Cyber Security Awareness Month: The Internet of Things and Cyber Security

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 1, 2017) — To close out National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the University of Kentucky Information Technology Services's tips and advice, below is the fifth and last in a series of stories, focused on IoT devices and tips for using them securely.

In 1991, the World Wide Web became publicly available, however origins of the internet can be traced back to 1969. The internet is now a vital part of our day-to-day activity — providing information people utilize to study, work and enrich their personal lives.  

Society is now witnessing a new era of the internet — the Internet of Things (IoT).

In an article from Forbes, Jacob Moore provided a very straightforward explanation of IoT, “Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of ... if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT.”

Gartner (a research and advisory firm) forecasts there will be 8.4 billion IoT devices connected by the end of 2017 (a 31 percent rise from 2016). They further predict that there will be 20.4 billion devices connected by 2020.

Just last week, Amazon announced a service called “Amazon Key” — one that will allow consumers the ability to grant Amazon access to their home to make deliveries with a keyless entry solution that will be connected to a smart lock and camera.

Enormous amounts of data are transmitted daily by IoT devices. With this arrival of connected devices, comes an increasing concern for cyber security. In recent years there has been a significant rise in exploitation of IoT technologies for committing cyber crimes.

Below are some tips to consider when you think about protecting your data and personal identity:

  1. Connect to secure networks at every opportunity. Start by making sure you have properly secured your WiFi at home.
  2. Create passwords that are complex, unique and vary by application or service. In other words, don’t use the same password for every site. Consider using a service that will help you store and protect those important passwords (and remember to protect that service with your most complex password).
  3. Know what information you are making available to an application or service. Before you load an application on your device (e.g., tablet, smartphone, computer) that communicates with an IoT device, ensure that you read and are comfortable with the data that the application (and therefore the device) is going to access.

Want to learn more? Email the Information Technology Services Security Team at security@uky.edu.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue