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Smart Devices, Smart Users – How to Stay Secure in an IoT World

By Steven J. Spano, Brig. Gen., USAF (Ret.), President and Chief Operating Officer, CIS®

This week for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’re looking at Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet: how smart cities and digitized records make us more connected than ever. With activity trackers, quick-pay systems, automated home thermostats and drone delivery, the future looks awesome – but users need to be just as smart as the devices upon which they rely.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for staying secure in the connected world:

Do Your Homework

Before you buy the next smart device or download a new app, think about what makes it “smart.” Is it collective data from several individuals, like when Google Maps predicts a traffic jam, or a large amount of personal data, like when FitBit congratulates you on a new workout record? Research where your data will be stored, how it will be secured, and who owns your data. You’ll have to decide where your personal limits are when it comes to data sharing – but by asking a few questions and arming yourself with knowledge about the products and companies involved, you can make smart choices.

Check the Settings

When installing an application or setting up a new device, carefully examine the settings available. Often, you can set your device to share data with others around you or identified “friends” only. You can also usually name your device – be sure not to broadcast personal information in this field. Consider it from the perspective of a cybercriminal: a device named Steve Spano’s iPhone 6 provides valuable information about how to target the user and which technical vulnerabilities to look for.

Looking to securely configure mobile devices? Check out the CIS Benchmarks.

Keep it Current

Once you’ve set up your device or application, don’t forget to regularly install updates! Failure to update (or patch) is one of the most pervasive vulnerabilities we face, and it often allows personal data to fall into the wrong hands. If you’ve made the effort to think before you buy or install and wisely configure your device, don’t let your work go to waste. Keep it up-to-date!

What are your predictions for the future of tech?

Let us know on Twitter @Cisecurity