Shop smart this Christmas and avoid the cyber-grinches

Have you given any thought to the hackability of your Christmas gifts this year?

Have you given any thought to whether hackability is even a word? It’s probably best you don’t, as I don’t think it is.

Intel Security recently conducted some research into the most hackable Christmas gifts, with a view to offering some top tips on how to protect yourself and your family. Christmas wouldn’t be a terribly jolly affair after all if you ended up the victim of online fraud now would it? That would take the thrill out of your Trivial Pursuit win.

The results surprised me if I’m honest. I always figured that it was just things like laptops, phones and tablets that were susceptible to hacking, but it’s actually a far wider reaching problem than that. The top four, according to Intel Security, are as follows:

   1. Smartphones and Tablets

   2. Drones and Camera-enabled Devices

   3. Children’s Gadgets

   4. Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers

Would you have thought about kids’ gadgets proving a security risk? I certainly wouldn’t, but then I’m not very technologically minded. Do you remember that classic Christmas, way back in 2009, where it was just me and the girls? I had to buy Belle an emergency microwave, and then we ended up in a 24 hour garage looking for batteries. I think the girls would both agree that it wasn’t one of our best.

Anyway, gadgets. It goes way past batteries nowadays – a lot of them connect to phones or computers or use bluetooth connections, leaving your personal data vulnerable. The Star Wars: The Force Awakens BB8 droid for example, which is set to be the most popular smart toy this Christmas, is controlled by a Bluetooth connection via a smartphone. Many devices have a Bluetooth pairing password with a default of 0000 or 1234, allowing attackers to pair with them and take control.

(Another example of my tech backwardness being that at this point I imagine hackers taking control of the actual droid directly, and making it march around your house doing things like emptying your drawers and your purse, looking for passwords and credit card details. I don’t think this is how it works.)

So how to best protect yourself from rogue droids? Check out, and in the meantime, Intel Security has some tips:

Be Bluetooth aware – when Bluetooth is not needed, switch it off. (Or the droids will get you.)

Cover all the bases – many smart toys are controlled by other devices, be that a smartphone or a tablet. Protecting all these devices means that all doors to hackers are closed. Protect devices by pairing a comprehensive security solution with regular device updates. Something like McAfee LiveSafe is worth a look.

Education, education, education – teach kids about the cyber risks out there. A third (34%) of 10 year olds believe the Internet is safe wherever they use it, so by having a conversation with them about safe practices, they will be one step ahead of the hackers.

Check out Truekey – it signs you into things by recognising your face or your fingerprint, instead of a password. Belle would absolutely love this one as she is into MI High at the moment and has recently constructed a pretend finger scanner, disguised as a light switch, on the wall outside her bedroom.

Place things on high shelves – that way the droid won’t be able to reach. (Not really, I made that one up.)

Have you thought about security this Christmas? What steps are you taking to keep families festivities safe?

internet security

Sponsored post. Photo credit – Masson/shutterstock


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