Why should you beware of ‘internet of things’? Baltimore firm explains

WASHINGTON — Consumers should all “beware the IoT,” according to Baltimore-based identity protection company EZShield.

The “internet of things” — any device other than your computer, laptop, tablet or phone that’s connected to the internet — is a rapidly expanding technology. It includes anything from your Fitbit to your thermostat, home security system, even your refrigerator or your child’s teddy bear.

The internet of things is making our lives more productive and entertaining — and making our privacy more vulnerable.

Some of those devices have ears and eyes, but the biggest threat to your own personal privacy is that they all tap in to your home Wi-Fi, and they represent a new way for identity thieves to compromise your privacy.

Security is often lacking on internet of things’ devices, EZShield said.

“The FTC warns consumers that the technology’s independent nature can pose serious threats to personal information and security,” said EZShield’s Terri Burton.

Much like computers and smartphones, these devices run on software that requires regular patches and updates, and if you’re concerned about privacy, those updates should not be optional.

“It’s all about when the security patches come through, and it’s important for consumers to regularly update their devices. When they don’t put the security patches through, that’s when vulnerabilities occur,” Burton said.

You can also do something else.

You don’t want your child’s talking teddy bear on the same network you’re using to check your bank account on or shop on Amazon.

So, wall off internet of things devices.

“Consider setting up a separate Wi-Fi network for connected devices that is different from your everyday computer use, and connect those IoT devices to separate networks,” Burton said.

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