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If you celebrate the holidays at this time of year, a lot is coming at you. You have a lot on your mind, from shopping and wrapping gifts to attending holiday parties, organizing family events or setting up your home for the festive season. Over the holidays, scammers often take advantage of the hectic pace Canadians experience, finding ways to hack into personal devices.
Taking steps to keep your devices safe can help fend off these holiday grinches and protect your files, photos, social media accounts — and most importantly — your money.
Here are some simple steps to help keep your devices more secure.
1. Beware of unknown numbers. Never click on links from a number or email you don’t recognize.
2. Leave attachments unopened. If you receive an email or text with an attachment, don’t open it — it’s likely not a gift from a secret Santa!
3. Keep your personal details to yourself. If you receive a call from someone you don’t know — even if they say they’re from a charity or research company — never provide personal details over the phone. If you’re in the spirit of holiday giving, initiate the gift yourself by calling or visiting a trusted website.
4. Disable Wi-Fi when you’re not using it. This keeps your device from connecting when you don’t intend to.
5. Install a VPN and always use it when connecting to Wi-Fi. This is the safest way to use public Wi-Fi. You can easily purchase and download a VPN app from the Apple store or the Google Play store and follow the instructions for installation.
6. Install updates when they become available. Keeping your device’s software up to date is a great way to patch security weaknesses and keep hackers out of your device.
7. Be thoughtful about your apps.Uninstall apps you don’t use or apps that ask for too much information or access. Remember, nothing in life is free, including that “free” app — you’re paying for it with your personal information.
8. Use a longer passcode to unlock your device.The longer and more complex it is, the harder it is for someone to guess and hack into your device.
9. Update your network settings. It’s a good idea to periodically erase your network settings to forget about insecure Wi-Fi networks you don’t use anymore
10. Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. In doing so, you’re minimizing your exposure to vulnerabilities, including cyber attacks.
11. Factory reset your device before returning it for service. This way, you’re erasing all your personal information before it gets into someone else’s hands.
Keep the holidays merry and bright this season by keeping hackers out of the picture. Give yourself the gift of cyber security by protecting your devices today.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.