Don’t forget security in the Internet of Things

Imagine a fork that helps you diet. It already exists: The Hapifork is a Bluetooth-enabled utensil that monitors your eating speed, designed to help you slow down and feel full sooner.

Feeling guilty about leaving Whiskers and Spot home alone while you’re sunbathing on a tropical beach? You can play with and dispense treats to your pets via webcam products now available on Amazon.

Products like those are the tip of an innovation iceberg. As the Internet of Things expands, the way we work, shop, drive and spend our free time will change and never be the same. Devices will adjust light levels and temperatures to help ensure a good night’s sleep. Connected kitchens will help an uninspired cook create a gourmet meal from items already in the cupboards and refrigerator. Sensors will monitor health, and warn an individual of impending illness.

IoT is a term that encompasses any device that’s connected to and exchanges data via the internet. Today, that includes Fitbits, smart thermostats, Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Soon, it will include smart cities in which technology will ease traffic, conserve energy, improve pedestrian safety and decrease crime. The military, fashion, manufacturing – nothing will be untouched by this rapidly advancing, intertwined technology.

Change is coming fast.

But in the heady rush to join the IoT world, experts say consumers can’t neglect basic security. Many of these new devices are vulnerable to hacking. That means a tech-savvy thief could bypass that smart security system and walk into your home undetected, or upend your life in a myriad of other ways.

Here are a few simple ways to protect yourself:

  • Make sure your home’s router (Wi-Fi) is password protected.
  • Change the default passwords for each new device.
  • Check to see if communications on a device you’re considering are encrypted, and if they aren’t, don’t buy it. A Google search should give you the answer.
  • Make your passwords complicated, and if possible, use two-factor identification (requiring the added step of a text or email to verify who is seeking access).
  • Always install manufacturer updates, and do it as soon as possible.

Next, sit back and enjoy the ride into the future. Some say the life we’re heading toward will more closely resemble the futuristic cartoon “The Jetsons” than anything we’ve experienced so far.

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