Taking an active and conscious role in securing your internet-connected devices is greatly important to protecting your identity and proprietary information. The first two weeks of Cybersecurity Awareness Month highlight the ways in which internet-connected devices have impacted our lives and the importance of protecting ourselves from the risks this lifestyle imposes.
As many small/medium sized organizations continue to encourage employees to work from home during COVID times, segregating and protecting our personal and work data is becoming increasingly more difficult. NCSA recommends taking the following actions to reduce your cyber risk both at home and at work:
- Do your homework: Before purchasing a new smart device, do your research. Check out user reviews on the product, look it up to see if there have been any security/privacy concerns, and understand what security features the device has, or doesn’t have.
- Change default usernames and passwords: Many IoT devices come with default passwords. Create long and unique passphrases for all accounts and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA will fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or a unique one-time code sent to your phone or mobile device.
- Put your IoT Devices on a Guest Network: Why? Because if a smart device’s security is compromised, it won’t grant an attacker access to your primary devices, such as laptops.
- Keep software up to date: When the manufacturer issues a software update, patch it immediately. Updates include important changes that improve the performance and security of your devices.
- Configure your privacy and security settings: The moment you turn on a new “smart” device, configure its privacy and security settings. Most devices default to the least secure settings–so take a moment to configure those settings to your comfort level.
- Disable features you may not need: IoT devices often come with features you will never need or use. If you can, disable those features to protect your security and privacy.
- Think of where you put them: Particularly for listening devices or ones with cameras, think strategically about where you place them in your home. Do you want them in a child’s room or where you have sensitive work or family discussions? Designate some of the areas of your home as “safe” rooms from IoT devices.
- Consider using Mobile Device Management (MDM) if you use a BYOD policy: MDM is an easy and cost effective solution to protect your data. It will allow you to access internal networks using a device of your choice, while allowing your business to manage these devices remotely. MDM ensures that mobile devices do not allow malicious content into a secure network and gives the employee the freedom to stay productive without breaching corporate policies.