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Buyer beware: These are the most hackable holiday gifts this year

McAfee releases "Most Hackable Holiday Gifts" list
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Posted at 1:08 PM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 14:13:26-05

Those high-tech gadgets might be on your family's holiday list, but before you buy, beware, some of those gifts could come with a security risk.

Cybersecurity company McAfee released its annual Most Hackable Holiday Gifts list to help people decide if that high-tech device is worth the potential security risk.

This year's most hackable holiday gifts include:

Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets
While popular gifts to give, McAfee says these items are still the traditional targets for cybercriminals. According to the report, only 69% of people agree that security for those devices is necessary. 

Drones
There is a lot of buzz with drones right now, but according to McAfee, security for drones hasn't caught up with the device. Some of the dangers include 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
The FBI is warning parents to be smarter about their kids' smart toys. A growing number of toys these days come with sensors, microphones, cameras, speech recognition and GPS capabilities.  All those added features may put your privacy at risk because most of those toys also connect to the internet and can share personal information. The FBI advises you to examine user agreement disclosures and privacy practices.

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.

"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."

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. 

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) 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. This solution gives you insight into what devices are on your network, and protects all of your connected devices.