You might have heard of the term the ‘Internet of Things, or you may have read it in one of the tech-related blogs you follow, but what exactly does this term mean? And why is it especially important to understand for regular folks like you and me these days?
Well, you may not know it yet, but we’re already living in a society built on the internet. Anything that has been embedded with a processor and a bunch of IoT sensors becomes a “smart” tool or device (i.e. home appliances) connected with IoT. Hence, you can understand how vital IoT is. Let’s learn everything about the Internet of Things below.
What is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a web created not between individual users (persons) but among interconnected “smart” devices that share data with each other. The term IoT is often used to label any smart device in homes that can access the internet but it was not intentionally created for this purpose.
However, there are certain limits to what these smart devices can do. And while the concept of IoT has been around since the mid-90s, it was only towards the end of that century when the first “smart” device (an internet-connected soda machine that can go online to check if it had any drinks on it before its supplier can restock it) was introduced. More recently, interest in IoT devices has grown rapidly due to access to smaller and more powerful processors and the opportunity to integrate them into our daily lives through smartphone apps.
In this post, we are focused on telling you about how the Internet of Things works and why is it so important.
IoT tools and devices:
IoT tools are Internet of Things Tools, which refer to the devices connected to a network connection. These can be devices or can also be vehicles, home appliances, electronics, and more. But whatever the IoT tools are, their only motto is to exchange data throughout the server so that users can handle the devices effortlessly. Let’s look at some of the examples of IoT tools and devices from the section below.
- You can set an oven to preheat from your smartphone even when outside.
- A refrigerator that can restock itself by ordering items that are almost out.
- A baby monitor you can check from work or outside.
- A thermostat you can control to cool your home as you head back after a long hot day.
- A pacemaker can gather biometric data to be sent to your doctor for monitoring.
These are just a few examples of how the IoT is being integrated into our daily lives. Not just that, other industries and even the government use devices that can be considered part of IoT, depending on who you ask. Examples of these would be manufacturing equipment, water treatment facilities, or even remote-controlled mining machinery.
As of now, the IoT industry is considered to be in its infancy stage, relatively speaking, as manufacturers are still trying to figure out what people need IoT devices for. Not all IoT devices will necessarily become helpful, but almost all will pose some cybersecurity risks.
Advantages of Using Internet of Things Tools:
Internet of Things tools is a hot topic in this era, and almost everyone is using something that is related to IoT. Generally, everything about these tools is made to improve our communication with the devices we use. But there are some other advantages that you need to know as well. Let’s take a look at the most important benefits that the Internet of Things Tools provide users with.
Communication Between Devices
IoT tools initiate a smooth Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication so that there is no old-fashioned human-to-machine interaction. You don’t have to touch your device to turn it on. An IoT-enabled device that is also connected to another device via the same network can turn it on. Because of IoT technology, the devices in your home and office can stay connected with each other. This way, it improves the total transparency of the devices and the quality of their performances as well.
Monitoring the Devices
Many IoT devices allow you to monitor the quality and usage of the products, such as, if you are using a smart air conditioner that has a feature that can tell you when the quality of the air in your room is not right. Based on that information, you can increase or decrease the temperature of your room. Likewise, there are other similar information or metrics of your product uses that you can get through IoT tools that would be otherwise impossible.
All Connected Devices are Easy to Control
Since multiple devices are connected to each other, controlling them is an easy job as opposed to the time when we used to handle one device at a time. For example, if your air conditioner is connected to your smartphone, you can use your smartphone to turn off or on the air conditioner. You won’t need the extra remote for it. The same applies to other smart devices, such as your fan or vacuum cleaner.
You Can Set Daily Tasks on Automation
You can automate the control of tasks you otherwise perform with your hands regularly. Since Machine-to-machine communication does not require human intervention, it helps in maintaining the performance of the devices. You can automate how the devices work at a particular schedule. And with that, you can easily get the tasks done by maintaining the quality of the services. You can also take necessary actions during emergency purposes.
For instance, you can set an automatic timer for your vacuum cleaner; let’s say, it vacuums your whole house daily at 8 am. If you had a party last night and you want the house cleaned ASAP, you can set the timer to 6 am, and it will still get the job done.
Saves Your Time
Due to the machine-to-machine interaction, you won’t have to keep an eye on the devices. The devices will work on their own when you want them to work and will also provide you with a better result faster. If you are to work alone on the jobs, you could allocate your machines to work for you, and they will complete the tasks faster than you could.
It Also Saves Your Money
IoT technology saves you money by letting you monitor the activities of the devices. It puts the devices under surveillance that can inform you immediately about any possible system breakdowns and damages. Therefore, if you monitor the tasks and performances of the devices, you will save a lot of money in the future by avoiding possible breakdowns.
What Causes IoT-related Cyber Security Risks?
At present, IoT devices are ideal sources of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Here are a few reasons why:
No Attention to Increase Security
Most manufacturers do not put much thought into the security side of their products. In rushing the development of IoT products for market consumption, security takes lesser priority than functionality and aesthetics.
Poorly Developed Security Features
IoT security is not so simple and easy to implement. Even if manufacturers aren’t rushing the development of their products, security features can be hard to lay down when it comes to IoT devices. This is mainly because of the technical limitations of the materials they’re working with.
Programming the device is a lot different from programming its user interface (UI), where all these are being integrated into a relatively commercialized and low-powered platform. This only means that limited computing power will be allocated for encryption, decryption, and other technical processes required to set up substantial built-in security features.
Using the Default Login for Multiple IoT Platforms
Many IoT platforms are distributed with default logins. Instead of setting up each device ready for shipping with individual usernames and passwords, manufacturers opt to assign default ones for each only because this is much easier on their part (e.g. admin//123admin.)
And even if these devices come with instructions on how to set up or change the default password, chances are most users still don’t do it. Given this scenario, hackers can easily log into these devices once they identify an unsecured device, as explained in the next point.
Shodan Holds Every Information
There is a search engine or database for IoT devices. You probably may not have heard as much of Shodan as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. But this is a special search engine that specifically locates IoT devices all over the world. If you know what you’re looking for (i.e., technical specs or parameters), with even just simple terms like “webcam,” Shodan (search engine) will show thousands of hits for your search.
If the device you’re looking for is connected to the internet, then it’s likely that Shodan will locate it. At this point, anyone who’s done even a little research can log in to the unsecured device with minimal effort. And if they put more effort into it, even those with minimal security settings can be compromised.
IoT devices are known to be excellent malware hosts. Given the very limited security features applied on most IoT devices, malware can easily infiltrate these systems and cause further attacks on similar devices connected within the same network. IoT devices are also known to be instrumental in launching DDoS attacks, which require a large number of devices that run simple bots to attack their target.
Even if you think or are made to think that your IoT device is secure (which most likely is not), there’s still another important risk you are exposed to through your device – privacy violations. A lot of IoT devices are known to collect massive amounts of data for their manufacturers or developers on the notion that this data is only utilized to enhance the device’s functionality.
However, we cannot discount the fact that a few companies out there won’t be able to resist the price they can trade for detailed user data.
How to Secure Your IoT Devices?
Here we’ve provided a few preventive measures to secure your IoT devices. Have a look.
Read the manual and update your passwords frequently
Let’s admit it, not all of us have the will and determination to read through the friendly manual (RTFM) upon unboxing our devices. This holds true for setting up different passwords for each of our devices. And while the deed is small, the difference it makes cannot be undervalued, so it’s important for all users not to skip it.
Check if there is a need for you to access your device remotely
By realizing why you need to use a device’s features, you can balance out your usage and not favor convenience too much over necessity. It can be hard to gauge how much of an impact IoT devices offer us, but realizing that it’s completely fine to be without a WiFi-less oven is a surefire way to keep yourself one step safer from hacker attacks.
Set up an offline Wi-Fi LAN
If your devices can operate on a local area network (LAN), and if you have an extra router to spare, you can create your own offline Wi-Fi LAN which can be a great method to keep your devices secure. Many people don’t know that a router can operate without internet connection. By setting up a local network with your devices and the computer or laptop you want to manage it with, you can allow device functionalities within your local network without exposing them to online threats.
Always keep your devices updated
Not all device manufacturers are as devoted to the security of their IoT devices as they should be, but if an update is offered, it would be a mistake not to take it. Updates may offer critical bug fixes and address other security vulnerabilities, as there can be a lot of these with most IoT devices.
Get a VPN service
Check if your router at home can support a reliable VPN that offers encryption for this setup. Having a VPN integrated into your LAN will enable it to send outbound data while blocking incoming ones. This means that your devices can send you data, but no incoming communication with them would be possible. While this setup will be quite inconvenient if you want to control your devices remotely, with a VPN’s encryption, hackers will be blocked as well.
Now you know everything about the Internet of Things. You also know how to secure your IoT tools. Well, having a reliable VPN such as VPN Surf would enable you to go online using a number of supported devices without having your security and privacy compromised in doing so. You can easily enjoy high-end benefits at an affordable price while ensuring optimum security to all your connected devices. That’s all! You can leave a comment in the below box for further queries.
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