Protecting privacy on connected devices

Written by a NortonLifeLock employee


Today’s world is one of connectivity and convenience. Gartner, the world's leading research and advisory company, estimates that by 2020, more than 20 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide.1 This increased digitalization of everyday items is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether it’s a smart toaster or smart television, these household essentials are being manufactured with Internet connectivity in mind.

But while all of your connected devices increase convenience, they also collect tons of personal data and could be a potential threat to your online security. Hackers could use them to gain backdoor access to your network, stealing valuable information such as your credit card numbers, bank accounts, and Social Security number. Despite these risks, it is not stopping people from constantly plugging in.

In order to protect the Internet of Things in a constantly connected home, you should protect your home network.

More connections may equal more vulnerabilities

The average home contains a few potentially vulnerable devices other than laptops, smartphones, and tablets. These could include game consoles, printers, smart TVs, media players, and even a baby monitor, thermostat, and coffeemaker. These connected devices may increase the information cyber thieves can acquire about us. If your home network doesn’t have robust security, security flaws in IoT devices could give hackers ample opportunity to access and steal sensitive information. An effective way to ward off an attack is to lock down your home networks.

Ways to help protect your privacy

There are numerous steps that you can take in order to boost security in your home system. The easiest method is to change your default administrator password. Default passwords are easy to hack, as they are just an Internet search away. Many folks simply plug in their new routers and don’t set up new passwords. Things could get tricky if a hacker gains access to your router and changes the settings. You should also disable guest network access so that strangers can’t use your account any time they like and switch off your SSID.

Many routers enable the homeowner to set up numerous network IDs. To build more security, create one network for your computer, printer, and other computing devices and a separate SSID for additional household devices, including game consoles and smart TVs. If your devices get infected with malware, the hacker is limited to only the one network, ensuring the other devices remain safeguarded.

Encryption also plays an important role in the security and welfare of your connected devices. It is critical to use strong encryption available. Pair this with a strong, multifaceted password and increase your safety. Additionally, you should change the passwords to all of your devices and make them as strong as possible. Regularly updated passwords mean less chance of attack.

Set up a firewall. While they won’t protect against all attacks, firewalls can ward off backdoor attempts. This type of security software shouldn’t just be on your computers. Your smartphone, smart watch, and other mobile devices need protection, too.

While you’re out and about, only connect to secure Wi-Fi hotspots. If you’re at a café or airport, it’s possible you could be browsing on an unsecured network, allowing hackers to gain access to your web history and device. One way to know this is if you are on public Wi-Fi and you are browsing a website you know should be encrypted (HTTPS), but the page is rendering in HTTP, then it is likely someone could be performing a man-in-the-middle attack and serving you the unsecured version of the website to capture your login credentials.

There are many ways to help protect your privacy on connected devices in the age of the Internet of Things. These days there are routers designed with a focus on security. Before buying one, make sure it meets all your requirements.

Norton Core is the first and only high-performance secure router that has Norton protection built into it. Core discovers smart devices, identifies vulnerabilities, and helps secure them. If a breach is detected, Core quarantines the threat.

Be mindful by changing the password for all of your devices, setting up a security system, and ensuring your home network is safe.

Cyber threats have evolved, and so have we.

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Disclaimers and references:

1Gartner says 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ will be in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016,” February 7, 2017.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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