Nonprofit Resources


Cybersecurity Month: Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Each week, we’ll provide resources and tips to help you increase your cybersecurity awareness and reduce the risk for yourself and your organization.


This week, the Department of Homeland Security is focusing on Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet. One of the hottest topics in this area is the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). The term “Internet of Things” simply refers to the plethora of “smart” devices that communicate on the Internet.

While Internet-connected smart devices can offer significant benefits, they also expose users to additional risks. It’s important to be able to identify IoT devices and to understand how to use these innovations securely.

Examples of common IoT devices include:

  • Office equipment such as wireless printers and copiers
  • Office or home automation devices that control sprinklers, lighting, thermostats, locks, etc.
  • Alarm systems, security cameras, and other security systems
  • Hubs that control multiple IoT devices through a single app
  • Wearable items such as smartwatches and fitness trackers
  • Smart appliances like refrigerators and stoves
  • Medical devices such as wireless heart monitors
  • Entertainment devices such as smart TVs, gaming systems, DVRs, and music players

Understand the risk
Ways hackers can exploit IoT devices include:

  • Gaining access to your network to steal information or access other devices
  • Taking control of devices like security cameras or monitors
  • Using IoT devices to participate in malicious acts, such as DDoS attacks
  • Using default passwords to steal personally identifiable information that can be used in identity theft or cyber attacks

Protect yourself and your organization
Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Keep IoT devices on separate, protected networks
  • Assess each IoT device used by your organization:
    • Understand how it connects to the Internet
    • Evaluate whether it can be disconnected when not in use
    • Learn what information it collects and transmits and consider opting out, if possible
    • Research how long the information is stored, whether it is encrypted during storage, whether it is shared with third parties, and what protections the manufacturer has in place in case of a data breach
    • Review and follow any security recommendations from the manufacturer
    • Research whether the manufacturer makes firmware and software updates available, and how
  • Change default usernames and passwords on IoT devices, if possible. Use strong passwords by following the tips included here.
  • Only connect IoT devices to secure WiFi networks. A newly discovered vulnerability puts WiFi networks at risk, so be sure to take these steps to protect your organization.
  • Update the software and apps for IoT devices regularly and install security patches in a timely manner. Make sure any device that connects to the Internet is kept free of viruses and malware.
  • Have your organization’s IT department configure network firewalls to block unauthorized IP addresses and disable port forwarding
  • Purchase IoT devices from reputable manufacturers that provide strong security
  • Develop an end-of-life strategy for IoT devices that can no longer be updated or patched


An estimated 40 billion IoT devices will be in use by 2020.


Access additional cybersecurity articles and blog posts here.


Leave a Comment