Protecting Your Business Network from the Hidden Risks of Wifi-Enabled Devices
When you think about a cyberattack happening to a business, compromised desktop computers and network drives may come to the forefront.
But did you know that your wifi-enabled devices can also be a risk to your business and network?
Smart TVs, media players—even devices like Alexa—belong to the 'Internet of Things,' or IoT, meaning less obvious than the everyday computers but just as susceptible to the actions of hackers, bad actors, and cyber thieves.
Under the Wi-Fi Radar
It's easy to forget about the wifi-enabled conveniences we rely on to make running our businesses easier. Because of this, it's also easy to forget that these things can leave us vulnerable.
Hackers and cybercriminals can exploit unsecured systems to invade your network or install malware. They can even hijack your devices along with legions of others to launch cyberattacks on large organizations.
These Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks have crippled corporate websites and brought email networks to a standstill. So, securing their Wi-Fi connections is vital if you're running a business that relies on the Internet of Things.
Here are several tips you can use to protect them:
Choose Devices Made By Reputable Manufacturers
When buying any device that's Wi-Fi enabled, always choose a reputable brand and buy from a vendor you trust. If you're unsure, check reviews online or on other consumer sites that evaluate and rank products, such as amazon.com.
While it may be tempting to choose something less expensive, cheaper items may not have the latest security features and updates. They may even be counterfeit knockoffs designed to assist bad actors in perpetrating cyberattacks.
By paying a little more, you're not only buying peace of mind for your business but also instilling a sense of security that employees, stakeholders, and consumers will appreciate.
Change the Default Password
Most internet-enabled devices have a default password that you can manually change. For good reason, many manufacturers recommend you do so when setting up the device. Default passwords are commonly shared among cyber thieves, making devices that use them easy targets.
Failing to change default passwords—especially with older devices—can make them vulnerable to hackers who want access to your network. Or they might plan to use your device as part of a larger malicious effort, like the Denial-of-Service attacks discussed earlier.
In one high-profile attack, cybercriminals used the Internet of Things to overwhelm an online provider with traffic, shutting down Netflix, Spotify, Twitter, and other popular sites.
Secure Your Network at All Costs
Keeping your business Wi-Fi network secure and up to date can also go a long way toward protecting your wifi-enabled devices from the actions of cybercriminals.
Ensure your network is configured so it doesn't send out data without your permission. In addition, keep your Wi-Fi network password safe and be cautious about sharing it with others. Compromised passwords are a leading cause of cyberattacks on any device.
When employees with access to network passwords leave your organization, change your password. The extra step may seem small, but it's a significant deterrent.
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, can further protect you by hiding your IP address from hackers and encrypting your communications.
Don't Provide Access Unwittingly
Cybercriminals can access your network—and the wifi-enabled devices connected—by sending phishing emails encouraging you to click malicious links or download malware.
These emails are typically alarmist in nature, include misspellings, and often end with an urgent call to click or download something immediately or suffer detrimental consequences. Falling for them can unleash the worst the internet offers, including compromised wifi-enabled devices you use to run your business.
Consider the Need and Consequences Before You Invest
Before investing in any internet-enabled device you can use for business, consider whether it fits your needs. If it does, great, but if it's just a gadget you want and not a need, it's just one more device that can be targeted and compromised by cyber thieves.
While the Internet of Things is here to stay, the conveniences it offers to small businesses carry risk. Keep your wifi-enabled devices safe by understanding how they fit into the larger scheme of online devices and what you can do to protect yourself.