Adjusting your home’s thermostat and hot water heater back to normal temperatures as you board a plane on your way home isn’t just cool, it’s incredibly handy. However, the network of these and other connected devices – often called “the Internet of Things” (IoT) – poses one of the biggest security problems of the modern era.

Most people think about changing their computer password regularly and their ATM PIN occasionally, but they almost never consider changing the password the programmable thermostat ships with from the factory, meaning that anyone who can access the manual has access to your thermostat.

Usually, attackers who target IoT devices don’t want to cause you a problem. Instead, they use your device along with 20,000 other thermostats as “soldiers” to battle against a website or e-mail server. By flooding these sites with traffic, they can shut them down or stop your e-mail server from delivering your messages.

You should adopt a strict offensive posture against these types of threats in your life and business. If there is even a suspected problem with one of your IoT devices, pull the plug. Your heater may be cold when you get home, but at least your data will be safe.