Who’s Watching? Internal Software and the IoT

Connected homes. Connected cars. Doing more over the internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing faster and faster. And that begs two questions: 1.) Who’s watching? 2.) How do you pull the shades on prying eyes?

The answer to the first question is unnervingly simple: It could be anyone in the world.

The short answer to the second question is: Shore-up your security.

As I walked around CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas last month, I looked at all the devices that are connected to the internet. I thought about all the internal software in those devices – and wondered who’s upgrading that software for security?

Software is at the heart of every device in our house that’s connected – usually wirelessly – to the internet. While we continue to encourage you to change the username and password for every device you have, it’s still possible for hackers to use an open “back door” to get inside the internal software for, let’s say, the camera systems inside and outside your house. We all need to make sure that the companies who provide all these great connected devices are updating their software security. It’s no different than the security patches issued by all software publishers.

In the absence of device manufacturers pushing out software updates, you should make it a habit to visit their websites to see if any updates are available for your products – and to download them and install them right away.

It’s also important to know what’s in your house – even if it’s wired. We visited a house that somebody was buying, and we found a mound of wires in the basement. Not only did the new owners not know what all the wires were connected to, the old owner didn’t know about all of them, either. We found the whole house had been hard-wired, and that there was an old security camera system. We connected all the access points in the house to relieve the pressure on the new Wi-Fi system we installed, and we set up the camera system and made sure it was secure. But had we not been there, nobody would have known how everything was supposed to work and if anything had been exposed to a security breach.

Automobiles, by the way, have internal software, too, and you generally need to visit a dealer to have that checked. It has been demonstrated that hackers can break into certain parts of your car’s computer system and affect your car’s operation. While there’s likely not a widespread benefit that makes economic sense for doing this, you could be an isolated, totally random victim of someone who’s just playing around with the idea of hacking a car.

If you have any questions about the security steps you need to take for your devices, gather all the information you can find about the product and call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us with your questions. If need be, we can help you find the correct software updates or get the information you need to ask the right questions when you contact your device manufacturer.