How to Keep Your Stuff From Attacking Everyone Else

You probably heard about the massive DDoS attack that took out swaths of the internet this weekend.  It happened because hackers were able to hijack unsecured surveillance systems and routers from around the world and put them to use overloading websites.  If you have any internet-enabled devices, they could be used in some nefarious hacker plot as well.

If you’re not familiar with the term yet, it’s called IoT, or the Internet of Things.  There are tons of internet-connected devices in your home already, such as your DVR, smart TV and router.  Increasingly, we’re seeing things like thermostats, refrigerators, security systems and lighting connected to the internet.  Many of these devices are shipped to consumers with default usernames and passwords, such as “admin/admin” that are not updated once they’re in the home.  This information can be used by a hacker to access the device and put it to use.

While it’s important to update the admin access login for all of your internet-connected devices, the most important thing to secure is your home’s router, as it’s the nexus for the internet traffic in your home.  Here are some tips for securing your router.  All of these can be found in your router’s settings.  For instructions on accessing that, see your owner’s manual or check the manufacturer’s website.

  • First and foremost, update your router’s password.
  • Disable remote management.  This will keep outside computers from being able to control your router.
  • Disable UPnP.  This is a setting, usually on by default, that leaves a pretty big security gap into which malware can be injected.
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