Protecting privacy on connected devices

Authored by a NortonLifeLock employee


Today’s world is one of connectivity and convenience. Gartner estimates that more than 25 billion connected devices will be utilized by 2020. This increased digitalization of everyday items is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether it’s a smart toaster or smart television, these household essentials are being manufactured with Internet connectivity in mind.

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But while all of your connected devices elevate convenience, they also collect tons of personal data and can be a potential threat to your security. Hackers can use them to gain backdoor access to your network, stealing valuable information such as your credit card number, bank accounts, and social security card number. In a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, 47 percent of the 1,900 people polled worldwide said they have developed more concerns about privacy during the last five years. Yet this apprehension is not stopping people from constantly plugging in.

In order to protect the Internet of Things in a constantly connected home, you have to protect your home network.

More Connections Equals More Vulnerabilities

The average home contains five potentially harmful devices other than laptops, smartphones, and tablets. These can include game consoles, printers, smart TVs, media players, and even your baby monitor, thermostat, and coffeemaker. These connected devices increase the information cyber thieves can acquire about us. The loopholes provided in our network created by the Internet of Things give hackers ample opportunity to steal sensitive information. The most effective way to ward off an attack is to lockdown our home networks.

Ways to Protect Your Privacy

There are numerous steps that you can take in order to boost security in your home system. The easiest method is to change your default administrator password. Many folks simply plug in their new routers and don’t set up new passwords. Things can get tricky if a hacker gains access to your router and changes the settings. You should also disable guest network access so that strangers can’t use your account any time they like and switch off your SSID, so that your network isn’t seen by everybody within range.

Many routers enable the homeowner to set up numerous network IDs. To build more security, create one network for your computer, printer, and other computing devices and a separate SSID for additional household devices, including game consoles and smart TVs. If your devices get infected with malware, the hacker is limited to only the one network, ensuring the other devices remain safeguarded.

Encryption also plays an important role in the security and welfare of your connected devices. It is critical to use the strongest encryption schemes available, such as WPA2. Pair this with a strong, multifaceted password and increase your safety. Additionally, you should change the passwords to all of your devices and make them as strong as possible. Regularly updated passwords mean less chance of attack.

Setup a firewall. While they won’t protect against all attacks, firewalls can ward off backdoor attempts. This type of security software shouldn’t just be on your computers. Your smartphone, smartwatch, and other mobile devices need protection, too.

While you’re out and about, only connect to Wi-Fi hotspots that are secure. If you’re at a café or airport, you could be browsing on a hacked network, allowing hackers to gain access to your web history and device.

There are many ways to protect your privacy on connected devices in the age of the Internet of Things. Be mindful by changing the password for all of your devices, setting up a security system, and ensuring your home network is safe.

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Disclaimers and references:
NortonLifeLock Inc. is a global leader in consumer Cyber Safety. We are dedicated to helping secure the devices, identities, online privacy, and home and family needs of more than 50 million consumers, providing them with a trusted ally in a complex digital world.

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