Cybersecurity: The Internet of Things

If you're reading this, you may have some kind of smart device in your possession. Maybe it's a smart TV or an Alexa or a Nest Thermostat. Once upon a time, I would've said that you should simply avoid these devices, however I think that we're moving into an age where that advice is antiquated. It's becoming harder and harder to escape the "Internet of Things," so this section will provide some overall advice on basic privacy and security for IoT devices.

Avoidance

Having said that, I still encourage everyone to pass on these devices if you can. None of us really needs any of the modern "creature comforts" to survive, so I'm not going to be the curmudgeonly old man decrying kids these days and their newfangled gadgets, but it is important that we realize that each one of these devices we bring into our lives puts us at risk in privacy and security. The smart TV you purchase not only reports invasive network information, but these devices also offer hackers a way into your home with things like lack of updates and default passwords. Believe it or not, you can use a light bulb to access all the other devices on the network.

Is it worth the risk? Do you really need to know the second a package arrives at your doorstep? (I argue that you should be using a PO Box anyways). Do you really need a fridge that tells you the milk has gone bad? These answers vary from person to person. I can live just fine without TV, so a smart TV is definitely something I don't need. Someone else may be a film buff and may find a lot of value in a high-quality TV that can stream from dozens of services easily. There are no wrong answers here, but I do encourage you to first ask yourself if the value a smart device brings you is worth the privacy invasion and security risk that comes with it.

If You Must

If you decide that a smart device is for you there's several key pieces of conventional wisdom that will help to dramatically increase your privacy and security while using said devices.

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