Most of the fraudulent acts we see today are common schemes that have been around for years, but they are more effective now than ever before. Why? Our lifestyle, which keeps us constantly “connected,” has made it easier for fraudsters to perpetrate their schemes. Our smart devices: phones, watches, personal computers, autos, televisions, appliances, security cameras, printers, baby monitors, dog treat dispensers, and smart doorbells (just to name a few) help us feel connected but also make us vulnerable to cybercrime. Anything that is connected to and shares data with the internet is part of what is commonly referred to as the internet of things (IOT). Unfortunately, the IOT is also the future of fraud.
With all this connectivity in our homes, one of the biggest concerns is the security of the devices and the sensitive information they capture. Recent studies have found that some of these devices are easily “hacked” by fraudsters, which gives access to web cams and allows them to listen in on conversations, determine our location, get to know our sleep habits and eating habits. In essence, these devices provide them the ability to monitor our lives. The information collected can be used in tandem with other information readily available on the internet to create a clear picture of who we are.
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How do we protect ourselves from cybercrime on our smart home devices?
- Change the default administrative password used to log onto the setup pages of your router and change the default password for WIFI access. Surveys indicate that most people do not change the default passwords on their routers, which means their internet of things could be “open for business.”
- Rename your router something other than the default manufacturer name, which can be used to identify the make and model of the router. Choose something difficult that is not associated with any personal information a fraudster might be able to guess. We tend to keep our naming conventions and passwords simple, so they are “easily remembered.” Easily remembered usually means easily hacked.
- Do a little leg work on your smart devices. Ideally, do your research before purchasing the devices so you completely understand the security (or lack of security) of the technology.
- Check the preset settings to ensure they offer the best security. There are a lot of smart devices in the marketplace, some of which offer better security than others.
- Take advantage of two-step authentication if available.
- Use a password manager. These handy tools help you create complex passwords and store them online for easy access.
- Understand the privacy policies associated with your smart devices—whether information is being stored, and what is being done with the information (i.e. is it being sold?).
- Determine if and how updates are made to your smart devices. We all know that fraudsters like devices that are not properly updated, which makes for easier access.
- Consider setting up a separate network for smart devices if your router supports multiple networks.
Technology is a wonderful thing and can be very useful in our day to day. We need to take the time to ensure what keeps our lives connected is keeping our lives secure. We all like being “connected” let’s just make sure those connections are safe and secure.
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