Most people who get connected devices for Christmas won’t secure them

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Connected devices are expected to be a major gift item in the coming holiday season – and less than half of the consumers who switch them on will take the necessary steps to secure them properly, while those who do take steps won’t be entirely sure if they did it right.

That’s according to Intel Security, who announced its second annual McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list on Monday to identify potential security risks associated with hot-ticket items this holiday season.

According to the list, the No. 1 most hackable gift category included laptops and PCs, followed by smartphones and tablets, media players and streaming sticks, smart home automation and devices, and finally, drones.

Intel Security also conducted a global survey to identify the risky behaviors consumers are engaging in during the holiday season and educate them on how to protect themselves.

While a majority of consumers are aware of the vulnerabilities in older connected devices like laptops (76%), mobile phones (70%) and tablets (69%), they lack awareness about the potential risks associated with emerging connected devices, such as drones (20%), children’s toys (15%), virtual reality tech (15%) and pet gifts (11%).

As technology continues to evolve, it is essential consumers understand the risks associated with even the most unassuming devices. While 81% of consumers believe it’s very important to secure their online identities and connected devices, nearly half are uncertain if they are taking the proper security steps.

Details after the festive infographic.

Source: Intel/McAfee
Source: Intel/McAfee

“Unsurprisingly, connected devices remain high on holiday wish lists this year. What is alarming is that consumers remain unaware of what behaviors pose a security risk when it comes to new devices,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security. “Consumers are often eager to use their new gadget as soon as they get it and forgo ensuring that their device is properly secured. Cybercriminals could use this lack of attention as an inroad to gather personal consumer data, exposing consumers to malware or identity theft or even use unsecured devices to launch DDoS attacks as in the recent Dyn attack.”

This year’s most hackable holiday gifts include:

  1. Laptops and PCs – Laptops and PCs make great gifts, however, malicious apps targeting PCs are unfortunately common, and are not just limited to Windows-based devices.
  2. Smartphones and Tablets – Survey results revealed that 52% of consumers plan to purchase either a smartphone or tablet this holiday season. Just like PCs and laptops, malware could result in personal and financial information being stolen.
  3. Media Players and Streaming Sticks – Media players and streaming sticks have changed the way consumers enjoy movies and TV, but consumers can unknowingly invite a cybercriminal into their living room by failing to update their device.
  4. Smart Home Automation Devices and Apps – Today’s connected home devices and apps give users the power to control their homes from their smartphone. Unfortunately, hackers have demonstrated techniques that could be used to compromise Bluetooth-powered door locks and other home automation devices.
  5. Drones – Drone sales are expected to grow to more than $20 billion by 2022. They can provide unique perspectives when it comes to shooting video and photos. However, not properly securing the device could allow hackers to disrupt the GPS signal or hijack your drone through its smartphone app.

 Pro tips for consumers to protect their stuff

To stay protected for a happier and safer holiday season, Intel Security has the following tips:

Secure your device. Your device is the key to controlling your home and your personal information. Make sure you have comprehensive security software installed.

Only use secure Wi-Fi. Using your devices, such as your smart home applications, on public Wi-Fi could leave you and your home open to risk.

Keep software up-to-date. Apply patches as they are released from the manufacturer. Install manufacturer updates right away to ensure that your device is protected from the latest known threats.

Use a strong password or PIN. If your device supports it, use multi-factor authentication (MFA), as it can include factors like a trusted device, your face, fingerprint, etc. to make your login more secure.

Check before you click. Be suspicious of links from people you do not know and always use internet security software to stay protected. Hover over the link to find a full URL of the link’s destination in the lower corner of your browser.

 The survey, conducted by OnePoll in September 2016, covered 9,800 consumers (aged 18-55+) who use an internet-enabled device on a daily basis in the following countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US.

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