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How a VPN Can Enhance Your IoT Devices Security

By Ernest Hamilton , Oct 16, 2019 11:31 AM EDT
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(Photo : Image by Stefan Coders )

Internet of Things Devices have become ubiquitous in the modern world. Rarely will you find a home or office that doesn't have some sort of IoT device. Smart TV´s and speakers, toys, appliances, wearable gadgets... These are devices that can connect to a network wirelessly, and that can also transmit data. And that is where the problems is.

Namely, our data hasn't really been taken care of properly in recent time. Data breaches, information leaks, and the entire Facebook privacy fiasco pretty much show that we need to take care of our data better, that we need to take our privacy into our hands. And one of the best ways to start is by getting a VPN.

Information and privacy

Sensor-based IoT devices are becoming more and more commonplace. This new type of technology has basically revolutionized what a standard home appliance is. The future is now, and it crept up on us while we weren't looking. You can remotely monitor your home, control your lights when you're not even inside your house, and just make the place as comfortable as you want with a gesture or a simple voice command. 

Now, this might all seem very inconsequential. You might also not realize how poorly protected all this information really is. The level of privacy you get hinges on the resources and the credibility of the manufacturer. In fact, said manufacturers might be doing their best, but privacy leaks and slips happen. 

But, you need to ask yourself one question - where does it stop? Sure, you might not care that some agency knows that you had cereal for breakfast, or that you prefer Netflix Comedy specials to British panel shows. But, what about conversations you have with your spouse? What about your conversations being logged, or even someone accessing your security cameras?  It's a slippery slope that you should at least try to minimize and prevent. 

VPNs and IoT devices

Virtual Private Networks are excellent security measures. IoT devices by their very nature gather data - some of it useful so they can fulfil their functions, other times the data is confidential, not really something you would be willing to share. Furthermore, since more and more leaks are occurring, a VPN can be just the thing you need to shield yourself, your private life, or your company's vital data from getting leaked.

VPNs protect you from Botnets and MITM attacks

There are two types of common IoT attacks - MITM attacks and botnets. Now, MITM attacks (man in the middle attack) are basically intrusions where one individual is trying to intercept the communication being made between two targets. A cybercriminal will try to gain access to your communication networks, most often using either free Wi-Fi hotspots or just getting into valuable routers with weak passwords. Once a vulnerable network has been found, they deploy tools and malware that will read any data being transmitted. They then use this data in whatever way they see fit.

Botnets are networks of multiple devices connected through the internet that are infected by malware. A cybercriminal can infect multiple devices using malware, have it spread around a company or household, and then access a great deal of data. 

They help with leaks and eavesdropping

Another danger present in IoT devices is eavesdropping. Namely, many of these devices hoard and gather data. While the eavesdropping potential of these devices has been hotly debated, it's still a concrete fact that they do have a great deal of pertinent personal information that you most likely do not want to share with others. Fitness devices gather information on your physical location, about your exercise habits and general movement.  Smart cameras also gather information about whether you are in the house or not. 

Now, VPNs hep by encrypting this data. They also protect you by basically hiding your IP address and your geographical location. This means that whoever wants to track you or collect your data won't be able to do that. No matter who is interested in gathering information about your activities, you can rest assured that a VPN will protect you by either preventing infiltration at the start, or by encrypting your data and making it useless. If you aim to stay anonymous online the free way  you should use a VPN to increase your chances of staying safe and secure significantly.

A VPN will help with third party attacks by encrypting traffic. When an individual wishes to intercept data transfers, your VPN will make that data unreadable. 

The strong connection between VPNs and IoT Devices

The core reasons why VPNs are useful for IoT device privacy is because of the internet. Your IoT device connects to the internet, it transfers data, and then that same data gets intercepted and copied. VPNs are good because they have very high encryption levels that are difficult to crack, downright impossible, or simply not worth the cybercriminal's time. 

You might even notice that many companies actually require their employees, if they work remotely, to use VPNs for protection. The IP address protection that VPNs provide means that hackers can really even see what you are trying to do. They can't find access to your data and your networks.

One of the only issues you might find is that you actually want to use geotracking applications and devices. For example, fitness apps that measure your speed and cycling route, for example, are going to be a bit problematic. However, with the right configuration you can probably solve these issues as well.

Conclusion

Privacy has become a growing concern in our world, and for good reason. IoT devices are simply not that safe. They gather a great deal of personal and private information, while having poor security measures in place. Your conversations and movements are being tracked, by your own volition, and the last thing you want is to have these sold to some advertising company (or God knows who else). A VPN can protect and hide some of the data you share, as well as encrypt the data you put out. It masks your identity online, and makes the data that does get stolen or intercepted practically unusable.

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