The average person has over 150 accounts - whether they are in active use or have simply been forgotten about. That's a lot of personal data being cared for by companies with varying levels of cyber security.
Our day to day use of Internet connected devices almost certainly makes life easier - but not without side effects. In 2018, over 50% of devices that got infected once were re-infected within the same year (2019 Webroot Threat Report), highlighting a greater need for adequate protection against cyber threats.
What are the greatest threats to Internet connected devices?
Any IoT* device can be vulnerable to attack and any weakness provides an entry point for cyber criminals. The top greatest threats to Internet connected devices are…
Ransomware attacks are on the rise, disabling governments in shutdowns that cost millions to remediate. When a ransomware attack takes place it can be particularly tricky to navigate - criminals encrypt your entire system and threaten to remove all your data unless you pay the “ransom”. By paying the ransom victims add fuel to a growing criminal industry - but the alternative is often not an option for those under duress.
Lack of software updates
Manufacturers are developing new devices to keep up with demand but this leads to a multitude of cyber security issues. Devices that start out secure become completely vulnerable and insecure, with too few security updates making them prime targets for cyber criminals and hackers.
Second to that users can be careless in their approach, delaying or failing altogether to install pending updates that may contain patches and bug fixes.
Unsafe, unencrypted services
Many IoT devices don’t encrypt messages when sending them over the network. This is a huge threat and users should be wary about the types of services they use.
Using default passwords or reusing login credentials
Did you change the password for your home Wi-Fi router when you received it? Many don’t and it leaves the router vulnerable to attack. Re-using passwords and credentials is another huge issue.
Weak or duplicate credentials leave almost all the IoT connected devices prone to brute-forcing and password hacking. If a criminal gains access to one of your accounts, they can easily take over multiple accounts if you’ve re-used your login details across a number of sites.
Data breaches and leaks
Using just a snippet of personal information, experienced cyber criminals can cause serious damage - from fraud to identity theft. Sadly people are all too trusting with their personal data, unaware when their information has been breached or leaked and traded on the Dark Web. For some it sounds far-fetched but it’s a very real, prevalent issue.
More devices, more cyber threats
When it comes to cyber security the maths is pretty simple. More devices equals more data, and more data equals more opportunities for cyber criminals. Good cyber hygiene couldn’t be more important - whether it’s how we behave as users, or how businesses handle customer data.
Not everybody is concerned about cyber security, despite growing threats being reported in the media on a daily basis. The nature of cyber crime is somewhat intangible given that it happens behind closed doors. It’s not until you can’t access your account, or suspicious transactions appear on your bank statement, that you realise the dangers of a stranger having a copy of your personal information.
As a result, a majority of people have extremely low cyber security standards when it comes to securing their IoT devices and understanding their digital footprint. Why wait until something bad happens to protect yourself?
Lack of Knowledge
Both consumers and businesses put themselves at risk by lacking even basic knowledge of cyber security. In previous years, good protection simply meant having antivirus installed on your computer - but things have evolved very quickly and antivirus alone is not enough.
Even a low-level understanding of security threats can be beneficial. It’s incredibly easy to find out whether your personal information has been breached or leaked online so that you can secure your accounts before they are accessed by the wrong person. Also, routinely changing passwords, deleting accounts you no longer use and generally taking better care of your digital footprint could be the difference between being secure and being targeted by cyber criminals.
Lack of time and money
Investing in cyber security is a grudge purchase for many. However the costs involved in restoring data or recovering a hijacked account far outweigh preventative tools and practises that are widely available and easy to implement.
Privacy settings and permissions
Most devices collect data of all types which can include highly sensitive information. Users should consistently review permissions and see what kind of data is being collected by apps and websites. If the data collected is of personal and sensitive nature, it’s usually better to uninstall the app rather than risk your personal data.
Top 5 ways to protect yourself
Enable 2-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as 2FA or 2-step verification) wherever possible.
- Use unique, complex passwords for every account. LastPass is a great tool if you need help managing your passwords.
- Regularly check if your personal information has been breached or leaked online - once you know, you can take action to protect yourself.
- Use the highest privacy settings available on social media and any other platform that store your personal profile.
- Use a range of protection tools to secure your digital footprint - find out how a DynaRisk plan complements antivirus and helps to secure you and your devices.