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If you received a tech gift this year, follow these privacy and security precautions.

Most technology is simple to set up and use. What are the secrets that Big Tech companies don’t want you to know? Some settings suit them well but not you. Change the privacy defaults by tapping or clicking.

It’s never too late to change your settings or clean up after an older device to get more years out of it. If your smartphone is more than three months old, tap or click for the smartphone cleanup you need to perform.
There are numerous options for the new technology in your life. Here are a few that should be prioritised:

If you recently purchased a new computer,

Microsoft inserts advertisements and suggested apps into the Start menu. That’s inconvenient, but it’s simple to disable them:

• Select Settings from the Start menu.

• Select Personalization.

• From the left pane, choose Start.

• Turn off Show suggestions on occasion in Start.

This quick privacy step on a Mac prevents companies from tracking you across websites to advertise products and services.

• Launch the Safari web browser. Navigate to Safari Preferences > Privacy.

• Select Prevent cross-site tracking next to Website tracking.

• For added privacy, you can choose to hide your IP address.

If you have an Amazon Echo,

Amazon Sidewalk is essentially a mesh network that extends the range of your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections by up to a mile by converting some Echo speakers and Ring gadgets into bridge devices.

This provides a significant boost to internet-connected technology located far from your router, such as lights at the edge of your driveway. That’s all well and good, but what does it mean for your security?

Amazon claims that the Sidewalk network employs three layers of encryption and that your neighbours will not be able to see your data.

They may claim this, but many individual smart devices aren’t particularly secure. A hacker only needs one compromised device to gain access to your network.

Eventually, your tech will be connected to a network over which you have no control. I recommend that you decline.

• From within the Alexa app, select More, then Settings.

• Select Account Settings, followed by Amazon Sidewalk.

• If you do not want to participate, disable Amazon Sidewalk.

If you own a smartphone or tablet computer,

It’s always a good idea to fiddle with your settings. This gives you a complete picture of what you’re dealing with. Begin with the location options. It’s likely that it’s tracking your every move in order to sell your secrets to advertisers.

Here’s how to disable location services on Apple devices:

• Go to Settings and then Privacy.

• Tap Location Services, then scroll down to System Services.

• Tap Significant Locations to view and turn off the logged record of where you’ve been. You can also delete your history by clicking the Clear History button.

Here’s how to modify these settings on Android: (Please keep in mind that the steps may differ depending on your Android model.)

• Go to Settings and then scroll down to Location.

• At the top, deactivate Use location.

• Tap Delete Location History at the bottom of the screen under Location History to delete your device’s cache.

If you have an iPad,

Security is critical, but don’t overlook the importance of turning off annoying notifications. If your new toy keeps dinging all day, it will drive you insane.

Each app’s notifications can be customised. Turn them on or off, choose whether or not to have a sound, and specify where you want notifications to appear.

My advice is to turn off all notifications if you primarily email and text on other devices. It is simply more digital noise.

• Select Notifications from the Settings menu.

• Tap an app under Notification Style, then turn Allow Notifications off.

If you have another smart device,

What is the first thing you do after a new device is set up? Most of the time, you’ll connect it to your home’s wireless internet. Unfortunately, every connected device represents a potential entry point into your network.

This is why you should create a guest network. You’ll safeguard your main network by establishing a separate guest network for all of your smart home devices and IoT devices.

Here’s where to begin:

• Navigate to the admin page of your router and look for a section labelled Guest Network or Guest Networks.

• Enable your Guest Network and ensure that SSID Broadcast is enabled.

To access your router’s admin page, you’ll need the device’s IP address and admin password. These may be listed in your router’s user manual, but if you don’t have it, some websites can assist you in locating it. For a list of default passwords for 548 router brands, tap or click here.

When you’re in your router’s settings, don’t click any options that say “Allow guests to see each other and access my local network.”

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