During the holidays, internet-connected devices—also known as Internet of
Things (IoT) devices—are popular gifts. These include smart cameras, smart
TVs, watches, toys, phones, and tablets. Although this technology provides
added convenience to our lives, it often requires that we share personal and
financial information over the internet. The security of this information,
and the security of these devices, is not guaranteed. For example, vendors
often store personal information in databases, which may be vulnerable to
cyberattacks or unintentionally exposed to the internet. Information breaches
or leaks can enable malicious cyber actors to engage in identify theft and
multi-factor authentication when available. Many manufacturers
offer users the option to protect accounts with multi-factor
authentication (MFA). MFA adds another layer of security and can
significantly reduce the impact of a password compromise because the
malicious cyber actor needs the other factor—often the user’s mobile
phone—for authentication. See Supplementing
for more information.
strong passwords. Passwords are a common form of authentication and are
often the only barrier between you and your personal information. Some
internet-enabled devices are configured with default passwords to
simplify setup. These default passwords are easily found online, so they
don’t provide any protection. Choose strong passwords to help secure
your device. See Choosing and
Protecting Passwords for more information.
your security settings. Most devices offer a variety of features that you can
tailor to meet your needs and requirements. Enabling certain features to
increase convenience or functionality may leave you more at risk. It is
important to examine the settings—particularly security settings—and
select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased
risk. If you install a patch or a new version of software, or if you
become aware of something that might affect your device, reevaluate your
settings to make sure they are still appropriate. See Good Security Habits for more information.
you have up-to-date software. When manufacturers become aware of vulnerabilities in
their products, they often issue patches to fix the problem. Patches are
software updates that fix a particular issue or vulnerability within
your device’s software. Make sure to apply relevant patches as soon as
possible to protect your devices. See Understanding Patches for more information.
your device is connected to the internet, it’s also connected to millions
of other computers, which could allow attackers access to your device.
Consider whether continuous connectivity to the internet is necessary.
If it isn’t, disconnect. See Home Network Security for more information.