Apple Watches. Smart home solutions. Connected cars. There’s no doubt that IoT devices are revolutionizing the way we live, work, and play. Even less flashy IoT devices like routers and smart printers can still be extremely valuable. And since research firm Gartner estimates there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices in use by 2020, so it’s safe to say they’re not going away anytime soon.
But despite their convenience, these devices can cause their fair share of problems—especially if they’re hacked. Hackers often prefer to work through a third-party IoT device because it provides anonymity: they can route the attack through the IP address of the victim’s device to ensure it won’t be traced back to them.
Using a third party’s IoT device also allows hackers to access websites that block suspicious or foreign traffic. If the traffic routes through an innocent victim’s IoT device, it carries a normal IP address that raises no suspicion.
IoT device hacks have become such a prevalent problem that the FBI recently issued a public service announcement. Here’s what you need to know to keep your devices safe.
Spotting the signs of an IoT device hack
According to the FBI, hackers use compromised IoT devices to send spam emails, create fraudulent links, conduct illegal transactions, and more. The agency advises owners of IoT devices to watch for signs that their device has been hacked and take the necessary steps for prevention.
People tend to think of hacks in connection with their computers or cell phones, which means IoT security often falls under the radar. The fact that an IoT attack can be difficult to detect also doesn’t help. While you may not be able to tell immediately if your device has been compromised, some common warning signs include:
- An unusually large Internet bill
- A major increase in monthly Internet usage
- Slow or inoperable devices
- Slow-running Internet connections at home or at work
- Unusual Domain Name Service (DNS) queries
Before any of these warning signs appear, you can take action to keep your device safe. A proactive approach to cyber security can save you a big headache down the line.
Protection and prevention
One of the most effective ways to prevent an IoT attack is to invest in a strong firewall. The FBI recommends that owners of IoT devices “configure network firewalls to block traffic from unauthorized IP addresses and disable port forwarding.” This blocks hackers from using your IP address to route their attacks.
By using a firewall to protect your network, you can minimize the risk of attacks on IoT devices linked to that network. This usually involves integrating your firewall with your router, or simply purchasing a firewall that also acts as a router.
Looking for a cost-effective firewall to protect your IoT devices—and your business? Explore our range of world-class firewall solutions today.