New device? 10 tips for protecting your digital privacy

Updated: Jan 21


Man holding mobile device in hand with nighttime city lights in background

If you're like millions of other Americans, one of the best gifts you unwrapped this holiday season was a shiny new mobile phone or other smart device.


That means you also unwrapped a potential gift to hackers eager to find another opening to sneak in and exploit your digital life.


Joseph William, director of the Champlain College Leahy Center for Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity, wants to make sure you and your great new IoT gadgets stay protected. In a news release, he said

"IoT devices are fun and help make day-to-day tasks simple, but with that comes the exposure of your personal information to these devices. [...] You do not want your device to be part of the already growing 1.5 billion IoT devices that have been breached (in 2021)."

To help, the Center has put together a top-ten list of tips to armor up your smart device against vulnerability to cybercrime. Whether it's a smartphone, speaker, camera, thermostat, doorbell, or one of the other countless gadgets that send and receive data among the Internet of Things, take these cybersecurity steps to safeguard your personal privacy.


How to secure your new smart phone or other device

  1. Change default passwords on all smart devices.

  2. Make sure passwords are secure. A secure password is at least 12+ characters and contains at least one symbol, number and uppercase letter. For optimal security, passphrases work best.

  3. Use two-factor authentication when possible.

  4. Avoid sharing location or analytics data on the device and its applications.

  5. Do not use duplicate passwords for multiple devices and accounts.

  6. Be aware of when — and what — devices are recording and what events they are keeping track of.

  7. Log out of accounts that are not in use.

  8. Disable unnecessary features that you do not use.

  9. Keep devices and software updated.

  10. Do research on a device and its security risks before purchasing it.

Minimize IoT technology security risks

Taking the time to implement these cybersecurity tips with your smart devices will go a long way toward holding your data close and safeguarding your privacy. That means that all the entertainment and convenience you get from your gadgets is a lot less likely to be compromised by the unwelcome "gift" of getting hacked.