FBI Issues Drive-By Hacking Warning: This Is How To Secure Your Devices – Forbes


There is a gaping hole in our online securitythe surge of connected devices we now surround ourselves with. Now the FBI has warned that hackers can use those innocent devices to do a virtual drive-by of your digital life. The issue is the smart digital technologies encroaching into all aspects of our lives: Unsecured devices can allow hackers a path into your router, giving the bad guy access to everything else on your home network that you thought was secure. Are private pictures and passwords safely stored on your computer? Dont be so sure.

Youll have heard of the Internet of Things, IoT. In short, this is the surge of connected smart devices we are buying in droves. Gone are the days when your WiFi served just your phone, tablet and laptop. Nowadays, your TV and audio, home utilities, fitness equipment, power adapters, printer, phone and even your fridge can connect to the outside world. The same FBI team has also warned on the specific issues from smart TVs. All very convenientbut all very dangerous as well.

At a basic level, the issue with IoT is that we have limited control over software and settings. Your smartphone and laptop constantly updateyou may even run protective software, youre likely aware of the settings, you read about security issues. But when it comes to smart devices, the chances are that they carry the firmware they shipped with, the same admin passwords, the same settings. There is also probably an app you installed on your smartphone to set up the device. You clicked through the setup screens, giving the app various permissions, eager to get the device up and running. What these all have in common is that they send and receive data, the FBI explains, but do you know how that data is collected? And where it is going?

Unfortunately, hackers know youve likely done all of those things as well. IoT devices are fast becoming the soft entry points into our digital lives. Its no different at workMicrosoft and others have warned of attackers using printers and VOIP phone systems and even connected industrial systems to hit secure networks. Such devices have given sophisticated Russian and Chinese threat groups easy access. And the issue is the same at homevulnerable endpoints are much easier to tackle than secure systems. And as those IoT platforms look to the outside world for firmware updates and to your home network to interact, a risk is created.

The advice is basic network housekeeping:

The FBI also suggests that to secure home networks, your fridge and your laptop should not be on the same networkkeep private, sensitive data on a separate system from your other IoT devices. In truth, this is hard to do. Running separate networks at home requires a serious level of organisation and effort. It will also limit your interaction with those devices where they need to be on the same network as other devices. In truth, updating passwords and firmware resolves most of the risks.

The FBI warning has been backed up by the DHSs cybersecurity agency: As our reliance on IoT becomes an important part of everyday life, being aware of the associated risks is a key part of keeping your information and devices secure. CISA offers additional pointers in its Securing the Internet of Things advisory notice.

Follow the advice, do make sure those passwords are changed. And heres another tip, give some thought to what you really need to connect at home. Every device is a potential vulnerabilityevery smart plug, bulb, toy, appliance. If you need them, then keep them secure. Sometimes, though, the best type of security is controlling the risk. And that might mean occasionally saying no when asked to connect.

FBI Issues Drive-By Hacking Warning: This Is How To Secure Your Devices - Forbes

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