The Internet of Things: What it Is and What it Means for Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) might sound like a complicated, futuristic idea. While there are complex aspects, understanding the main idea is actually quite easy. The IoT is a network of devices that are web-enabled and use the internet to make our lives easier. 

By communicating with each other, internet connected objects streamline an almost infinite number of processes for both work and play. Most of us know about IoT devices like digital assistants, doors you can lock from your cell phone, and watches that track your physical activity. In addition to these everyday devices, IoT helps industries like farming, healthcare, air travel, oil drilling, and more to work more safely and efficiently.

While the IoT has made the world a lot easier for almost everyone, it also comes with risks. The more connected devices we use, the more personal data we put out into the world and the more vulnerable we become. Data like your home address, banking information, birth date, gender, and other identifying information may be stored in IoT devices. Even scarier, downloading apps and software onto your devices is a major way that hackers are snatching people’s data. From GPS trackers to sound recording software, bad actors are finding new and terrifying ways to invade users’ privacy, steal their information, and use it for their own gain, Today’s data thieves have more opportunities than ever before to steal your personal information.

So how do you protect yourself without giving up the convenience of your IoT devices? 

First, choose more secure login methods instead of passwords if you can. Using your fingerprint or facial recognition to authenticate reduces your risk of being hacked. Look for devices and programs that require two-factor authentication, too. Receiving a secondary, temporary password to enter after you log in lowers your risk of a data breach. 

One of the easiest ways to secure your data is to connect all of your IoT devices to a “guest” network at home and use your regular network for your phone and computer. Doing more sensitive activities (like online banking or shopping) on the regular network protects your data. And if your guest network is compromised, it won’t act as a gateway to your personal information.

As IoT becomes more mainstream, more and more platforms are focusing their innovations on security. A stronger focus on maintaining users’ privacy on web-enabled devices and better data management could make living in our ever-connected world even more convenient.

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