Tablets, computers, phones, and smart home devices like TV’s, stereos, light bulbs, and hundreds of other web connected devices will be wrapped and tucked under the tree this holiday season. But what you might not realize is that your new gadget, if not configured properly, could pose a security risk — not only to your personal data but to your identity and to the stability of the entire Internet.
According to a new survey by Intel Security, 89 per cent of Canadians start using a connected device immediately after receiving it, but only 44 per cent of those people take the proper security measures secure it. But what’s more concerning is while 80 per cent of Canadian consumers agree it’s important to secure their personal data online, nearly half (48 per cent) aren’t sure they are taking the right security steps. Consumers are often eager to use their new gadget as soon as they get it and forgo ensuring that their device is properly secured. It is possible for cybercriminals could use this lack of attention as an inroad to gather personal consumer data, exposing consumers to malware or identity theft or even hacking into these unsecured devices like a digital PVR , wireless camera or router to work as their drones getting them to launch attacks on larger companies like Twitter, Netflix, and Amazon, much like what happened in October.
Attackers target smart devices by using a piece of computer code that searches for internet-connected devices that use the manufacturer’s default security settings. While most people should not feel too concerned about their smart devices being used in a plot to take down a large company, it’s important to note that having weak security measures have allowed hackers in the past to intercept many webcam and baby monitor feeds in the past. As you might recall, in 2015 a southwestern Ontario family called police after their baby monitor suddenly began playing music and a voice said they were being watched while one of the parents was rocking their young child to sleep in the nursery.
For computers, tablets and smartphones make sure the software is up to date and that you are using the latest operating system available on your device to ensure you have the best security possible. When it comes to Wi-Fi, experts recommend using a secure Wi-Fi connection, which means ensuring you have a strong password on your home network and you are cautious when using public Wi-Fi networks, which are known for having notoriously bad security. The security experts over at Intel recommends that you come up with a secure, unique password for all of your devices and, if possible, use any biometric security features on your device (such as a fingerprint or face scanner). Finally, for many smart home devices, (and there are many on the market this year) again anything you get that connects to your either your network or the Internet see if you can change the default login username and password on that device. This is usually set by the manufacturer. Sometimes it is possible to change it and sometimes it is not. Unfortunately, many of these smart home devices don’t make it easy for the average consumer to figure out how to change the default login information and so you might have to rely on some internet research before doing so.