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Behind Last Month’s Internet Breakdown

We’ve harped for years about the inherent conflict of convenience vs. online security. That conflict reared its ugly head during the distributed denial-of-service attacks, using – maybe – millions of computers to hit some of the world’s largest and most popular e-commerce and news websites.

Investigators have been able to pin part of the cause on hackers using IP addresses commandeered from millions of home devices, commonly called IoT (Internet of Things) – such as interior and exterior security cameras, doorbell and baby monitors, thermostats, etc. – that are increasingly popular with consumers. Too many people install them on their Wi-Fi networks and never bother to change default user names or passwords. That just leaves the door wide open to have their devices hijacked and used for malicious purposes.

From our point of view, it’s what happens when we get lazy and sloppy because we are so tuned into convenience. And, a DDoS attack can be the least consequential problem for you, personally. The hacker can gain control of your device and peak into your house at will – and even change your thermostat settings.

Users are not the only sloppy parties in this turn of events. The device manufacturers share the blame because they don’t require you to reset your user name or password as part of the installation process. After all, they don’t want the blame for your inconvenience, and we think that’s wrong. They can require you to reset user names and passwords as part of the installation process.

You can help prevent these DDoS attacks by making sure you change user names and passwords for the devices during the installation process. You can further protect your privacy by making sure your Wi-Fi network has a good, strong password. Too many people leave the default user name and password on their routers, too.

We should note that businesses, including professional services providers, can be just as lax as home users. We’ve had client systems hacked because their system administrators did not set up stronger log-in credentials.

We strongly urge everyone to have somebody look at their networks and IT systems and procedures once or twice a year. This may not be a comfortable analogy for some people, but even though you brush your teeth and floss every day, you still maintain better health when you visit the dentist once or twice a year for a cleaning and exam.

If you avoid the visit because of expense, it’s costlier – and more painful – to fix the problem instead of preventing it. What would be your cost for system downtime and repairing security breaches? Contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email to find out what our security audit would cover for you and to set it up. In today’s world, you can’t afford to overlook any possible weakness.