Protect Your New Tech Toys (And Yourself!)

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We made it through another holiday season! We bundled up against winter weather, dealt with piles of wrapping paper, and ate too much pie. We made New Years' resolutions and many of us—kids and adults alike—got lots of new toys.

Households across the nation spread cheer with new gadgets for individual and family use. Fitness trackers, like FitBit and JawBone, were popular gifts in 2014, as were smart phones, gaming consoles, and even camera-equipped drones.

All of these sleek pieces of tech can sync with your phones, computers, and tablets. Whether your New Year's resolution is to run a marathon or snap more aerial photos, take this time to make one more promise to yourself: Learn to protect yourself and your new gifts.

It's important to remember that these new tech pieces collect and store all different types of data. As consumers, it is imperative that we consider the costs of convenience, and remain diligent in researching companies, their products, and privacy policies. If you think your devices are immune to hacking or worse, think again! As products become more advanced, they also become more and more vulnerable to the same threats we see with more traditional technology such as computers. In 2011, 93,000 Sony PlayStation accounts were compromised in an online attack, and just last year, Forbes ran a chilling story about baby monitors being hacked.

But there are habits can you adopt to help protect your information. Within the Internet of Things [link to article] the biggest threat to privacy is still human error. To protect your information and your new tech toys from malicious hackers, here are the most important New Years' resolutions of all:

  • Outdated security can leave devices and information vulnerable to hackers and thieves. Keep your devices safeguarded with the latest security updates.
  • The same goes for too-simple passwords. Create strong passwords using a case-sensitive mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Use a passcode on your phone and make sure it auto-locks when not in use.
  • Read privacy policies carefully before agreeing to terms of use.
  • Perform regular software updates on your apps, phone, computers, and devices.
  • Use Wi-Fi Protected Access, which creates a secure, encrypted network connection.
  • Use firewalls, anti-malware and anti-spyware on your computers.

Keeping these suggestions in mind will help safeguard your new tech toys as well as your identity well into 2015. Happy New Year!

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Funded by a partnership with the Texas Legislature, and powered by the Center for Identity, IDWise is a resource center for the public on identity theft, fraud, and privacy. IDWise offers clear and accessible resources to empower citizens—both online and offline—to be better informed and make smarter choices to protect their personal information.

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