The Internet of Things is awfully complex. With increasing complexity, you also get higher risks for unintended functionality and bugs, and that isn’t good. With stories of IoT devices being exploited for various reasons on the rise, it’s worth looking at ways to keep yourself safe.
Early manufacturers found out the hard way that security is just as important on IoT devices as it is on phones and computers. Unsuspecting IoT buyers have had webcams, printers, and other hardware taken over and used to conduct DDoS attacks without even knowing.
To reduce your risk of this, make sure you keep your IoT devices up to date. Keeping your router and other network equipment up to date will help as well.
Botnets aren’t the only thing that compromised IoT devices can be used for. This can affect you on both sides. Your devices may be used to send spam, or you may receive spam that is sent by compromised devices.
To keep your devices from sending spam, follow the same steps as you would to keep your devices from being compromised for a botnet. As for receiving spam, you’re probably well aware that we can’t stop it. Fortunately, email servers and software have gotten much better about dealing with it.
3. Real World Break-ins
You may not want to think about it, but IoT devices can be more dangerous than you imagine. While a hacker who gains access to your smart lighting can’t do much to harm you, the threat becomes much more real when they can take over the lock on your front door.
Hackers can use the Shodan IoT search engine to find unsecured IoT devices and then gain control over them. If this device is a smart lock or garage door opener, someone could find their way into your home. This is another instance of something we (thankfully) haven’t seen many real instances of yet, but it’s a chilling thought.
Ransomware is something we usually think about with computers but not our IoT devices. Unfortunately, it’s possible there, too. While we haven’t seen too many real-world examples, hackers at DEF CON in 2016 demonstrated ransomware running on a smart thermostat.
If the idea of your home constantly heating up or cooling down until you pay up doesn’t get you to keep your devices up to date, nothing probably will.
5. Vehicle Hijacking
As with your home, the ever-increasing world of IoT can even grant attackers access to your vehicle. This doesn’t mean that your car will just drive off on its own, but it’s startlingly close.
Hackers have previously shown that they could remotely control a Jeep. Once in control, they were able to turn on the windshield wipers, turn up the air conditioning, crank the volume on the radio, and even kill the engine. This led to Jeep issuing a recall on the affected vehicle, but it can surely happen again.
This isn’t a list of everything that could possibly go wrong, just some of the more common exploits we’ve seen. It’s good to remember that while IoT devices can make our lives easier, they also have a dark side, and we need to all be aware.