Don’t Wait Until the New Year: Secure Your New Electronic Devices

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9 tips from the Center for Internet Security to secure new gadgets this holiday season

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We see a large number of malicious cyber attacks that could have been prevented by following simple advice, like regularly applying updates.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) today shared its top tips for enhancing security and privacy protections for new devices received during the holiday season. Though this advice should be applied at any time, there are a significant number of gadget activations this time of year.

Whether a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device, most factory settings do not meet standards that properly protect privacy and personal information. With this in mind, it’s up to the end user to configure their gadgets to enhance its security by implementing industry-recognized procedures, like the tips shared below.

“We see a large number of malicious cyber attacks that could have been prevented by following simple advice, like regularly applying updates,” said Thomas Duffy, chair of the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) at the Center for Internet Security. “It is best to have all of your third party software set to auto update as most attacks rely on the end user running outdated software. As we become ever-more connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), we all need to be more conscious of how to better protect ourselves from cyber crime. Although there’s no silver bullet to prevent all attacks, the advice here is an excellent starting point.”

1. Configure your device with security in mind. When you activate your new device, enable the security settings available. Also, as you install software and apps, pay attention to those that control information sharing.
2. Lock the device. By locking your device with a strong password or PIN, you’re making it harder for any unauthorized person to access your information. If you can, enable a password instead of a PIN because they’re more secure.
a. On Android items, make sure the lock screen pattern includes at least 7 points and doubles back over itself.
b. With fingerprint locks, you can’t change the prints like you can a PIN or password. With this in mind, take care of your biometric data and try not to lose the device.
c. Enable the device to automatically lock after a period of inactivity. Auto-locking after 30 seconds to 2 minutes means someone has less of a chance to access your information, and is more ideal for security purposes.
3. Regularly apply updates. Whenever a new update for your device or applications are available, apply these patches to ensure that you’re fixing the weaknesses identified by the manufacturers and developers. You can enable settings to automatically apply these patches to ensure you don’t miss an update.
4. Install antivirus software. If your device is able, install antivirus software and enable automatic updates.
5. Disable unwanted and unneeded services. Features like Bluetooth, network connections and Near Field Communications make using your devices easier and more convenient. However, they also make your device more susceptible to outsiders gaining access to your data. Turn off these features when they’re not needed, and remove any apps or capabilities that you no longer use.
6. Be careful downloading apps. Before downloading any applications to your device, make sure that you trust the app provider and download it from a trusted source like the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. In addition, proactively read the privacy statement, review permissions, check the app reviews and look online to make sure no security companies have identified the app as malicious.
7. Set up a non-privileged account for general web use. When browsing websites and checking emails on your gadget, use a non-privileged account. Privileged accounts, like Administrator or Root, allow the user to make changes in how the device operates, and if this account gets compromised malicious actors can access anything on the device.
8. Enable encryption. Be sure to enable encryption features available on your device. This makes it harder for attackers to gain access to your data.
9. Maintain your device’s security. Once you have taken all of the security precautions available on your device, make sure that you maintain these settings. It may be tempting to forgo security for convenience, but to best protect your information and secure your new device follow these tips.

For more advice on securing your tech gadgets, online accounts or other cybersecurity issues, visit the Center for Internet Security’s MS-ISAC website at

About the Center for Internet Security
The Center for Internet Security (CIS) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to enhancing the cybersecurity readiness and response among public and private sector entities. Utilizing its strong industry and government partnerships, CIS combats evolving cybersecurity challenges on a global scale and helps organizations adopt key best practices to achieve immediate and effective defenses against cyber attacks. CIS is home to the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), CIS Security Benchmarks, and CIS Critical Security Controls. To learn more please visit or follow us on Twitter at @CISecurity.

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Chad Rogers
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