Cyber Security in the Age of AI and the Internet of Things

Smart and AI technology is increasingly being woven into our daily lives, almost to the point of ubiquitousness, the way we think of securing our personal security information within these devices will necessarily need to increase as well. Smart homes, smart cities, self-driving cars, and AI interface agents like, Alexa, Siri, and Viv all make up what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). And once a device is connected to the internet, it immediately becomes a potential target for hackers.

While hacking someone’s emails or banking information can be embarrassing or costly, hacking the Internet of Things could be dangerous.”Unlike computers that only affect bits, the Internet of Things affects objects,” says security technologist Bruce Schneier. “An internet thermostat turns the heat on and off, internet-enabled cars drives around, and these devices are vulnerable to hacking. The fear is that they can be used to physically harm people.”

The bottom line is that too many of our smart devices are inherently too dumb to protect themselves (and us) against cyberattacks. But the surprising news is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) might actually be able to help protect us from our IoTs devices.

Machine learning, utilized through Artificial Intelligence, can be incorporated with human insight for more precise threat detection and analysis. The AI learning system alerts the human user of the greatest security outliers detected and solicits feedback on them. From that feedback, the AI system is able to create predictive models that, in time, can mimic human judgment on a large scale and in real time.

With AI technology advancing at such a rapid rate and the imperative need for enhanced cyber security, Siri may one day be able to say of cyber security, “I can help with that.” But until that day, here are a few security tips to keep your devices safe:

Create a separate network for IoT devices

Most routers allow you to create a separate guest network so that visitors can connect to your network without gaining access to shared files or network devices. Make a separate “guest” network for your IoT devices that have questionable security.

Be wary of cloud services

A lot of IoT devices rely on cloud services. This means that your IoT devices may be syncing sensitive data in another location, as well as offering another potential route into your home. Make sure to read up on the provider’s privacy policy and look for reassurances about encryption and data protection.

Disconnect devices when not in use

Turn off any smart devices when you aren’t using them, particularly those with microphones and video cameras. While some connected devices, such as smart thermostats, require a constant internet connection, other devices—including smart TVs, coffee makers, and video cameras —do not. Prevent a hacker from connecting to your video or audio streams by disconnecting when you can.

Password management

As with all cyber security, good password management is essential. Your IoT devices should never use default factory-set administrator passwords. Cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari recommends choosing “a phrase that you know, like a motto or song lyrics”  ensure strength and complexity. Example? “KeepCalm&CarryOn”.

Finally, keep in mind that your personal information is becoming increasingly accessible through the IoT devices that you use. Exploitative access to personal information and data does not solely come in the form of a maliciously intended cyber attack. IoT devices, like the smart toothbrush or umbrella, and their ancillary apps can also supply companies with your personal information, such as how you use the product and how often. This is something we will need to become more aware of as the use of IoT devices increases. Unfortunately, this group of people had to learn that lesson the hard way.


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