Think about what kind of gifts you REALLY want for the upcoming holiday season. Be honest now, it's very likely that right on top of your most wanted list is an internet-connected electronic gadget of some sort - a shiny new smartphone, a laptop, a tablet, an e-reader, a smart appliance or a connected toy. Heck, even wireless Bluetooth headphones are considered hackable connected devices now.
If you are fancying a techie internet-connected electronic gift under the Christmas tree, you are not alone. "Smart" gadgets have been steadily taking over everyone's holiday wish lists over the last few years.
But you better watch out! That connected gadget you covet may not be as secure as you think.
2017: The rise of connected toys and smart speakers
According to McAfee's 3rd annual Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list, one significant change from last year is the rise of internet-connected toys, taking one of the top spots from streaming media boxes and sticks.
It looks like the big trend of 2017 for appliance and toy manufacturers is to connect everything they can to the internet. From toasters to cuddly teddy bears, they're trying their darn best to give everything an IP address. Many connected toys even have their own GPS tracking chips, cameras and microphones. The problem is that some of these smart toy manufacturers are not putting software security as a top priority.
A new category making its debut on the list is the smart speaker/digital assistant. With the bargain prices of the Echo Dot and the Google Home Mini, smart speakers will make the perfect stocking stuffers this year.
Another noticeable trend is that consumers are now increasingly trading in their old gadgets for upgrades. Fifty percent of those surveyed plan on giving away or selling their old connected gadgets when they get a new one. Unfortunately, 20 percent said that they do not know how to wipe their personal information from their gadgets before selling or giving them away.
Do you want to learn how to completely wipe your gadgets? Click here to learn how.
This year's most hackable holiday gifts
The rest of the list reveals that internet-connected gadgets are more popular than ever, with laptops, smartphones, and tablets occupying the top spots.
Here are 2017's hackable gifts rankings:
- Smart speakers/Digital Assistants (Echo/Google Home)
- Connected Toys
- Connected Appliances
But similar to last year's survey, McAfee said that although consumers are aware of the importance of protecting themselves against online threats, most are still unsure if they are taking the proper security measures on their connected devices. Worse yet, some don't even care about making security a priority.
So if you do receive an internet-connected holiday gift, what should you do?
Read on and I'll tell you how to protect these gadgets from hacks.
Got a yuletide smart gift? Read this list and check it twice:
- Change default passwords - Most connected gadgets rely on a web interface or an app for management. If you do receive one as a gift, change its default username and password right away. Here are 5 password mistakes that will likely get you hacked.
- Update software - Out of the box, immediately check for software updates. Manufacturers regularly roll out software fixes or security patches. It's likely that some may have been pushed out while your gadget was on the store shelf or lying gift-wrapped under the Christmas tree. Click here and see why updating your Internet-of-Things appliances is important.
- Program a PIN code - If Santa brings you a smartphone or tablet, make sure you secure it immediately with a strong PIN code. Here are your various options to lock your smartphone or tablet.
- Do your research - Worried about your gadget's security? A quick online search will tell you if your connected device has security holes and flaws. Check Komando.com regularly too for the news about the latest consumer electronic threats out there.
- Secure your router - There are ways to secure your home network against internet-of-things and connected gadget attacks. One is to turn on your router's guest network feature. Next, regularly check for firmware updates. Also, check for publicly exposed ports and services like UPnP (Universal Plug and Play). Try this free firewall test to see if it's properly protected.