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Smart devices have become a large part of our connected world, and they require the same level of protection as any other device on your network. Unfortunately, there are often very dire consequences of failing to protect oneself against the cyber threats such as viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware that can plague our home network and some of these IoT smart devices.

Bitdefender research shows that there are roughly 13 smart devices or accessories in an average US home today, with predictions of about 20 or more by 2021.  If that number seems high, think about how many laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, smart entertainment devices, smart thermostats, security, and monitoring systems are in your home. Complete the picture by adding smart home appliances like coffee makers, televisions, toasters, refrigerators, and bathroom scales; and don’t forget about the various toys, and even jeans, you have that may also rely on WiFi!

Hackers are constantly on the prowl for new targets and have automated their methods to find and compromise vulnerable devices. In 2016, the average time for infecting an IoT system was six minutes from the moment of exposure; a year later, that average fell to two minutes. So it’s a safe bet to assume that a connected device has to withstand a fair share of cyber-attacks.

Protecting your IoT gadgets starts from the moment you decide on a specific manufacturer. The consensus is to pick a vendor with a track record in upholding security and delivering timely updates for their products. The release date and support period is also an important factor.  Below you can find a list of minimum precautions you can take to protect the devices on the local network:

  1. Stronger Credentials

When installing the smart device, you should change the default login credentials with strong passwords. Typically, a unique passphrase is viewed as a good measure, and it should be different for each connected system, including the personal router, which acts as the internet gateway for your home network.

  1. Disable Unused Features

During the configuration of the smart device, it is highly recommended to disable features you do not use and close the ports for services that allow remote access, such as FTP, SSH and especially telnet, if the device allows it. Doing this locks down the system and protects it at least from run-of-the-mill intrusion attempts. If the device does not support that, make sure that these service ports are not forwarded to the outside world in the router.

  1. Additional Security Layer

Since the router is the front door to your network, it makes sense to add security to it and check what comes in. NETGEAR Armor™ powered by Bitdefender (now available on NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000P and R6900P routers) inspects the traffic to the devices in your home and blocks any threats aimed at them. It can also recognize the normal behavior of the systems it guards and takes action when it sees deviations.

  1. Firmware Update

The to-do list for maintaining a good security standard for your connected gadgets should include maintenance, by updating them with the latest firmware version as soon as it becomes available. It is highly recommended to keep the auto firmware update turned on if the device offers this feature.

If you activate NETGEAR Armor on your router, through its Vulnerability Assessment feature you can quickly check reports on any security bugs affecting the nodes on the network, prompting you to check for an update or find a solution to lower the risk.

  1. New Devices Check

It helps to be aware of when new devices join your network. If you have a record of what’s on the network, it is easier to recognize a rogue device. NETGEAR Armor automatically identifies all the connection points, and it can alert you when a new one becomes available.

 

The IoT segment has snowballed into our life and continues to increase its reach. Imposing a healthy security stance reduces the risk of intrusion and allows you to take advantage of the benefits of the “smart environment.” Be sure to also check out our previous blog post about Smart Home security for more info!

Sources:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/report-iot-devices-to-dominate-connected-device-landscape-by-2021/

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/17/iot_device_exploitation/

https://www.bitdefender.com/box/blog/iot-news/bots-infect-insecure-iot-device-every-two-minutes/

Ionut Ilascu

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