Take caution IoT superfans

If yours is an internet-connected home, you’ve embraced IoT. Take caution and learn how to protect yourself and your privacy from cyber threats

You wake up in the morning and your smart lamp turns on automatically. Your digital shades lift to let in the sunlight and your connected coffee maker begins to brew in the kitchen. You check your cell phone for the reading on your connected-thermostat (which happens to be all the way downstairs), and you holler for Alexa to turn on your favourite morning playlist. Yours is an internet-connected home. You’ve embraced the Internet-of-Things, or IoT.

You may not know the term IoT, only 4-in-10 Canadians do, but you’re a super user. You’re in good company. According to CIRA’s latest research, Canada’s Internet Factbook, most Canadians have at least five internet-connected devices in their home.

Are you at all concerned about the security around these devices? With cyber threats on the rise and as our desire to connect almost anything to the internet grows, you should be.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing network of physical objects with internet connectivity. According to Option Consommateurs, a Quebec-based non-profit that promotes and defends consumers, IoT devices not only communicate with humans, but with each other. They collect, process and transmit data. This includes everything from connected security systems, internet-enabled thermostats and connected-home devices such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, as well as  smart traffic lights, and electrical/hydro meters, to name a few. Anything connected to the internet is a potential candidate for a cyberattack. IoT devices are no different, especially when you don’t keep them up to date.

Nearly three quarters of Canadian have expressed concern for the security of IoT devices and 6-in-10 are concerned about privacy related to voice-controlled, connected home devices.

Not all IoT devices are equal when it comes to cyber threats. Some can be easily updated with the latest security software patches, protecting them and you. But some cannot. Think Wi-Fi baby monitors, surveillance cameras, your child’s singing teddy bear, and various digital appliances (do you really need that digital toothbrush?).  So what can you do?

Through its Community Investment Program, CIRA funded a project with Option Consommateurs, which provides information for Canadians about IoT – its risks, both in terms of security and privacy, and steps anyone can take to mitigate these risks. I highly recommend everyone check out their website to learn more. This easy-to-consume material is worth a look, and the recommended course of action can have a huge impact on your personal cybersecurity.      

I’ve previously written about my involvement in a multi-stakeholder approach to identify and guide the development of IoT policy in Canada, putting security at the heart of innovations in Canada. There are many great minds coming together to find solutions to the security threats around IoT. It’s great to see this latest resource from Option Consommateurs, so that all Canadians can do their part to stay cybersecure.

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