Internet of Things (IoT)

A great question- answered

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The other day, Paul Taubman (The WordPress Help Guy) commented on my blog.  (OK.  Not the first time, but this comment is important.)

He said the following:

          Not only is it TOO MUCH WORK to really check out a         manufacturer and their security reputation, most people may not even understand what it means if they do investigate it!

I wasn’t making light of the situation- or his comment.  After all, we know that our computers and our smartphones need to have up-to-date security (even if the vendors end up providing bad updates that lock up our devices).  But, now, we have televisions, refrigerators, security cameras, voice assistants (e.g.,, Google Home, Alexa), toilets, the whole darned shooting match!

And, here’s the real kicker.  These vendors want us to serve as our own IT department.  As opposed to the desires of Bill Gates way back when (a lifetime ago in Internet Time) who wanted computers to be (here’s the joke) like refrigerators- that we’d just buy one and let it do its thing.  (Which is one of the problems- refrigerators are now smarter than the computers were back when Bill made this declaration!)

Welcome to the new hell.  The Internet of Things (IoT).

The good thing?  Some vendors are now addressing the hazards of insecure IoT.  The bad thing?  They expect us to pay for our safety- to the tune of $ 99, $ 149, or even $ 249 per year!Cujo by Stephen King

One such firm is named for a Stephen King nightmare. Cujo.  This firm claims it can provide all the security with need with a complexity factor that won’t phase our grandparents (that’s certainly true- mine are dead!) or our kids (and my kids range from the GenX to Millenials).  Plug in Cujo’s device (a $ 249, one-time fee for this firewall) and your network and everything connected to it are completely protected.

Cujo IoT Firewall device

Cujo combats the Mirai botnet (and other ideas cooked up by hackers), just like the two devices I discussed last Thursday- Norton and F-secure.  And, McAfee is jumping into the act- well, not really,  Way back in 2016, they knew that IoT was insecure and it took manufacturers, installers, and us users working in concert.  As you can see from this picture from their blog.

IoT (in)Security according to McAfee
IoT (in)Security according to McAfee way back in 2016

But McAfee is now hooking up with D-Link to provide us some  secure routers.   (You can bet these will cost $ 250- with a subscription fee, too.)

Comcast (one of our internet providers) is going to include Cujo in their routers soon, providing their customers some modicum of security.  (Wait for it.  Finally- something I can applaud about Comcast!  Unless of course, they plan to use this to raise their already sky-high prices.)

So, for those of us who are willing and able to ensure the security of our IoT devices, the tasks are pretty clear.  We’ll choose our IoT devices, ensuring that the ones that are in our homes and/or offices will have built-in security.  For example, Google Home may be more expensive- but with the security included, the overall price for your system may be much lower.

But, then again, if folks don’t bother checking to see where their IoT device resides on the secure device continuum, you can rest assured they won’t be purchasing a secure router.  At the very least, we must ensure our router has a unique user and password (again, no admin/admin or password/password), with everything on our network protected by the firewall the routers that we already have installed.

If that’s not what you have in mind, you can expect to ante up security fees that run from $ 100 to $ 250 a year.

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

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14 thoughts on “A great question- answered”

  1. here in Mexico the kids have an app on their cell phones that allows them to grab a connection to your router if they are within about 150 feet. We need to change our codes often to get any speed on the internet otherwise there will be a half doz. young people sitting on the sidewalk outside our compound hogging the connection. sad but true.

    1. Boy, Chef William, that would be really scary. The easiest way to stop that is to set your router up so that it’s presence is NOT broadcast. So, folks walking by can’t detect anything to which they can connect. (It’s OUR job to remember the hidden name, so we can!!!!!)

  2. Not going to lie, I’ve always secured my computer devices (iPad, phone etc), but have never thought about securing my Internet of things. Like Paul said, honestly I don’t even know if I would understand security for Iot if I was to research it! Time to do some research into my options and figure out what I need. Thanks for the wake up call!

    1. If you really secured your devices- including your router- then you have some control over IoT. Because it will be difficult- if not impossible- for an intruder to reach your IoT unless they are near your home. (Like close enough to disarm your IoT home alarm!)

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