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Is the “Internet of Things” Making Life More Dangerous?

by Bruce Haring

It’s not just your computer and your phone that are on a network anymore. Now, everything can be connected to the Internet. More and more everyday appliances come with Internet connections now, and even those that don’t can be easily adapted with a Wi-Fi attachment.

You can now send a document to your printer, make a pot of coffee, open your garage door, and look in your refrigerator to see what ingredients you need for dinner (and order the ones you’re out of), from anywhere in the world, using only your phone.

This sort of technology is bringing us into the future, finally making things like smart houses a real possibility. But is it safe? What if these everyday objects get hacked or otherwise compromised? What are some of the dangers that the Internet of Things brings with it?

Controlling Cars

One of the major uses for the Internet of Things is in vehicles. Fleets of trucks are able to communicate wirelessly with one another and with their headquarters, to track location, mileage, and more. Many also have a remote shutoff switch, which prevents them from being stolen when not in use. But what if someone managed to hack into the system and shut these trucks off in the middle of the road? This is a real possibility for many places, and one that experts are looking to remedy.

Other cars have remote access to steering, brakes, and other functions. If someone could break into the system, they could gain control over the vehicle, causing it to crash, or worse.

Compromised Smart Homes

There’s already plenty of damage someone could do if they gained access to the devices in your home. By hacking into webcams, they could spy on you, with both an audio and video window into just about any room with a computer in it. When you bring the Internet of Things into the mix, it gets much more dangerous.

Not only do computers have web-accessible cameras, but so do a lot of TVs. Between the two, someone could get a view of much of your house and even take pictures. In addition to using this to spy on you, they could also case the place for valuables and vulnerabilities before robbing it. Of course, you have a state of the art home security system. But if that’s remotely accessible as well, a hacker could simply turn it off before entering.

Plus, if you have other devices in your home connected to the Internet of Things, they could be used to cause damage too. By turning on the right devices, someone could even start a fire in your home.

How to Keep Your Possessions Safe

Does all of this mean you shouldn’t embrace the Internet of Things and the conveniences it brings with it? Not necessarily. Just exercise caution when using it. Here are a few precautions you can take to protect yourself against hackers.

  • Make sure all security features are enabled on any smart device.
  • Keep your firmware updated, along with any other security precautions.
  • Ensure that all devices are password protected, and use strong, secure passwords.
  • Use encryption for any network or device you operate.
  • If you have any ports you’re not using on a device or router, close them.

Technology is currently progressing at a much faster rate than anyone realizes. It can be difficult to keep up with in terms of security. However, as long as you exercise caution, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to use the Internet of Things freely and without trouble.

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