You’ve probably heard the term ‘smart’ being placed in front of everyday objects such as watches, locks and even cars. Over the past couple of years, the term is being used more than ever as more devices become ‘smart’. These devices now impact nearly every aspect of our lives but, as a consumer, where do you begin to understand the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT? With so many of us relying on the internet and the cost to connect decreasing, more and more devices are being built with Wi-Fi and sensor capabilities to enable us to get connected.
As the name suggests, IoT refers to the connection between an object and the Internet, with the purpose of making products ‘smarter’ and allowing users to operate devices from afar, whether that’s from a computer or other smart device. For example, a smart lock would lock and unlock a door when it receives authorisation from its user’s Wi-Fi-connected device. Similarly, an alarm or smoke detector that is ‘smart’ would alert the homeowner if their home was under the threat of a fire or burglary, as well as collecting the home’s behavioural patterns along the way.
So how does IoT work? Usually connected via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Radio-Frequency Identification (R-FID), devices or ‘Things’ collect and transmit data between each other, allowing users to gain control of an object such as a TV, car or a household appliance. This process is called machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.
IoT is playing a larger role in our everyday lives and is being applied to more and more industries each day. Fridges, washing machines and even medical healthcare monitors are all becoming smart and a consequence of this is the risk of security and privacy breaches much closer to home. It is therefore critical that consumers are protecting themselves appropriately and making sure their data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Here are a few tips we’d recommend running through to protect yourself:
1. A simple Google search will allow you to research products in depth before and after purchasing them from a trustworthy company — this way you are aware of any vulnerabilities your product may have and can take the necessary measures to protect your privacy.
2. Secure your router and IoT devices with firmware like the McAfee Secure Home Platform and ensure they’re set with strong passwords to avoid any unauthorised access.
3. Lastly, consider two-step authentication — this can boost your device’s security even further and reduce the chances of hackers breaching them.
To keep up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity news, take a look at the McAfee Security blog here.