Hacker self-defence in the world of IoT Part 1

With all the fear mongering around about ransomware this and all the data that, I thought I’ll explain some very easy ways in protecting yourself. There are 3 parts to this explanation, protecting your home, business and finally, protection for your Fun.

Protecting your home

Your home is now becoming online. Sarah Conner would be having kittens now! With Wifi Cameras and intelligent fridges around the corner, a scene from 2001 comes to mind. “HAL open the fridge door”. “Sorry Dave I cannot do that”.

So here are 5 easy steps to secure your digital home from monster toasters.

Step1 Secure your internet connection

Consider your internet connection as an extra door to your home. Most people have no idea about the little box that supplies the internet in your home, except for reading the printed sticker for the WEP key to go online. But that is how all those devices and your PC connect to the internet and I bet you never changed that WEP key before? WEP keys could be cracked in just a few hours by hackers and that’s everything virtually compromised.

So, first port of call is the router, that’s the little box with flashing lights.

On the router it, where it reads what your default WEP key is, there should be extra details as the IP address of the router( by default, probably shown on the sticker with the WEP key is printed), User name and Password. If not, look in the manual provided or contact the person you bought it from.

  1. Use a PC or Laptop connected to the router by Wi-Fi or cable.
  2. Open a web browser such as Internet Explorer.
  3. Type in the IP address of the router into the browser address bar.
  4. A new window prompts for you to type in your User name and Password. Then click submit.
  5. Select security on the menu and change your security to WPA/WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access Pre-Shared Key) first if not already.
  6. Select Security Encryption (WPA-PSK) > Passphrase and enter a passphrase. (The passphrase may either be a string of 64 hexadecimal digits, or word/phrase of 8-63 ASCII characters.)
  7. Click Apply to save your settings.
  8. Reconnect your Wi-Fi devices with the new connection.

Step2 Download an anti-virus

You might already have one installed on your PC or laptop, but are all your devices protected? Most Antivirus programs groups all your devices under one license. The Antivirus I prefer are free, Avast being the top of the list.

Here are the best for windows, Avast Free Antivirus 2017, AVG Antivirus Free (2017), Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2017), Check Point ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus+ 2017, Kaspersky Free Antivirus, Sophos Home, Avira Antivirus (2017), Adaware antivirus free 12, Comodo Antivirus 10, Panda Free Antivirus (2017).

Step3 Passwords and 2 step verification

With 2-Step Verification enabled (also known as two-factor authentication), you add an extra security to your accounts like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, etc.. You sign in with something you know (your password) and something you have (a code sent to your phone). It’s the safest way yet but with Apple Face ID iPhone X, it could change again. Enable the 2-Step Verification by searching for the security options in Google, Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, etc..

Step4 Browser safety

It does not matter too much which browser you use for your internet viewing. What matters is how you use it and what to watch out for. Here are some tips.

  1. Right click your browser program icon on your desktop and use “InPrivate” view, (iExplorer), “Private Window” (Firefox) or “Incognito window” (Chrome) for sensitive browsing.
  2. For example, when banking make sure to use Bank Mode on your antivirus program.
  3. Always look for the padlock indicating the page you are viewing is secure.
  4. Search results with little green ticks are the safe links to use when researching.
  5. Never give sensitive details about yourself online. If anything, make some up, note it down and refer to that in the future. There is no harm to Google or Microsoft to use a different DOB when registering.

Step5 Software update

Sounds like a pain but updating is really important. It corrects the previous security holes by the program makers. 99% of attacks come from systems which have not updated their software. Antivirus programs such as Avast come with notifications to tell you when you need to update your programs. But best to generally check monthly and do not disregard any notifications to update. It could cost you your data.