8 Ways to Protect Your New Christmas Tech

Christmas has always been a time of gifting loved ones with something they really need and will love to use. In the last few decades, that means tech. We gift laptops, phones, tablets, and the latest craze in smart home devices. We gift remote-control toys, light sculptures, and DIY robot kits. Everything that’s not a computer or a phone comes with its own mobile app. Christmas has become a tech holiday in many families, with loved ones in every generation enjoying new tech on the big day.

Of course, new tech also means new security concerns. We’ve all heard a horror story or two about hackers speaking through smart homes or bot-netted new devices. No one wants their shiny new gifted tech to become an avenue for hackers or worse. We would also like private data stored on those devices not to be immediately accessible to anyone who picks up the device or logs onto the home wifi network. So today, we’re diving into the eight best methods to protect your new Christmas gift tech.


1) Complete Your Device Installation Setup

Secure devices start from the moment you first boot up the Christmas gift. Apply power, press the button, then take your time and walk through the startup process. Have patience with the introduction process. Punch in all your information, choose your setup options, and set up your preferences. This isn’t just for convenience and to personalize the device. It also helps with security. Basic security features are often configured during the initial installation process.

Pay especially close attention to network and password configuration.


2) Activate and Configure the Firewall

If your device comes with a few pre-installed security programs like a firewall and virus scanner, make sure they are activated and fully configured. Find your firewall and make sure it’s on. You may need to log in or create an account for these programs. If you already have an account, reconnect. If you don’t yet, quickly make an account to activate the software.

Take advantage of free trials for security software on Christmas day and then consider upgrading or trying different software before winter break is over. Once the software is active, go through a guided configuration to close all your unused ports and prevent access to any unapproved apps.


3) Change All Default Passwords

Default passwords are the primary security weakness of Christmas tech. The problem is that devices work out of the box, but hackers know what the default passwords are and have an easier time hacking devices whose passwords haven’t been changed. The easiest way to protect your new tech is just to change the default passwords. This essentially locks an otherwise easy access to your home network and personal information.

Most device hackers are essentially doorknob rattlers, similar to thieves just looking for an already-open door. A custom password makes the difference between an open door and a deadbolted one for your home cybersecurity.


4) Invent a New Password This Year

Speaking of passwords, use Christmas and the New Year as a reason to invent a new one. We know most people have one or two favorite passwords that are used for everything and we can’t stop you. But we can encourage you to change-up every now and then. If you use the same password too long, there’s a good chance that one of many commercial database hacks will eventually cause that password to fall into the dark net.

So make up a new, complicated password that makes you laugh this holiday. Use it for all your new devices and any new accounts you make when enjoying your freshly unwrapped Christmas tech.


5) Make a Separate Wifi Network for the Smart Home

Smart-home and IoT devices are less secure than devices like phones and tablets. They tend to connect with more simple protocol and therefore are also easier to hack if accessed. They are also all internet connected, increasing the chance of being hacked into a bot-net. It’s still tricky to fully protect smart devices from being hacked, but you can protect the computers and mobile devices on your home wifi network.

The trick is to split your wifi into two networks. Set the second network to 2.5 GHz. Many smart and IoT devices only work well on the lower wifi frequency, leaving signal wavelength space for your internet on the 5Ghz primary wifi network.


6) Configure Biometric Logins

Modern phones and tablets include biometric scanning capabilities that key a device to you and you alone. But you have to program yourself into the device. Fingerprints are the first step. Find your fingerprint settings and the part of the device used as a scanner. Put in all your fingers and thumbs so that you can quick-scan on the unlock screen. Your device may also have a face-reader, so follow the instructions to use the camera and program in your face so that a quick glance can unlock your device.

With biometrics, only you can restrict device access to only yourself, or you and a partner, without risk of people picking up your device and gaining quick access.


7) Install a Locator App and Remote Kill-Switch

Worried about losing your new tech? Install a locator app. There are several variations of the Find My Phone program that can be used in conjunction with the device’s built-in GPS or wifi connection. If your device ever goes missing, you can use this app to get the street address or nearest wifi repeater – whether it’s in the couch or in a thief’s living room across town.

A kill-switch is another type of app that allows you to brick or just wipe your device from a distance. If your tech falls into the wrong hands, a kill switch app can wipe your data and even render the device useless to the thief.


8) Sturdy Device Covers and DIY Padding

Finally, there’s the physical kind of device protection. Christmas is an exciting time that proceeds a busy life. There are plenty of opportunities to drop or knock over whatever new tech has just entered your life, and it’s important to have an action plan. Sturdy, rubberized cases with padded corners are essential to make your new tech indestructible for the new year. If your device doesn’t have a handy padded case to install, make one of your own with cut pieces of furniture foot pads.

Playing with new tech on Christmas day is one of the year’s great joys. But to make sure that your new tablet or smart home devices aren’t an avenue for future hacking, take just a few precautions during your afternoon play with the new devices. Contact us today for deeper insights on how to protect and configure new tech for a secure personal stack.