Purchases of “smart” or Internet-enabled toys and products continue to boom and were gifted to millions this holiday season. In 2017, the global smart toys market reached $3.87 billion, and it is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 5%.
Much like we are attuned to safety concerns of “traditional” products such as the choking hazards of small parts, sharp corners, or fragile parts, consumers must be vigilant about the cyber safety risks that can be just as damaging as physical risks.
Internet-enabled devices have the capability of opening the doors to our homes, our bank accounts, and our children’s bedrooms to cybercriminals across the street or across the world. Smart products are enabling us to work, play, and manage our health like never before, but there are some key steps to take to ensure that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Smart Safety Tips for 2020
Protect Your Devices – Lock your virtual doors and windows. Just like in the physical world, when you lock everything down, the bad guys may move on. Your accounts and data (such as email, personnel records, or client databases) are valuable assets – to you and to criminals. Keep your accounts safer by moving beyond simple passwords: use strong passwords and two-factor or multi-factor authentication (an additional layer of protection for your passwords). Be sure to set up unique passwords or “passphrases” on all your accounts.
Protect Your Networks – Domain Name System (DNS) firewalls, also known as protective DNS, which are freely available and easy to install, can prevent 33% of cybersecurity data breaches from occurring. Through a simple tweak, DNS firewalls leverage threat intelligence from cybersecurity companies and public sources to automatically prevent users from visiting known malicious sites. Most often consumers visit a malicious site when they click on a malicious link or mistype a legitimate web address. Malicious software on a computer or phone can also cause a visit to a malicious site. A free DNS firewall is available at Quad9.net.
Protect Your Data – Know what data you are sharing with your smart product/device and whether it is stored locally or shared with the manufacturer. Most smart devices come with controls that enable you to only share the information you feel comfortable sharing. Ensure that the data you are providing is necessary for the operation of the device or service. If it is not, then you are sharing too much.
Fight the Power – When you are not using your smart products, turn them off. Leaving them idle with the power on offers additional opportunities for hackers.