October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, created by the Department of Homeland Security, to increase knowledge about cyber terrorism and every day cyber threats. This is week 3 and the topic is “Today’s predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet.” so here are some of our thoughts on that topic.
Things we would only see in movies 10 years ago have become our reality, and new smart technology becomes available every day. You can tell Alexa to check your refrigerator for eggs and add them to the grocery list if there aren’t any. Then you can tell your car to take you to work and then to the grocery store to buy eggs on the way home. While in the store you scan your store rewards card to get special discounts and then tell your car to drive you home. Pretty convenient right?
It certainly is, however to make all of this happen, you had to divulge your home address, your work address, where you shop, what you eat and when you shop. You then had to give access to your home network, your mobile phone and your vehicle. This same type of scenario could be applied to the workplace as well with smart light bulbs, mobile devices and connected cameras accessible from outside the network. With this information and access at their fingertips, someone could easily profile you to crack passwords and infiltrate your “convenient” electronic world. So does this mean that you should go back to pencil and paper, a Rand McNally atlas and interoffice memos delivered in those big yellow envelopes? Absolutely not. You should however be vigilant in how you divulge your information and with whom you share it.
To begin, when signing up for new services, be sure to read the terms and conditions of the service. The terms should outline what information they collect and how they will use it. If you are uncomfortable with the terms, do NOT sign up for the service. Next, be sure to keep all devices updated with the manufacturer’s regular patches. These will fix bugs that could be potential breach points for someone to sneak in when you are not looking.
For any device that you buy, be sure to change all of the default user name and password credentials. This is true even at your home because if someone can infiltrate your home network, they are only a simple step away from your work network if you use the same laptop or other mobile device on both.
Lastly, use common sense. While we live in a connected world, you don’t HAVE to connect everything just because you CAN connect everything. If there is no value returned to you by connecting a certain device, simply don’t do it. While it may be cool, it opens you up to more unnecessary risk and will require additional regular maintenance to keep it up to date.