The Internet of things (IoT) is (Wiki definition) the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Last weekend, when I finally bought home security cameras whose operation and feed I monitor from my iPhone, I was increasing my participation in IoT. Same true when I installed a device on my car that tracks its computer output, letting me know my mpg usage and distance traveled. These tools are wonderful, delightful. But as cyber crime increases every single year, so does our vulnerability.
Even when a small hole is discovered and soon repaired, windows of opportunity are ever present. None of us wants to be the unlucky one whose security system is hacked due to the software glitch that hasn’t yet been fixed.
A friend was driving his BMW on the freeway when suddenly the car stopping working. He managed to pull to the side of the road, hit the call button to talk directly to BMW service. The repair person on the line was able to remotely access the car’s computer, diagnose and fix the problem, on the spot. He got to his lunch appointment on time. And luckily it was the good guys that were connecting in to his car.
Our vehicles function more and more like computers on wheels. Not surprisingly, this is equally true for a different kind of vehicle, a tractor. It was reported that farmers in Nebraska were frustrated with the cost of having a serviceman come out to upgrade software on their John Deere tractors, and with the time it would take waiting for the service. Taking matters into their own hands, these farmers contacted hackers in the Ukraine who offer the software on the black-market. On its face, strange bedfellows.
The point is that digital is taking over everywhere and while we welcome the convenience and coolness, we need to also take steps to keep safe. The possibilities for cyber attacks are limited only by the creativity of the hackers and our ability to stay ahead of those criminals. Whether it’s our car or tractor, our computer or refrigerator, our smart TV or bank account, awareness is the key to living safe. The following tips come from a useful article (link here to original) on keeping your IoT secure:
- Know What’s Connected
- Password Protect All Devices and Accounts
- Avoid Using Insecure Internet Connections
- Keep Your Smartphone Secure
- Create a Separate Network for Your Devices
- Install a Firewall
- Immediately Update Security Patches
- Disconnect Devices When Not in Use
- Adjust Default Device Settings
- Set Rules for Your Children