Original release date: November 16, 2017 | Last revised: November 17, 2017

The Internet of Things refers to any object or device that sends and receives data automatically through the Internet. This rapidly expanding set of “things” includes tags (also known as labels or chips that automatically track objects), sensors, and devices that interact with people and share information machine to machine.

Why Should We Care?

Cars, appliances, wearables, lighting, healthcare, and home security all contain sensing devices that can talk to other machines and trigger additional actions. Examples include devices that direct your car to an open spot in a parking lot; mechanisms that control energy use in your home; control systems that deliver water and power to your workplace; and other tools that track your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.

This technology provides a level of convenience to our lives, but it requires that we share more information than ever. The security of this information, and the security of these devices, is not always guaranteed.

What Are the Risks?

Though many security and resilience risks are not new, the scale of interconnectedness created by the Internet of Things increases the consequences of known risks and creates new ones. Attackers take advantage of this scale to infect large segments of devices at a time, allowing them access to the data on those devices or to, as part of a botnet, attack other computers or devices for malicious intent. See Cybersecurity for Electronic Devices, Understanding Hidden Threats: Rootkits and Botnets, and Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks for more information.

How Do I Improve the Security of Internet-Enabled Devices?

Without a doubt, the Internet of Things makes our lives easier and has many benefits; but we can only reap these benefits if our Internet-enabled devices are secure and trusted. The following are important steps you should consider to make your Internet of Things more secure.

Evaluate your security settings. Most devices offer a variety of features that you can tailor to meet your needs and requirements. Enabling certain features to increase convenience or functionality may leave you more vulnerable to being attacked. It is important to examine the settings, particularly security settings, and select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased risk. If you install a patch or a new version of software, or if you become aware of something that might affect your device, reevaluate your settings to make sure they …read more