The Top Tech Gifts in 2020 and New Device Security Pointers (infographic)

When it comes to giving gifts over the holidays, it’s hard to beat a piece of new tech that streamlines someone’s life for the better. And consumers know this all too well.

The Consumer Technology Association estimates that U.S. consumers spent $135 billion on tech in 2020 alone. Moreover, according to Deloitte, each individual holiday shopper spends about $195 on electronics as gifts.

All this to say, we’re hungry for gadgets and gizmos year-round but especially during the holidays. So, what are people wishing for this holiday season?

Just like last year, smartphones are topping holiday wishlists, according to the CTA. Predictably, laptops are the second most-anticipated tech gift—perhaps a direct correlation with expanding remote workforces—followed by video game consoles, TVs, and wearable tech.

And with every new device comes a bevy of new features, from biometric logins like facial, fingerprint, and voice recognition to Wi-Fi auto-join capabilities all meant to simplify our lives for the better. An unfortunate side effect of these bells and whistles, however, is that they also create new avenues for cybersecurity threats. That’s where device protection comes in.

No matter which gadget you’re wishing for—or purchasing—this holiday season, consider the following pointers for securing your new tech immediately after unboxing and beyond.

1. Adjust location services

Our device’s location services benefit us in many ways, including by enabling us to find our devices when their lost through “find my” features. Still, we often don’t monitor which apps are viewing your location—and if they really need to be or not. For this reason, make it a habit to review an app’s permissions upon download and decide on a case-by-case basis if it really needs to track your movements.

2. Mute IoT devices

The number of IoT devices are dizzying these days, from STEM toys to home automation devices to fitness trackers and even refrigerators. A common feature across all of them is voice commands, which means these electronics are indeed listening to us. But we don’t always want or need them to, as they could gather private information. For this reason, be sure to mute your smart devices when they’re not in use and also consider enabling voice recognition so they only listen to one person.

3. Adjust your auto-join setting in public

Cybercriminals love public Wi-Fi and a part of that is because we love letting our smart devices connect to it automatically, despite knowing whether or not a network is secure. For this reason, readjust your “auto-join” to Wi-Fi setting in public settings and connect manually only if you so trust the network.

4. Enable automatic software updates

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and, to the same tune, keeping your software up to date keeps cybercriminals at bay. Device manufacturers are consistently monitoring security holes and rolling out steadfast updates to address them. For this reason, stay ahead of cybercriminals and enable automatic software updates.

5. Use strong, complex passwords

Consider this the golden rule of all connected devices and online activity. Only use strong, complex passwords and never the same one across accounts. This means a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols and a minimum of eight characters. For added device protection, change your password on a regular basis and consider utilizing a password manager to keep track of your logins.

6. Enable two-factor authentication

Also known as 2FA, two-factor authentication is an added layer of security to login into an account. Typically, this comes in the form of a verification code sent via email or SMS after you’ve entered your password. Enabling 2FA when it’s available means you’re doubling down on your device security.

7. Adjust app permissions

Upon download, apps might default to accessing personal information on your devices such as your location or browsing habits. But does every app need to know your every move and interest? Remember, the more information you share, the more information cybercriminals can possibly access. For this reason, share sparingly and adjust your app permissions accordingly.

8. Enables biometric logins

Biometric logins are among the trustiest ways to lock a device, and these can come in many forms. Facial recognition and fingerprint scanning are considered the most common. Enable yours to ensure no one but you has access to your gadget and all the personal information on it.

9. Install antivirus software

Prevention is key in device security. Installing and running antivirus software regularly allows you to stay on top of any cybercrime attacks or malicious activity. When the software flags one, you’re able to readjust your security practices accordingly.

10. Install a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN encrypts your data, meaning it makes your personal information totally unreadable. Bottom line, installing a VPN protects your privacy and protects you from cybercriminals.

For more device protection tips, pore over the infographic below, courtesy of Norton
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