We are surrounded by devices connected to the internet. From the obvious such as computers, phones and tablets, to smart devices such as TVs, voice assistants, heating and lighting systems, vehicles and we even can buy smart fridges and other household appliances that are now smart.
All these connected devices are collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT) and connect and exchange data with the internet.
While smart devices are designed to help make our lives easier and more enjoyable they also contain an extra level of security risk. Cybersecurity attacks can target IoT devices and cause disruption to businesses or steal sensitive data.
What is an IOT device?
An Internet of Things (IoT) device is a piece of hardware that assists one another in their functionality. More specifically, these devices have the ability to transfer data between one another. They have the ability to connect to a single network, which is used as a platform for them to communicate, which in turn allows for remote monitoring and control.
With a multitude of devices all connected, they are there to make anything from consumer activities to critical business operations easier and more seamless. IoT devices are usually embedded in more robust hardware to ensure all equipment works together.
How is IoT used in business?
IoT devices can be used in office buildings, such as heating and lighting controlled remotely through a computer system, it can be used in company vehicles and fleets, manufacturers can use IoT in production to cather data, and organisations such as councils and governments can employ IoT for things like smart cities. For most businesses and other organisations the benefits of using IoT is to gather data, improve processes, and increase efficiency.
The remotely controlled IoT devices typically integrate with computer systems, however, IoTs can also lead to privacy issues.
Hackers can use data mining techniques and look to track sensitive data and IP addresses, gaining knowledge on the location of you and/or the device.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is an identifier similar to a physical address. It allows a sender and recipient of information to know where to send and exchange data. Every device that connects to the internet has its own IP address. Without it devices could not identify each other and send the required information. However the down side of an IP address is that it can be seen and intercepted and it can reveal your location, even in as much detail as your postcode in some circumstances.
Websites can use information from your IP and other trackers, cookies and browsers to identify and target you.
Does an IP address give away your location?
Your country, city, county, and even your postal code can be revealed by your IP address.
It can also be included with information about the websites you visit, the others online you interact with, and more so it can give quite a lot of detailed information about you. Your ISP has even more information about you because they already hold your name and other personal details. They can combine this with the data they learn about you from browsing activities on your IP address.
One of the ways this data is used is to target ads towards you based on your location and other data they have gathered on you.
Targeted ads can be annoying and disconcerting, how do they know so much about you? They can also feel like a breach of your privacy that your data is being used in this way.
Of course there are also more serious threats that arise by people having access to your location data and personal information about you or your business.
Solutions to protect privacy on IoT devices
We have already discussed the range of potentials threats to your privacy and security. These details can be used in manipulation, and control against you amongst other things so it is well worth looking at ways to control and protect who can see data about you and your business.
While it is easy to install software tools such as a VPN that discusses your IP address and hides you personal and website data, it is not as obvious how to protect the data generated from smart IoT products such as lighting systems, cars, or manufacturing tools. The best method is to look to protect data at the router level, meaning everything connected to your network is encrypted
Here are some solutions you should try:
Online data storage
Keeping your data stored in the cloud is a good way to protect your IoT devices against malware and ransomware attacks. You will need to ensure that the cloud storage space is also secure, but a professional will be able to assist with this.
IP addressing in IoT
Securing your router and devices involves more than implementing a strong password. Consider using a multi-stage authentication system and only allowing authorised devices with a specific IP address to connect to your internal network. This will protect all connected devices.
Encryption is essentially converting comprehensive data into specific code, making it more difficult for unauthorised devices and personnel to interpret. Encrypting your IoT devices will allow secure conversion of data, therefore keeping all messages communicated internal.
VPN and antivirus providers offer tools that work at the router level and protect all your data from snooping by encrypting your data to the same grade of encryption used by the military.
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