You may have heard the term “botnet” as relates to cybersecurity. A botnet is a collection of devices that have been infected by a hacker’s program. Hackers routinely scan the internet looking for online devices and once identified, they are probed for security controls. If none are found, the hacker will install a program and add the device to their botnet.
Over time, botnets can include millions of devices. Once a device is infected, the hacker gains control and can use the device, typically for malicious purposes such as spam emails, DDoS attacks or scraping personal data from the device for their own use.
Almost all the devices we use today – from smartphones to refrigerators – are connected to the internet. If a device is online, it can be infected. If you are purchasing – or receive – an internet-connected device as a holiday gift, be sure to carefully read the manual to understand your options for locking the device, if possible. Always set passwords that are “long and strong” and resist connecting to public WiFi networks or sharing your login credentials.
Here are several popular devices that could become part of a botnet. Always be sure to research the product before purchasing to ensure there are no security vulnerabilities. And be sure to register those gifts so you can receive security updates.
- Baby monitors
- Home management and security systems
- Smart TVs
- WiFi router
Enjoy your holidays shopping and gifting – and remember to stay security smart!