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Protect Your Cheer

4 Tips for Hardware and Software Security for your High-Tech Christmas Present

Imagine it’s Christmas morning. Your eyes are filled with joy and grogginess as you wade through wrapping paper and gift bows while watching the smiles of your family spread. If you’re into technology, this year you might find a high-tech gift from your wish list such as a smart home device or a new, fast router.

But you know who doesn’t care about your Christmas joy? Cyber-attackers. Be sure to secure all your new devices during setup. Hardware and software security are vital for a happy New Year. Even if it takes a couple extra minutes, it will preserve your cheer for the lifetime of your device.

Here's how to secure your high-tech Christmas present:

1. Change your password.

Be sure to use a strong password. The best passwords contain a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. If possible, avoid dictionary words and instead opt for something more random.

2. Change your username.

Since it is often the case that your initial username has administrative privileges on your device, make sure to change it. Cyber-attackers keep lists of factory-set usernames for a multitude of devices, especially routers. To help block their path, change your username to something unique.

3. Turn off “broadcast” if applicable.

For example, if you receive a speedy new router for Christmas, turn off the “broadcast SSID” feature. This sends the name of your network through the air to alert cyber-attackers that it is a potential target. As long as you know the name of your network (which you can change in your settings) you will have no trouble connecting to your own devices. Some cyber-attackers with more expert skills can still bypass this level of security, but it will add a layer of protection against most average adversaries.

4. Make sure the network you’re connecting to is secure as well.

If you receive a gift that is part of the Internet of Things (IoT), make sure your own network is secure before connecting your device. This means following the steps above for both your new device as well as your modem and/or router. Especially on IoT devices, the results of not changing the default password can be catastrophic. It was this that allowed the DDoS attack that resulted in internet meltdown during October 2016.

Following good security practices will keep cyber-attackers at bay and keep you and yours smiling long after the holiday season. For help at work with all your technology needs, check out our other posts or contact us.

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