The time for all things merry and bright is here and there is nothing brighter than a shiny new smartphone or laptop! Exciting as it is to play with all their new features as soon as they come out of the box, new devices also bring new risks.
These nine recommendations can keep viruses and hackers from ruining your holidays this year.
1. Shop only on well-known and secure websites.
If something seems too good to be true or looks a little suspicious, it probably is. With so many reputable shopping sites out there, why take the risk of having your credit card information stolen on an unsecured or shady website? No matter which website has that perfect gift for sale, make sure you see “https://” at the front of its web address. That “s” means that your data stays encrypted and safe from prying eyes. You should also check for deceptive misspellings in the website’s address and look for security seals on the website to avoid falling victim to a scam or fraud.
2. Stay away from untrustworthy devices, no matter how cheap!
When it comes to electronics, you get what you pay for. The cheaper the gadget, the less likely it was designed with your security in mind. Hackers love easy targets, and inexpensive web-enabled products can leave you vulnerable to device hijackings and other malicious attacks.
3. Give every device a unique and complex password.
Far too many people still use the default or an easy-to-guess password on their devices (Kanye really should have known better). Of course, most people cannot remember a dozen or more different combinations of random letters, numbers, and symbols to protect each of their devices, but changing your password often, making it as hard-to-guess as possible, and following these recommendations can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Better yet, get Password Manager to save them all for you.
4. Check the security settings of your devices.
Not all devices put your security first, so check the settings and privacy preferences of all your devices before using them. Depending on the device, you should set up two-factor authentication, limit app permissions, or prevent connections to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, just to name a few.
5. Read the data collection and privacy policies of all new devices, apps, and software.
This might seem like a tedious task, but knowing exactly what kind of data companies collect about you and how they use it can help you protect your privacy and stop them from inappropriately sharing or misusing that information. Now that the European Union has implemented General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), any company operating there or collecting information about European nationals must publicly disclose what information they collect, making it easier than ever to decide whether an app or software package is right for you.
6. Set up automatic updates.
This recommendation goes for both firmware and operating system updates. Keeping your devices up-to-date gives you the latest protection against the newest vulnerabilities found. If automatic updates are not an option, or you prefer to have more control over your devices, make sure to update them yourself whenever a new version comes out.
7. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks.
Despite the temptation to use your new devices everywhere you go, connecting to open or public Wi-Fi networks (like the ones in airports and coffee shops) can expose you to data theft and viruses. Instead, connect to a telecom company’s 3G, 4G, or 5G network, or else use a VPN if you absolutely must connect to public Wi-Fi. Better safe than sorry!
8. Keep your home Wi-Fi network secure.
Public Wi-Fi networks clearly pose risks to your new devices, but so can your home network. To reduce potential vulnerabilities at home, check if your router uses a Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol. If it does not, change the protocol to keep hackers off your devices. Try HouseCall for Home Networks to find and eliminate security vulnerabilities in your home network as well.
9. Protect yourself with trustworthy security software.
If you follow all of the previous recommendations, hackers will have a hard time ruining your holiday, but installing security software specially designed to protect your devices might be the most important step you can take.
For Windows, iOS, and Android devices, Trend Micro Maximum Security is the perfect solution. It can protect multiple devices from fraudulent or malicious websites and apps, ransomware, and unwanted content. It also helps secure your financial transactions and checks the safety of Wi-Fi network connections. It even tracks your devices in case they get lost or stolen and provides parental controls to allow little ones to enjoy their gifts safely.
Trend Micro wishes you a happy and well-protected holiday season!