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Do Inherent IT Security Risks Make Smart Devices Dumb?

by | Jan 27, 2020 | MyTek Blog, Security

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Recent years have seen an increase in smart devices both in the home and office space. Smart devices are the Internet of Things (IoT) appliances that help to reduce repetitive tasks in your daily life through a connected network. However, you need to take the right precautions while using these devices to reduce security risks.

Today, we’ll explore how smart devices can pose certain challenges.

Is Smart Home a Flawed Idea?

The smart home is based on the idea that you can automate many household tasks. For example, imagine running behind time to reach the office in the morning, and the smart coffee maker keeps your coffee ready. You can schedule them by giving a single command to your smart speaker.

These simple devices have their own set of security risks. If a hacker breaks into the system, they can easily manipulate your devices and steal crucial information. People can even be motivated to trouble without even stealing your sensitive information. For example, they can command your lights to switch on in the middle of the night, brew excess coffee or lock you in your own home. 

Few other malicious hackers can also spy on you and get the entire blueprint of your home.

Some Workplace Problems that You Need to Watch Out For

The implications of compromised intelligent devices are not just confined to your homes. Unknowingly, you or employees may carry it forward to the workplace. This issue is inevitable because of the enormous amount of smart devices that are in use today.

For example, you may have installed a coffee maker or refrigerator in the employee break room. Or lights in your workplace. Also, small smart devices like wearable wristwatches will be a part of this network. However, just like home devices, these can introduce threats like malware. Even moving in and out of the office can expose you to cyber security challenges.

Will You Go with IoT or the Tiger?

Have you heard of the short story “The Lady or the Tiger” published in 1882? This story shows us how IoT can create a paradox for personal users and businesses alike. Here, the King of an ancient land puts an accused person on a chance-based public trial. The accused person is given the choice of passing through two sound-proof doors. One door contains a woman chosen by the king to be the person’s wife, while a hungry tiger inhabits the other door.

The door with the tiger means instant death, while the door with the woman acquits the man of all charges, and he is free to marry her.

The king’s daughter’s lover is put on trial as the story progresses. The lover appeals to the daughter for help. She confirms the identity of the door with the tiger. Also, the other door had a woman who was the daughter’s rival. The daughter had no other option than to direct her lover to the rival’s door.

The paradox faced by the princess is similar to that you would meet with an IoT: you have two options in front of you, but neither of them gives you a concrete result. In the story, the princess can either send over her lover to the tiger or protect him by handing him over to the rival. With IoT, you have a similar choice: use it but fall victim to the security risks or you can avoid using it but forgo the benefits.

However, with proper precautions, you can use smart IoT devices safely.

Some ways to safely use your smart devices are:

  • Keep track of your smart device’s details: Always monitor the important details concerning your smart devices like login credentials, default settings, patch requirements, firmware versions, etc. These details will help you plan to keep your system security updated. 
  • Go for regular patches: With regular patching, you can minimize the security risks of your smart devices.
  • Regularly change the default settings of your smart devices: The default factory settings are not always safe. Hackers can easily guess your passwords and break into your smart devices. Ensure that you change your passwords regularly, preferably once every 15 days.

While there are always security risks associated with IoT, you can follow the strategies mentioned above to minimize risks and make them usable again. If you need assistance in carrying out specific changes, call MyTek today at 623-312-2440.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Tim Tiller, LMSW

 
Tim Tiller, MSW brings a deep service background to his role at Mytek, having graduated from McDonald’s management training program, fresh out of high school, and working his way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He has led two prior companies – Multi-Systems Inc., an IT-focused organization providing technology to hospitality companies (where he was named President at age 36), and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Voice Ministries International.

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