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8 Things You Need To Know About The Internet Of Things And Your Safety

The Internet of Things is getting bigger each day and as it grows, so to do the risks to your online safety. This is my list of 8 things you can do to help secure your safety and security when using the Internet of Things.

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8 Things You Can Do To Keep Yourself Safe On The Internet Of Things

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The Internet of Things, it is huge. By huge I mean it may be the single largest thing on planet earth. It consists of all the people, devices and networks with the ability to connect together using the Internet and common Internet Protocol. In the old days this meant a few large corporate entities, governments and the few people savvy enough to connect. Today it means billions of people, millions of networks and an unlimited number of smart devices.

To be honest, the Internet of Things as it is known today is really possible because of the proliferation of smart devices. There are countless numbers of them in our every day lives ranging from our phones to our cars, appliances in our homes, machines in our businesses and even our clothing. They allow instant communication between each other, they enhance our experiences and increase our productivity but they also increase the risk you will be hacked, infected with malware or suffer a catastrophic loss of personal data. This is my list of the eight things you can do to help protect yourself from IoT security flaws.

#1 - Screen Lock/Password Protection

- Always use the screen lock and password protection features on your devices. Doing this will protect your system from casual compromise by individuals who may come into contact with your devices either physically or through the Internet. However unlikely, it is possible for shady individuals to infect your devices with traceable markers or other malware. When creating your passwords never ever use the same one more than once and be sure to change them regularly. Always base them on hard to know, impossible to guess information that includes upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters when possible. It's a shame to have an account hacked or it's information lost, it's pure negligence to allow that breach to affect ALL of your accounts.

#2 - Manage Bluetooth Settings And Connections -

BlueTooth Special Interest Group

Always turn off your Bluetooth and/or your Bluetooth enabled devices. If you are unaware, Bluetooth is the technology that allows many of the IoT's devices to communicate together. It uses short wave UHF radio waves to make connections and create a local area network. One of the many benefits of the system is that multiple devices can be connected, one of the many pitfalls is that it is vulnerable to attack. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group works to make sure that a global standard for Bluetooth manufacture and implementation is maintained but this does not mean individual devices necessarily come with the highest security level available. Turning off your Bluetooth connections will prevent unwanted transmission of data and unwanted connection to other Bluetooth LAN's you may come into contact with.

#3 - Read Privacy Policy And Terms Of Use

When looking at new devices and software always read the privacy policy, terms of service and any information on how your information will be treated. All websites, devices and software collect some amount of data from you, you need to know what it is and what they will do with it after they have it. For example, Facebook terms of use clearly state that they will and do collect any information about you that they can, as do their subsidiaries and applications, and they will share that information across the Facebook family of services. Something to think about the next time you use Facebook to sign into a website. In terms of the IoT connected devices are constantly gathering information and sending it... to other devices and/or back to the manufacturers website, putting you and your information at risk each time.

#4 - Manage Your Data

Manage your data doesn't mean manage to put as much as you can on the Internet. I know, it's counter to what just about every website and device wants you to do which is give them as much info as possible. A full profile on social media or a website supporting one of your IoT devices is great when it predicts exactly the right color of widget to complete a project but a complete security fail when that information gets leaked across the web. The same is true when giving up important personal information. You need to ask yourself a couple of questions including why does this website need my bank account/social security number/credit card number and what are they going to do with it once they have it? Remember, your information can't be lost to Internet thieves if it isn't on the Internet to begin with.

#5 - Avoid Social Media

Avoid connecting your IoT devices to social media. This does not mean you cannot use social media, just use it wisely and compartmentalize your life. When setting up new devices, particularly in the home and office networks, do not use social media to sign in and do not allow them to exchange or share data with social media. Social media companies are among the most notorious data miners in existence and they use it to full advantage. Hackers and malware also use those connections to full advantage, following them back to their sources in order to launch attacks, install malware or other acts of Internet terrorism.

#6 - Turn Off Geo-Location

Most if not all IoT devices have some form of GPS or other geo-tracking software. On the bright side, knowing where you are located and where your network is located can help websites deliver the best choices for you. I mean, there is no reason for Google to offer you a phone number for tow truck two states away when there is a good one just around the corner, right? The dark side is that geo-location data can be used in a number of ways to do harm to you, your devices and your network. If you don't believe me just ask bloggers in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran if their computer ever led repressive authorities to their doorstep.

#7 - Always Update Your Software

Regularly check to make sure all of your apps, firmware and other software are up to date. It is a given that software of any kind will come with bugs. The companies that make the software work hard to fix those bugs, and to improve its function, and regularly send out updates to the code. Using the updates is almost always free, unless we're talking about a completely new version, so the only obstacle is your time. Not updating your software could leave you vulnerable to known attacks that otherwise could have been avoided.

#8 - Use A VPN

VPN, virtual private network, such as those from Le VPN is a method of connecting to the internet which provides the highest level of security for the Internet of Things. It uses a multi-layer approach that fills in gaps left by firewalls, malware and Internet best practices. Basically, the VPN uses existing technology to create a hidden connection through which your devices and network can send encrypted transmissions. It hides your connections and makes them impossible to read if they are found. Using a VPN on a router to connect your IoT home network, phone, laptop or other devices will keep them safe from hackers and malware looking for weak connections, mask your IP address and hide your physical location from prying eyes, and encrypt all your data so that if by some fluke your connection is intercepted whoever receives it won't be able to do anything with it.

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