By Megan Bozman
We all know the massive impact the internet has had on the world. Those advances are due not just to connectivity, but to cybersecurity. Sure, we might be happy to share recipes, tweets, and photos on Instagram without assurances that our content is secure. Most users share such content with the intention of disseminating it to a global audience. But the proliferation of email, banking, and ecommerce required more than mere connectivity. Security has enabled us to fully exploit the capabilities of the internet.
To question the efficacy of cybersecurity is to question the value of technology in our world.
When we consider the deaths occurring annually in automobile accidents, we don’t propose abandoning the technology to return to the horse, or simply walking. (Incidentally, the word “car” comes from the term “horseless carriage.”)
And these are the thoughts I had upon reading US President-elect Donald Trump’s latest statements to reporters. “It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe. I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe. I have a boy who’s 10 years old, he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”
The Current State of Cybersecurity
Yes, there have been problems with cybersecurity in a variety of formats. International digital security leader Gemalto annually generates the Breach Level Index report of data records lost or stolen globally. (Spoiler alert: While there’s still much room for improvement, 2015 was better than 2014.) The first ransomware attack of a consumer-grade IoT product, a connected thermostat, was demonstrated recently. And of course, there was the Mirai IoT botnet attack just last month.
No one denies cybersecurity is a challenge. But should we consider it a lost cause? I will no sooner switch to hand-written, courier-delivered communications than switch to horse-drawn transportation. Although I think this response is absolutely brilliant — and hilarious.
Make Carrier Pigeons Great Again pic.twitter.com/1VDQcmfz0k
— Matt Viser (@mviser) January 1, 2017
So if you find the idea of couriers to be as unacceptable of an answer to inadequate cybersecurity as I do, what can you reasonably do? Plenty!
Strengthening your IoT Cybersecurity
To reduce your personal risk of exposure from hacking, Jeff Kitson of Trustwave SpiderLabs suggests:
- Consider hosting a dedicated WiFi network for IoT devices that limits internet access or removes it entirely.
- “Organizations concerned about being exposed to greater risk due to IoT devices should be performing regular network scans and vulnerability assessments. Proper network inventory should uncover strange or new IP addresses which may be IoT devices.”
Dale Drew, chief security officer at Level 3 Communications advises:
- Choose a complex password.
- Use a different password for each device.
- Get an internet connected device that is hub certified. Being hub-certified requires more security rigor than other devices.
Compute on, my fellow technophiles, just be smart about it.