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Securing Austria’s connected devices: A guide for consumers

As the number of connected devices in Austria continues to grow, ensuring their security is of utmost importance. From smartphones and laptops to smart home devices and wearable technology, these devices are an integral part of our daily lives. However, they can also be vulnerable to cyber threats if not properly secured. This article serves as a guide for Austrian consumers to secure their connected devices and protect their personal information.

  1. Keep Devices Updated:

Regularly updating the software and firmware of your connected devices is crucial for security. Manufacturers often release updates to address security vulnerabilities and patch any weaknesses. Enable automatic updates whenever possible or regularly check for updates manually. This ensures that your devices have the latest security patches and protection against emerging threats.

  1. Strong and Unique Passwords:

Create strong, unique passwords for each of your connected devices. Avoid using common or easily guessable passwords such as “123456” or “password.” Opt for complex passwords that include a combination of letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and special characters. Consider using a password manager to securely store and manage your passwords.

  1. Secure Wi-Fi Network:

Secure your home Wi-Fi network to prevent unauthorized access to your connected devices. Change the default network name (SSID) and password for your router. Use the latest encryption standard (WPA3 if available) and a strong Wi-Fi password to protect your network. Additionally, consider enabling network encryption and disabling guest network access unless necessary.

  1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

Whenever possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your connected devices. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a unique code sent to your smartphone, in addition to your password. 2FA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access, even if your password is compromised.

  1. Be Cautious of App Permissions:

When installing apps on your connected devices, be mindful of the permissions they request. Only grant necessary permissions and carefully review what information the app can access. Avoid granting permissions that seem excessive or unnecessary for the app’s functionality. Regularly review and manage app permissions in your device settings.

  1. Protect Personal Information:

Be cautious about sharing personal information through connected devices, particularly when it comes to sensitive data such as financial information or personally identifiable information (PII). Only provide personal information on secure websites (look for “https://” in the URL) and avoid sharing sensitive information over unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.

  1. Secure Physical Access:

Protect your devices from physical access by unauthorized individuals. Keep your devices in a secure location when not in use, and avoid leaving them unattended in public places. Consider enabling device lock screens or biometric authentication (fingerprint or facial recognition) to prevent unauthorized access.

  1. Regularly Back Up Data:

Regularly back up the data on your connected devices to protect it from loss or ransomware attacks. Use cloud-based backup services or external hard drives to store copies of important files, photos, and documents. In case of a cybersecurity incident, having backups ensures that you can recover your data without significant disruption.

  1. Educate Yourself:

Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. Follow reputable cybersecurity sources, read news articles, and educate yourself about common phishing techniques, malware, and social engineering tactics. This knowledge helps you identify potential risks and make informed decisions when using your connected devices.

  1. Secure Connected Home Devices:

If you have smart home devices, take steps to secure them. Change default passwords, update firmware regularly, and isolate your smart devices on a separate network if your router supports it. Additionally, consider the privacy implications of smart home devices and review the data collection and sharing practices of the devices and associated apps.

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