Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against companies that temporarily shut down websites by flooding them with more traffic than they have the capacity to accommodate are nothing new, however, what was unusual about last week’s DDoS against Dyn a prominent Domain Name System (DNS) provider that hosted such popular sites as Amazon, Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and Paypal was that the botnet of hijacked devices used to launch the attack was not made up of hacked computers, but rather was made up of hacked devices such as smart televisions and webcams that make up the Internet of Things which are devices connected to the Internet that one would not generally think of as requiring security. However, anything that is connected to the Internet can be hacked and used to become a part of a botnet and therefore requires security precautions.
So what can you do to protect yourself from having your devices hacked and becoming part of a botnet?
Your first line of defense is your router so it is important to change the default password with which your router came. In addition, each of your Internet of Things devices should have its own distinct password. Unfortunately, particularly for older devices that are a part of the Internet of Things, security was not built into these devices and they may not even be password enabled. Another helpful device is an Internet hub which is a a device that can control multiple Internet of Things devices through a single mobile app that utilizes dual factor authentication and encryption. The manufacturers of these Internet hubs such as Samsung’s SmartThings also provide regular security updates. Not all Internet of Things devices are hub certified which is why when buying an Internet of Things device, you should look for hub certification as an indication that the manufacturer is security conscious.
Finally, and perhaps of greatest importance in protecting yourself from becoming part of a botnet is to do what you already should be doing which is refraining from clicking on links or downloading attachments in emails that may contain the malware enabling a hacker to access first your computer and move through it to your entire network of Internet enabled devices. Never click on links or download attachments unless you have absolutely confirmed they are legitimate.