Most hackable holiday gifts

Intel Security released its second annual McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list

Most hackable holiday gifts
Credit: Petr Kratochvil

Whether you are looking for a steal of deal on the latest and greatest gadgets or shopping to fulfill a loved one’s wish list, have you considered if the gadget is one of the most hackable?

If not, then Intel Security has considered it for you and released its second annual McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list.

The company first surveyed people to find out what average consumers plans to purchase and what they know about securing their new devices. The findings included that the average consumer lacks “awareness about the potential risks associated with emerging connected devices, such as drones (20%), children’s toys (15%), virtual reality tech (15%) and pet gifts (11%).”

Intel Security holiday hackable internet connected gifts Intel Security

Without further ado, here is McAfee’s 2016 “most hackable gifts” list.

1. Laptops and PCs. According to Intel Security/McAfee, “Laptops and PCs make great gifts; however, malicious apps targeting PCs are unfortunately common and are not just limited to Windows-based devices.” As most folks know, it’s important to keep the operating system and software updated with patches and to install decent security software.

2. Smartphones and tablets. Fifty-two percent of people surveyed said they intend to buy these this holiday season. They, too, are vulnerable to malware that “could result in personal and financial information being stolen.” Intel Security’s tips to stay safe include keeping apps updated, using a strong PIN or password and using only secure Wi-Fi when accessing smart home apps so you don’t unnecessarily put you or your home at risk.

3. Media players and streaming sticks. Intel Security warned, “Consumers can unknowingly invite a cybercriminal into their living room by failing to update their device.”

4. Smart home automation devices and apps. Seventy-nine percent of surveyed consumers said they start using connected devices immediately—within the first day of receiving it—but only 42 percent said they take the proper security measures to protect those devices.

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

He added, “Consumers are often eager to use their new gadget as soon as they get it and forgo ensuring that their device is properly secured. 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 attacks as in the recent Dyn attack.”  

As was highlighted by Rob Graham, an IoT security camera can become infected with malware 98 seconds after being connected online. Although changing the default password is always a wise step, it does not necessarily protect a smart device from becoming infected with Mirai malware.

5. Drones. Intel Security said, “Drone sales are expected to grow to more than $20 billion by 2022. They can provide unique perspectives when it comes to shooting video and photos. However, not properly securing the device could allow hackers to disrupt the GPS signal or hijack your drone through its smartphone app.”

Intel Security hackable gift infographic Intel Security

Intel Security isn’t suggesting that you avoid these products, but to be wise about using and securing them. The company’s overall suggestions for staying protected include securing your device, installing security software, using secure Wi-Fi, keeping software up to date, using a strong password or PIN, and thinking before clicking on links and hovering over the link to see the full URL in the lower corner of the browser.

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