A study from the University of Maryland says hacker attacks occur every 39 seconds, affecting one in three users every year.
Perhaps this holiday season you’ll find yourself unwrapping a new tech toy. There’s no shortage of awesome gear—smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, TVs—to enjoy.
But while you’re having fun with your tech, remember to protect your personal info and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. It’s easier than you think. Here are a few precautions you can take.
Smartphones and tablets
• Lock your device, in case it’s stolen or lost. Add a PIN, password, fingerprint or facial scan.
• Only download apps from reputable companies. When using apps, read the terms and conditions before granting permission to everything.
• Set up the “find my phone” feature.
• Use the private or incognito mode of your browser, which deletes your history and cookies after your session. Consider a virtual private network (VPN) app to remain anonymous when you’re online.
Laptops and desktops
• Do you use your laptop in public? Consider a privacy screen to stop over-the-shoulder snoopers.
• Ensure that you, and only you, can log on to your computer by adding a password, PIN or biometrics option (offered on Windows and Mac).
• Resist free public Wi-Fito get online, as you’re at greater risk of breaches. Instead, create a hot spot on your mobile phone or wait until you’re on a secure wireless network at home.
• Use a VPN service to remain anonymous when on the web.
• For online shopping and banking, ensure you see the padlock or https:// in the address bar (as opposed to http://) to confirm it’s a secure connection.
• Close your webcam lens when it’s not in use or add a lens cover if you’re concerned about privacy.
• Don’t fall for phony emails, text messages or phone calls that ask you to confirm your personal information. Your bank, credit card company or the IRS would never ask you to do this.
If your smart TV supports voice recognition and you’re concerned about it hearing too much, disable this feature in the Settings area and turn it back on when you want to use it.
With products like those in the Google Home family, you can press the mute button on top of the device, which cuts off the microphone from listening for its wake word (“OK Google”). You can enable it whenever you have a request.