McAfee Reveals Needs for Extra Security Precautions This Gift-Giving Holiday Season

Nov 14, 2017

Today McAfee announced its third annual Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list to help consumers identify potential security risks associated with popular gifts this holiday season. The category of laptops, tablets and smartphones leads the list, followed by drones, digital assistants, connected toys, and connected appliances. In addition, McAfee conducted a survey to identify the habits and behaviors of consumers as they get ready for the holiday shopping season. Most consumers agree that security is a necessity for laptops, tablets, and smartphones (69%). However, only 22 percent believe connected toys require security, 29 percent believe drones should be protected, and 56 percent think that digital assistants need to be secured.

“We continue to see connected devices high on holiday wish lists, but it’s clear consumers don’t always understand the importance of protecting devices at every point of connection and within products themselves,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee. “In many cases, consumers are simply unaware that their devices need to be protected or how to protect them. This lack of awareness and action can be exploited by cybercriminals to break into devices and steal personal information.”

Almost all consumers (91%) claim that they know it is important to keep their online identity and devices safe, but only 53 percent take the necessary steps to implement protection. Sixteen percent assume that the manufacturer has built security into the product, and another 22 percent know they need to put security precautions in place but don’t know how. This highlights the importance of consumers to conduct research about a device’s built-in security settings, rather than solely relying on manufacturers to appropriately lock down their devices and data.

This Year’s Most Hackable Holiday Gifts Include:
  • Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets – Laptops, smartphones, and tablets are traditional targets for cybercriminals, but if not properly secured, can get infected with malicious applications.
  • Drones – Sales of drones are expected to top $1 billion in 2017, but security hasn’t quite caught up. Consumers need to stay mindful of risks associated with drone jacking and fake Wi-Fi signals from rogue drones.
  • Digital Assistants – These device-based assistants can help order household items, play music, provide answers to questions, and much more. However, with microphones that are always listening for a wake-up command, and many devices now equipped with cameras it’s vital to understand privacy implications.
  • Connected Toys – Toys keep getting smarter, but unfortunately so do cybercriminals. For many manufacturers, security is an afterthought that can leave toys vulnerable to attack when hackers target built-in microphones and location-based services.
  • Connected Appliances – A smart home appliance can make daily life easier, but be aware that these devices could be used as pawns in an online attack or leak information about you or your home.

Tips for Consumers to Stay Protected This Holiday Season:

To help keep your family safe during the holidays, McAfee has the following tips:
  • Think before you click: One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to compromise your device is through a malicious link. Be skeptical if you receive a link or other solicitation that you are not expecting.
  • Update your software: Whether it’s your PC, smartphone, digital assistant or even your drone, keep the software up to date. Manufacturers plug security holes with device updates so it’s important to always install the latest versions as soon as possible. Where applicable use up-to-date security software.
  • Beware of shady public Wi-Fi hotspots: Cybercriminals often deploy fake Wi-Fi hotspots that appear to be legitimate, but give them visibility into your browsing habits. If you have to use public Wi-Fi refrain from online shopping or banking. If you need to shop or bank on public Wi-Fi use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), like McAfee Safe Connect, to encrypt your network traffic.
  • Do your homework: Not all manufacturers take security seriously, especially when it comes to connected toys, so it’s important to research if there have been any reported security vulnerabilities before purchasing.
  • Protect your home network: Secure all of your connected devices and your home internet at its source with McAfee Secure Home Platform. This solution gives you insight into what devices are on your network, and protects all of your connected devices.