New IoT devices for the holidays? Mind your privacy & security!

Three turquoise circles with different internet-connected items such as a computer, home lights, and a washing machine are shown to be wirelessly connected to a rectangular mobile device.
(Niran Kasri/Pixabay)

Internet of things (IoT) devices can be great gifts, but those smart home speakers, thermostats, and cool wearables like watches and fitness trackers come with some security and privacy risks. To protect yourself and your personal data, follow these tips:


  • Mute your smart speaker when not using it.
  • Disable features you don’t use.
  • Choose privacy settings for yourself; don’t accept the defaults.
  • Delete or erase unneeded recordings or data.


  • Keep the device software up-to-date.
  • Disable voice purchasing or set a password to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized purchases.
  • Use two-factor authentication for your accounts whenever it’s available. 


  • Change the default password for the device.
  • Set a unique password for each device or account.
  • Change default “wake up” words if you use voice activation.

See Secure Your Internet of Things Devices on Safe Computing for more best practices and links to privacy settings help.