Securing the Internet of Things: Cyber Risks and Best Practices


The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the billions of internet-connected smart devices used in homes, businesses, and industries worldwide. Experts estimate there will be over 30 billion IoT devices by 2025. While IoT devices like smart home assistants, security cameras, and health trackers provide convenience, they also introduce new cybersecurity risks if not properly secured.

Common IoT Security Threats

IoT devices are vulnerable to many of the same cyberattacks that threaten computers and networks. Here are some key risks:

  • Botnets – IoT devices with weak security can be hijacked to launch massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The powerful Mirai botnet infected over 600,000 IoT devices in 2016.
  • Data leaks – IoT devices frequently collect and transmit sensitive user data. Poor encryption and access controls can expose this data if breached.
  • Identity theft – Default or stolen credentials can give hackers access to exploit IoT devices for identity theft through collected user data.
  • Physical safety – Criminals hacking smart home systems or medical devices could potentially cause physical harm to users.

IoT Security Best Practices

Follow these tips to help secure your connected devices:

  • Change default passwords – Set strong and unique passwords for device accounts and WiFi networks. Avoid weak passwords that are easily guessed.
  • Enable two-factor authentication – Require an additional step like a code from an app to log into IoT device accounts. This prevents access from just stolen credentials.
  • Keep firmware updated – Patch security flaws and vulnerabilities by promptly installing firmware and software updates from manufacturers. Automate updates when possible.
  • Monitor network traffic – Inspect network patterns to identify any abnormal or suspicious device activity that could indicate a breach.
  • Isolate IoT networks – Place smart devices on a separate network from other devices to limit access and damage if one is compromised.

Securing internet-connected devices takes vigilance, but following cybersecurity best practices will help minimize the risk. With smart IoT use, we can enjoy the convenience and benefits while reducing the threats.

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