The Most Hackable Christmas Gifts of 2016 – Are You Prepared?

I’ve decided that 2016 will be a calm and collected Christmas in our house. I’m saying NO to last minute panic and craziness. No-one is allowed to be frazzled. Nothing can go wrong. Christmas Day will be full of smiles not stress!! I realise that this is probably completely unachievable but I’m aiming for the stars – and I’ll probably land somewhere on the moon!

The most essential tool to a stress-free festive time is online shopping – a true gift from ‘The Gods’. Not only does it save vast amounts of time but also money. Recent research conducted by McAfee shows that nearly 40% of us Aussies will in fact buy most, if not all our Christmas gifts online this year. So, thumbs up to us!

But what are we going to buy? Well, no surprise really – technology is top of our Christmas lists Down Under. In fact, 65% of those surveyed said they will be buying a smartphone, either for themselves or for another. The second most popular tech purchase is a laptop (41%), followed by smart TVs (33%), fitness trackers (25%) and then home devices such as Bluetooth speakers and door locks (23%).

And of course, everyone wants to use their new toys ASAP! Who can wait? In fact, we’re all impatient with 80% of Aussies saying they will start using their new shiny device the day they receive it.

But folks, here is where Christmas could come unstuck and stress could sneak in. The research also shows that less than half of us (46%) don’t know how to secure our devices. Eeekkk! And this is why cybercriminals love Christmas – they wait for moments like these when we have let our guard down so they can gather our personal data and expose us to malware, identity theft or even take over the devices to launch a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (aka meltdown) on a website. I know it sounds dramatic but it is entirely possible.

To keep you ahead in the game, McAfee has compiled a list of the ‘Most Hackable Christmas Gifts’ for 2016. In compiling this list, McAfee considered a range of factors including accessibility, communication security and target value. So, if you are in direct contact with Santa then please take note.

This year’s Most Hackable Christmas Gifts:

  1. Laptops and PCs
  2. Smartphones and Tablets
  3. Media Streaming Devices
  4. Smart Home Automation Devices and Apps
  5. Drones

So, what to do? Well, you could try suggesting alternative gifts: socks, undies, board games. I can hear my boys groaning… Or, you could follow these few simple steps to protect your new devices and avoid tech stress this Christmas:

  • Secure the new device BEFORE you start using it. Install comprehensive security software such as McAfee® Total Protection. This is the best way of controlling your personal information.
  • CONFIGURE a strong password or PIN. Never use the default password and always use multi-factor authentication if your device allows it.
  • Only use SECURE Wi-Fi. Avoid using public Wi-Fi unless you must but please do not conduct any confidential transactions such as banking or shopping. Consider investing in a portable modem.
  • Don’t be Click Happy. Be wary of links from people you don’t know – they could be sending you to a fraudulent site.
  • Download new Apps with CAUTION. Always read reviews and only download from reputable sites such as the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Do Thorough Research. Only purchase devices that come with proper administration and management. Devices should possess the necessary processes to determine if something is wrong, communicate this to owners and then provide options to resolve issues.

So, if you’ve ordered a device from Santa this year, make sure you share the above tips with him. He might just need a little reminder to pop some security software into your stocking. The last thing he’d want is to cause any stress on Christmas Day!

Here’s to a calm & relaxed Christmas!!

Alex xx

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