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How to secure IoT devices and protect them from cyber attacks

With just a handful of security measures, organizations and workers can prevent hackers from infiltrating IoT devices and protect user privacy.

This is the age of automation, AI and IoT. More and more companies have transformed the way they do business and are ready to ride the wave of digital transformation. For some, they had no choice but to adopt digitalization because the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to work remotely. This transformation opened the door wide open for IoT devices and their large-scale adoption.

IoT devices have made our lives convenient and more efficient. Although several IoT devices have found their places in our lives, it is extremely vital to be aware of the security risks and threats of cyber attacks.

Truth to be told, IoT devices hardly have any inbuilt security, which makes them a perfect target for hackers. The majority of the IoT devices are interconnected, which compromises the security of multiple devices if one device gets hacked. You must know a few things about securing IoT devices before you enjoy their perks. The IIoT market size was valued at $115 billion in 2016, and is projected to reach $197 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2017 to 2023.

1. Change default router settings

Most people forget to rename the router and stick to the name given by the manufacturer. This could hamper the security of your private Wi-Fi. Give any name that is not associated with you. To secure your IoT devices, the network and Wi-Fi are the first defense against hackers because many IoT devices are connected to Wi-Fi. Make sure to change default privacy and security settings. Those settings often benefit manufacturers more than you. Avoid online shopping using public Wi-Fi because anyone can steal your data.

2. Disconnect IoT devices when they are not needed

You must be aware of every functionality that you need from your IoT device. Most of today's devices can connect to the internet, including refrigerators and television. However, that does not mean you need to connect them to the internet. You must look closely at the features of your devices and learn exactly which device needs internet connectivity to function.

3. Pick a strong password and do not overuse it

If you still use "password" and "qwerty" as your password, you need to rethink it. Using a common and simple password for IoT devices means opening the front door for hackers. Strong and secure passwords are the best defense against hackers. Make sure to use a new, unique password for every device. If a hacker can guess one of your passwords, it could harm every device you own that uses that password. Yes, it could be troublesome to remember all the passwords, but it is essential to secure IoT devices. You can write them down in your diary but refrain from keeping electronic notes.

4. Avoid using Universal Plug and Play

While Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) has its uses, it can make printers, routers, cameras and IoT devices vulnerable to cyber attacks. The principle behind designing UPnP is to make it easier to network devices without additional configuration and help them automatically discover each other. However, this benefits hackers more than anything as they can discover all IoT devices beyond your local network. Therefore, it is best to turn off UPnP completely.

5. Keep your software, firmware updated

Firmware keeps you protected with the latest security patches and reduces the chances of cyber attacks. You can fix any vulnerabilities or exploits as they emerge and secure your IoT devices. If possible, turn on the option to automatically check for updates.

The majority of IoT manufacturers send regular updates or you can visit their website to check for new updates and security patches. Because IoT devices have no other layer of protection, updating regularly is crucial for their security. Updating IoT device software ensures that the device possesses the latest antimalware and antivirus countermeasures. Moreover, it helps the system clean up the security flaws of older software versions. Hackers are constantly improving their plans to invade your privacy. It is better to update software and be prepared for any outside attacks.

About the author

Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor's degree in instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University and works as a content writer at Allied Market Research. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life and loves to talk about science and mythology.

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