Secure your Internet of Things

If you ever work from home, you could unknowingly jeopardize the university’s data as well as your own. Some smart home devices can hear you speak, and all of them send and receive data via the internet. 

Smart devices — smart thermostats, watches, phones, refrigerators, lighting systems, security-system components, and know-it-all listening devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo — are transpiring as the Internet of Things (IoT). 

The IoT is a rapidly growing worldwide network of hardware and software where each “thing” connects to the internet and becomes a part of it. 

Vulnerable things

These devices are not programmed to hand your sensitive data over to cybercriminals. Rather, cybercriminals and nation states are hacking into them with alarming proficiency. Because cybersecurity and smart devices are relatively new, some manufacturers haven’t made their devices secure. 

How do you protect yourself and the Pack from the serious risks they impose?

  • Consider whether the devices you bring home really need to be smart. For those must-have smart items, take the following precautions to protect yourself and the Pack:
    • Change the device’s default username and password as soon as possible
      This is your first line of defense.
    • Maintain strong passphrases and PINs
      Create passphrases instead of highly vulnerable passwords. Include numbers, symbols and uppercase and lowercase letters whenever possible. Create a unique passphrase for each device; update strong passphrases and PINs regularly. See the NC State Password Standard for additional tips.
    • Be proactive for privacy
      If the IoT device has privacy options, select those that share the least information or disable the sharing features altogether. Websites that provide privacy settings include Amazon’s Alexa/Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
    • Limit your connections
      If you can do without connecting a device to the internet, don’t connect it, and make it a habit to disconnect devices when not in use.
    • Use separate Wi-Fi access
      Connect your IoT devices to a private Wi-Fi network separate from your main network.
    • Update your devices
      Most devices have software or firmware. All devices, at some point, require updates.
    • Replace outdated devices
      When reasonable to do so, replace older devices with newer technologies that have reliable security features.

The IoT will never be completely secure; however, you should take the precautions available to you. 

For additional information, see: