"Smart" Gifts Come With Risks

"Smart" Gifts Come With Risks

Chloe Seaman
December 21, 2016

Planning to give an Internet-connected device to someone for Christmas?

First, there are things you need to know about these devices…

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Any device that connects to the Internet is vulnerable to hackers. If you’re at home, look around. How many things besides your phone and computer have an Internet connection?

Think: Smart TVs, fitness trackers, baby monitors, appliances, wearables, Wi-fi home security systems and more.

Basically, anything called “Smart” or that says it has Wi-Fi is what we’re talking about.

This rise of the IoT

You’re one of many who plan on giving an IoT device to someone for the holiday. A new survey by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 36% of holiday gift givers plan on giving an Internet-connected device to someone this year. The IoT is soaring in popularity; which means cybercrime is rising too.

Of course, the benefits of smart devices are exciting. A fitness tracker can help someone manage their health. A Smart TV makes media-viewing more personalized. These devices take modern convenience to another level.

But as exciting as it is to receive an IoT device, make sure you let your recipient know they must secure their new device.

Here’s what to say to the people you plan on giving Internet-connected devices to:

They must change the default username and password.

You may remember the DDoS attacks that happened in October. In the largest attack of its kind, 73,000 webcams were hijacked and the contents made public on a Russian website – meaning voyeurs around the world were watching unwitting people in their most private spaces.

For those who changed the default username and password of their webcams, their privacy was spared.

Encourage the friends and family members you give a connected device to, to change the default username and password. Share with them what can happen if they don’t (that they can have their information or personal space hijacked).

Recommend disabling Universal Plug-and-Play (UPnP).

Every Internet-connected device comes with UPnP enabled. But this creates a gap in your router’s security for malware to get through. Recommend looking for the “Universal Plug and Play” feature on the device and disabling it (turning it OFF).

Keep devices up-to-date.

When a software update is available for the device, make sure your recipient knows to update. This keeps the latest firmware installed, which is always the most secure version.

Recommend Bitdefender

Rather, you should highly recommend Bitdefender. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is an antivirus suite of products that goes beyond destroying malicious software.

This “tiny hardware-based security solution” connects to your Internet router and monitors all Internet traffic and connected devices. It’s like a watchdog for your home’s Internet-connected devices – one that will protect you from cyberattacks.

PCMag.com gives Bitdefender Antivirus Plus an excellent rating, and it’s also recommended by The Hacker News.

While most companies are doing their best to secure the devices they create, Internet security is still a personal responsibility. If giving the gift of an Internet-connected device, please pass on the information you’ve read here.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.