Internet of Things

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the theme for week three is the “Internet of Things.” You may be asking what that means. Put simply, the Internet of Things is physical devices, networked to communicate through the Internet that can identify themselves to other devices. Today that can mean anything from a gaming system, TV, cell phone or even a refrigerator. All these innovations bring convenience but also expand exploitation opportunities. There are more devices connected to the internet than people. The internet can be a very nefarious place for users who aren’t cognizant of the threats and the threats are ever present.

Many attackers today have automated programs constantly scouring for vulnerable individuals. In general, attackers don’t target specific online demographics when publishing viruses. What they tend to do is send out blanket viruses intended to extort as much sensitive information out of any individual possible. All those “things” you connected probably asked for a lot of personal information to get online. The best way to avoid viruses or attacks is to go “off-the-grid,” or stay disconnected, especially when not actively using the device. For some individuals that may not be a viable option. Our society exists in the greatest technological era in history and Information Technology (IT) equipment is used for just about everything. This makes educating yourself and associates about online security more important than ever. What can you do?

Start by trying to network your devices with as little personal information as allowed. When registering on a website, make your password long, complex and unique. Change up Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to help keep your accounts more secure. In addition to making passwords more complex, ensure you don’t use the same password/PIN for several accounts. Hackers have the capability of using advanced cracking tools to generate random passwords, no matter the length, sequence or complexity. If they’re able to produce the correct password, they may be able to access all your records if the same password/PIN is used for several accounts.

Also, it’s imperative to refrain from clicking on any questionable or suspicious links on the web or conversing with unfamiliar people. More often than not it will start a download of malicious software or attempt to gather personal information. Imagine a hacker being able to access your networked home cameras, security systems or computers where you makes purchases online. The results could be catastrophic. Many devices come with basic security options but they can’t account for everything. There’s a common misconception that device manufacturers, system administrators or personnel who secure networks are responsible for safeguarding the internet. The security of the internet/networks begins at the user level and everyone is responsible for making the cyber realm a safer place. Remember, technology and convenience reduce security drastically. These advancements in equipment provide countless levels of convenience within our lives, but they also require more personal and financial information than ever before. The safekeeping of this information and the security of these devices is not always guaranteed. Please be careful when conducting yourself online because the internet can be very dangerous if not taken seriously.