Cyber-Security Is About More Than PCs and Smartphones
How many devices in your home connect to the internet? Could you count on one hand? Two hands?
16:35 02 September 2019
Whatever the answer for you personally right now, the number is expected to increase for everyone across the globe in the next few years. By 2025, for example, there is expected to be approximately 75 billion IoT (internet of things) connected devices globally, and in the UK in 2023 research by EE shows the average household could have 50 connected devices.
While 50 devices sound like a lot, even today you might have your printer, doorbell, television, earphones and a bunch of other devices connected to the internet. But here’s the problem: those devices may not enjoy the same amount of protection as your PC and smartphones; moreover, there is evidence that cyber-criminals are specifically targeting the vulnerabilities in these devices.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that the IoT is in itself still in the development stage, and that means there isn’t the mature, sophisticated culture of protection in the same manner as, say, anti-viral software that you would use with your phones and computers. In short, hackers are targeting the vulnerabilities in these devices.
Poor passwords targeted
When we say “culture of protection” we mean things like password management. You’re not likely to give your printer, waste bin or washing machine the same type of password as you do your bank account, and hackers are using trials and errors methods to force the passwords. Other common attacks on connected IoT devices include botnet attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks and DDoS attacks.
Being smart about your passwords can help secure your devices, but another method gaining in popularity is the use of a VPN (virtual private network). Basically, you are creating a point to point connection between the device and a VPN server, which encrypts any data sent between the devices covered by the VPN. Because the data is encrypted, hackers cannot see your information or take control of your device.
VPNs have many benefits
There are many benefits to using a VPN, and they extend beyond device security. For example, you can read how to choose and use a VPN to torrent safely and anonymously. Torrenting – a fast way to download files by locating parts of the files from multiple computers – can be problematic, but a VPN can secure your device, and even improve the process.
Getting back to those auxiliary devices around the home, how can a VPN help secure them? Well, the most important thing to know is that the VPN encrypts traffic running back and forth from it to your other devices. It also shields the IP address, meaning cyber-criminals cannot target it in an attempted hack. Typically, top-rated VPNs will use 256-bit AES encryption, considered as military grade encryption.
Using a VPN is, of course, just one part of making all of your connected devices secure. We mentioned passwords, but you should also be thinking about using anti-virus software to cover all your devices, employing two-step authentication and even change the devices with security flaws. It’s part of the modern world that your home and workplace will have multiple devices connected to the internet, so it follows that they must be protected properly.