Are Smart Devices Too Dumb to Protect Themselves (And Us) from Cyber Attacks?

Smart and AI technology are increasingly being woven into our daily lives, almost to the point of ubiquitousness, the way we think of securing our personal security information within these devices will necessarily need to increase as well. Smart homes, smart cities, self-driving cars, and AI interface agents like, Alexa, Siri, and Viv all make up what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). And once a device is connected to the internet, it immediately becomes a potential target for hackers.

While hacking someone’s emails or banking information can be embarrassing or costly, hacking the Internet of Things could be dangerous.” Unlike computers that only affect bits, the Internet of Things affects objects,” says security technologist Bruce Schneier. “An internet thermostat turns the heat on and off, internet-enabled cars drive around, and these devices are vulnerable to hacking. The fear is that they can be used to physically harm people.”

The bottom line is that too many of our smart devices are inherently too dumb to protect themselves (and us) against cyberattacks—and The Economist seems to agree with us. But the surprising news is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) might actually be able to help protect us from our IoTs devices.

To help us answer these questions we consulted IoT expert, and connected car and transport technology consultant Chris Barker. Chris provides business, communications and public policy consulting support to automakers, aerospace companies, suppliers, technology companies, investment firms and government organizations around the globe. Chris is also focused on advocating for the role of technology in advancing transportation and urban mobility.

Here are a few important IoT security measures that Chris suggests you consider:

  • Put your home appliances, devices, and backup data sources on a private network with multi-factor authentication requirements (biometrics, strong passwords, voice commands, etc.) for on-site and remote access to these sources.
  • Ensure multi-factor authentication usernames and password are set for a 30-60-90 day reset.
  • Purchase remote tracking software that flags you if a suspect log-in/authentication occurs. This will allow you to verify if the login is a legitimate user accessing your home or device, or a hacker. Remote tracking is the Internet version of remote video surveillance.
  • If you add or remove an IP enabled device in your home, car, or from your computer, check to make sure the device doesn’t have stored IP addresses that can serve as an opening to get into your sensitive information. For example, if you plug your phone into a rental car and sync the phone to vehicle’s Bluetooth system, your phone data is now captured in the car even after you return the vehicle. Be sure to delete your information from the vehicle’s onboard phone directory before returning the rental car. Often our phones serve as mobile wallets and our personal data is streamed into the car and then left for the next person to access. Always clear the cache on the phone and the car before moving on. The same is true for computers, and other devices, always clear the cache or wipe the memory clean before discarding devices.
  • Separate your email server from Internet browsing. Hackers will often embed malicious code of viruses into photos embedded in Websites or emails and when you click on the photo, you’ve then executed the virus or enabled the hack.
  • Be careful of remote log-in network IP addresses gathered on your devices from traveling through hotels, airports, office buildings and other unknown locations. Not all wireless networks are created equal when it comes to security. You may have 10-12 cached wireless networks stored on your computer – this now represents 10-12 potential remote paths for unwanted entry into your computer. Delete the networks after use and/or avoid wireless networks that don’t require authentication.
  • Make sure your most critical devices – computer, home network, car have remote network virus protection and intrusion detection prevention software. Make sure you’re updating the software every six months to accommodate new security patches.

With all of the conveniences we’re afforded through added connectivity to our cars, homes, and devices, there are consequences, says Chris. Anything with an IP address is an open opportunity for a hack from an outside party. In this age of the Internet of Things (IoT), we have to create layers of protection to safeguard our connected cars, homes, and personal information.  

The content writers at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau are Experts on the Experts. They hold doctoral, masters, and bachelors’ degrees in business, writing, literature, and education. Their business thought pieces are published regularly in leading business publications. Working in close association with the top business, entrepreneur, and motivational speakers, BigSpeak content writers are at the forefront of industry trends and research.