Hacked for the Holidays: Preparing Your Home for Hackable Toys

The holidays are in full swing and all my kids can think about is their wishlist. With so many new and exciting tech toys on the market, who can blame them? From flying drones to smartphones, the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought holiday shopping to new and unexpected heights.

I’ll be the first to admit, I look forward to welcoming some of these connected toys into our home and life as much as my kids do. But, as this year’s hackable gifts show us, it’s important to keep security in mind when shopping for presents that could be a potential target for hackers.

Connected toys offer a fun and unique way to show our loved ones we appreciate them. Whether it’s the gift of unlimited streaming to a movie buff, or a virtual experience to a gaming guru, IoT has made the art of gift-giving that much more personal. However, shoppers should be aware that these devices are just as appealing to cybercriminals because of their access to our personal information.

In our digital lives, we’ve come to understand the importance of adding an extra layer of security to our laptops, smartphones, and tablets. But some devices such as smart home appliances, media players, and streaming sticks often fly under the radar when it comes to proper security. In fact, this year’s Most Hackable Holiday Gifts survey found fewer than 30% of consumers considered the security of popular devices such as drones and VR headsets.

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s just a toy.

You may wonder, what cyberattacks could impact a drone? Believe it or not, drones are near the top of our Most Hackable Gifts list and can be compromised by hackers in mid-flight. If a cyber-hijacking isn’t enough to put a damper on your holidays, consider the threats that connected toys might bring into your home without your knowledge. Earlier this year it was discovered that the interactive Cayla doll not only allowed cybercriminals to record video and audio of you without your consent, but also gave them the ability to unlock smart doors. The severity of attack can vary when it comes to connected devices in the home, so it’s important to add a few extra measures of security to them before they cross your threshold.

So, what can you do to keep your family safe from the hackable toy army? Follow these tips:

Get smart about your smart toys: Before you purchase a connected device, research the latest threats and ensure your intended product has security built-in. For example, if you’re considering purchasing a drone, purchase one that has encrypted communication.

Update: Do not default to the factory security settings on your devices. Update your security settings immediately! Make sure you reset your devices with a new and unique password as soon as you get them. Also, remember to update your device software to account for any new bugs or flaws in the system.

Talk to your kids: Talk to children about cyber threats that could affect the devices they have access to. Make sure they’re in the know on security breaches and scams, and are aware of the dangers of password sharing.

Secure your home: Always secure your connection at its source: your home. Consider using a solution like McAfee Secure Home Platform to ensure every device in your house is well protected.

It’s easy to get in the holiday spirit of giving, just don’t get tricked into giving hackers access to your home!

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.


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