This weekend, many of you might be setting up all those electronic devices you got for Christmas. But while smart thermostats, speakers, phones and other electronic devices make life easier, they can also make life miserable if a hacker breaks in and gets all of your personal information.
However, there are ways to make their lives harder too. We spoke to a cyber security expert to find out how.
Alex Hamerstone works as cyber security expert at TrustedSec. It’s a company that helps other companies in improving cyber security by hacking into the company’s computer system to show it where the vulnerabilities are.
Ten years ago, Hamerstone says hacking took a lot of skill. Now, he says it’s getting easier and easier to do. Once the hackers are in, he says they can turn your device into their own personal playground.
"Once you got one [device], it's pretty common you can get all of them,” he said.
Hamerstone says there are a number of ways for a hacker to steal your information: They can write a code like the old fashioned way, but downloading a faulty app could leave you vulnerable too. Keeping a default password on a router can as well.
"If you go to Walmart and buy this certain type of router and I go to Walmart by the same type of router, I can look at the instruction manual and see what the username and password is for yours as well," he told us. "If you don’t change it, then it's easy to get in there."
A hacker can also get your info from a social media website or your own bank. Hamerstone says if they're hacked, it's possible your hacked too.
"It's only as secure as they keep it."
But don’t worry, because you can do things to secure your information yourself.
Hammerstone says always make sure you have the latest software on all of your devices. Additionally, never click on faulty websites and never give out your info over the phone.
"Always verify…so if you get an email from your bank or from a credit card company, call them,” he said. “Call the number on the back of your card and ask if this is legitimate if you are nervous at all."
Hamerstone says he can’t say it enough, but change your password to something more difficult and complex than a relative’s name or a birthday. Also, he says don’t reuse the same password across multiple platforms. That’s makes it easier for hackers to break into multiple devices.