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How to Protect Your IoT devices

Internet of Things gadgets can be really useful. I love the convenience of operating a smart light bulb using my cell phone just like everyone else. Who wouldn't want to be able to set the color of the light in his or her room as he or she desires? However, poorly secured IoT devices continue to cause serious problems. They allow hackers to take control over your gadgets, damage them, and even get you into trouble by using them to attack various websites.

Yes, the problem is that serious! Nevertheless, there are several things that you can do to increase security. Here's what works right now.

1. Use a router which includes a built-in, hardware-based firewall. Don't ever connect your IoT devices straight to the Internet! Your router provides an additional layer of security, because it can block connection requests for undesirable IP addresses.

It also helps to utilize an antivirus which includes a software-based firewall. It's not as efficient as one that uses dedicated hardware components, of course, but it provides an additional layer of security that shouldn't be ignored.

2. Change the device's default user name and password. That is, if your IoT device allows you to do that. If it's not possible, my recommendation is to throw it away! Yes, it is best to do that, and then purchase a more expensive gadget, which was produced by a company who takes security seriously.

I think that it is obvious why cheaper IoT devices lack many of the needed security features. So, you shouldn't be surprised to discover that some intelligent light bulbs cost twice as much as other products. Always do your research before purchasing a new IoT device. See what other people have to say about it; does it work as expected, and (most importantly) does its manufacturer release timely security updates?

Don't forget to set a strong password for your device. Hackers make use of existing password dictionaries, combining various words and numbers. So, if you use something like "lightbulb3kitchen" for your password, do yourself a favor and change it right now, adding several symbols such as & and $ to it.

3. Responsible companies will release patches which fix the biggest security holes in their IoT devices on a regular basis. So, visit their websites and update to the latest firmware whenever they release a new version.

4. Change the default settings. Your new IOT device may have lots of features which aren't necessary, but may increase security risks. So, take the time to check out the "settings" section of the application and disable all the functions that aren't needed and may increase security risks – anonymous data collection and reporting, to give you an example.

5. Turn off the devices that aren't used regularly. In fact, you should also make it a habit to restart the devices that need to stay on at all times, every week or so. Why? Because most viruses will be wiped out from the memory by doing this. So, turn your IoT devices off for a minute, and then turn them back on if they really need to work 24/7/365.

6. Ensure that your smart phone is properly patched and free from viruses. Your IoT device may be fine, but this doesn't mean that the app that controls it can't get infected. Always update the phone's operating system to the latest version, and make sure that all the other apps are patched as well. To minimize risks, keep the number of installed apps to a minimum, at least on the phone that controls your home security system, for example.

There is no doubt about it: IoT devices have recently become very attractive targets for hackers. Still, by applying the ideas which were highlighted by this article, you should be able to fight back successfully.