Are your Christmas presents a gift to cyber-criminals?

Stay safe online, security experts warn

Updated: 
Give a Gift

If you're planning to give a loved one a tech gadget this year, beware - you may be giving scammers a present too.

Two of this year's most popular gifts, smartphones and tablets, are also the two most easily and frequently hacked, and we're not doing enough to keep them safe.

More than a third of Brits are planning to give an internet-connected device this Christmas, says Intel Security, with smartphones and tablets top of the list. However, 60% of these say they won't be making sure that security software is installed.

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"An underlying issue is that consumers simply don't know which products need protecting," says Nick Viney, VP Consumer, Intel Security. "A fifth of those we surveyed said this was the reason for them leaving connected devices unprotected."

The danger doesn't just come from the new device. While two-fifths of UK consumers plan to make a quick buck from their old devices by selling them on, almost half are unsure about how to wipe their old devices of personal information that could be used by criminals.

"All connected devices, whether old or new, need to be protected to ensure personal information is safe from prying eyes," says Viney.

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To stay protected, Intel Security recommends installing comprehensive security software right from the start. Make sure it's up to date, and install updates and patches immediately to make sure the device is safe from the latest threats.

Only use secure wifi - public networks may be vulnerable - and always be suspicious of links from people you don't know.

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Finally, use a strong password or PIN; and, if your device supports it, use multi-factor authentication (MFA). This can include factors like a trusted device, your face or your fingerprint, to make your login more secure.

Intel is also encouraging shoppers to think carefully about children's safety when buying internet-connected devices. While they are rather less likely to fall prey to financial scammers, they face risks from cyber-bullying.

Gifts Brits are purchasing this Christmas:
1. Smartphone/tablet
2. Laptops and PCs
3. Media players and streaming sticks
4. Smart TVs
5. Home devices such as Bluetooth speakers, connected thermostats, etc.

Intel Security's most hackable gifts this Christmas:
1. Laptops and PCs
Malicious apps targeting PCs are unfortunately common, and are not just limited to Windows-based devices.
2. Smartphones and tablets
64% of consumers plan to purchase either a smartphone or tablet this Christmas. Just as with PCs and laptops, malware could allow personal and financial information to be stolen.
3. Media players and streaming sticks
Failing to update devices can leave them vulnerable.
4. Home automation devices
You wouldn't expect your home to invite criminals in; however, hackers have already found ways to compromise home automation devices - including Bluetooth-powered door locks.
5. Drones
Drone sales are expected to grow to more than $20 billion by 2022. However, criminals can hijack the drone through its smartphone app and even disrupt the GPS signal.



Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud