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8 tips on staying safe this Christmas

It’s important to be aware of technology, toys and internet safety this Christmas. That’s because over the next few years, millions of objects will be connected to the internet. You might have already bought an internet-connected Christmas gift for your child, so it’s important to be aware of the potential risks.

Because IoT devices can feel unobtrusive in the home, you may not realise they pose the same security risks as more conventional devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This means you could be more relaxed about your security when using them. In reality, these devices collect personal data, often both audio and visual. These devices might also be vulnerable to hacking, as there are no safeguards or security standards for internet-connected objects.

1. Read the manual

Check the guidance provided by manufacturers. Product information often comes with new devices or can be found online. This will give you some idea as to how the device collects and shares data.

2. Be app aware

Many Internet of Things devices require downloading an app. You should check the privacy settings and permissions of any apps you download, as well as the product itself.

3. Consider buying brands

Buying a recongised brand is likely to offer greater security than cheaper options, although there have been data breaches with some of the most popular IoT toys. Reading reviews online will help you understand the digital safety of a product.

4. Use parental controls

Many products have parental controls or child-safe modes as standard. These limit search abilities and access to paid-for services. We recommend using these for children under 13. If you’re giving a device as a Christmas gift, make sure you enable these features before the 25 December.

5. Check your connections are safe

It’s important that your internet router is secure. Most internet service providers have security features, so you may want to consider switching these to safe mode. If the device has Bluetooth, set it to ‘undiscoverable’, otherwise you may unintentionally share data or allow hackers to take control of the device.

6. Be password protected

Make sure all passwords are changed from their defaults. The use of strong, unique passwords is essential to protecting you and your family online.

7. Talk to your child about online safety

With any internet-connected device, whether a smartphone or toy, it’s important to speak to your child about staying safe online. Read our guidance on how to start a conversation with your child about staying safe online

8. Ask the NSPCC for advice

If you have any worries or concerns, call the NSPCC helpline on 080 88005002 or visit an O2 Guru in any O2 store. 

Article reproduced courtesy of The NSPCC and O2

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Dec 21, 2017