When consumers and business think of cyber-security, hacking and breaches, the first thing that generally comes to mind is credit card accounts, bank accounts and health data; any personal information that is stored on large mainframes in extensive databases. But did you know that your automobiles, smart thermostats, bio-chips, heart monitoring implants and other small devices in your everyday life, also have the capability of being hacked?

Devices that collect useful data are known as “The Internet of Things”. IoT is a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable objects to collect and exchange data. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices.

Experts predicted that the amount of IOT devices in the marketplace will be 50 billion objects by 2020.

On September 10th, the F.B.I issued a Public Service Announcement warning to businesses and consumers, “As more businesses and homeowners use web-connected devices to enhance company efficiency or lifestyle conveniences, their connection to the Internet also increases the target space for malicious cyber actors. Similar to other computing devices, like computers or Smartphones, IoT devices also pose security risks to consumers.”

What are the risks of a IoT breach? First, most consumers are not even aware that these risks exist. Secondly, manufacturers are now playing “catch-up” and patching their vulnerable devices with security installments to thwart the possibility of a breach.

 Steps Consumers Can Take To Protect Themselves:

  • Shoppers need to be conscious of the IoT devices that exist in their lives. When purchasing a device with remote capabilities, any preset passwords or open Wi-Fi connections should immediately be changed, and operated only a secure Wi-Fi network router.
  • All of your personal Wi-Fi Routers should have their Universal Plug In Play (UPnP) feature disabled. This will make sure that only devices you want to connect, will connect. Universal Plug In Play has no authentication process, this means that anyone can enter your devices and are at a risk for attack.
  • Medical patients have the right to understand all ramifications of any medical devices installed on their person or inside their homes that have remote capabilities. Understanding the security protections and encryption that manufacturers have installed as well as the medical monitoring systems, can be a life-saving decision.
  • Always change any default passwords that are provided when you purchase your devices. Manufacturers keep a small “bank” of preset passwords that are very easy to access via the internet. All personal passwords should include upper and lower case letters, numbers and at least one special  character such as a pound sign, question mark or ampersand.

And lastly there is a very simple step, manufacturers, retailers and the healthcare industry can make to protect their business from breaches: Cyber-Liability and Privacy Insurance: http://www.warwickresource.com/insurance-quotes/specialty/cyber-liability-privacy