Online Safety in Internet of Things Age

| March 01, 2017 | |

Today protecting yourself online means dealing with a lot of different threats all at once. A growing number of households have microphones in their room, thanks to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, in addition to many other smart devices that help run a home more efficiently. And while away from home, almost all of us have probably jumped online using public Wi-Fi to use an app, do an internet search or send an email.

All of the above pose threats to your cybersecurity; while setting up and learning the necessary protections require time and attention, not doing so can have devastating consequences if your security is breached or identity is stolen.

A recent Pew Research Center survey on cybersecurity found that 49 percent of Americans polled felt their personal information was less secure than it was five years ago, and a majority (64 percent) said they have been exposed to some kind of data breach.

In today’s smart homes, a growing number of items are connected to the internet with the intention of making our lives easier, as TCA’s February newsletter article on the recent Consumer Electronics Show explored. But smart home devices are pretty dumb when it comes to safeguards, requiring effort on the part of the consumer to keep them from providing another entry point for hackers.

From changing factory-set default passwords to activating your home router’s firewall to disabling camera features, here’s a few steps you can take to minimize your exposure around the house.

What about public Wi-Fi? Many cable operators – including TCA Members Charter (Spectrum) and Comcast (Xfinity) – offer their subscribers access to more than 500,000 nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots through the network name CableWiFi.

If you have to use public Wi-Fi, such as offered by a coffee shop, retailer or even public transportation, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your data. For example, look for sites with an encrypted connection or a network that requires a password. Also, connect to the right network – ask the establishment where you are for the name of the network; hackers can set up spoof hotspots. You can find additional tips here.