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Happy Hack-A-Daze

In a world where technology is at the forefront, we must be always be vigilant and watch what we do. We’ve seen firsthand that devices that connect to the internet can be the weak link in the web’s security chain, leaving you wide open for an attack, a hack, or anything of the sort.

Last month a major denial of service attack briefly shut down several major internet sites after hackers mobilized millions of smart devices around the world.

With all of these electronic devices being moved around this holiday season it might be a good time to think about which gifts are most vulnerable to a hack and just what we as consumers can do about it.

For the second straight year, Intel Security has compiled its list of McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts, which identifies hot-ticket items that pose the biggest risk. Topping this list is personal computers. Whether a laptop or desktop, they are almost always connected to the internet and visiting websites where they can run into, well, anything.

Other items that top this year’s list include smartphones and tablets, media players and streaming sticks, smart home automation devices, and drones.

“Unsurprisingly, connected devices remain high on holiday wish lists this year,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security. “What is alarming is that consumers remain unaware of what behaviors pose a security risk when it comes to new devices.”

The problem, though, often lies in the eagerness consumers show in using their new gadget as soon as they get a hold of them. If they fail to properly secure their new toy, cyber-criminals can exploit their eagerness and gather a ton of personal consumer data in seconds. This can expose consumers to malware or identity theft and even expose the internet to denial of service attacks, much like the recent Dyn attack that blocked access to Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, and other major sites, Consumer Affairs says.

Intel Security is particularly worried about the growing presence (no pun intended) of drones this year, pointing out that sales of these aircraft are expected to explode in the next few years. Again, though, not properly securing these devices can make them extremely vulnerable to hackers who are able to disrupt GPS signals and hijack the aircraft through its corresponding smartphone app.

To make connected devices more secure, Intel Securities suggests installing a comprehensive security software package, using only secure Wi-Fi, keeping software up to date, and using robust passwords and PINs.

If something along these lines happens to you this holiday season, or any time for that matter, contact us right away!

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