Have any new tech? Take steps now to secure your privacy


Raise your hand if you scooped up some tech for yourself during the holiday sales madness. It’s a great time to score a deal, but I bet you’re also slammed with work and family obligations.

Don’t just set it and forget it with your new gear. (Hackers and scammers are hoping you do, of course.) Take a few minutes to secure it. You’ll be glad you did.

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SMART TECH LIFE HACKS TO SAVE YOU TIME AND KEEP YOU SAFE

Keep your location yours alone

Devices that travel with us (think phones, tablets and laptops) know exactly where we are located — and many companies package and sell that data off. While it’s tough (or just really inconvenient) to stop all location tracking, you should take a good hard look at what gets access to where you are.

  • On WindowsGo to Start > Settings > Privacy > Location. Click Change, then toggle off Location for this device. This also prevents apps from knowing your location.
  • On a Mac: Go to the Apple menu > System Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. Switch off Location Services.
  • On an iPhone: Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. You have the option to switch off Location Services completely. Or turn it off for individual apps by scrolling down the list and tapping the ones you want to change.
  • On Android: Go to Settings > Location and toggle off Use Location. If you leave the setting on, scroll down, and change the settings for each app by tapping on them.

Ordering Christmas presents, online payment. Online shopping, internet banking, spending money, holidays, vacations concept (iStock)

On Apple gear, there’s a hidden map

Apple keeps track of where you go and how often you visit. It can then make suggestions based on what it calls Significant Locations. You might see these as calendar events or map directions alerts.

Sure, it’s helpful, but not everyone likes it. You can clear this list.

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services.
  • Tap Significant Locations.
  • Hit the Clear History button.

No thanks: More defaults tech companies don’t want you to change

YOUR SMART ASSISTANT IS LISTENING, BUT DOES THAT IMPACT THE ADS YOU SEE?

Get up to date

Depending on how long your new device sat on a shelf or in a warehouse, it might need an update or two. Pop into the settings and look for any software or firmware updates. Sometimes there are a couple in a row.

After that, set a reminder or pick a day to check each of your devices monthly. It only takes a few minutes, but it could save you a huge hassle down the line. Wherever you can, enable automatic updates, so you have one less thing to remember.

Take time to register

Do you register your new tech with the manufacturer? It takes a few minutes, but it’s a way to recoup your device if a hacker somehow takes it over. The manufacturer has proof the device is yours no matter what changes a hacker makes to it.

It’s also an essential step if something breaks later and it’s still under warranty.

Pro tip: Skip the extended warranty. Most problems pop up when you’re still in the initial (free) coverage period.

group of girls wrapping gifts

Photo of a couple of friends, wrapping up Christmas presents, while spending winter holidays together (iStock)

Connect the smart way

What’s the first thing you do after setting up a new device? Connect it to your home’s wireless internet. The bad news is every connected device is a potential way in for bad actors. 

I put all my smart stuff on a guest network. If you want to:

Open your router’s admin page and look for a section labeled Guest Network or Guest Networks.

Enable your Guest Network and make sure SSID Broadcast is turned on.

To get to your router admin page, you’ll need the device’s IP address and admin password. Once you’re in your router’s settings, don’t click any options that say something like: “Allow guests to see each other and access my local network.”

mother and daughter wrapping gift

Mother and daughter wrapping christmas presents in their small cozy apartment (iStock)

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: 5-star review bullying, fake AI boyfriends & 10 tech myths

Plus, Dr. Ben Goertzel from Prophets of AI created Sophia, the world’s most famous robot. He tells us more about artificial general intelligence — the AI that thinks like humans do. There’s more: GM says goodbye to Apple CarPlay and surveillance tech to stop drunk drivers. 

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

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