Toys, appliances and gadgets that collect or exchange information can be just as vulnerable to security threats as smartphones, tablets and computers. To help you stay safe when using connected devices, our Information Security team has put together these 12 festive tips:

1) Before you buy

Check out independent product reviews, tech guides, and privacy policies on the manufacturer’s website. Safety first – if you have any doubts about the security of the product, don’t buy it

2) Buying online

See our guide to shopping online more securely

3) Before you wrap

If the gift is for a child, read manuals and understand privacy settings, then change pre-set passwords and choose the most secure settings

4) Connection protection

Protect your Wi-Fi network with a strong password so your household gadgets aren’t easy for others to access. Make sure you set up a password or PIN for Bluetooth too

5) Logging in securely

Two Factor Authentication improves security by adding an extra step to your basic log-in – for example, in addition to your username and password, you might have to enter a code sent to you by SMS. If your device or account offers this feature, use it

6) Smile! You’re on camera

Protect access to cameras on toys and gadgets by using a strong password. If you don’t want or need this function, switch it off

7) Keeping track

For GPS-enabled devices, including fitness trackers and smart watches, make sure you understand what is being tracked and where this information is going

8) Buying (or selling) second-hand

Make sure you do a full factory re-set to wipe a gadget before selling it. If buying one, make sure it’s been re-set, and you have the most up-do-date operating system and apps. Never ‘jailbreak’ or ‘root’ your device

9) Think before you post on social media

Don’t tell the world that your house is empty while you’ve gone on holiday for a week, be careful who you connect with on social media and review your privacy settings often

10) Spot the signs

If your browser is running slowly, check what’s happening behind the scenes – have any other windows opened? Are other processes running that are slowing down your computer? If you see anything unexpected, close it down, restart your computer, and run a virus scan

11) Passwords

Passwords are key to good security. Try using a passphrase to make long passwords that are easier to remember

12) Ask for advice

Contact the Information Security Team if you have questions or need advice – infosectraining@coop.co.uk

The Information Security team

Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. I find the advice to not ‘jailbreak’ or ‘root’ your device as interesting since 50% of smartphone users will probably have already done this!

    Loving the seasonal touch too!

    • Hi Adam – jailbreaking your phone often bypasses the device’s built-in security features and renders your phone vulnerable to malware and other security threats. It also invalidates the device’s warranty and, worse case scenario, you could “brick” your phone in the process (which means it’s completely unusable and can’t be fixed by re-setting). It’s definitely worth weighing up the risks against the benefits of jailbreaking, especially since many of the jailbreaking “features” eventually make their way to new OS updates anyway.

      • I think worst case scenario would be key logging malware which allows hackers to gain access to your passwords and secure accounts and clean out your bank account… But hey, we all have our priorities… 🙂

  2. Good tips!

  3. Wise words – particularly day 3.

  4. Very useful information, with such a wonderful seasonal touch as well, thank you for sharing!

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Category

Colleague support, IT