Report suggests Christmas gifts pose security risks

A new report suggests that Canadians need to be doing a better job at securing their new electronics during the holidays.

When shopping for Christmas presents, one of the often-coveted gifts for people of all ages and gender is electronics. Phones, tablets, TVs, fitness trackers, media players and drones—but how many people take the proper safety precautions to secure their devices after unwrapping?

Intel Security recently announced its second-annual McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list to identify possible security risks with many hot-ticket items. The list includes things as likely as laptops and PCs along with smartphones and tablets. Fifth on the list, though, are drones, which are expected to grow in sales to more than $20 billion by 2020. While they can provide unique perspectives when it comes to shooting video and photos, not securing your drone could lead to it being hacked and diverted with something as simple as a smartphone.

To accompany the list, Intel Security conducted a survey to identify the risky behaviours consumers are engaging in during the holiday season in hopes of educating them on how to better protect themselves.

What they found was that 66 per cent of Canadian consumers will shop online at some point during the holiday season. Most revealing, though, is that while 89 per cent of Canadians start using their connected devices within the first day of receiving it, fewer than half 44 per cent— of Canadian consumers take proper security measures to protect new electronic devices.

Jordan Stapleton, sales representative at The Source in Invermere, said this lack of concern around password protection is something he sees regularly at the local level.

“Very few people actually do get passwords on their phones,” he said, noting that the problem is when people use “save my password” for their different accounts all on one device. “Now imagine you lose your phone and you have ‘save my password’ (selected) on everything they have access to everything on your device so having a password is very important as well as your laptop and tablet if you’re going to be using ‘save my password’.”

Stapleton advises his customers that even if they have malware and anti-virus software on their devices, they are not 100 per cent effective either.

The results of not safeguarding your electronics can be extremely dangerous, said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security.

“Cybercriminals could use this lack of attention as an inroad to gather personal consumer data, exposing consumers to malware or identity theft or even use unsecured devices to launch DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks as in the recent Dyn attack,” he said. “What is alarming is that consumers remain unaware of what behaviours pose a security risk when it comes to new devices. Consumers are often eager to use their new gadget as soon as they get it and forgo ensuring that their device is properly secured.”

Intel provides a number of tips for consumers to protect their new holiday devices, including ensuring there is a password on it, only using a secure Wi-Fi, in addition to keeping software on the device up to date. Visit www.intelsecurity.com.

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