Happy, Healthy Holidays: 5 Tips for Secure Gift-Giving

It’s almost the holidays. No matter what you celebrate, this is a special time to spend with loved ones and show each other that you care. One of the many ways that people do this during the winter holidays is with gifts.

We know it’s on your mind…Just as you’re thinking about what to get your spouse or best friends, you’re also itching for the newest version of your phone, hoping to finally get that tablet you’ve been asking for, or hinting about some other cool gadget that keeps showing up on TV.

Slow down! You’re hankering for cool new technology, and cybercriminals are banking on your excitement overshadowing your common sense. How cyber-secure are the new devices coming into YOUR house this year?

Guide to Safer Gadgets

Did you know? November through January sees and average 70% increase in ransomware attacks! This is due in part to the holiday season, causing so much flurry that it’s easier for cybercriminals to slip under the radar – or for people to be too exhausted to care.

Before you go buying any presents just because they’re shiny, consider whether that is the safest gadget that you can give a loved one. Do some research: Does this phone have the best tracking prevention built in, or just the biggest advertising budget? Which tablets aggregate and sell more data? Does that smart home have firewalls and malware detection built in? These questions matter when buying new tech, whether you want to fill an office with new computers or just get a present for that special someone!

During winter holidays, you’re just as likely to receive new digital devices as you are to give them. Take care when setting up these gadgets, with these 3 quick tips!

  1. Default passwords are easily broken in a brute force or password spraying attack, so change login details IMMEDIATELY
  2. Choose lengthy and complex passwords (Did you know? A recent study by Specops Software found 93% of passwords used in brute force attacks have more than 8 characters!)
  3. Set up security software as recommended by your IT service provider ASAP

Out with the Old

When we receive new gadgets, a lot of us pass on our old devices to family members, friends or even sell it for some easy cash! Before you hand anything over, though, remember: Wipe devices of data before selling or giving them away. It’s not as simple as moving everything to the Recycling Bin, either. You don’t want anyone else to take over as the device’s administrator and start delving into private data you didn’t even know it stored!

Thankfully, there’s an easy fix! Go into your General Settings > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. This will reset your gadget to factory default and wipe it clean of all your data. Do NOT manually delete programs and apps. ONLY reverting to factory settings actually wipes the device clean!

(Note: This setting is generally available on most devices, but its exact location may differ depending on make and model.)

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is more important than ever in these cold months, when digital threat actors are on high alert for easy prey. Hopefully, this article has helped pave the way for a safer holiday season, while still enjoying all the parts that make it merry. You can go get your sister the drawing tablet she’s wanted, or your son his Bluetooth speakers! Enjoy your new smart TV. Just don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holidays get your guard down.

Have a happy, cyber-hygienic holiday season!

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