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Protect Your Home Devices from Cyber Attacks with a Simple Task

internet of things

In today’s world, security breaches and cyber attacks have become commonplace occurrences, with a new story seeming to pop up all the time. Recently popular websites such as Twitter, Paypal, Spotify, Reddit, New York Times, CNN, Mashable and more were shut down by cyber criminals who launched an attack on an Internet Infrastructure company in New Hampshire named Dyn that counts these companies as customers. The hackers shut down multiple sites throughout the United States and Europe by accessing tens of millions of Internet-connected devices, also referred to as “Internet of things” (IoT),  and launching a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. With some 38 billion connected devices projected to be operating by the year 2020, manufacturers and developers, as well as consumers, are being urged to take precautions to protect against these types of assaults.

IoT includes connected and smart devices such as webcams, DVRs, routers, smart TVs, lighting, and even common appliances like refrigerators. Hackers used a malicious code known as a “botnet” to force the attack. The devices were remotely controlled by the criminals without the device owners’ knowledge and used to overload Dyn, making it unable to respond to requests to load web pages. This left many consumers unable to access thousands of websites. A similar incident occurred with Krebs security in September 2016.

It was found that the household items were vulnerable to being taken over primarily due to the widespread use of factory-default username and password combinations. These devices often connect to the Internet by default using stock code from software that isn’t difficult for hackers to guess or access over the Internet. Once they seize the device, hackers hunt for others to infect with malware and use them together to launch these DDoS attacks.

Manufacturers and developers of IoT devices do well to build extra security into the devices, as well as provide information to help customers safeguard themselves against attacks. Consumers can do one simple task to help protect themselves:  always change the default usernames and passwords on any device.  Instructions can be found in your user manual or online by searching for your device and the search term “default user name and password”. Select a strong password  that uses numbers, upper and lowercase letters, special characters, or even phrases that are unique to you. You can also turn off or disable unnecessary features and access, such as remote administrative access, for added protection.

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About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.