Guest Post: Do You Own One of the Most Hackable Devices?
An IT solutions company in the Philippines, as well as other cybersecurity firms, have stressed that everything connected to the Internet is hackable. From traffic lights to electrical grids, highway signs to fitness trackers—all of these are wired to the Internet, a web of connected systems so diverse that they fall into the nondescript category called the Internet of Things or IoT.
While the convenience this connectivity has brought in our lives is undeniable, the trade-off that cyber security warns about by being vulnerable to attacks should be given attention. As much as 70 percent of IoT devices comprise security flaws, which means devices that you own could get hacked by online criminals too.
Here’s a list of the devices you possess that might be at risk of cyber attack, along with corresponding solutions to secure them.
A PC connected to the Internet is every possible target by hackers. By simply clicking on a suspicious link from an email or a sketchy social media message can make your personal computer susceptible to a malicious attack.
Cyber criminals will take advantage of that malware to download personal files, steal backing information, and even spy on you. The best way to protect your PC is to keep its antivirus software updated. Performing full antivirus scans and refraining from clicking on email spams and dubious links from your social media inbox will tighten the security of your PC.
Among Google’s Android system many security flaws is that it lets anyone create and upload an app. It is, therefore, left to the users’ discretion if he would trust the app.
A hacker just has to create a seemingly legitimate malware to infiltrate your Android device. A perfect example of this is Flappy Bird’s clone apps that were found to contain malware. This resulted in the game being pulled from app stores. Flappy Bird’s malicious clone apps allowed cyber criminals to hijack remotely users’ phones to steal their contact list, track their location, make phone calls, and even record, send, and receive text messages.
Secure your Android by taking a few minutes to read an app’s permission request before downloading. You might see some red flags that indicate it’s a malicious app created to rob your personal data.
Apple’s mobile iOS builds a closed garden that translates to all apps and accessories they offer being approved by Apple before consumer usage. While this adds a safety net, iPhone users are still at risk of being hacked. For instance, when Apple released a software patch to fix security issues in the iOS 7 last year—its most recent operating system at the time, the security lapse allowed would-be hackers to impersonate a trusted website, without the software flagging the connection as insecure.
In fact, another glitch in the same year permitted potential hackers to use website pages, emails, and text messages to trick users into downloading fake apps that could steal personal information. A study last year found that Apple products could also be vulnerable to malware when they’re connected to a malware-infected Windows device.
The best way to secure your iPhone, as with your Mac and iPad, is to make sure you’re running the most recent version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Likewise, avoid sharing sensitive data on a public Wi-Fi network.
The security of your tablet depends on its operating system much like your smartphone. Although iOS devices have occasionally been compromised, 97 percent of all malware targets Androids, according to a mobile threat security report from Pulse Secure. As previously mentioned, the iOS ecosystem offers a couple of major security advantages over Android.
It is important to note that tablets have an additional risk. They are similarly used like laptops, and often contain work-related documentation with sensitive information. For this reason, tablets should be treated with the same level of security measures, especially in a Bring Your Office Device environment.
Using the latest version of your operating system applies in securing your tablet from hacking. Likewise, refraining from clicking on malicious spam contents is effective.
5. Cloud Accounts
The Cloud primarily functions as a storage facility in cyberspace. Having Wi-Fi connection and login information allows anyone to access it anytime, anywhere.
While it permits convenience, the Cloud is appealing to cybercriminals. All they have to do is hack your login credentials and in an instant, your personal data is up for grabs.
The best way to secure your cloud storage account is not to store every photo and personal file in it, and save them on a hard drive instead. If you do use cloud-based software, set up a secure, unique password for each account.
6. At-Home Gadgets
Your everyday routine comprises tasks that require an Internet connection. This includes checking your email, uploading photos, playing video games, streaming music, and even watching movies.
You might not be aware of it, but connecting your gadgets to your home Wi-Fi increases the possibility of being a hacker’s target. Most likely, they’re not nearly as protected as you think. Many home networks use passwords that are easily hacked, which cyber criminals can now potentially manipulate any device connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
To protect your home gadgets, secure your router. If you have a default password for your home Wi-Fi network, change your network name and password. Only use apps and features on your smartphone that require a passcode to access them.
7. Camera-Enabled Devices
There was a number of reports last year about hacked baby monitors, nanny cameras, and such devices leading us to the conclusion that camera-enabled gadgets are potentially hackable. Attackers could easily use these devices to invade personal privacy, steal recorded videos, track when people are home, or take advantage of said devices to obtain access to the local network.
Simply setting up your devices with their default configurations will easily allow an attacker to use those tools and retrieve passwords. An IT security highly recommends that you change default passwords. If the device allows it, use a stronger password with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
Having the latest wireless technology at home or your fingertips may be cool. Then again, a technology that falls under the Internet of Things is too diverse to keep it a hundred percent safe from being hacked.
Keep in mind that these gadgets are developed to stay ahead, which is the reason they’re put out on the market long before IT security experts can assess their security flaws. It is, therefore, best to take the right preventive measures to safeguard your gadgets.
This guest post was submitted by Vlad de Ramos from the Philippines. Vlad has been in the IT industry for more than 22 years with focus on IT Management, Infrastructure Design, and IT Security. He is also a professional business and life coach, a teacher and a change manager. He has been focused on IT security awareness in the Philippines. He is a certified information security professional, a certified ethical hacker and forensics investigator and a certified information systems auditor.