Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming soon. With every passing year, a new set of cool electronic and technology related gadgets are released and gobbled up by the public. Over the last few years, those gadgets include the ability to connect to the Internet. This year your family’s wish lists will have more connected devices than ever. As great as the connectedness is for the usability of these gifts, it also brings a scary side related to data security and privacy. Here are a few things to look out for when giving or receiving a new Internet connected device.

Does the device have?

  • A camera?
  • A microphone?
  • Location tracking?

Next, what do the onboard app/apps know about me?

  • Does it require an account?
  • Does it have privacy controls?
  • Can I delete my data by contacting the company?
  • Does the company share data with any third party companies?

Past stories about photo hacking have made people more conscious of their device security, but things they may not think about are access to the microphone or tracking of the device via GPS. For example, Roomba automated vacuums. They make a great gift, but people don’t think about the fact that they or other robotic vacuums create virtual maps of your home. These maps could possibly be used to target you with unwanted ads. Or, if the device is hacked, this information could be used for other more criminal purposes.

With all of the data breaches that have taken place over the last 12 months, it’s important to know the pitfalls that your holiday gifts could present. Be sure to change default passwords to strong passwords. Make sure that your device is protected by a strong anti-virus/anti-malware solution and if necessary back up files. For a great guide on some hot holiday gifts for 2017 and the potential hazards that they present, visit Mozilla’s “privacy not included” article. It breaks down dozens of popular items like toys, home hubs, game consoles and more, across the security criteria listed above.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

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