Without a doubt, sales of personal holiday gadgets spike during the holidays and not just a little, but a heck of a lot. Think about it, this is the time of the year when retailers (both brick and mortar and cyber) slash their prices and move inventory at an astonishing rate. Prices get crazy-low, and people get up at 4 am to get in line to gobble up those nifty devices. And why not? It’s been a year since your teenager got their last tablet; time to upgrade right?
So then, we’re either giving or receiving new tablets, laptops, and smartphones. We all want to be online whenever and wherever and always have the internet at our fingertips. But, we all need to step back for a moment and consider how unsafe being online 24/7 can actually be.
Everybody keeps some amount of personal and sensitive data on their devices, and in many cases, we may not even know it. Here is the moment when we’ve got to consider SECURITY.
You are Vulnerable
Everyone connected to the internet is vulnerable. Not thinking about does not make the risk go away. Everyone’s information is up for grabs at some time or another. Think about a person traveling either by car, train, or airplane from coast to coast. They pass through hundreds of hotspots where hackers are lurking and waiting to steal credentials and penetrate your vulnerable accounts. Martin Hack, an information security expert at NCP Engineering, reports that since today’s devices are so powerful and can store so much information, the risks are increasing at an alarming rate because the consumer has a tendency to carry both personal and information on the same device, and our mobile devices have never looked more appealing to hackers.
Use Best Practices to Keep your Holiday Gadgets Secure
- Keep software up-to-date. In many cases, software updates are fixes for security vulnerabilities that have been discovered in the software on your device. Make it a habit to check for updates on the device operating system and programs that have been installed. Once a week should do it, but if you get a software update announcement, stop what you’re doing and download it.
- Use strong passwords. This is the cardinal sin that every device owner commits. Using easy passwords to remember by inserting your year of birth or pet names on every device is a disaster waiting to happen. Strong passwords are about using words that aren’t in the dictionary combined with numbers and symbols, and changing them regularly. It’s a pain, I get it, so use a password program to help you create strong passwords and store them.
- Do not use unsecured wireless Networks. Logging into an unsecured wireless network that is not encrypted is just plain stupid. You may as well give everyone in the area your name, social security number, and date of birth on a piece of paper. And by the way, just because a network appears secure doesn’t mean it is. Hackers are tenacious, creative, and sophisticated enough to join the party and hack your device, so be sure you have the best security software on your device, update it regularly, and be certain to use the most effective security settings on every device.
The joy of getting that new tablet, laptop, or smartphone will quickly dissipate the moment you discover you’ve been hacked, and now there are twelve people carrying credit cards with your name on them. You don’t need to be a Scrooge, just be smart.