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Beware of these hi-tech Christmas presents

Christmas is a joyful time of year. Many of us will be spending the holidays with our loved ones, sharing wonderful feasts and memories.

It's also a time for giving. I love seeing all those happy faces when people are opening their gifts. Before picking out those tech gadget gifts, though, there are some risks you should know about.

Modern technology is designed to improve our lives and make things easier. There have been some amazing innovations in the recent past. From all of the smart appliances to the virtual assistants that help control them, the future of home living is bright.

The downside to these smart appliances, known as the Internet of things (IoT), is the fact that they need to connect to the internet to function. This opens the door to hackers who can get access to our login credentials and steal our personal data and even our money.

IoT gadgets that can be hacked

As mentioned above, these IoT gadgets can cause security issues because of their internet connections. Here are a few of the more popular IoT items:

Those are just a few of the smart appliances found in many homes today. If you have any smart appliances or are thinking about getting some or giving them as gifts, there are ways to keep them protected.

Protecting your IoT gadgets

Since these Internet of Things appliance infections only reside on temporary memory, the first thing you have to do is reboot the device to clear out the malware.

If you are checking your router, IP webcam or connected printer, it is important that you change the default administrator username and password. Do this by accessing the appliance's hub (usually through a webpage or a smartphone app). If your smart appliance connects via the manufacturer's website, make sure your password for their site is complex and unique.

Next, check for firmware updates. Now, with these attacks out in the open, manufacturers will start issuing security patches to prevent such infections. It's important to keep your firmware always up to date. If your gadget does not automatically fetch firmware updates, make sure to manually check at least every three months.

Click here to learn why updating your Wi-Fi router's firmware is essential for online safety.

Some routers have some firewall functionality too. In your router's administrator page, look for settings named "Disable Port Scan" and "Enable DoS Protection" and make sure you turn these on.

As evidenced by recent attacks and techniques, in this increasingly connected world, it goes without saying the more our homes become "smarter," the more we have to be smarter about our homes.

Click here for a more in-depth look at protecting your IoT gadgets.

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