A Cybersecurity Carol: Key Takeaways From This Year’s Most Hackable Holiday Gifts

A classic holiday story is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which tells the tale of how a grumpy man learns from his mistakes, as guided by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Funny enough, our most Hackable Gifts Campaign resembles this tale, as there are lessons we’ve learned around holiday shopping in year’s past, important takeaways from this year’s findings, and, of course, things we need to start thinking ahead to. Now, in its third year, the McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts survey is here again to examine how consumers approach device security around the holidays, and what they need to stay secure while staying in the yuletide sprit. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from McAfee’s Most Hackable Holiday Gifts past, present, and future.

The Past

Just like last year, consumers realize the importance of protecting their online identity and internet-connected devices, but are unsure if they are taking the right security measures or don’t care to make security a giant priority. Out of the 1,206 adults surveyed this year, 20% of consumers are not worried about internet security and would still buy a must-have connected device if they knew it was susceptible to security breaches. For 40%, security is not a top priority, but considered after purchase.

This is troubling because, just like last year, the top spot for the Most Hackable Gifts is internet-connected devices. Specifically– laptops, smartphones, and tablets, which are common gifts as they tend to be released around the holidays.

Also like last year, both drones and smart home appliances make our Most Hackable Gift list. However, it’s important to keep in mind that drones can be hacked in flight and smart home devices can be used as pawns in a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). So, it’s crucial to be wary when eyeing both as potential gifts for loved ones.

The Present

Fast forward to Most Hackable Gifts 2017, and a few things have changed with the present. For instance, media players and streaming sticks took one of the top spots on our gift guide last year, but were replaced by connected toys. Since manufacturers are rushing to connect almost everything to the internet, it only makes sense that the toys that children play with are no different. Many toys come equipped with GPS chips, microphones and even cameras. But manufacturers may not be putting these devices’ security as a top priority, which could leave these toys vulnerable to leaking personal information or even allow hackers to hijack the camera or microphone. Another new device on our list: digital assistants. They are the new hot item of 2017, and make great gifts for just about anyone, but like any connected device, digital assistants can be the target of cybercriminals.

And since connected devices are more popular than ever in present day, it only makes sense that consumers have now started trading them in for an upgrade. In fact, 50% of respondents plan to give away or sell an old connected device after receiving a new one for the holidays, but 20% claim they do not know how to permanently delete their personal information before selling or giving away old devices.

The Future

Now, the holiday season is practically here. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start preparing for your future security. To ensure your future is merry and bright (and not full of cyberattacks) follow these tips:

  • Change default passwords, and do an update right away. If you receive a connected gift, change the default password first and foremost. Default manufacturer passwords are rather easy for criminals to crack. Also, your device’s software will need to be updated at some point. In a lot of cases, devices will have updates waiting from them as soon as they’re taken out of the box. The first time you power up your device, you should check to see if there are any updates or patches from the manufacturer.
  • Research before you buy. It’s important you do your homework to make sure that the toy you are purchasing has not had any reported security issues. A simple Google search on the product, as well as the manufacturer, will often do the trick.
  • Secure your home’s internet at the source. You can do this by using a solution like McAfee Secure Home Platform to ensure that you know what is connecting to your network and the devices on it. Additionally, be sure to read the privacy policies provided by manufacturers so you know exactly what information your device is collecting.

To learn more about hackable toys and see the misadventures of Ted and Ned check out our website. And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Leave a Comment

eighteen − eleven =