McAfee Survey finds 42 percent of consumers adopt relevant security measures to protect their gadgets

Intel Security announced Monday its second annual McAfee Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list to identify potential security risks associated with hot-ticket items this holiday season.

The top most hackable gift category included laptops and PCs, followed by smartphones and tablets, media players and streaming sticks, smart home automation and devices, and finally, drones. To accompany the list, Intel Security conducted a survey to identify the risky behaviors consumers are engaging in during the holiday season and educate them on how to protect themselves.

In September 2016, Intel Security commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 9,800 consumers (aged 18-55+). Respondents were individuals who use an internet-enabled device on a daily basis in the following countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.

With the quick changing digital world and growing dependence on the internet increasing, the recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was carried out by a botnet made up of unsecured webcams and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and crippled several websites connected to the Dyn domain. It’s important that consumers understand they can help fight these attacks by ensuring their devices are updated and patched, which helps mitigate risks from the latest threats.

While a majority of consumers are aware of the vulnerabilities in older connected devices like laptops (76 percent), mobile phones (70 percent) and tablets (69 percent), they lack awareness about the potential risks associated with emerging connected devices, such as drones (20 percent), children’s toys (15 percent), virtual reality tech (15 percent) and pet gifts (11 percent).

As technology continues to evolve, it is essential consumers understand the risks associated with even the most unassuming devices. While 81 percent of consumers believe it’s critical to secure their online identities and connected devices, nearly half are uncertain if they are taking the proper security steps.

Laptops and PCs make great gifts, though malicious apps targeting PCs are unfortunately common, and are not just limited to Windows-based devices. Survey results revealed that 52 percent of consumers plan to purchase either a smartphone or tablet this holiday season. Just like PCs and laptops, malware could result in personal and financial information being stolen.

Media players and streaming sticks have changed the way consumers enjoy movies and TV, but consumers can unknowingly invite a cybercriminal into their living room by failing to update their device. Connected home devices and apps give users the power to control their homes from their smartphone. Unfortunately, hackers have demonstrated techniques that could be used to compromise Bluetooth-powered door locks and other home automation devices.

Drone sales are expected to grow to more than $20 billion by 2022. They can provide unique perspectives when it comes to shooting video and photos. However, not properly securing the device could allow hackers to disrupt the GPS signal or hijack your drone through its smartphone app.

To stay protected this holiday season, McAfee advises users to secure their devices, which may be critical in controlling the home and personal information. When using devices, such as smart home applications on public Wi-Fi could leave data on the device and home open to risk.

Consumers must apply patches as they are released from the manufacturer; and install manufacturer updates right away to ensure that device is protected from the latest known threats. It is also important to use a strong password or PIN, and if the device supports it, then it’s advisable to use multi-factor authentication (MFA), as it can include factors like a trusted device, user’s face, fingerprint, etc. to make the login more secure.

Users must also exercise caution and be suspicious of links from people you do not know and always use internet security software to stay protected. Hover over the link to find a full URL of the link’s destination in the lower corner of browser.

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