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Don’t Let Cyber Grinches Spoil Your Last Minute Shopping

New Zealanders are hitting the shops as offices close for the Christmas and the summer break. But as they trek to the malls or go online, shoppers need to consider the security implications of the vast array of cool, connected devices now on the market.

Here’s what you need to know about some of the most popular items on people’s wish list, courtesy of the experts from NortonLifeLock.

Security Surveillance Systems/Smart Thermostat/Smart Doorbells

After a hacker accessed a security camera and harassed an 8-year-old, the chilling recording of the encounter sends a clear warning to shoppers this holiday season: This could happen to you.

Smart-home devices can potentially be hacked or modified to lock you out. General device privacy and security concerns apply here to protect users from the misuse of their data.

Always purchase from reputable manufacturers. And make sure to change the default passwords that these devices come with and don’t forget to use security software to help prevent malware from infecting devices on your home network.

Smart Televisions

Any internet-connected, voice-enabled TV has the capability to track what you are searching and watching. What’s more concerning is attackers can hack into smart TV webcams for spying or capitalize on software vulnerabilities to insert malware that can move through all your connected devices.

Also, when shopping for a unit, don’t forget to ask whether it has a camera. Also, does it come with a physical cover or is there one you can add? A general rule with Smart TV software (and any computing device): Always keep the software up to date or turn on automatic updates if there’s such an option.

Smart Toys

Every year more devices become part of the Internet of Things, and that includes children’s toys. But now that digital toys and devices come with built-in cameras and GPS trackers, you need to consider the benefits with the potential security risks. Some toys may interact with smart speakers, which introduces a new category of threats.

The onus on parents to use complicated passwords for every connected toy they buy for their kids. Also, never let your children access the internet from an unsecure Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.

Heredity and Genetics Testing Kits

Heritage testing kits are all the rage nowadays as people search for more information about the makeup of their family trees. But buyer beware: That’s also a lot of valuable personal data to entrust with any one company, and, unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. For example, a security breach at MyHeritage last year exposed the data of over 92 million customers.

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