5 Cyber Tips Before You Rip Into Gifts
According to a Comcast survey, 58% of respondents plan to buy at least one WiFi-connected device this holiday season. The most vulnerable are sometimes the ones you least expect, including gifts for kids.
As demand for connected devices climbs – up 25% from 2020 – cyber safety and preparedness hasn’t kept pace. Every new device added to a home network presents a fresh chance for bad actors to find weaknesses. And there’s no bigger influx of devices coming online than during the holidays.
The good news: there are simple measures to prevent cyber grinches from spoiling the fun. Here are five tips to protect your home and loved ones this holiday season.
In the mad scramble to power up newly opened gifts, consumers often ignore the golden rule of cybersecurity. Weak and “repeat” passwords continue to drive the most network and device breaches, according to our data. Though you may be tempted to reuse passwords, we cannot overstate the importance of generating complex, unique passwords for each device. Avoid using generic passwords that are easy for hackers to guess (e.g., “qwerty12345”) as well as passwords derived from personal information that’s easily searchable on social media.
What’s this? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires you to confirm your identity using two or more factors — typically, something you know (e.g., a password or challenge question), something you have (e.g., a unique, time-sensitive code sent to your mobile phone or email), or something you are (e.g., a fingerprint or facial recognition). Some companies like Xbox-manufacturer, Microsoft, provide their own authentication apps to protect their entire product ecosystem.
Do this right now. Odds are high your phone is past due. According to data from Mixpanel, only 41% of iPhone users are on the new iOS 16 while 51% are on iOS 15 and 8% on an even older version. Many devices have an “auto update” setting. Enable that across all the phones and laptops in your home, especially before the holiday. The challenge lies with devices without screens or user interfaces. That’s where Xfinity’s Advanced Security features can help add a layer of interactivity and get those devices protected.
The more devices are added, the more likely older ones are neglected. But just because old devices sit dormant doesn’t mean they don’t pose a threat. An easy way to check is through your Internet provider’s apps and tools. For example, the Xfinity App lists all the devices currently connected in your home. Once you’ve identified devices no longer in use, erase any personal information and recycle them.
In less than five years, Comcast has blocked nearly 10 billion cybersecurity threats in customers’ homes through the protection tools baked into our Xfinity Gateway. While this is a significant step toward thwarting cybercriminals passively, customers also need to do their part. Stay alert for fraudulent (phishing) emails impersonating legitimate people and institutions, designed to trick readers into divulging personal or financial information. Tell-tale signs include spelling errors, suspicious links or attachments or tones of misplaced urgency. Stay alert, especially when registering new devices or shopping online around the holidays.