ISO Quality Services Ltd are proud to specialise in the implementation and certification of the Internationally recognised ISO and BS EN Management Standards.

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