It sounds like something out of a movie: Take an everyday object you use, like an IoT-enabled refrigerator. All of a sudden—it’s been hacked! IT device security compromised! Nefarious actors now have control of your cold food storage. The hackers are requesting you pay a ransom in Bitcoin for the fridge. You’ve never used Bitcoin and, quite frankly, don’t want to. What will you do? How will you survive?
Sure, that plot may sound more like comedy than drama. But real life is beginning to represent a lot of drama: Cybercriminals have realized the average devices we use daily are pretty damn vulnerable. If it can connect to the internet, there’s a degree of worry—and we’re willing to bet you have quite a few susceptible devices in your home and office right now.
Don’t be blind to Bluetooth
It’s like electronic magic: Bluetooth is capable of enabling wireless communication, including wireless speakers and wireless input devices like keyboards. There’s a problem, though. Bluetooth is known in the security industry as one of the most vulnerable technologies people use. There are so many devices out there today that sidestep all wiring, using the Bluetooth wireless protocol.
Hackers are getting pretty good at working with the technology. This is especially true with keyboards. They send signals wirelessly that can be picked up by criminals looking for your password, banking information, and other tasty morsels you’d rather they not have. Making sure to switch Bluetooth off when not in use is the most important (and easiest) step. Bluetooth 4.0 devices have eliminated many flaws, but come with their own security setbacks.
With medical devices, be vigilant
Unlike our refrigerator example above, medical devices prone to attack are an actual, life-threatening problem. Hackers looking for vulnerabilities have found many in devices used in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient clinics. These medical establishments simply don’t have the cybersecurity procedures in place to properly protect devices against hacks.
How can you avoid this happening to you? Do your research on medical devices and make sure you have questions for your medical professional regarding cybersecurity. Health data is critical information, and these vulnerabilities can cause huge problems for people and businesses. The media exposure of these issues—and the financial impact—is making a difference, but vigilance is still key.
It’s the Internet of Everything
In October, hackers were able to seize control of more than 10 million devices in a DDoS attack that brought the internet to a molasses-like speed. This was done by attacking IoT devices. The problem is, these devices are so cheap manufacturers are hesitant to spend the money properly securing them from hackers. Savvy consumer that you are, it’s time to start questioning why you would need a smart light bulb. The lesson here is that shoppers should be wary of anything “smart” or “internet-enabled.” This is basically marketing-speak for objects trying to over-deliver. It’s the classic argument of, “We can—but should we?”
Determine your IT device security vulnerabilities
Now that we’ve sufficiently made you paranoid about getting hacked, you probably have an idea if your business could be affected. Are you utilizing Bluetooth? Have you purchased “smart” products for the office? Does your company use medical devices? Answering those questions will help you address the larger one: How easily could I be hacked?
Security experts will say nothing can be totally secure. But one thing businesses can do is ensure they eliminate the biggest risks. Getting rid of the “low-hanging fruit” devices that hackers feast on is a good start. What’s important is making your company less of a security target. IT device security isn’t an easy task, but can be made easier by taking stock of—and protecting—the office devices already around.