The Secret to Safeguarding Your Gadgets? Be Your Own Hero.

We are increasingly living in the age of gadgets-as-gifts, where sentiment and technology go together like marshmallows and hot chocolate.

Let’s face it: most of us are either too giddy or paralyzed in food comas during the holidays to stop and think about safeguarding all of our new tech gifts. But it’s finally time to ask, “Have you taken the best measures to protect your shiny new gizmos?” American Modern, ever the technology enthusiasts, brings you simple, yet hardcore advice so that you can be your own hero when it comes to keeping your gadgets secure.

Insuring your gadgets is the first step, which is as simple as making sure your homeowner’s policy covers your technology AND data. We don’t realize how much of our personal items are digital, like music and movies. The second step is to safeguard your personal data. While fitness trackers, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets can all be insured and replaced, personal data can’t. Now that photos, personal documents, and even your life’s work are all digitized, it’s critical to protect your devices, because surprisingly, they don’t come that way.

The thing is, a majority of companies who engineer exceptionally smart devices forget to invite a key player to the table, which is security. They ignore this component in favor of getting products to shelf more quickly, but you don’t have to. Protecting your gadgets from hacking, custom firmware, theft, and yes, eavesdropping can be intimidating, so let’s flip it into something heroic. Once you bathe in the joy of your new shiny gadgets, it’s time to get down and dirty to triumphantly protect them.

Yes, Making a List is a Superpower.

Because the cycle of our tech gets faster and faster, with new versions coming out more quickly, it’s easy to end up with five tablets. While this is a good problem to have, it’s still a good idea to register all of your gadgets at www.immobilise.com. This will not only help you keep track of your property, but it improves the chances of getting back any lost or stolen items. For instance, did you know your mobile phone has an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity)? That’s a serial number unique to each phone, and IMMOBILISE® is a place to keep this information safely stored. In fact, nearly every gadget has a unique serial number that’ll allow you to identify it as your own in case of loss or theft.

Exercise Control Whenever Possible.

Most devices have a microchip system, that allows you to track your smart gadget if you leave it behind somewhere or if it gets lost or stolen. Set up your devices with “Find my iPhone” for IOS devices or “Lookout” for Android as soon as you unwrap them. This is basically like micro chipping your dog. So, just like Fido, you device can be precisely pinpointed on a map.

In addition, turn on your device wiping capabilities in the general settings, so that in cases of theft, your personal selfies stay personal and the blueprints for your million-dollar idea don’t get into the wrong hands.

Look to the Clouds.

This is where cloud-based services such as GoogleDrive®, Dropbox™ and OneDrive®  by Microsoft®  work well to ensure back-ups are stored on remote servers. So, back it up, not in the up in the club sense of the word, but in terms of your data

Encryption is Kryptonite.

You could also look at encrypting your hard drive. FileVault® on Apple® utilizes an encryption system with a 256-bit key to help prevent unauthorized access to the information on your startup disk. So, when FileVault® is turned on (find it in the Security & Privacy system preferences in Mountain Lion), your Mac® will always require that you log in with your account password. Or if you have a PC, products such as ZoneAlarm® are worth looking at. Use your encrypting systems, as any true super hero would.

Being Secretive. Let’s Talk Passwords.

You don’t leave your door to your home unlocked, so why leave the virtual door open to your high tech gadgets? Lock your gadgets when you are not using them and always enable password prompts.

There are Password managers available online such as Dashlane™   4, Zoho Vault™, Sticky Password Premium™, Password Boss Premium™, and True Key by Intel Security™. This basically means you have one keeper of passwords, and you can set up a unique password for the service and only need to write this one password down, rather than an endless list of passwords. It also allows you to not make the oh-so common mistake we are all guilty of: using one password for everything. There are lots of unique ways to develop strong passwords.

Another piece of good advice is to consider using passphrases as passwords, like “The quick brown fox.” Or quirky themes, like things you eat for breakfast. The key is to keep it unique, and have different passwords for different accounts. Password managers allow you to not have to write them down where some password pirate can find them.

The best password is your own fingerprint. Touch I.D.™ may be one of the most secure features introduced to phones, tablets, and techy devices recently.

Surf the Worldwide Web at Your Own Risk.

Disconnect from the Internet when you are not using it. This may have made you laugh when you consider that personal research shows that when playing a game of “Would You Rather,” most people, when faced with the option of “No Internet” usually would rather select the other option. However, it is easy to turn off the Internet when you go out of town or even each night before bed.

Also, heed warnings if a site is said to be unsafe. And don’t ignore the update reminders from your computer and tablets, including web browser updates. Think of these as traffic signs. They are there for a reason!

And remember, you can always rely on cutting edge technology. DOJO™ is a security gadget available for preorder that connects to your network and basically acts as the essential layer between your smart devices and any threats to your security and privacy. Like any good digital guard dog, it glows when there is activity that needs to be addressed. That means, it protects ALL of your connected home devices from malware, viruses, and cyber attacks while keeping your privacy secure.

Sharing is Not Always Caring.

Did you know you can lock down your wireless network by going into your IP address settings? This is the place where you have the power to change the name of your network, change the passwords, and lock everyone else out of your Network who doesn’t have your password. wikihow has a great step-by-step guide to make this happen.

Be mindful, as it’s easy to over-share on Social Media. Be aware of what you post, especially if your accounts are not private. This includes not showing off your new gadgets or sharing when you are going out of town for instance. And sharing both of those at once is not recommended. It’s basically an open invitation to when and where your gadgets can be taken.

When you are not using it, cover your camera on your devices. This may seem paranoid, but hackers can easily access your camera, which can become a virtual peephole into your life. So cover it up with some masking tape, a section of a post-it, or another non-residue adhesive.

Keep a Watchful Eye.

We now have at our fingertips smart home security devices that let you keep a constant digital eye and ear on your property. We at American Modern have used these in our own smart home. Gadgets like Nest™, Canary™, and Piper™ are virtual windows into your home. You can periodically peek into what’s happening at home while you are at work or on vacation, so that you can worry less and get on with the task at hand: whether that means meeting a deadline or working on your tan line.

Lock it Up.

The old school safe has recently gotten a facelift. Barksa® Biometric Fingerprint Safe can be locked and unlocked with your unique fingerprint. This means you can keep not only hardcopies of important documents and passwords in it, but also tuck away your gadgets when you’re not using them.

If a finger print accessible safe is a little too Oceans 11 for you, it’s wise to at least keep your gadgets hidden in a not-so-obvious place.

 

While your gadgets can make you feel superhuman, protecting them means being your own hero.  Keep your gadgets and passwords organized online through a management system, and enable any remote control as possible, like Find My iPhone or device wiping. Be smart about selecting strong passwords. And be careful online. Make sure your network is secure and never over-share on social media! Invest in gadgets that can protect your devices like home security systems or finger print access safes. Just remember, no one but you can save the day when it comes to safeguarding your gadgets. So get busy!

 

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