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BBB Tip of the Week: How to be cybersecure in a connected world

The thought of turning on the lights to your home, closing the drapes or preheating the oven from your mobile device is appealing. Technology can be helpful and save you time.

As our world becomes more technically connected, we need to be aware of the vulnerability that comes with it. This is what is known as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT, and includes everything from door locks to web-enabled cameras, coffee makers and even medical devices.

What is the danger in being able to start your coffee from bed or close your curtains from your cell phone? Once cyber criminals gain access to your IoT devices, they can compromise anything connected to your online network, including wireless routers, laptops and hard drives, accessing personal information such as bank account credentials and credit card numbers.

The IoT marketers are quick to explain the benefits and conveniences of their products and services, but it is up to you to understand how they work and access your information.

Here are a few tips from the FBI to minimize the security risks associated with devices and products that connect to the internet:

    Understand your IoT devices. Many come with default passwords or open Wi-Fi connections, so change to a strong password and only allow the device to operate on a network with a secured Wi-Fi router.

    Invest in a secure router. Look for a router with robust security and authentication. Most routers will allow users to “whitelist” or specify which devices are allowed to connect to their local network. This helps detect potential threats and malicious traffic.

    Protect your Wi-Fi networks. Set up firewalls and use strong, complex passwords, and consider using media access control address filtering to limit the number of devices able to access your network.

    Separate computers from devices. Many routers give you the option to set up more than one network. I f yours does, separate your computing devices from your IoT devices and spread them over several different networks. That way, if cyber criminals break into one network, the damage they do will only be limited to the devices on that network.

    Disable before you start. The Universal Plug and Play protocol can be exploited to access many IoT devices. Disable it on your router.

    Know where the device was made. Purchase IoT devices from manufacturers with a track record of providing secure devices, and set your devices for automatic updates when available.


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