When we talk about hacking these days, we’re not talking about something that’s confined to computers and mobile devices only. Sure, the majority of cybercrime that’s carried out currently revolves around these mechanisms, but with the global push toward the Internet of Things, the sphere of items and objects that could become vulnerable to hacks is growing broader.
A Camera, A Car, A Problem
A strange man spying on your child — it’s the stuff out of a horror movie. But for one family in Houston, it became a reality. The parents had left their child with a nanny who was changing the one-year-old baby’s diaper. In the child’s room there was a security camera which allowed the kid’s parents to monitor their child even when they were out of the house. But it turns out that someone else was monitoring the baby, too. As the nanny was changing the diaper, she heard an unfamiliar male voice coming from the security camera. The voice commented on the diaper changing that was happening.
As it turned out, a hacker had been able to gain access to the security camera. The criminal did this by taking advantage of the absence of password protection on the device. While the camera offered such protection, the baby’s parents weren’t using it at the time. Needless to say, they have put a password in place now.
The Internet of Things is a concept that broadly describes the widespread emergence of smart, Web-connected technology in everyday life. And it’s not a futuristic concept — it’s something we’re already living. For instance, many individuals and businesses leverage smart thermostat systems. Unlike regular temperature systems, the smart ones are designed to record and learn from user behavior. At a small office, this means that a smart thermostat would eventually know when people tend to get into the office and would have prepared for that accordingly.
But technologies like these aren’t bringing just strings-free enjoyment — they bring with them a new set of security risks too. The security camera example is alarming enough, but there are many more examples. Take cars, for instance. Recently, a major luxury car company was forced to patch a security flaw that was present in 2.2 million of its vehicles . According to BBC News, the vulnerability existed in cars with connected software that helped intelligently automate elements like air conditioning, traffic updates and door locks.
The move toward a more connected world is not an option — it’s an inevitability. Fortunately, there are steps businesses and individuals can take to ensure that progress toward a broader range of intelligence-infused devices doesn’t come at the expense of security. Here are some of the resources enterprises can rely on:
- Password protection: There’s no excuse for not leveraging password protection if it’s available. And the consequences to not having passwords on your smart devices are clear: For the parents in Houston, it meant that a malicious presence was able to view the camera feed of their daughter. Thus, passwords should always be in place. But for sensitive data, a password alone isn’t enough. That’s when two-factor authentication becomes a necessity.
- Device-specific security: For any connected device that you bring into your corporate network, it’s imperative that you know the security parameters of that particular machine. A smart fridge that you install in the office lounge, for instance, is going to have a different set of protective standards than the main IT computer. The key is to understand what each connected device calls for in terms of security and provide accordingly.
With these resources leveraged, companies can enjoy innovation without worrying about a likely cyberattack.