The problem is that many people don’t realise that IoT has silently invaded their homes. A Wi-Fi router, a media storage device, even a set-top box can all generate alerts, check websites, and most can be remotely updated through insecure backdoors by the manufacturer. If a device becomes part of a botnet, you end up paying as it uses your data to carry out cyberattacks.
There is a free app for iOS and Android, Fing, that is typically called a network sniffer. After signing in with a Google account (iOS not tested), you can also access it from a Web browser. It will reveal all the devices connected to your network, let you set alerts (like email you when it is offline or accessed), tune the network, etc.
Fing is also releasing the Fingbox that will detect intruders onto the network, identify bandwidth hogs, find Wi-Fi sweet spots, monitor Internet speed and service quality, and scan for open ports, etc. It looks like a comprehensive offering, but it won’t be shipping until mid-2017.
Domenico Crapanzano, chief executive of Fing said, “There are now so many ways that intruders can enter into unsuspecting homes and cause real damage, so it is of the utmost importance to implement a home network monitoring solution/strategy.”
He recommends that consumers think about IoT before leaving on holidays.
- Change passwords on both admin and user accounts on routers – this is the main entry point to a home network. If you don’t know how to do this, find or download the router’s manual and persevere.
- If you have a Wi-Fi security camera, change passwords as well. Not that criminals can disrupt Wi-Fi signals so it may be best to hard wire such critical devices. Check that their alerts have the correct email or SMS address.
- Change any the passwords of any other devices connected to the network – it is good practice even if you only do it annually.
- Use strong passwords – at least ten characters with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numerals, and symbols.
- Have a look at the “apps” installed on connected tablets and devices and check for updates or if you don’t use them uninstall them – a lot of apps gather data from your network so the fewer, the better.
- The obvious one – switch off IoT devices that you don’t need while you are away.
Crapanzano says that user awareness of the security issues is fine, but you must do something about it. He recommends more research before purchasing and attaching any new IoT devices.