The Ultimate Checklist on Ways to Prevent IoT Data Compromise
Those who remember the old days without the global network can still recall the feeling of not being available all the time. However, Generation Z will never have that privilege as the Internet has been a part of their lives almost since the day they were born.
The Power of the Internet of Things
A popular definition says that IoT is “the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects.” From someone’s pacemaker to a fitness device, any gadget or device can become interconnected to make our lives easier.
What’s more, IoT is not only about consumers’ smart devices — it has now been raised to a whole new level and is affecting multitudes. Take Industrial IoT, for example. Industrial IoT (IIoT) is reshaping manufacturing processes and products.
By integrating an IoT platform with legacy control systems, factory managers can now transform a semi-automated factory into a digitally active facility. Also, by integrating IoT technology with the city’s infrastructure, cities can overcome different urbanization challenges.
From the distribution of electricity, water, and gas to the deployment of emergency services and traffic management, a city can leverage the IoT in a variety of ways. As a result, it becomes a well-organized system delivering a better quality of life for its residents.
So, we can say that IoT has successfully entered almost every aspect of our society. However, any disruption of that harmony wreaks havoc — from small hiccups to severe data breaches and even loss of business.
Cyber Attacks: How Should We Protect Ourselves?
In this new digital environment where cyber threats can take various forms, security is imperative. It is up to you to follow adequate procedures meticulously and protect yourself accordingly. Take a look at some simple ways to ensure that you do not fall victim to a cyberattack:
1. Avoid Using Bluetooth
Bluetooth is a wireless technology for sharing data over a short distance without the use of the Internet. Still, it is not 100% safe as there are several hacking methods designed especially for Bluetooth.
To minimize your exposure to real vulnerabilities, you need to:
- Ensure that Bluetooth is turned off when not in use. You can do this by setting the Bluetooth configuration to “non-discoverable.” In this way, people searching for nearby devices can’t see yours.
- Ignore or decline unknown requests that pop-up through a Bluetooth connection, such as an offer to “pair with a device.”
- Minimize the range of devices to the shortest reasonable distance.
- Install anti-virus and personal firewall software on each Bluetooth device.
While Bluetooth is an excellent addition to your business productivity toolbox, it should be closely managed because it can increase the risk to business information assets.
2. Use a Strong Password
The next IoT way of protection is a strong password. Apply all those rules you have known for so long. Use numbers, random capital, and lowercase combination of letters. Also, make sure you do not have only one password for all your devices.
3. Update Your Devices Regularly
No system is 100% safe. Once the hackers are in, the secret is out. In that event, the way to penetrate an app becomes common knowledge in the cyber community. There is even a website that goes by the name WiGLE which offers lists of very vulnerable wireless spots.
Updating your device constantly can be a real pain in the neck. However, by postponing or ignoring the operating system and app updates, you can easily become exposed to a data breach.
Luckily, all the important updates often have improved safety features that will help your mobile phone or a computer run more smoothly. Don’t put off updating your software for too long — the sooner you update, the sooner you’ll feel confident that your device is secure. If you are forgetful, change the settings to automatic updates so you don’t have to worry about potential cyber-attacks.
4. Use a VPN for Maximum Protection
One of the most popular ways to protect your data is to turn to virtual private network providers for their services. VPNs are extremely practical, useful, and safe because they provide encrypted data which prospective attackers see as streams of incomprehensible characters.
Furthermore, a virtual private network can mask your IP address — use a VPN and make your exact location unknown. By activating a VPN on your Wi-Fi router, you immediately protect all your IoT devices which are on the network. There are plenty of excellent VPNs on the market that offer excellent cybersecurity features. Plus, they are compatible with most smart devices such as routers, game consoles, cell phones, smart TVs, and similar.
However, not all VPNs on the market offer the privacy and security they promise. It is, therefore, essential to choose top-notch service providers. For example, service providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN do not seem to have compromised user data so far even though they have some differences in terms of security, speed, and pricing.
5. Don’t Click “I Agree” Instantly
Many users are happy to share their personal data in exchange for access to a certain service without being truly aware of what agreeing to share their data really means. Although there are a lot of devices and software out there asking for your location and similar information, this does not mean that all of them store your data properly.
Luckily, there are some practical steps you can take to limit day-to-day privacy risks:
6. Build Your IoT Solution on Top of a GDPR Compliant IoT Platform
The introduction of GDPR has been one of the hottest topics in the digital world for some time now. Many businesses who focus their efforts on building an IoT project have to make sure they are GDPR compliant.
In light of these events, many IoT Platform vendors had to adapt their products to meet their clients’ business needs and protect their data. Thus, one of the ways to ensure the safety of your data in your IoT project is to invest in a GDPR compliant IoT platform that will:
In this way, you will know that your data is handled responsibly.
It is essential that you use as many protection layers as possible. If you can add any security level to your solution, do it. Otherwise, you risk compromising your personal data, which can be followed by grave consequences.
Take famous cyberattack testing, for example. Two professional hackers conducted an experiment. They wanted to demonstrate how hundreds and thousands of vehicles can be hacked and sabotaged. They took advantage of an exposed unit like an Internet-connected computer in a dashboard.
They were able to take complete control over a moving vehicle in the middle of the highway. As a consequence, the driver could not regain control over the steering wheel, transmission, or the brakes.
Industrial facilities are highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, too. A typical example is the case of a German steel mill. Its production system was penetrated with the combination of spear phishing and social engineering. We can only guess how it affected the revenues. Not to mention the instances when companies are blackmailed into making a deal with hackers.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, data privacy is imperative. In the wake of a variety of cyber attacks and data privacy issues, it is vital you take protective measures without any delay. This is mainly due to enormous usage and the incredible amount of generated, transferred, and stored data.
To prevent data leakage and make sure you stay ahead of the game, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of all the ways your privacy can get compromised. Finally, you need to react accordingly by using some of the mechanisms we have outlined in this article.
It’s time you took preventive measures and held on to your data. What’s your move?
The Ultimate Checklist on Ways to Prevent IoT Data Compromise was originally published on ReadWrite on October 9, 2019 by Maja Budinski.