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Safety tips when setting up smart devices

Posted at 5:16 AM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 15:56:21-05

Technology is always moving fast. However, smart home devices have quickly accelerated into one of the top gifts to give this holiday season. Items such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc. are gifts many are asking for or receiving this year. 

But, security experts are wondering if consumers really know what this gift may be giving hackers instead. 

Global Security Initiative Director Jamie Winterton wants to remind people that these devices are always listening and learning about your habits.

"This is brand new and people are just starting to live with these devices in their home and realize the things that they can do for them," Winterton explained. "But, a lot of people are also sort of creeped out."

Winterton said these are still great gifts to give. But, it is critical about who you choose to gift them to. They need to be tech-savvy and understanding of the steps and precautions that need to be taken.

"Most of these devices come with a password that's set on them," Winterton said. "The first thing you do when you get this device is figure out how to change this password to something that's your own." 

Winterton also suggests not pairing your device to other devices in your home, unless you understand the function. If your smart device is paired with your internet, security system, smart television and more, it is receiving all that information and learning about you through those products, as well. 

She also wants to get an alert out about children and their smart products that respond to voice and facial recognition. It is important for parents to know how they function and what kind of information they're retaining. 

Winterton suggests making small changes when setting up a profile with a smart toy.

"A profile often wants to know a lot of very detailed information about you," Winterton explained. "We've taught our kids that when you set up your profile, you don't always have to tell the truth." 

She told ABC15 to give a fake name and do not use the child's birthday. She also suggests changing small details like a friend's name or a pet's name to keep those out of the hands of potential hackers. Winterton said, if that information were to get out, it would be tools to stalk your child. 

Overall, Winterton suggests doing plenty of Google searches on password-changing and other protection possibilities before giving it to others or before unwrapping it as a gift.