LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Putting new Christmas gifts to use is a highlight for many. But Dave Hatter, a cyber security consultant with InTrust IT warns that if you received a smart gift for the holidays, you would be wise to set it up properly.

What You Need To Know

  • As many people open their new smart TVs, speakers, and coffee makers, security should be kept in mind

  • Insecure smart devices leave you open to hackers

  • An important first step is to change any default password to a strong, unique one

  • Also important to keep up with software updates

“People are getting all kinds of electronic gifts. Many of them can connect to a network and the Internet,” Hatter said. “So, many of these things are inherently insecure right out of the box.”

Smart phones, tablets, and other items like coffee makers and TV can sync up to a home network. Hatter said no matter what type of smart electronic you received, you are going to want to change the default password on the device with a strong one.

“Bad guys know that products come with default passwords. They can go to the manufacturer’s website and look up the default password,” Hatter said. “If you don’t change your password, you are opening a hole in your network where bad guys can easily exploit."

Besides your own personal info and data at stake, Hatter said with people working from home, your work info could also be in jeopardy with an improperly set up smart device.

“They are accessing sensitive work systems, they might have work data on their device that they are sharing with other people in the household,” Hatter said.

"Now you’re plugging in these Internet of things devices you just got for Christmas and potentially creating holes in your network that could potentially be used to exploit your work environment,” he added.

Keeping up with software updates from the vendor is a must. These are patches that help shore up the device’s link to the network.

Hatter also reminds you that just because a device isn’t being used, it could still be connected to your network.

“You got something plugged in you’re not using it but it is still connected. As long as it is connected, it is a security problem,” Hatter said.

Hatter said another option is to just enjoy the gift without linking and syncing it up to anything.

“You can just disconnect and use it as it was designed to be used for whatever its original purpose was without the smart capabilities of the thing,” he said.