That scenario is a picture of what the future might look like with the rise of Internet-connected devices. While we are growing accustomed to our smart homes and all its gadgets, the opportunity for forward-thinking hackers is growing exponentially.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already populated by lots of, well, things. You probably haven’t given a thought to how many of your devices already fit into the “smart” category. Smart devices and gadgets can include anything from thermostats to microwaves, smart locks to smoke detectors to children’s toys. Since we make use of these gadgets in our daily tasks, an attack on them could result in threats to our privacy and security.
Smart devices, such as household appliances, cars, and wearables are basically our life companions. Unlike a smartphone, which holds information about our communications, contacts, photos and videos, smart devices reveal more specific information about our behavior, such as our driving, fitness, and cooking habits, or our children’s learning behavior.
This provides optimal opportunities for hackers to target personal data, including information collected by wearable, Internet-connected devices. What’s more, this data can be used by governments for law enforcement purposes and for businesses, like insurance companies, to restrict payments or medical procedures from people who may have previously made unwise financial or health-related decisions.
Home routers give cybercrooks an easy target
Consumer routers, those boxes that all your IoT devices are connected to, tend to be acquired based on price and they have a lot of flaws. Avast Software CEO, Vince Steckler, estimates that, “We can break into probably about 70% of home routers in the world.” Think of what a determined hacker, or even a cheapskate Wi-Fi stealing neighbor, can do.
The reason home routers are so vulnerable, Steckler says, is that, “They are very poorly protected and the username-password on them is something that's easy to crack. It's not that difficult for someone to break in remotely over the Internet via the username and password or in a drive-by, in which case it's even easier.” Most routers also have unpatched software leaving them with a number of vulnerabilities.
Your security is as strong as your network security
To protect your security and privacy, your home network and communications must be protected. Although this seems like rocket science, some basic – but effective – measures can and should be taken. Even us common folk can follow the steps below to make sure we're prepared to a secure our IoT life.
- Device protection: Install security software on all your connected devices. Avast is a worldwide leader in providing security for Windows, iOS, and Android devices. They can stop malicious actions and make all the difference when you're online. Your device protection also depends on its own installed software security, thus, keep all your apps and operating systems up-to-date.
- Network protection: Not all antivirus software gives you proper network protection, but all the Avast products do - even the free one, Avast Free Antivirus. If a cybercrook invades one of your devices –most commonly the router – all your network, devices, and data could be compromised. Avast has unique features that scan your network and finds out if there is an open door to hackers.
- Security best practices: There are numerous "best" practices, some of which will save you a lot of headaches. The most important is using different passwords for each online service or site and protecting yourself in open or public Wi-Fi networks.
Avast Free Antivirus includes the protection you need including Home Network Security. You can download and test all the versions for free from the Avast website.