The holiday season in America is a fun one, as people give each other thoughtful gifts to show how much we care. It feels nice getting a free new tech toy or gadget, but with great power comes great responsibility. Keeping your devices safe requires a bit more than just an extended warranty from the store.
Every piece of technology you own is a target for hackers, thieves, and other malicious parties looking to take control of it. But have no worries – we’re here to make sure your toys are secured so you can head out into the world with confidence.
Physical Security of Technology
Tech security starts with physically securing devices – whoever has control of the device ultimately has control over the data. A hard drive is the most important part of any electronic device, and gadgets with hard drives should be protected above all else.
If you lose a Bluetooth speaker, pair of headphones, or video game, you’ll experience the loss of the device’s cost. However, if you lose a smartphone, laptop, video game console, or other devices with a hard drive, valuable data such as logins, contacts, and other sensitive information is lost. It’s probably worse than losing your social security number.
Basic common sense should prevail when physically securing your tech toys, but it’s a bit harder when you’re using wearables, sensors, and other connected gadgets. Cameras, lights, and other tech used outdoors should be outdoor grade and secured from theft without completely enclosing them and causing them to overheat.
When flying drones outdoors, be aware that these devices can fly off when the battery is low if not programmed right. Also be careful with any type of bling you wear in public, as it can cause envy from others that leads to robbery, possibly event violently.
Never put your body in the way of your tech. If someone draws a weapon to take it from you, give it up. It’s not worth your life, and so long as you survive, you can recover from the loss of a few toys.
Cybersecurity of Technology
The U.S. Government is one of the leading cybersecurity agencies in the world, employing some of the most advanced encryption, anti-malware, and other technologies.
In fact, it’s still growing – the 2017 White House budget includes a $19 billion increase in cybersecurity investments across government as part of the Obama Administration’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP).
We don’t have access to military-grade technology at home, but we can still use the same military-grade encryption and other cybersecurity methods employed by the government.
One of the first steps is to install a firewall in your router, which a DD-WRT firmware update will accomplish. A firewall also needs to be installed on each internet-connected device to ensure nothing makes its way around the router restrictions.
Unfortunately, firewalls aren’t an option for game consoles like Xbox One S and PlayStation 4, smart TVs, and many wearables and smart home devices. It’s important to configure these devices to work with your router firewall and keep as few ports open as possible.
A VPN provides another layer by creating an encrypted tunnel behind your firewall that your devices can connect to from anywhere inside or outside the network. This is especially important on smartphones, which often remain on in our pockets constantly pinging networks and towers as you travel.
Private Tunnel is a VPN created by the same people responsible for the same OpenVPN protocol used by the government. It can keep you almost as safe as the government’s data (with the exception of Hillary Clinton’s infamous email server).
It’s also important to keep your devices updated, as manufacturers and developers typically do their best to continuously patch vulnerabilities, glitches, and other issues created. Tech giants like Microsoft are actively working in the backend to improve credential, certificate, and tokenized security while Apple protects us from the government’s watchful eyes.
Understand You’re the Weakest Point
While our toys and gadgets have their vulnerabilities, we are our own worst enemies. The most vulnerable link in any network’s security is the people running it. Your laziness in clicking the wrong links, checking the wrong options, or opening the wrong emails can quickly wreak havoc across your network.
Due diligence is always important when connecting to the Internet, regardless of the device. Don’t enable options and settings you don’t understand or you’ll be leaving virtual doors open for attackers.
At the end of the day, you’re in charge of keeping your stuff secure. How well your new toys work depends entirely on your treatment of them. Taking care of them now, later, and every time in between ensures they function for as long as possible.
Keep an eye on databases like haveibeenpwned that have updated archives of leaked passwords you can check just by entering your email address. If your password is compromised, change not only it, but any other accounts that may be using that same password (be honest – you reuse and recycle passwords).
With this due diligence, your home security setup can be as strong as the government’s. Unless, of course, it’s the government you’re hiding from.