Scam of the day – November 3, 2017 – New developments in the Internet of Things

I have been warning you about dangers in the rapidly expanding Internet of things for more than three years.  The Internet of Things is made up of a broad range of devices connected to the Internet including home thermostats, security systems, medical devices, refrigerators, televisions, cars and toys.

Recently the FBI issued a  new warning to consumers about the dangers of posed by hacking of various devices that makeup the Internet of Things.

Here is a link to the FBI warning.  https://www.ic3.gov/media/2017/171017-1.aspxGPS.

Recently, Italian researcher Giovanni Mellini published his findings that he was able to remotely hack into and take control of a sex toy described by its manufacturer as “the world’s first teledildonic butt plug.”  There has been a trend in recent years in the sex toy industry to creating sex toys that can connect to smartphones and computers through Bluetooth or Wifi technology that enables the sex toy to be controlled remotely.  While this opens up new vistas for consenting adults far away from each other, it also opens up frightening new opportunities for hackers.

TIPS

Many of the devices that make up the Internet of Things come with preset passwords that can easily be discovered by hackers.  Change your password as soon as you set up the product.  Also, set up a guest network on your router exclusively for your Internet of Things devices.  Configure network firewalls to block traffic from unauthorized IP addresses and disable port forwarding.  Make sure that you install the latest security patches as soon as they become available.  Use encryption software for the transmission of data and find out where data is stored and what steps are taken to secure the information.  Also, limit the amount of information you provide when setting up the accounts for the toys.  The less information out there, the less the risk of identity theft.  Finally make sure your router is secure and use its whitelisting capabilities which will prevent your device from connecting to malicious networks.

Scam of the day – October 21, 2014 – FDA sets rules for cybersecurity for medical devices

I have been warning you about the dangers posed by the Internet of things for a long time.  As more and more of the things we use become connected to the Internet including but certainly not limited to cars, refrigerators, coffee makers and thermostats, it becomes tremendously convenient, for example, for us to use our smart phones to program our thermostats from afar so that our homes will have the proper temperature when we return from a day at work.  But every technological advance regardless of how constructive it may seem has the potential to be exploited by scammers, hackers and identity thieves.   Among the items that are a part of the Internet of Things are also medical devices both wearable and implanted.  Security was not a concern when these networked devices were created and the concern about the ability of these devices being able to be manipulated is very real.  Generally they have lacked security measures for control of the device and authentication of those having access to the devices.  In addition, they may be transmitting large amounts of sensitive data in an unencrypted manner.   Now the Food and Drug Administration has finally released guidelines on cybersecurity for medical devices.  The FDA is recommending to manufacturers that they consider cybersecurity risks when designing and manufacturing medical devices that are a part of the Internet of things. Medical devices that are a part of the Internet of things should be manufactured as to require authentication to access the device and should all data being transferred to and from the device should be encrypted.

TIPS

As for us, the patients, it is incumbent upon us to insist that our medical care providers prove to us that our Internet of things medical devices are secure before we agree to use any such devices.

Scam of the day – June 14, 2014 – FAA orders Boeing to install computer security on all 737s

On March 22nd in my Scam of the day I told you about the possibility that the missing Malaysian airliner may have had its computers hacked.   During the flight, two essential communication and location systems were turned off while the aircraft continued to fly.  Investigators appear to be focusing on the pilots or someone else on board physically turning off these systems.  But the systems could have been turned off by a hacker remotely sabotaging the plane.  In 2012, Boeing, the manufacturer of the Boeing 777 which was used on Flight 370 applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to make modifications to its onboard data systems because, according to federal records, “data network and design integration may result in security vulnerabilities from intentional or unintentional corruption of data systems critical to the safety and maintenance of the airplane… This may enable the exploitation of network security vulnerabilities and increased risks potentially resulting in unsafe conditions for the airplanes and occupants.”

Now the Federal Aviation Administration is ordering Boeing to make modifications to the computers on its 737 aircraft to prevent hackers from taking over control of the important inflight computers.  The order of the FAA requires Boeing to “ensure that the airplanes’ electronic systems are protected from access by unauthorized sources external to the plane.”

TIPS

Computers are more and more imbedded in almost everything we use including cars, aircraft, refrigerators, thermostats, ovens and many other devices that make up what is now referred to as the Internet of things.  It is important to remember that once a computer is linked to the Internet, it is capable of being hacked and exploited unless proper security systems are in place.  This problem is likely to get worse until it gets better so it is up to all of us to look into the security of the computerized devices that we use that make up the Internet of things.

Scam of the day – January 30, 2014 – Beware of the Internet of things

As if we all didn’t have enough to worry about now we have the Internet of things about which to be concerned.  As more and more of the things we use become connected to the Internet including but certainly not limited to cars, refrigerators, coffee makers and thermostats, it becomes tremendously convenient, for example, for us to use our smart phones to program our thermostats from afar so that our homes will have the proper temperature when we return from a day at work.  But every technological advance regardless of how constructive it may seem has the potential to be exploited by scammers, hackers and identity thieves.  I have already told you about the very real concerns about cars being able to be hacked and controlled from afar.  Check out the archives of Scamicide for more information about that particular issue. Now, however, a new problem has surfaced.  The Internet security company Proofpoint has recently found that a botnet of more than 100,000 was made up of not only computers that had been hacked but 25% of the botnet was made up of Internet connected  devices including televisions and refrigerators.  Botnets, as I have informed you previously is a network of hacked electronic devices used by scammers and identity thieves to spread malware while avoiding detection.  You can find more about botnets in the archives of Scamicide and in my book, “50 Ways to Protect your Identity in a Digital Age.”

TIPS

The danger posed by botnets of devices part of the new Internet of things is quite real and very chilling.  Although many of us would not think of neglecting to provide proper security software for our computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, many people do not consider what they need to do to maintain the privacy and security of their refrigerator, car and other devices used that are a part of the new Internet of things.  Unfortunately, among the people not giving enough attention to security in the Internet of things are the very companies developing these products.  The most effective place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm so whenever you are considering purchasing a convenient device with Internet capabilities, make sure you inquire as to the necessary security steps to take to make your use of the device safe.