Holiday Shopping: Check the privacy settings on your smart devices!

Dec. 17, 2021

The holidays are an exciting time to purchase new gifts for others or yourself. When you’re thinking about purchasing a Smart device of any kind –– whether it’s a home security device or a Smart refrigerator, it’s important to check the privacy ratings before purchasing and to make sure to secure your privacy settings before you begin using your device. 

Interactive gadgets and devices often collect data and information from users with the intent to customize settings and operations to fit a user’s wants and needs. With that said, it’s important to keep that data secure so it can’t be accessed by those outside your device. 

As reported in the L.A. Times this year, Jen Caltrider, lead author of the Mozilla Foundation’s Privacy Not Included guide, said the privacy concerns raised by smart devices can vary from the hassle of targeted ads to the potential threat of someone accessing your location by hacking into a poorly designed Bluetooth device.

  • Setting up multi-factor authentication on apps and devices is one of the easiest ways to avoid an outside entity hacking into your accounts. 
  • Make sure your passwords are unique and secure. Keep track of them in a safe location only accessible by you and change them often. This includes your WiFi password for Smart speakers and other devices that may all be connected through your network.
  • Create usernames that don't contain identifying info like location or birthdate.
  • Enable biometrics or smart-lock features (such as fingerprint, 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.
  • Only download apps from trusted sources and even so, always be cautious with how much personal information you enter into an app. 
  • For smart devices with cameras or recording functions, make sure you know when the device is recording or when the camera is in use. If you don’t have the ability to find this out, invest in a webcam cover just in case. 
  • If apps have location tracking requirements, such as fitness trackers or even Google maps, make sure settings are secured so the app only tracks you when it is in use. 

Information on ways to stay safe in the tech world is easy to find. Here are some additional tips and tricks for making sure your devices are secure. 

Happy holidays!