Cyber Security Awareness Month | Week 3 focus
Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) is built upon the fact that the internet is a shared resource and securing it is our shared responsibility. Cyber Security Awareness Month is an internationally recognized campaign held each October to inform the public of the importance of cyber security. This campaign is focused on helping all Canadians be more secure online, by being informed and knowing the simple steps to take to protect themselves, their families, their workplace and their devices. The month is divided by themes which highlight different aspects of cyber security.
Week 3 | Oct. 16-20| Privacy Protection and the Internet of Things
Identifying strategies for security, safety and privacy while leveraging the latest internet-connected technology. With the ever-expanding adoption of connected devices by industry and individuals, it is critical to explore the individual’s role in safeguarding their cyber space.
Smart cities, smart cars and homes, and even connected healthcare devices are fast becoming our new reality. Week 3 will remind digital citizens that their data is the fuel that makes interconnected devices work. While there are tremendous benefits of interconnectivity, it is important to understand how to reap the benefits of this technology in safe and secure ways.
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical devices (also called “smart” or “connected” devices) that connect to each other via the internet. They collect and exchange information with one another and with us. Smart devices can be remotely controlled and monitored, or work automatically, through a variety of software, cameras and sensors.
Types of IoT technology
There are many types of smart devices, and more emerging every day.
IoT in the Home
- Entertainment systems including a television, gaming system, speakers and headphones
- Heating and cooling systems such as the a thermostat, ceiling fan, carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm, and lights
- Home security systems including alarms, smart locks, garage door openers, baby monitors, cameras, and home assistants
- Smart home appliances like a refrigerator, coffee maker, oven, and vacuum
IoT on the Go
- Connected smart cars, buses, trains, and airplanes
- Wearables like a fitness tracker, watch Healthcare devices like heart and blood pressure monitors are converting to smart devices as well. Even your pet can be connected with a tracking collar.
How IoT technology works
Web-enabled smart devices transmit information gathered from their surroundings using embedded sensors, software and processors. Smart devices communicate with one another (machine to machine) or with us through our smartphones. After initial setup, most smart devices work automatically, collecting and sending information.
Why IoT is popular
Because of the automatic nature of the IoT, smart devices have many advantages. Coffee starts brewing when your alarm goes off in the morning. Your child forgets their keys, but you can unlock the door from work. You can remotely monitor your home and your family to keep them and your belongings safe. You can streamline your home’s functions to make things run more efficiently. The IoT can change how you organize and schedule, and adding convenience and connection.
What are the risks?
With the automatic flow of information and connection between IoT devices comes a new set of cyber security risks. If you can access all your data remotely, a cybercriminal might be able to as well. The very nature of the IoT is connectivity, but with so many devices on one network, hackers could have multiple access points to your information. That’s why security settings can be important. For example, a thermostat connected to your home network that is not properly secured could be a gateway to your identity, money, your address and other devices.
Not only is a breach of information a risk, but also someone taking control of a device and its functions. For example, someone hacking your smart lock system may not steal information, but they may be able to unlock the doors and steal your belongings.
How a cyber attack works
Using malware, hackers can turn devices into remote-controlled “bots”. These “bots” can be used to spread viruses and other malware, and even conduct a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) against other systems. Once compromised, a device’s camera and microphone can also be used by the hacker. In fact, some baby monitors, children’s toys, as well as certain insulin pumps and pacemakers have been shown to be hackable. An added concern is that some manufacturers of smart devices reserve the right, in the terms and conditions, to store data and share it.
Protect yourself: #ConnectSmarter with the IoT
As more and more everyday objects become connected IoT devices, there are simple things you can do to protect your privacy and security:
- Change the manufacturer’s default user names and use strong passwords for your Wi-Fi network and smart devices. Don’t use anything that could be associated with your name, address or phone number.
- Enable a lock-screen password on devices.
- Use up-to-date security software on your home computer and connected devices. Update operating systems of all your devices.
- To limit the damage of a cyber-attack, separate your IoT devices from your main network. Ask your service provider for help to create a ‘guest’ network for your IoT devices.
- Understand what personal information is being collected and why it’s needed before you buy IoT devices or download apps.
- Turn off geolocation when it isn’t needed; if an application can see your location, a hacker could too.
- Set the camera and microphone off when you are not using it.
- Maintain good cyber security practices (e.g. don’t open attachments from people you don’t know, don’t use automatic login, etc.)