Get Cyber Safe Gift Guide

Cyber security is a gift that never goes out of style. Whether you’re giving a gadget, receiving one, or treating yourself these holidays — follow these tips to stay cyber safe.

Get Cyber Safe Gift Guide
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Cybersecurity is the gift everyone needs. Whether you give or receive a new gadget, BE CYBER SAFE!

Before buying anything:

Check security features

Read the privacy policy

Secure your home Wi-Fi

Entertainment

Smart TVs

Your camera and microphone could be monitored by hackers

Tip: Install a security shutter on the camera and mute the microphones when not in use

Smart Home Assistant

An unsecure smart speaker may not protect your data

Tip: Never allow the device to remember your passwords or credit card number

Personal Devices

Smartwatch

Smartwatches may collect data about you such as your location and sleep patterns

Tip: Read and understand the privacy policies of the apps and services you use

Tablet

Apps downloaded from untrustworthy sources may contain malware to steal your info

Tip: Only install apps from trusted sources such as your phone’s app store

Smartphone

Removing the manufacturer’s software limitations may make your phone more vulnerable to malware

Tip: Never “jailbreak,” “root,” or otherwise bypass security measures

Laptop

Malware could be used to steal your data

Tip: Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software

Gaming

Gaming System

Oversharing could put your privacy at risk

Tip: Create usernames that do not contain identifying info

Virtual Reality Headset

A headset could block your view of your real-life surroundings

Tip: Be mindful of who and what is around you when you play

Around The Home

Smart Lighting

Your daily routing could be exposed to a hacker

Tip: Keep software up to date by installing updates as they become available

Video Doorbell

An unsecure video doorbell could be hacked

Tip: Make sure you can set your own strong and unique password for the device

Protect your devices, and yourself, and enjoy #CyberSafeHolidays

Get more tips at:

GETCYBERSAFE.CA/cybersafeholidays

Communications Security Establishment

Government of Canada

Before You Buy a Smart Device

Be a smart consumer when you buy a smart device. While you are doing your comparison shopping, take into account the product’s security features and privacy policy too!

Security Features: Some smart device manufacturers design their products to be easy to use and low cost to the consumer. But this can mean that the device's security features are weak or non-existent. When buying a new smart device, think about what data will be transmitted through the device, then research how the device will be protecting that data. At a minimum, check to see if the device will give you the option to create your own strong and unique password.

Privacy Policy: Smart devices can capture and transmit so much private information about us, our daily routines, our fitness and health habits, and our personal banking and payment information. So before you buy a smart device, check to see how the vendor will be protecting the privacy of your information. Reputable smart device vendors will have a published policy that will explain the types of data their device will collect about you, how they will protect the privacy of your data, and which companies and advertisers they will share your data with. In short, be sure to look for, and understand, the vendor's privacy policy and terms of use.

One more thing! Almost all smart devices will rely on your home Wi-Fi network for their connection. To secure your home Wi-Fi:

  • Make sure your Wi-Fi router has WPA2 encryption enabled. 
  • Secure your Wi-Fi with a strong and unique password. A strong password includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • For the more advanced user: Create a separate network zone on your Wi-Fi network to connect your smart devices. This is called "device isolation" and functions similarly to "Guest Wi-Fi" networks. 

Categories

Smart Speakers

Smart speakers, also known as "voice-activated assistants", are speakers that include a microphone connected to a voice recognition system. Smart speakers can stream music and podcasts, perform automated tasks, make online purchases, or operate household devices.

Risks:

  • A smart speaker's microphone could capture and transmit information you don't intend it to.
  • A smart speaker's online purchasing function could expose your credit card info.

Tips:

  • Secure your smart speaker with a strong and unique password, and enable two-factor authentication if it is available on the device.
  • Enable its software to install updates automatically.
  • Don't use your smart speaker to remember sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers.
  • Turn off the online purchasing function if you're not using it, or secure it with a purchase password.
  • Be selective about which devices and accounts you link to your smart speaker.
  • If you find you're not using the voice commands, you can mute the device's microphone.
  • If you are using the voice commands, there are some things you can do:
    • Don't place your smart speakers where strangers can make use of the voice commands, like by an open window.
    • Get into the habit of logging in to your account to verify the types of voice data that it is recording, and adjust your privacy and data retention settings as needed. 
    • Your smart speaker may have a feature where it will "fingerprint" or learn to recognize your voice, and associate it to your account. Enabling this feature will help prevent unauthorized users from using voice commands to access your information (such as email or calendar appointments) or to make purchases on your account.

Smart TVs

Smart TVs connect to your home's Wi-Fi network so that you can access streaming services, run apps, and browse the internet.

Risks:

  • A smart TV's camera and microphone could capture and transmit information you don't intend them to.
  • A smart TV manufacturer's app store may be less trustworthy than the Google Play store or Apple App Store.

Tips:

  • If your smart TV has a camera, install a privacy shutter or deactivate the camera when not in use.
  • If your smart TV has a microphone, deactivate it or mute it when not in use.
  • Enable its software and apps to install updates automatically.
  • When installing apps on your smart TV, note that TV manufacturer app stores may be less trustworthy than the Google Play store or Apple store.
  • Before installing new apps on your smart TV, take a look at the app's privacy policy and terms of use.
  • Get into the habit of logging in to your account to verify the types of data that it is recording, and adjust your privacy and data retention settings as needed. 

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology includes devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers. Some wearable technology devices collect information about you such as your location, activity levels, and sleep patterns.

Risks:

  • Wearables could capture and transmit information you don't intend them to.
  • Wearables that connect to your social media accounts could expose your location and daily routines.

Tips:

  • If your wearable has a microphone or a camera, disable these when not in use.
  • Keep your wearable's operating system up-to-date; you can enable it to install updates automatically.
  • Before installing new apps on your wearable, take a look at the app's privacy policy and terms of use. Be wary of apps asking for unnecessary or excessive information.
  • Be careful about allowing the apps on your wearable to share your location on social media.

Gaming

From the casual to the competitive gamer, there are gaming systems to match all levels and interests. Some gaming systems also feature virtual reality (VR) components.

Risks:

  • An unsecured gaming system could expose your personal info.
  • Oversharing could put your privacy at risk.
  • Immersive games could make you unaware of your surroundings.

Tips:

  • Create usernames that don't contain identifying info, like your real name, location or birthdate.
  • Secure your gaming account with a strong and unique password. A strong password includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • In settings, turn off geolocation when not in use.
  • If your gaming system has a camera, disable it when not in use.
  • If you are using a gaming headset with a microphone, disable it when not in use.
  • Be mindful of who and what is around you when you play.

Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops

Personal devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones can be infected by cybercriminals who use malicious software (malware) to access your information, your money—even your identity.

Risks:

  • An unsecure device could expose your location.
  • Apps on your devices may collect and relay your data even when not in use.
  • Small devices could easily get lost or stolen.
  • Malware could be used to steal your data.

Tips:

  • Secure your device with a strong and unique password. A strong password includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Enable biometrics or smart-lock features (such as fingerprint or face or voice recognition).
  • Enable the auto-lock feature so that your device always locks automatically when not in use.
  • Keep your device's operating system up-to-date; you can enable it to install updates automatically.
  • Install/download apps only from trusted sources such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play store.
  • Don’t give apps access to more of your device’s resources or private information (camera, microphone, contacts, etc.) than it needs or you are comfortable with.
  • Install antivirus/antispyware protection on laptop devices.
  • Check to see if your tablet or smartphone manufacturer has a "device health" app and make use of it.
  • Don't "jailbreak", "root," or otherwise disable security measures imposed by your device's manufacturer.

Around the Home

Many household appliances and devices—including refrigerators, electronic door locks, doorbells, and vacuums—now come in internet-enabled versions.

Risks:

  • A smart device could be hacked and give access to your Wi-Fi network.
  • Your daily routine could be exposed.

Tips:

  • Read the devices' privacy policy and terms of use.
  • Some smart devices come with a default username provided by the manufacturer. You can change this.
  • Secure each smart device with a strong and unique password. A strong password includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Keep your smart devices' firmware up-to-date; you can enable them to install updates automatically.
  • For the more advanced user: Create a separate network zone on your Wi-Fi network to connect your smart devices. This is called "device isolation" and functions similarly to "Guest Wi-Fi" networks. 

Protect your gadgets these holidays so you can enjoy them to their fullest. Cyber safe greetings these holidays from our devices to yours.

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