As of late, IoT (Internet of Things) devices have been in the centre of attention both from consumer and business point of view. Consumers find the concept of smart homes convenient, whereas businesses are more than looking forward to gathering consumer-related data and preferences that IoT devices are able to obtain.
Nowadays, people are fond of smart assistants, such as Alexa, Cortana, Siri and other voice assistants found in various IoT devices. That said, the number of average households in the U.S. alone that will use some kind of a smart assistant is estimated to rise to 55% in 2020.
However, security concerns and privacy issues still plague the IoT devices. Therefore, should the average consumer or a developed company connect their devices via VPN (Virtual Private Network), in order to combat these issues and concerns? Let's find out.
IoT security issues
Most of you remember the largest DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack back in 2016. This attack managed to encompass a lot of companies and corporations within the U.S. and Europe. Furthermore, the attack was, indeed, possible thanks to the various connected IoT devices, such as baby monitors and smart thermostats that were used as botnets for the execution of the attack.
A few years later and IoT devices still don't have appropriate security measures built into them during manufacturing. The main reason is that some manufacturers don't really bother while others are unable to do more because IoT devices, in general, lack both power and resources to sustain proper security.
Even though data collected from IoT devices is private and specific to the individual user, it's still not adequately protected. This is where a VPN could help solve the issue as it will act as a security layer between IoT devices and your Internet connection. Some of the issues a VPN can handle are:
- Botnets issue – IoT devices can be made into botnets for DDoS attacks.
- Man-In-The-Middle Attacks – Unauthorized third parties manage to hijack your communications and listen in.
- General snooping and spoofing – In most cases, governments can spy on you through your Internet service provider.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is simply a connection method that adds additional security and privacy measures to both public and private networks. Corporations, for instance, often use VPN to hide their sensitive data, although VPNs for commercial and individual use are also available. That said, here are a few things a VPN will help you with security-wise.
- Hide your real IP address – A VPN will conceal your IP address, thus preventing tracking attempts.
- Change your IP address – A VPN will give you a temporary "fake" IP address while you're connected.
- Data encryption – Any data transfers over public Wi-Fi networks are encrypted.
- Mask location – Your location will be hidden and unavailable over a VPN connection.
- Access to websites – You can access websites previously blocked by governments or Internet providers, should you wish to do so.
With that in mind, a VPN connection for your IoT devices can remedy the major security issues found in these devices. As for setting up a VPN, it's actually very simple. You can subscribe for this service online and for a small fee, of course. There are various providers offering various services. As an example, you can read full NordVPN review to find out more about one of them. In the end, it comes down to finding the VPN that will suit your needs the most.
Why use a VPN?
As you may already know, your IoT devices use your Internet connection to reach their destination and accomplish whatever it's you set them out to do. When you browse the Internet via your PC or smartphone, you're generally protected by the built-in firewalls and antivirus software in your devices. You basically don't need a VPN in such scenarios. However, IoT devices don't have firewalls or antimalware software and if they do, it's not sufficient in most cases. That being said, when your IoT devices connect to the Internet to do their thing, someone can easily intercept the traffic and listen in. A VPN can, therefore, eliminate the problem. The way it works is that it uses a tunneling protocol to create a private network over a public connection. Some of the security protocols included in a VPN are the following.
- Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) for IPv4 and IPv6 address range.
- Transport Layer Security (TLS/SSL).
- Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTSL).
- Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPPE).
- Microsoft Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP).
- Multi Path Virtual Private Network (MPVPN).
- Secure Shell (SSH) VPN.
In other words, a VPN can ensure confidentiality, encryption, authentication, integrity and security of both traffic and data over a private network. That means that your IoT devices are free to roam the Internet in search for answers, without you having to worry that someone might have a peek at what you do.
Things worth considering
A VPN doesn't just encrypt your data and prevent any cyber criminals from spoofing your connection. It also protects you from advertisers, trackers, noisy governments and even your own ISP (Internet Service Provider).
Therefore, if what you do is nobody's business but your own, a VPN is certainly a must for your IoT devices. Moreover, good VPNs aren’t cheap. If you want more protection and better service, you'll have to look at a VPN as an investment.
In other words, pricy VPNs are cost-effective and reasonable, even if it might not seem that way at first glance. In addition, reliability is not 100% guaranteed. Even the best VPNs are prone to occasional hiccups, but it's nothing of major concern. Lastly, it comes down to doing research and reading reviews until you find an ideal match for your needs.
Connecting your IoT devices via VPN is currently an ideal solution for security and privacy of your data. Until manufacturers of IoT find a viable solution for security vulnerabilities, the VPN is your best bet to protect yourself.