Security 101

5 Tips to keep your Christmas gadgets safe and merry all year long.

Ahh, Christmas. Cheesy ornaments, great food, and awesome deals on gadgets. The perfect moment to update and secure everyone’s favorite mobile devices!

Christmas Devices Prey Anti-Theft

Ahh, Christmas. Cheesy ornaments, great food, and awesome deals on gadgets. The perfect moment to update and secure everyone’s favorite mobile devices!

Christmas is the perfect excuse to update that ol’ laptop, to replace your sluggish phone, or to give your kids a new Netflix-ready tablet. However, it’s not something that you want to do every year, so how do you make sure they stay in good shape as of day-one? Here’s our five-step routine to protect and keep your new Christmas gadgets merry all year long:

1. Have Patience, Update.

The first step is simple but when you’re in holiday-hype-mode, it’s quite difficult to comply right away! You want to turn that new device on and update the-heck out of it. IT Security suffered a great deal in 2017 for a very simple reason: people don’t update.

An outdated system, for example, can result in this year’s major Bluetooth breach nicknamed BlueBorne, which can crack into any Bluetooth-able device. The update with the fix is up, but, you do need to make sure your device is up to date. What are the basic updates you want to check?

  • System Updates
  • Anti-Virus Updates

2. Uninstall the Unnecessary

You know, we’re talking about those silly widgets that come by default on laptops. These are programs, such as Pro Cool Silent Monitoring, CPU Speed Dial X, and other manufacturer programs that might not suit your regular user experience and, in the end, take up disk, resources, and make your desktop look bulky.

The same applies to smartphones and tablets. Both system and provider apps tend to provide little to no functionality versus their App Store counterparts. Uninstall or disable them to clean up space and avoid unwanted downloads.

For this task, consider utilizing CCleaner, Malwarebytes, or another cleanup tool to wipe OS-specific apps you don’t really need.

3. Install the Necessary

Now that your laptops, phones, and tablets are fresh and updated… Start packing it with apps! Where do you begin? Well… Let’s make a list of the categories you want to cover and their priority:

  • Security
  • Utility
  • Leisure

Security always comes first. Update your AV to your third-party preference (McAffee, Bitdefender, 360 Total Security, Norton) and keep active monitoring on. In need of a wider layer of protection? VPNs like TunnelBear could work well to secure your privacy, as well as data monitoring software like Little Snitch, that helps you control and monitor what apps do with your data and where they send it.

Next comes utility. A mixture of security and utility: a password manager. LastPass is one of them, and it could help you not only secure your login credentials, but also to organize them in a neat app vault. In need of some organization? Todoist is a handy to-do-list app with great configuration possibilities and an awesome cross-platform experience.

And finally… Leisure. The remaining space on your new gadgets goes for what it’s really intended for: movies, podcasts, games, and so on. We can certainly recommend Cuphead and Overcooked, Prey-proofed games that sparked some rivalries.

4. Grab a New Case

In the beginning we said that you don’t really want to need an update next year, or sooner. Well a good way to avoid this is to get a case for your gadgets. Whether it’s a tablet and phone case, or a travel bag for your new laptop, it’s a must have add-on that will save you some bucks when it inevitably slips and falls into the ground.

For anti-accident cases, we do recommend ZAGG, Spigen, Supcase. They offer diversity in devices, designs, and a varied range of prices.

5. Keep a Vigilant Eye

You’re good to go and ready to start using your devices all-year-long. So, what’s step 5? To keep an eye on them. You have protected them against most cyber and physical threats, but new devices at holiday times have another great enemy: theft.

There’s always some Grinch preying on happy users with their new devices, so let us help you make sure they don’t ruin Christmas for you. It takes only a minute to get a Prey Anti-Theft Free account to track & find your phone, laptop, or tablet — or one of our Pro plans if you got more than three gadgets this year.

Got it? Now let’s review the basic setup you want to have protecting your devices: First, make sure to install and log into the app on all devices to link them to your Online Panel.

Finally, create Control Zones to monitor specific areas, like your home, for those devices that shouldn’t leave the premises. If they exit the area, you’ll know instantly. Remember, if something does happen, mark your device as missing and we’ll track it and recover evidence for you.

Awesome! You’re ready to enjoy your new toys without worries. Happy Holidays from the Prey team and a merry year to all of you gadgety-people!

About the author

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi is the head of mobile research at Prey, Inc., provider of the open source Prey Anti-Theft software protecting eight million mobile devices. Nic’s work explores technology innovations within the mobile marketplace, and their impact upon security. Nic also serves as Prey’s communications manager, overseeing the company’s brand and content creation. Nic is a technology and contemporary culture journalist and author, and before joining Prey held positions as head of indie coverage at TheGameFanatics, and as FM radio host and interviewer at IndieAir.