A way to a person’s heart might be through their chest, but a way to a person’s home is through their Wi-Fi router, printer, and other IoT devices.
Most of us aren’t aware of the large scope of risks of an unprotected home network to which various devices, like routers, printers, and even smart refrigerators, are connected. A VPN might protect your computer from incoming DDoS attacks, but what about your printer? Such devices often get overlooked when it comes to securing a home or an office network.
With the dangers of an unprotected IoT network in mind, Cybernews contacted Gray Chynoweth, Chief Executive Officer at Minim, a residential managed Wi-Fi and IoT security platform, to talk about the most common threats and the most effective ways to protect your office’s or home network from seemingly unlikely attacks.
Tell us more about your story. What inspired you to create Minim?
Minim’s origin story begins with the massive DDoS attack that made world headlines by taking down much of the Internet when our co-founder’s former company, Dyn, was taken offline by an attack that leveraged 600,000 connected IoT devices. Recognizing the threat this posed to connected homes and offices around the world, Jeremy Hitchcock founded Minim to provide users with a software platform that extends home Wi-Fi management to include vulnerable IoT devices.
Can you introduce us to your Minim platform? How is AI incorporated into your services?
Absolutely! The Minim app is specifically engineered to empower users to manage their personal networks by identifying security vulnerabilities, malware, and cyberattacks, fixing them automatically. Currently, our in-app AI support helps users through its Issue Tracer functionality. This allows the app to pinpoint networking issues with users’ mesh systems and recommend easy-to-follow instructions to rectify the issue in real-time.
Why are so many people unaware of the risks hiding in their own home networks?
We believe the world is divided into ‘mortals’ that find technology confusing and the ‘wizards’ we turn to for help in making the technology we need ‘just work.’ To most ‘mortals,’ the technology that powers their home is still too confusing and challenging to operate. As a result, they are realizing they need new tools. For instance, consumer demand for network monitoring services nearly doubled, growing to 42% in 2022 from 22% in 2021. With new tools like Minim software, mortals are being empowered by new hardware, software, and AI to uncover the risks to their digital homes.
How do you think the pandemic affected the cybersecurity industry? Did you add any new features to your services as a result?
In our view, the pandemic expanded the cybersecurity industry as a whole, as individuals working from home suddenly had to reduce reliance on office IT departments for the resolution of network issues. Our company actually grew during this time as well, especially in light of our focus on Wi-Fi security and optimization. While we were always focused on cybersecurity and network connectivity since our founding, we were actually able to launch the Issue Tracer AI during the pandemic, which has really brought value to our users.
Are there any smart home devices that you think require extra attention or special security measures?
The beating heart of the home network is the Wi-Fi gateway, router or mesh system, and the software it operates. These are the first and best line of defense against hacking attempts. As such, it should definitely come equipped with extra security measures such as threat detection, parental controls, ad blocking, and issue tracking, just to name a few. The Wi-Fi router’s importance to the modern smart home is just one of the many reasons we strive to provide products that make home and office Wi-Fi safe for everyone.
What are the most common misconceptions people tend to have regarding Internet security?
One of the common misconceptions that I’ve seen come frequently is that antivirus and firewall software are the only lines of defense against cyber attacks. While we believe that it’s essential to have these measures in place, the reality is that the most common threats users face on the internet are phishing attempts and compromised emails. These hacks rely on human fallibility in order to gather personal information - that’s why it’s so important to practice good security habits when online, in addition to downloading protective software.
What would you consider to be the biggest security threats surrounding IoT devices?
I would think that botnets would provide one of the largest threats to IoT devices - after all, it was botnets that infiltrated over 600,000 confirmed IoT devices in Dyn’s network in the 2016 DDoS attacks. Botnets are particularly dangerous because once installed, they allow cybercriminals to control the devices they’ve infected and use their collective computing power to take on larger targets in DDoS attacks, send spam, steal information, or even spy using IoT devices with a camera or sound recording capabilities.
In the age of remote work, what are the essential security measures organizations should implement?
In addition to arming their employees with sufficient knowledge of common cybersecurity threats and providing security software, remote operations should also ensure their employees have access to a secure Wi-Fi network system. At Minim, we actively encourage our employees to use our network hardware and mobile app. Not only do these measures keep their networks protected, but they will also allow them to interact with the product and suggest updates and new functionality.
And finally, would you like to share what’s next for Minim?
I’m not able to share too much for now, but suffice it to say that there’s a lot coming from Minim to get excited about in 2022.