The Dangers of Using a Default Password

It’s Sunday morning, and you are just turning into your driveway after grabbing coffee and a box of fresh doughnuts for your family. Using an app on your phone, you open and close your garage door. You go to the kitchen, and you call out to Alexa to play your favorite morning playlist. The weather outside is dreary, but your home is perfectly cozy because that new thermostat you installed automatically sets the perfect temperature and turns the AC on/off when necessary. You check the baby monitor, and you see that your little angel is still asleep, so you have a few moments to jump into the shower. Recently, you read an article about how cold showers in the morning can boost your immunity, so you are trying it out, but it is painful, so you turn on a shower speaker connected to your smartphone for an upbeat tune that will get you through the next few minutes of torture. Hey, it’s for your own good!

Without even thinking about it, you might have used seven different smart gadgets, including your car, a garage door opener, a smartphone, a home assistant, a thermostat, a baby monitor, and a Bluetooth-connected shower speaker. At the turn of the century, smart devices were somewhat futuristic and created for the more affluent buyers. Mere 20 years later, you cannot find a home without at least one or two smart devices. In fact, many of them have ten or maybe even twenty of them. Your stationary computer, laptop, and smartphone are smart devices, and these are the most common amongst users all around the world. However, the IoT (Internet of Things) market is booming, and now our lives are filling up with new kinds of smart devices, including cars, speakers, toys, security systems, cameras, printers, fitness trackers, watches, lighting switches, fridges, coffee makers, and toasters. Yes, we now live in a world in which a smart toaster can pop out a perfectly crunchy toast at a set time.

The IoT market will grow exponentially in the next 5 years

In 2018, the global IoT market reached 165 billion US Dollars. That is already an impressive sum, but when you look at the predictions of where this market will go, it is clear that we are only just beginning. By 2020, the market is expected to reach $248 billion, and by 2025 – $1.6 trillion. Of course, more and more people these days are trying to live their lives using minimalistic approaches, and some people even choose to cut down on the number of gadgets they use on a daily basis. That being said, the world population is growing, and the number of people that can afford smart gadgets is growing even faster. Just a decade ago, most people in the world did not have access to smartphones and mobile devices. Today, 35% of people have smartphones, and 66% own mobile devices. The cost of mobile devices has dwindled significantly throughout the last ten years, and that is bound to happen with other smart devices too.

Unfortunately, growth does not always equal good. With more and more smart devices being created, more and more companies are offering their own products, and not all of them can be trusted. On top of that, more and more cybercriminals are turning to IoT devices to look for security loopholes that could help them take over these gadgets, record sensitive information, or even spy on unsuspecting victims. The unfortunate thing is that those who face cyber attackers usually have no one to blame but themselves, and that is because they do not take their virtual security seriously. For one, smart device owners often stick with default passwords, and default passwords basically invite hackers in.

Default passwords can make it easy for hackers to take over your life

When you purchase a smart toy for your child, a smart printer for your office, or a smart coffee maker for yourself, the first thing you are likely to do is to try to figure out how these smart gadgets work. Then, you are likely to start using them and enjoying the benefits they might provide you with. However, there is one more step that you need to include. As soon as you read the manual to figure out how things work, you need to set a strong password. Many smart devices come with default passwords preset, and some users believe that that is all of the protection they need. In reality, a default password acts like that $1 umbrella that you buy out of sheer necessity. It might protect you for the day, but it is bound to break the moment you shut it close or a gust of wind decides to turn it inside out. If you want reliable protection, you need a sturdy umbrella. What we are trying to say here is that you need to replace a default password with a unique and strong password as soon as possible.

Do you know how to change default passwords? Instructions on how to do it should be included in the gadget’s manual. One other thing you need to think about are the devices that you might be connecting your new smart gadget to. If these devices do not have good passwords, your newly set password automatically becomes vulnerable. Basically, you need to ensure that every single password you use in your life is strong, which is easy to take care of if you employ Cyclonis Password Manager, for example, which is a free management tool with an integrated password generator. The worst thing you can do is set the same password for all devices or create slight modifications of the same password. For example, you might think that you are smart by setting up a password like maple5camera, maple5alexa, or maple5garage, but this kind of a password is extremely easy to guess. Also note that using your home address or any other kind of personal information in your password is a terrible idea.

If you do not bother to learn how to change default passwords or how to make your passwords stronger, you are much more likely to face hackers and criminals. You might have heard about a hacker spying on a child via a baby monitor, another hacker using Amazon Echo to listen in on conversations, or a third hacker using home cameras to stream the lives of thousands of people. Without a doubt, you do not want to become a victim of some dirty hacker, who might also leak sensitive information to real-life thieves. This is why you MUST ditch default passwords today. Your security depends on that. Once you learn how to change default passwords for your smart devices, and you set strong passwords to protect them, do not forget to update your software, and always respond quickly to any hacks or data breaches that might occur.

November 18, 2019

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