Cybersecurity Risks for Smart Devices

New Devices Come With New Risks

As the use of smart devices and the artificial intelligence that powers them becomes widespread, the allure of convenience often compromises consumers’ understanding of the safety, security, and privacy risks associated with these devices—especially as we utilize these items in our personal lives or at our workplace.

Wi-Fi Security

There are many key points to consider when purchasing a smart device – namely it’s security features, privacy policy, and the security of your home or workplace Wi-Fi network. But it is often the case that the tradeoff for the ease and low cost of a product are security features that are weak or completely lacking.

Smart devices track so much of our personal data these days (bank accounts, health data, internet searches). This means it is vital to research how the manufacturer protects the privacy of your information. Furthermore, ensuring that your Wi-Fi network is secure also enhances the security of your data. To best fortify your network, make sure that your router has WPA2 encryption enabled, create a strong, hard to decipher password, and create a separate network on your Wi-Fi network just for smart devices to prevent cyber hackers from accessing all your devices if they manage to hack into your smart devices.

Smart Devices and Their Risks

If you are in the market for a new smart device, knowledge of their risks and benefits will help you decide which device to buy and which to avoid. The table below outlines the categories of smart devices and their risks as well as tips for how to keep them cyber-safe.

Smart Speakers
  • Embedded microphone can hear anything you’re saying – private or otherwise.
  • Online shopping feature discloses your payment information

  • Secure with strong password and multi-factor authentication
  • Disallow it to remember sensitive information
  • Mute the microphone when not using voice commands

Smart TVs, projectors, streaming sticks
  • Embedded microphone can hear anything you’re saying – private or otherwise.
  • Included app store may be less trustworthy than Apple or Google’s app store.

  • Mute the microphone when not using voice commands
  • Look at app’s privacy policy before installing
  • Don’t give apps private information

Smartphones, tablets, laptops
  • Potential location exposure
  • Malware that steals data
  • Apps using data even when not actively using
  • Risk of small devices getting lost or stolen.

  • Secure account with strong password
  • Enable the auto-lock feature to lock automatically
  • Don’t give apps private information
  • Only download apps from trusted sources – Apple or Google app stores
  • Install anti-virus protection

Internet-enabled home and office devices (door locks/bells, refrigerators)
  • Daily routine exposure
  • Potential for hacking into Wi-Fi network

  • Read privacy policy
  • Secure device with strong password
  • Keep software up-to-date

On-the-go devices (phone case chargers)
  • Network exposure from a device that is not your own
  • Hacking and data exposure

  • Only use with secure devices
  • Disable unneeded features – Bluetooth/location

  • Personal information stored and sent to third-party apps
  • Control and accessibility of other smart devices, increasing risk of cyber threat
  • Can send malware if compromised

  • Secure with PIN or biometric lock
  • Check privacy settings
  • Turn off microphone when not in use
  • Read about how your data is being collected

Wireless headphones
  • People can eavesdrop by compromising wireless signals
  • Potential for stealing personal data
  • Can be disconnected and reconnected to external device if hacked

  • Buy headphones with extra security – PIN to connect
  • Update software often
  • Don’t say personal information when talking over them
  • Disable and turn off when not in use

Health & fitness trackers
  • If unsecure, risk of personal information exposure
  • Connection to social media exposes daily routine
  • Exposure to home Wi-Fi network

  • Disable microphone when not in use
  • Keep software up-to-date
  • Look at privacy policy
  • Selectively choose which apps have access

Cybersecurity Best Practices

It’s never a bad time to analyze your cybersecurity habits and best practices. In this age of privacy exposures, with new products frequently posing greater security risks to the user, knowing what you can do to better improve the privacy and security of your organization is more important than ever.

  • Train your workers in the best methods for cyberattack prevention is vital. This includes identifying phishing emails, visiting secure internet websites, using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, and protecting client information. The CSD Pool offers eRisk Hub free to members, which includes various cyberattack training modules and an incident roadmap for managing a cyberattack.
  • Perform a system-wide cybersecurity audit that focuses on the health of your network and highlights any vulnerabilities that cyberattackers may exploit. The CSD Pool offers discounted rates on NetDiligence QuietAudit cyber assessments. A limited number of scholarships are available to cover the costs.
  • Secure your home and work Wi-Fi connection by encrypting information and using a firewall will also protect sensitive information.
  • Use antivirus software and frequently check for updates to have the latest security measures in place.
  • Secure and back up private data on your computer. This includes using trustworthy tools and anti-fraud services, allowing only administrative permissions to personal employee/private company information (digital and physical)
  • Attend a free Small Business Administration training event to further educate yourself on the modern cybersecurity threats and best practices for you and your company. Events are available to view on their website.

Take Action

While the widespread growth of smart technologies can be overwhelming and intimidating, it is important to remember that these devices’ control over your privacy is entirely dependent on what information you allow them to have. Taking action to protect yourself from personal privacy threats is also vital to prevent and fight against them. By gaining information needed of the privacy protection of these products, you will gain a level of comfort and security in choosing which to own or bring into your workplace.

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