The Future of Connected Devices — NCSAM Week 4

Preparing for the Future of Technology

The final week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will take a look at the future of connected devices.

The growth and expansion of the technology world has continued — and been further amplified — in the year 2020. What were once luxury items for only the most tech savvy have become a staple of our work and home lives. Advanced tech has matured into the mainstream, but how can we prepare for the future of innovation in a world that’s already so tech-dependent?

This week’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme will look at how technological innovations, such as 5G, might impact consumers’ and business’ online experiences (e.g. faster speeds and data transmission, larger attack surface for hackers), as well as how people/infrastructure can adapt to the continuous evolution of the connected devices moving forward. No matter what the future holds, however, every user needs to be empowered to do their part. 

PlexTrac is a registered 2020 Champion Organization. Organizations listed as Champions represent those dedicated to promoting a safer, more secure, and more trusted Internet. To learn more about PlexTrac, click here.

To learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, click here.

Technological Innovations have a Bright Side

Everyone loves a new, shiny tech toy despite the fact each advancement comes with new risk. From a brand-new smartphone to a new supercharged gaming console, all the way to the wave of innovation in the automotive industry (I’m looking at you, Elon Musk), technology is constantly becoming more powerful and convenient. 

While yes, these new devices open consumers up to new vulnerabilities and attack vectors, they also move the needle forward for our lives and the tech industry as a whole. For instance, the launch of 5G data speeds by major phone carriers will increase the new expected normal for the general consumer.

There’s no doubt that the future of the technology industry is an exciting one. Many industries across the globe have found new and exciting ways to use internet-connected devices. For example, Internet of Things devices have seen a massive increase in use in the healthcare industry, an advancement that provides these professionals with information in a faster and more efficient manner. However, this excitement should be joined by a willingness to adapt to the constant technological innovation by making your security a high priority.

Adapting to Continuous Technological Innovation is a Must

By 2030 it’s projected that each person will own 15 connected devices. As stated above, our increased reliance on technology should be joined by an increase in the time we spend securing said technology, right? The key to preparing for the future of connected devices is taking the time to do so.

Nearly everything around you is a connected device, but they’re not always treated that way. Individuals—usually thanks to their IT department’s prompting—take a significant amount of time to secure their work computers with firewalls, software, and other advanced security measures. However, have they done the same for their phone, smart watch, or even their home computer? The answer is probably no.

The simple fact is that securing all of your IoT devices requires a significant time investment. In the past it was expected that something you buy would simply work. While this is still a universal expectation for a product you purchase, you need to make a conscious effort to ensure your devices remain secure while “simply working.”

With this in mind, here are some simple steps to ensure all of your IoT devices are protected now and in the future.

Tips to Protect Yourself Now and in the Future

1. Vet the cybersecurity of a device before you purchase it

While the idea of buying a new tech device is an exciting one, you should conduct thorough research before you buy. On top of simply vetting the company who sells said device, new-to-market devices often ship with annoying bugs, defects, and even critical security vulnerabilities. While we can’t force you to wait to buy that new device, we suggest you do some research on the item and company before you begin plugging your sensitive information into it.

2. Keep all of your devices’ software up-to-date

Once you have vetted that new device and purchased it, it’s important to maintain it’s security into the future. One of the best ways to accomplish this is always ensuring your device has the most recent software available. Software updates offer exciting new features and functionality to users, but they also patch important security issues and bolster defenses against bad actors. Don’t keep pushing that update off, because it’s likely that update has come to you for a good reason.

3. Use varied passwords on your different accounts and devices

We understand that the number of devices in each household will not be decreasing any time soon. However, more devices equals more ways to be hacked. With this in mind, it’s important that you do not use the same password for every device and account you own. Use a variety of complex passwords to ensure a compromise of one device or account does not mean the compromise of all of your devices and accounts.

4. Be #CyberSmart

Our last bit of advice is a callback to National Cybersecurity Awareness Month’s 2020 tagline “Be CyberSmart.” As we travel into the future it is important to remember what is at stake when navigating the Internet. This tip isn’t meant to scare you out of your bad habits, but rather to empower you as an individual to implement and reinforce good habits. The blanket term “CyberSmart” relates to all of these simple tips:

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) whenever possible,
  • Enable multi-factor authentication,
  • Don’t click on links without knowing their end destination,
  • Be cautious of phishing schemes and other attempts to steal your information,
  • Use all of the security functionality available on your connected device, and lastly,
  • Only surf websites with reliable credibility (especially while at work).

Wrapping up NCSAM

The overarching theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2020 is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” The theme empowers individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, with a particular emphasis on the key message for 2020: “If you connect it, protect it.”  If everyone does their part—implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences, or training employees—our interconnected world will be safer and more resilient for everyone.

Learn more about Cybersecurity Awareness Month by clicking here.

PlexTrac is a 2020 registered champion for Cybersecurity Awareness Month. To learn more about PlexTrac, the Purple Teaming Platform, click here.

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