FBI Posts Consumer Warnings About The Internet of Things
By: Jim Stickley and Tina Davis
September 11, 2018
That wonderful Internet of Things (IoT) enables us to communicate and do so many awesome things is now the subject of a recent FBI warning. For everyday users, the IoT connects billions of devices worldwide, allowing us do things we never dreamed were possible. We use can now turn on a light or heat at home without being there, monitor dinner progress in our slow cooker from our office, use medical devices we need to survive and monitor them online, and of course, view pretty much anything from the Internet on our smart TV’s. However, we’ve come to know for all of the good the IoT offers, there are hackers conniving to exploit and abuse the IoT for personal gain. Whether it’s a lone-wolf hacker or a state-sponsored hacking group, the IoT is a vulnerable target. Recently, the FBI acknowledged those IoT vulnerabilities on their website with an official Public Service Announcement (PSA) for US citizens.
In part, Wikipedia defines the IoT as “The network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these things to connect and exchange data…” FBI concerns center on this vast network and how easily the IoT is used for criminal purposes. Their warning lists several ways compromised devices on the IoT can be misused and these are just a few of them: Send spam emails; maintain anonymity; generate click-fraud activities; buy, sell and trade illegal images and goods.
In their PSA, the FBI warns that compromised devices can escape detection by their owners. There are many users out there who have no idea their device has been hacked, and the FBI notes some ways a device may act under those conditions including: Devices become slow or inoperable; a larger than usual internet bill shows up; home or business internet connections are running slow. The FBI’s suggestions for user protection and defense are many: Use antivirus regularly and make sure it’s up-to-date; reboot devices regularly as most malware is stored in memory; change default usernames and passwords; ensure all IoT devices are up to date and security patches are incorporated.
For more information on this Public Service Announcement and other IoT security concerns, visit the FBI Internet Crime website and type I-080218-PSA in the search bar.