Raspberry Pi & Digital Privacy Risks
People have come up with some crazy awesome ways to use a Raspberry Pi to solve some difficult problems. It was originally created to help students learn to code, but has since become wildly popular in other realms. We’re going to look into how they work and if using one could make you vulnerable to hacks.
What is a Raspberry Pi?
In case you’ve never heard of one, the Raspberry Pi is a tiny and affordable computer that many people use to learn programming through fun practical projects. There are a few different models, but all are single-board computers developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
How Are Raspberry Pis Used?
There are endless applications for Raspberry Pis. Some people have come up with some crazy ways to use them, from Amazon Echo clones to homemade smartphones, and even an automated bartender. If someone can write the code, the Raspberry Pi can make it happen.
Eren Golge, an AI researcher, set up a home surveillance system using ~150 lines of code. The system detected motion, sent email alerts, and sent updates to a website.
One of the coolest parts about Raspberry Pis is that people commonly use them to replace or reverse-engineer some complex (and much more expensive) gadgets and devices.
How Secure Is a Raspberry Pi?
As with most pieces of hardware, it is not inherently safe or unsafe, the answer depends on its use. One of the main reasons the Raspberry Pi is so attractive to its users is that it can connect to the internet. That in itself brings about risks. Malware, viruses, and data theft are just a few threats that users may run into online. But the technology in Raspberry Pi is also used securely in mobile phones, which means running one safely is definitely possible.
How To Secure a Raspberry Pi
- Change your default password — Raspberry Pis all come with a default password and username, so changing your password can help you protect yourself.
- Change your username — Switching your username from the default will help protect your Pi from any potential threats.
- Make the “sudo” feature require a password. — Using sudo before a command allows the function to be performed as a super user, requiring a password avoids any hacker being able to change your settings.
- Keep your Raspberry Pi up to date — The latest version of Raspbian (Rapberry Pi’s free operating system) includes security fixes and upgrades.
- Improve your SSH security — SSH is a way to access a Raspberry Pi remotely. By adding password protection or key-based authentication, you can make your Pi more secure.
- Install a firewall — You can block certain IP addresses and add other protections with a firewall. (However, some of the firewall options are rather difficult to set up.)
- Install fail2ban — Fail2ban will help catch unusual events on your Raspberry Pi, if you are using it as a server. It catches things like brute-force attempts to log in.
Raspberry Pi Security Risks
Raspberry Pis are awesome tools and can provide some great utility and entertainment. Users need to beware of the threats that they may be vulnerable to. Pis cannot perform secure booting, and the SD card and operating system are not encrypted easily.
It may seem minor if a hacker is able to breach your Raspberry Pi, especially if you are using it as a Gameboy emulator, for example. But there are some more serious possible scenarios. A hacker could use its computing power to mine cryptocurrency, to cover tracks of an attack on other hosts, or as an entry point into the rest of a network.
Read More: Is Your Raspberry Pi Safe and Secure?
The Verdict: Raspberry Pi Is No More Dangerous than Other Connected Devices
Using a Raspberry Pi safely is not hard to do, but you should take some time to make sure you are using it securely. Breaches into your Raspberry Pi could allow for hackers to access other devices and information on your network. But…that’s no different than a hacker getting access to your computer or your smart speaker. If your Raspberry Pi is connected to the internet, it is being targeted, just like all other internet devices.
One reason that Raspberry Pis may concern folks is their lack of understanding. People without some level of technical knowledge have a hard time understanding what the Raspberry Pi can do. It is a computer, but it doesn’t look like a computer.
Just like a smart speaker could make you vulnerable, so could your Raspberry Pi…but that’s nothing new.