I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas! I'm sure many of you got some awesome high-tech gifts from your friends and loved ones. It doesn't matter if you got some smart home items, computers, phones, or tablets, you need to remember to set up those tech gifts in a way where they aren't going to be compromised by hackers. Cyber-criminals are always on the prowl for your personal information so it's in your best interest to make sure those new tech toys are going to be safe and secure in the coming year. Not sure where to start? These tips should help you get started in the right direction.
1. Create strong security for your online accounts. Usually, the difference between you getting hacked and not getting hacked is the strength of your passwords. With our digital society, most of our online accounts are web-accessible. This makes it convenient for you to get access to your stuff, but that means criminals can get access to it too. Using secure passwords means you minimize the risk that your devices will be hacked. Make sure all of your devices and online accounts have 2 2-factor authentication enabled. Also, you will want to make sure you're not using the same password for your devices and online accounts so you don't fall victim to 'credential stuffing' or hackers using your breached information hiding on the dark web to access your stuff. Also, keep tabs on data breaches by visiting www.fightingidentitycrimes.com and find out if you've been breached by going to www.haveibeenpwned.com
2. Stop Your Devices From Spying on You. Smart devices are great because of all of the information that they allow us to access. The downside, these devices keep track of what you view and what you read. Many Smart TVs use a feature called ACR, or “Automatic Content Recognition.” This feature scans what you watch and sends the data to marketing firms to they can send targeted ads to you. Google and Amazon are guilty of using your recordings to develop their software. Ring users can potentially have their home and office locations made public because of their neighbors' software features. Fortunately, each of these devices allows you to enable privacy settings and remove your user information.
3. Setup Your Devices to Perform Automatic Backups. If you have new tech devices as gifts that store data, make sure you have set up automatic backups for them. You never know when your devices will get hit with a virus, ransomware, or just fail. You have many options to choose from such as Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) Google Backup and Sync (www.google.com) and iCloud Backup (www.apple.com).
4. Don't Let Your Neighbors Know What Gifts You Purchased. It's tempting after the gift exchange is done to set those old boxes on the curb. Yes, those boxes are out of the house, but you're also advertising your new tech to thieves who are looking to get some holiday tech gifts of their own. Break those boxes down and hide them in closed-lid recycling containers to keep them out of prying eyes. If you have space, you might want to keep those boxes. Most tech gear is under warranty for at least a year. If you keep your boxes, it's easy for you to ship your items back if you need warranty repair. If you like selling your old tech items, they have more appeal if you resell them in the original boxes.
5. Update Your Devices Regularly. Hackers are always looking for new ways to get into your devices and the companies that make your hardware devices are aware of this. When a bug or security flaw is discovered, hackers will take advantage of this. That's why hardware and software companies work hard to patch your gadgets to keep you safe. It's always important to make sure you update your software and hardware devices.
6. Register your devices. I never used to register my devices, but I do now. So many changes with tech devices such as product recalls, updates, and security vulnerabilities. When you register your tech gear, you will always know what your warranty is, if there are any product updates, and get faster access to tech support if you have problems with your devices. In some cases, registering your device can help you recover your devices if they are stolen.
7. Enable Device Tracking for Mobile Items. All smart gadgets are sought after by thieves which why it's a good idea to enable the tracking features of your devices. The GPS feature built into your devices will help you recover your device if' it's lost or stolen. If you have Apple products, you can enable the 'Find My' feature for your iPhone, MacBook Pro or iPad. If you have a Windows 10 device, you can enable Windows tracking, and Android computers, phones and tablets have the "Find My Device' feature.
Tech gifts sometimes make the best gifts to receive during the holiday season. In our digital age, you need to take extra steps to make sure your devices are protected from cybercriminals and thieves to ensure that you're able to enjoy your gadgets safely and securely for a long time.
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