Both IoT risks and the cybersecurity measures needed to mitigate it are fairly simple. But, it is often hard to determine what is science fiction from what is happening to us today.
As the internet of things (IoT) is closely connected to AI systems and machines talking to each other, we are often focused on ‘’Skynet’’ level risks. While an AI induced nuclear holocaust is not nearly as far from the table as we would like, it is not as connected to the level of artificial intelligence we have in our pocket every day.
Risks that come from smart devices can be categorized into two distinctive groups. One is software failures, where you might be disconnected from service due to a defect or damage. The second is malicious intrusions by hackers and damaging viruses.
The internal problem can be solved with regular maintenance, but the external one needs a solid cybersecurity system, including a premium VPN. Thankfully, premium virtual private network providers such as Le VPN offer a possibility to protect all of your devices, including the ones that stay in the home, from all such intrusion.
What is the Internet of Things?
The internet of things, or IoT for short, is a collective term for the increasing number of smart devices we have in our homes. These devices are usually connected to the internet and don’t communicate with people, but rather with other devices and software, both in the home and on the network.
The size and intricacy of these systems will greatly depend on the number of interconnected devices a person has in their home, as well as the type and generation of those devices.
In some cases, an IoT system will be simply the peripherals one would have in their study room or home office. Printers and scanners were one of the first types of devices to be used in this way, both at home and in the workplace.
Finally, today we even have AI assistants that can talk to us. While they do give a sinister ‘’Hal 9000’’ vibe to some, they are not really that different than the AI in your printer or inside a Roomba.
Risks of IoT
The main risk of IoT system is in the fact that they can talk to each other without needing to speak to us. While this saves us time and trouble of doing every task manually, it has a wide range of risks.
The best analogy for IoT risks is children in a kindergarten, where all of your devices are like infants, with a stark difference that AI doesn’t have a survival instinct, yet.
Leaving your child to play and learn with other children will give you time to do other things and focus on your work. But, they must be supervised and protected, as well as questioned from time to time about what they were doing.
If you don’t care about your IoT devices and don’t install a VPN and an anti-virus system to be ‘’nannies”, there is a chance that a stranger will come and abduct one of your devices, pretending that they are your friend.
Devices, Uses, and Risks
It is impossible to know exactly how many products today can be listed under IoT, many of them with direct contact to the internet.
Whatever the type, the biggest risk is always for devices with limited security features that are directly exposed to the internet or are members of a system that is not adequately protected. While a company server might try to do VPNs work, unless it is a cybersecurity company, it will probably have a limited number of IT security personnel and older technology, still needing help in this regard.
One of the examples for IoT risks was the hack of more than 50,000 printers during the Pewdiepie vs. T-Series competition, where the popular Swedish YouTuber tried to stay the number one channel on the platform.
While using a premium VPN would solve most issues with having IoT devices, some companies like Le VPN started offering additional options that will be needed if you want to use some advanced appliances safely.
Mobile Devices and Communications
The only reason why phones, tablets, and other types of personal computers are not considered IoT devices is because we do a lot of communicating by using the device, which gives us a rather false idea of control.
In reality, our phones talk to the internet much more often than we do our browsing, even when there is no bad intent from the manufacturer.
The Risk for Smartphones & Tablet Computers
The biggest IoT risks for products, in general, are the vast exchanges of real-time data that occurs at all times. This is why smartphones fall into this category, as every user knows how much they are constantly updating, downloading, and uploading.
Whether it is the connection with apps, services, or some other database, your phone is at constant risk. While some vulnerabilities, especially considering private data, can be solved by solely using a VPN, some need additional actions.
You need to be certain that all of the apps you use are secure and can be trusted, especially when it comes to geo-location. Tracking doesn’t work via the router where your device is located, but rather using GPS triangulation, which works even when you are not connected to your mobile data internet.
While most digital app markets will address all security concerns when it comes to the apps they sell, as it would fall under liability, most people with a smartphone downloaded a third-party app at some point.
This is generally considered to be unsafe, unless from a guaranteed trusted source. Giving permission for an app to send and receive all of your data, as well as see and use your phone contacts and media content is basically hacking yourself and leaving your phone to the app developer’s whims.
Peripherals and Tools
Although a broad category, IoT tools are devices that connect to the internet but don’t have a system that we could easily access.
Technically, your printers and scanners have an OS that administers all of the commands and printing ordered, but it is very hard to access those files and modulate them in any way. As such, most cybersecurity options can’t be installed on these devices.
The best way to solve this issue is to install a VPN on router and protect all of the devices that are connecting via WiFi.
Printers and Fax-Machines
Printers are the most common type of IoT devices. Even before wireless printers that could print images sent from a phone halfway across the world, printers were connected to computers that could receive data and share their printer privileges with other devices.
The IoT risks for your security that are involved here usually stem from the printer not having any sort of password to prevent a hacker from accessing its commands. If the person trying to hack you knows your IP address, they would be able to guess the address of the printer and gain full access.
In most cases, this breach is used to prank and annoy people. But, with some proficiency, the hacker could leave malicious software on the printer and infect your whole IoT ecosystem as devices start talking to each other inside it.
As far as security risks go, 3D printers are very much like the regular 2D version. The main difference is the amount of memory and processing power these printers have.
More memory and faster processing mean that a malicious app or file can be stored and executed without any visible difference in the operation.
Roombas & Utility Robots
While far from being the only one, Roombas are probably the best-known utility robot many people have in their home. Both for its usefulness and general cuteness, we like having a small disk cleaning floors on its own.
You might not think that a Roomba would have a lot of processing power, the little Qualcomm chip inside the new version of the robot is around 30% stronger than the entire NASA mission to the Moon processing power in 1969.
While a Roomba, or any other utility robot, wouldn’t have your sensitive data stored, they can become a carrier for malware. Additionally, although there are no confirmed cases of this being done, someone would be able to scan the layout of your home if they are able to hack into your Roomba.
‘’Alexa, unleash the Roombas!’’
Having an AI assistant, or a digital assistant as developers prefer to call them, is not a bad thing on its own. We are sure to see significant growth of this intelligence as the time passes, and provided that they are given the opportunity to learn.
But, when it comes to your cybersecurity, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Bixby are the weakest links in your home.
These devices are made to serve and work with all voices and multiple users. If you are not protected with a VPN and place two-step authorization for any major commands such as purchases or video streaming, your AI assistant might become an accessory to multiple data breaches.
Any security expert that tells you that they imagined developing cybersecurity features for refrigerators, ovens, and garbage disposals either have a functional crystal ball or is lying through their teeth.
Regretfully, an incredible amount of our personal data is stored in these devices, bringing serious IoT risks and making them a regular target for hackers and data thieves.
Smart Refrigerators & Kitchen Appliances
Benefits of IoT in your kitchen appliances are quite apparent. From turning off the oven and stove remotely if you are not home, to ordering groceries online the moment when you realize that you are out.
The biggest risk for these devices is the exact data that they are using to assist you. For you to order food through your fridge with a single click, you would need to have all of your credit card details already entered, as well as your name and home address.
To even have an option for cybersecurity in this instance, the device needs to be connected to a VPN router, as to mask your IP address from anyone trying to snoop on the connection. Additionally, you will need to link only to stores that guarantee your privacy and security.
Finally, it would be a good idea to use an alternative card for your IoT devices, as well as 2-step verification for your purchases.
Home entertainment systems have evolved quite a bit in the last few decades. From analog television that needed a lot of technical prowess to be connected to surround sound, to easy video streaming in UltraHD.
Additionally, those that use advantages of SmartDNS connections can even watch native channels from other countries like they were there, with no subscription or satellite needed.
The downside to this advancement is the amount of data our entertainment systems have on us, which they share with other devices both in our home and elsewhere, significantly increasing IoT risks for our entire home ecosystem.
Smart TV Systems
Security risks when it comes to smart TV systems depend heavily on the way you watch and use your TV. Even the best VPN for Firestick, Roku, or similar services will not protect you from the data harvesting done by an Xbox with live service enabled.
Although the television set itself doesn’t hold a lot of your data, the security vulnerabilities come from it communicating with products that do, such as a gaming console.
Aside from being connected to a VPN, which is now allowed natively by some television sets, TVs don’t have a lot in terms of cybersecurity. If you are not careful, a hacker could gain access to your entertainment system, waiting for it to connect to the console, and then stealing your delicate information.
How Can an IoT System Be Hacked?
Hacking anything means fooling a person or device that you are someone who has legitimate access. The same way a hacker would lie to bored technical support staff to get a password to your banking account, they will lie to your smart devices that they are someone that should be in control.
Additionally, unlike personal passwords, multiple people have access to these devices, so they are accessible and lax on security.
If any malicious entity on the internet has your home IP address, they might try to attempt accessing the IP of one of your devices. Once they are connected to your system, they would be able to test multiple internal addresses until they find a soft spot.
Once they have access to one device, this device is infected with malware or supervised until it connects to other devices, spreading slowly until they reach sensitive data or banking information.
How to Protect Yourself with a VPN
Having a VPN is the best way to protect any device from intrusions, snooping, and other IoT risks. But, to protect all of your devices, you will need a premium VPN provider that considered IoT technology and provides a smart home security solution for your appliances as well as your mobile devices and personal computers.
Le VPN solved this issue by offering a VPN router that can connect a virtually infinite number of devices to a smart home VPN system. In combination with their regular VPN license that covers up to five devices wherever they are, this will solve your IoT security for the foreseeable future.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
While a premium VPN has a full set of features that protect all devices that belong to an internet of things, the main feature is anonymity.
By using a VPN, you will not be showing your true IP address. Any hacker who gets a hold of the IP address you are showing will not be trying to enter your home system, but rather the VPN server. And, short of that person being Elon Musk or Robert M. Lightfoot Jr, the chief NASA Administrator, that would take more than a human lifetime to hack.
With your devices removed from direct access, you would be able to focus on which information you are willingly giving to companies that provide you with services.
Always remember that your private information is seen as a commodity for many and that you shouldn’t give out that commodity before you know exactly how much it will cost you and where.
Having smart home devices is one of the many benefits of living in the 21st century, and you shouldn’t need to disconnect from the world as to keep your identity and information safe. That being said, you should be aware of IoT dangers as to better protect yourself from any possible intrusions.
The best way to mitigate IoT risks is to connect all of your devices to the internet through a premium VPN or use VPN routers like the one from Le VPN to connect your whole home in this way.
Once you are safe and sound, you can lay back, tell Alexa to turn on your smart TV and stream some Black Mirror episodes about the future dystopia brought forth by AI.
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