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By Allie Johnson for NortonLifeLock
One fact that has hit home during the coronavirus pandemic: Technology is central to our ability to stay connected.
You might stay in touch with family and friends via video chat and use online tools to do your job. You might live in a smarter home. Areas of your life that used to be divided into neat categories — online and offline, work and home — have merged.
That’s why now is a good time to boost your online security. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (also known as NCSAM, pronounced N-C-SAM), which asks you to do your part to promote cyber safety. This year marks the 17th NCSAM from the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Cyber Security Alliance.
This year’s theme: “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” It’s hashtag ready, so you might consider posting on social media to encourage your friends to join you. One message to get across: “If you connect it, protect it.”
The phrase “If You Connect It, Protect It” is a call to secure any object that’s connected to the internet. This applies to the Internet of Things — IoT, for short — everyday objects that can connect to the internet and share data with each other.
For instance, you may have a smart speaker that can tell you how to make a perfect boiled egg, a digital doorbell that lets you look at your smartphone to see who’s on your porch, or home lights you can flip on at night while you’re on vacation.
It is anticipated that more than 55 billion IoT devices will be connected to the internet by 2025, according to the technology market research firm IDC. All this connectivity opens up plenty of opportunity for cybercriminals who want to spy on you from your baby monitor, break into your home through your digital door lock or recruit your old device to carry out a cyberattack.
That’s why “If You Connect It, Protect It” is a good rule to live by. Here are a few IoT security tips for protecting your connected items:
Start by taking a look around your house and making a list of all your IoT devices. Consider replacing old or questionable devices. For example, you may want to get rid of that novelty camera you bought to see what your dog does while you’re away. It could be vulnerable to hackers who could spy on you and your family.
When you buy a new smart device, take these steps.
A Wi-Fi router offers an entry point that could allow a cybercriminal to access your IoT and home network. Setting up your router with security in mind is like putting a good lock on that door.
Here are some tips on setting up a router securely.
Use unique strong passwords or passphrases on all of your IoT apps and devices, and consider using a password manager to help you keep track of your login credentials. Also enable two-factor authentication if you have IoT accounts that offer this as an option.
Just like with other apps and software, it’s important to keep your IoT devices current with the latest updates to close security loopholes that could leave you vulnerable to hackers.
The pandemic brought unexpected changes, and many people are now working from home. The lines between our home and work lives and technology are less distinct than ever, so it’s key to secure your personal devices, however you use them.
Start by protecting the accounts and personal devices you use for personal and work purposes.
It’s important to protect both your personal and work data on personal devices. This may help keep identity thieves and other cyberthieves from getting your personal information and other sensitive data.
In a phishing scam, a cybercriminal sends an email to get you to click on a link, provide private information, or send money.
Cybercriminals have stolen $3 billion from businesses through email phishing scams since 2016, according to a Better Business Bureau study. These crooks may try to exploit the fact that you can’t run down the hall to ask your boss a question when you’re working from home.
Another sudden change brought by COVID-19 is an increase in telehealth appointments. As you juggle home and work, you may be seeing your doctor by video chat. Here are steps you can take to avoid privacy and security issues with telemedicine.
So remember to #Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart. Connected devices may be a big part of your life, and technology advances will offer new opportunities and present new security challenges. So set a time to review your tech, get up to date, and make sure you have protection for everything you connect now and in the future.