Author Archives: Baker Nanduru

Free VPNs May Still Come with a Price

Using a VPN on Public WiFi

Free VPNs May Still Come with a Price

If we’re being honest, many of us are consuming a lot of online content these days, whether it be for work, education, or sheer entertainment. I know my family is trying to balance what we need to do online, like meetings and classes, with fun activities like streaming movies, given that we are all spending more time safely at home.

But as a security professional what I’m really concerned about is how we are connecting to all this digital content. There has been a surge in VPN (virtual private network) downloads so far this year, showing that users are concerned about their online privacy, which is a good thing.

As you may know, a personal VPN is simply a piece of software that can establish a secure tunnel over the internet, offering you both privacy and freedom from IP-based tracking. It protects your identity and financial information by encrypting, or scrambling, the data that flows through the tunnel, and can mask your true location, making it appear as though you are connecting from somewhere else.

However, the myriad of VPN options—from free, to paid, to “freemium” (limited products offered on a trial basis for free, hoping customers will invest in more comprehensive, paid versions)—can be confusing and cause some customers to walk away unprotected. This is unfortunate, because here at McAfee we’ve recorded a growing number of network attacks, including targeted attacks against a variety of business and educational enterprises.

These threats mean that we need to do our best to ensure that our sensitive information stays safe, which is why I’d like to take a look at the difference between free VPNs and premium VPNs.

Sometimes a VPN is included in more robust security software, as it is in McAfee® Total Protection, but often it is a standalone tool, that is offered either at a monthly subscription rate, or for free. While it may be tempting to go for a free option, there are some serious considerations that you should take to heart.

Free VPNs – Risky Business

Since free VPNs are not making money directly from their users, many make revenue indirectly, through advertising. This means that not only are users bombarded with ads, they are also exposed to tracking, and potentially malware. In fact, one study of 283 free VPN providers found that 72% included trackers. This is not that surprising, given that advertisers depend on gathering your personal data to better target their ads.

But beyond the frustration of ads, slowness, and upgrade prompts is the fact that some free VPN tools include malware that can put your sensitive information at risk. The same study found that 38% of the free VPN applications in the Google Play Store were found to have malware, such as keyloggers, and some even stole the data off of users’ devices.

Also concerning is how these free providers handle your data. In one worrying incident, a VPN provider exposed thousands of user logs and API access records openly on the web, including passwords and identity information.

Privacy Worth Paying For – Paid VPN Benefits

VPNs are critical tools for enhancing our privacy and shouldn’t be an avenue for potentially opening the door to new risks. That’s why I always advise users to look for a paid VPN with the following features:

Unlimited Bandwidth —You want your network connection to stay secured no matter how much time you spend online.

Speedy Performance—We all know how frustrating a sluggish internet connection can be when you are trying to get things done. Whether connecting for productivity, education, or entertainment, we are all dependent on bandwidth. That’s why it’s important to choose a high-speed VPN that enhances your privacy, without sacrificing the quality of your connection.

 Multiple Device Protection—These days many of us toggle between mobile devices, laptops, and computers, so they should all be able to connect securely.

 Less Battery Drain—Some free mobile VPNs zap your battery life, making users less likely to stay protected. You shouldn’t have to choose between your battery life and safeguarding your privacy.

 Ease of Use— As I’ve written recently, for technology to really work it has to be convenient. After all, these technologies should power your connected life, not serve as a hindrance.

Fortunately, we don’t have to sacrifice convenience, or pay high prices, for a VPN that can offer a high level of privacy and protection. A comprehensive security suite like McAfee Total Protection includes our McAfee® Safe Connect standalone VPN with auto-renewal and takes the worry out of connecting, so you can focus on what’s important to you and your family, and enjoy quality time together.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post Free VPNs May Still Come with a Price appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Cyber Monday is Coming – 10 Tips to Protect You From Online Shopping Scams

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is Coming – 10 Tips to Protect You and Your Family from Online Shopping Scams

You’re not the only one looking forward to the big holiday sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Hackers are too. As people flock to retailers big and small in search of the best deals online, hackers have their shopping scams ready.

So while you already know how to spot a great deal, here are ways you and your family can steer clear of online scams so you can keep your finances safer this shopping season:

1.) Don’t open email attachments from retailers and shippers

A common scam hackers use is introducing malware via email attachments, and during the holiday sale season, they’ll often send malware under the guise of offer emails and shipping notifications. Know that retailers and shipping companies won’t send things like offers, promo codes, and tracking numbers in attachments. They’ll clearly call those things out in the body of an email instead.

 2) Carefully review links and email addresses

A classic scammer move is to “typosquat” phony email addresses and URLs that look awfully close to legitimate addresses of legitimate companies and retailers. They often appear in phishing emails and instead of leading you to a great deal, these can in fact link you to scam sites that can then lift your login credentials, payment info, or even funds should you try to place an order through them.

3) Watch out for copycat deals and sites

A related scammer trick that also uses typosquatting tactics is to set up sites that look like they could be run by a trusted retailer or brand but are not. These sits may tout a special offer, a great deal on a hot holiday item or whatnot, yet such sites are one more way cybercriminals harvest personal and financial information. A common way for these sites to spread is by social media, email, and other messaging platforms. Be skeptical of any links you see there—it’s best to go to the site directly and look for the deal there.

4) Use protection while you shop

Using a complete security software suite can offer layers of extra protection while you shop, such as web browser protection that will block malicious and suspicious links that could lead you down the road to malware or a financial scam.

5) Diversify and protect your passwords

Using the same narrow set of passwords only helps hackers. If they hack one account, they can then hack others—simply because that same password is in use over and over. Use a password manager that can create strong passwords and store them securely as well. That’ll save you some hassle and keep you safer in the process.

6) Use two-factor authentication on your accounts

Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of defense on top of your username and password. It adds in the use of a special one-time-use code to access your account, usually sent to you via email or to your phone by text or a phone call. In all, it combines something you know, like your password, with something you have, like your smartphone. Together, that makes it tougher for a crook to hack your account. If any of your accounts support two-factor authentication, put it into place.

7) Use a VPN if you’re shopping on public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi in coffee shops and other public locations can expose your private surfing to prying eyes because those networks are open to all. Using a virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your browsing, shopping, and other internet traffic, thus making it secure from attempts at intercepting your data on public Wi-Fi and harvesting information like your passwords and credit card numbers.

8) Use a credit card instead of your debit card

Specific to the U.S., the Fair Credit Billing Act offers the public protection against fraudulent charges on credit cards, where citizens can dispute charges over $50 for goods and services that were never delivered or otherwise billed incorrectly. Note that many credit card companies have their own policies that improve upon the Fair Credit Billing Act as well. However, debit cards aren’t afforded the same protection under the Act. Avoid using those while shopping online and use your credit card instead.

9) Consider getting a virtual credit card

Another alternative is to set up a virtual credit card, which is a proxy for your actual credit card. With each purchase you make, that proxy changes, which then makes it much more difficult for hackers to exploit. You’ll want to research virtual credit cards further, as there are some possible cons that go along with the pros, such as in the case of returns where a retailer will want to use the same proxy to reimburse a purchase.

10) Keep a close eye on your credit reports

With all the passwords and accounts we keep, this is important. Checking your credit will uncover any inconsistencies or outright instances of fraud. From there, you can then take steps to straighten out any errors or bad charges that you find. In the U.S., you can run a free credit report once a year with the major credit reporting agencies. Just drop by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website for details on your free credit report.

Shop happy! (Don’t give in to stress and scarcity.)

One aspect of cybercrime that deserves a fair share of attention is the human element. Crooks have always played on our feelings, fears, and misplaced senses of trust. It’s no different online, particularly during the holidays. We all know it can be a stressful time and that we sometimes give into the pressure of finding that hard-to-get gift that’s so hot this year. Crooks do too, and they’ll tailor their attacks around those.

So, while you’re shopping online this year, take a deep breath before you dive in. Double-check those deals that may look almost too good to be true. They may be a scam waiting to spring—and indeed be too good to be true after all.

Stay Updated 

To stay updated on all things McAfee and for more resources on staying secure from home, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post Cyber Monday is Coming – 10 Tips to Protect You From Online Shopping Scams appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Election 2020: Make Sure Your Voice is Heard with These Tips

U.S. Elections

Election 2020: Make Sure Your Voice is Heard with These Tips & Best Practices

Last year, India exercised one of the greatest feats of democracy, trying to enable over 900 million people to vote in their general election. My mom lives in India, and I remember talking with her about their ambitious plans to reach every voter, no matter how remote their location. They sent poll workers deep into the jungle, and across rivers, to reach just a handful of voters. The result: a record turnout at over 67%.

In the United States, we too have an opportunity to fulfill our civic duties, with various options available to us to make sure our votes are heard. While many people choosing to mail in their votes for the very first time, there’s also a lot of confusion around election rules and security, not to mention a flood of misinformation online to be wary of.

Here at McAfee, we want to help you vote with confidence in this critical election. That’s why we’ve put together a number of tools, resources, and best practices to empower voters. Our hope is that every voice can be heard.

Demystifying Mail-In Voting

Let’s start with some questions you may have around mail-in voting, since twice as many people plan to mail in their ballots this year, compared to 2016. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic still active, it’s understandable that many people, especially the vulnerable, would prefer to mail their ballot, rather than go to a polling station. I personally got my mail-in ballot and am ready to mail it this week. If you haven’t decided on how to vote, you still have time to decide.

To get accurate information on mail-in voting, go directly to your state and local websites for guidance, including how to fill out your ballot, and when to turn it in. Rules vary state to state, but one thing we do know is that mail-in voting has proven to be a reliable and secure way to have your voice heard.

It’s great to see long lines to vote in some states already. If you are still concerned about election security and online scams, my colleague Judith Bitterli has written a great guide for locating reliable sources and protecting your vote (Key tip: always look for a .gov domain name).

She also has advice for making sure that your mail-in ballot counts.

Safe Election Surfing

When looking online for election resources, be aware that scammers and cybercriminals are always trying to take advantage of trending topics to misdirect users to dangerous websites and links. In fact, the FBI recently warned that bad actors have been setting up fake election websites, in an attempt to steal voters’ personal information, or get them to download dangerous files.

The Bureau suggests that you visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission website for accurate information in a variety of languages. If you are concerned about clicking on risky links during the election or year-round, one smart action you can take is to install McAfee WebAdvisor, which warns you of risky sites before you click on them.

Although it can be tempting to believe election information posted on social media, especially by friends and family members, know that business school MIT Sloan says “fake news is at its peak” during online presidential years, and even your loved ones can be fooled.

But whether information is clickbait, or legitimate, it can still be posted to risky websites designed to steal your information, or download malware. That’s why McAfee released a new social media protection tool as part of WebAdvisor. Using color codes, the tool shows you which links are safe or risky right in your social feed, and can be used across all six major social media platforms. This makes it easier to avoid dangerous links posted on social channels. Given the increase in phishing we’ve observed in the last few months across PC and mobile platforms, a comprehensive security solution like McAfee® Total Protection can help keep your personal information and devices safe.

In-Person Voting

If you still plan to vote in person, or even better, volunteer as a poll worker, make sure that you have reliable information on voting times and locations. You’ll probably also want to look into local rules on health and safety precautions, so you are well prepared.

False and misleading information about COVID 19 has been swirling since the start of the pandemic, so it’s important that you seek verified information about the virus. Here again are some great tips from Judith on how to keep COVID misinformation from suppressing your vote.

 Exercise Your Right

Now that you know how to sidestep misinformation, find trusted resources, and plan your vote — either through the mail or in person— I hope that you will exercise your right, with confidence.

 

The post Election 2020: Make Sure Your Voice is Heard with These Tips appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Cristiano Ronaldo tops McAfee India’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 List

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Cristiano Ronaldo tops McAfee India’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 List

During COVID-19, people stuck inside have scoured the internet for content to consume – often searching for free entertainment (movies, TV shows, and music) to avoid any extra costs. As these habits increase, so do the potential cyber threats associated with free internet content – making our fourteenth Most Dangerous Celebrities study more relevant than ever.

To conduct our Most Dangerous Celebrities 2020 study, McAfee researched famous individuals to reveal which celebrities generate the most “dangerous” results – meaning those whose search results bring potentially malicious content to expose fans’ personal information. Owing to his international popularity and fan following that well resonates in India, Cristiano Ronaldo takes the top spot on the India edition of McAfee’s 2020 Most Dangerous Celebrities list.

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Celebrities

Ronaldo is popular not only for his football skills, but also for his lifestyle, brand endorsements, yearly earnings, and large social media following, with fans devotedly tracking his every movement. This year, Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus from Real Madrid for a reported £105M created quite a buzz, grabbing attention from football enthusiasts worldwide. Within the Top 10 list, Ronaldo is closely followed by veteran actress Tabu (No. 2) and leading Bollywood actresses, Taapsee Pannu, (No. 3) Anushka Sharma at (No. 4) and Sonakshi Sinha (No. 5). Also making the top ten is Indian singer Armaan Malik (No. 6), and young and bubbly actor Sara Ali Khan (No. 7). Rounding out the rest of the top ten are Indian actress Kangana Ranaut (No. 8), followed by popular TV soap actress Divyanka Tripathi (No. 9) and lastly, the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan (No. 10).

 

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Lights, Camera, Security

Many consumers don’t realize that simple internet searches of their favorite celebrities could potentially lead to malicious content, as cybercriminals often leverage these popular searches to entice fans to click on dangerous links. This year’s study emphasizes that consumers are increasingly searching for content, especially as they look for new forms of entertainment to stream amidst a global pandemic.

With a greater emphasis on streaming culture, consumers could potentially be led astray to malicious websites while looking for new shows, sports, and movies to watch. For example, Ronaldo is strongly associated with malicious search terms, as fans are constantly seeking news on his personal life, as well as searching for news on his latest deals with football clubs. In addition, users may be streaming live football matches through illegal streaming platforms to avoid subscription fees. If an unsuspecting user clicks on a malicious link while searching for their favorite celebrity related news, their device could suddenly become plagued with adware or malware.

Secure Yourself From Malicious Search Results

Whether you and your family are checking out your new favorite actress in her latest film or streaming a popular singer’s new album, it’s important to ensure that your searches aren’t potentially putting your online security at risk. Follow these tips so you can be a proactive fan while safeguarding your digital life:

Be careful what you click

Users looking for information on their favorite celebrities should be cautious and only click on links to reliable sources for downloads. The safest thing to do is to wait for official releases instead of visiting third-party websites that could contain malware.

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

When it comes to dangerous online behavior, using illegal streaming sites could wreak havoc on your device. Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated video files. Do yourself a favor and stream the show from a reputable source.

Protect your online safety with a cybersecurity solution

 Safeguard yourself from cybercriminals with a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect you from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats.

Use a website reputation tool

Use a website reputation tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor, which alerts users when they are about to visit a malicious site.

Use parental control software

Kids are fans of celebrities too, so ensure that limits are set for your child on their devices and use parental control software to help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

 Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and for more resources on staying secure from home, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

The post Cristiano Ronaldo tops McAfee India’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 List appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Anna Kendrick Is McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Anna Kendrick Is McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020

During COVID-19, people stuck inside have scoured the internet for content to consume – often searching for free entertainment (movies, TV shows, and music) to avoid any extra costs. As these habits increase, so do the potential cyberthreats associated with free internet content – making our fourteenth Most Dangerous Celebrities study more relevant than ever.

To conduct our Most Dangerous Celebrities 2020 study, McAfee researched famous individuals to reveal which celebrities generate the most “dangerous” results – meaning those whose search results bring potentially malicious content to expose fans’ personal information.

Thanks to her recent starring roles, American actress Anna Kendrick has found herself at the top of McAfee’s 2020 Most Dangerous Celebrities list.

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Celebrities

You probably know Anna Kendrick from her popular roles in films like “Twilight,” Pitch Perfect,” and “A Simple Favor.” She also recently starred in the HBO Max series “Love Life,” as well as the 2020 children’s film “Trolls World Tour.” Kendrick is joined in the top ten list by fellow actresses Blake Lively (No. 3), Julia Roberts (No. 8), and Jason Derulo (No. 10). Also included in the top ten list are American singers Mariah Carey (No. 4), Justin Timberlake (No. 5), and Taylor Swift (No. 6). Rounding out the rest of the top ten are American rapper Sean (Diddy) Combs (No. 2), Kate McKinnon (No. 9), and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel (No. 7).

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Lights, Camera, Security

Many consumers don’t realize that simple internet searches of their favorite celebrities could potentially lead to malicious content, as cybercriminals often leverage these popular searches to entice fans to click on dangerous links. This year’s study emphasizes that consumers are increasingly searching for content, especially as they look for new forms of entertainment to stream amidst a global pandemic.

With a greater emphasis on streaming culture, consumers could potentially be led astray to malicious websites while looking for new shows and movies to watch. However, people must understand that torrent or pirated downloads can lead to an abundance of cyberthreats. If an unsuspecting user clicks on a malicious link while searching for their favorite celebrity film, their device could suddenly become plagued with adware or malware.

Secure Yourself From Malicious Search Results

Whether you and your family are checking out your new favorite actress in her latest film or streaming a popular singer’s new album, it’s important to ensure that your searches aren’t potentially putting your online security at risk. Follow these tips so you can be a proactive fan while safeguarding your digital life:

Be careful what you click

 Users looking for information on their favorite celebrities should be cautious and only click on links to reliable sources for downloads. The safest thing to do is to wait for official releases instead of visiting third-party websites that could contain malware.

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

When it comes to dangerous online behavior, using illegal streaming sites could wreak havoc on your device. Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated video files. Do yourself a favor and stream the show from a reputable source.

Protect your online safety with a cybersecurity solution

 Safeguard yourself from cybercriminals with a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect you from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats.

Use a website reputation tool

 Use a website reputation tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor, which alerts users when they are about to visit a malicious site.

 Use parental control software

 Kids are fans of celebrities too, so ensure that limits are set for your child on their devices and use parental control software to help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and for more resources on staying secure from home, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

 

The post Anna Kendrick Is McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Check Out the McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Attention Streamers: Check Out the McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 List

During COVID-19, people stuck inside have scoured the internet for content to consume – often searching for free entertainment (movies, TV shows, and music) to avoid any extra costs. As these habits increase, so do the potential cyberthreats associated with free internet content – making our fourteenth Most Dangerous Celebrities study more relevant than ever.

To conduct our Most Dangerous Celebrities 2020 study, McAfee researched famous individuals to reveal which celebrities generate the most “dangerous” results – meaning those whose search results bring potentially malicious content to expose fans’ personal information.

Known for his BAFTA-winning celebrity chat show and BBC radio show, the UK’s national treasure, Graham Norton, has found himself at the top of McAfee’s 2020 Most Dangerous Celebrities list.

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Celebrities

Graham Norton is a household name thanks to his hugely popular talk show, The Graham Norton Show, which has seen him interview A-listers including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Helen Mirren. He is also known for his BBC radio show, as well as his inimitable Eurovision commentary. Not shy of celebrity friends, Norton is joined in the top ten list by fellow national treasures such as Ricky Gervais (No.2), and Idris Elba (No.7) and Mary Berry (no.10). Also included in the top ten list are British actor Tom Hardy (No.3) and Gavin and Stacey star, Ruth Jones (No.4). Rounding out the rest of the top ten are UK’s very own Mick Jagger (No.5), Aussie actress Margot Robbie (No.6) and models Kate Moss (No.8) and Bella Hadid (No.9).

 

Lights, Camera, Security

Many consumers don’t realize that simple internet searches of their favorite celebrities could potentially lead to malicious content, as cybercriminals often leverage these popular searches to entice fans to click on dangerous links. This year’s study emphasizes that consumers are increasingly searching for content, especially as they look for new forms of entertainment to stream amidst a global pandemic.

With a greater emphasis on streaming culture, consumers could potentially be led astray to malicious websites while looking for celebrity gossip and new shows or movies to watch. For example, given Graham is strongly associated with malicious search terms, indicates that online criminals are using Britain’s love for celebrity gossip and the Eurovision for personal gain. If an unsuspecting user clicks on a malicious link while searching for their favorite celebrity film, their device could suddenly become plagued with adware or malware.

Secure Yourself From Malicious Search Results

Whether you and your family are checking out your new favorite actress in her latest film or streaming a popular singer’s new album, it’s important to ensure that your searches aren’t potentially putting your online security at risk. Follow these tips so you can be a proactive fan while safeguarding your digital life:

Be careful what you click

Users looking for information on their favorite celebrities should be cautious and only click on links to reliable sources for downloads. The safest thing to do is to wait for official releases instead of visiting third-party websites that could contain malware.

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

When it comes to dangerous online behavior, using illegal streaming sites could wreak havoc on your device. Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated video files. Do yourself a favor and stream the show from a reputable source.

Protect your online safety with a cybersecurity solution

Safeguard yourself from cybercriminals with a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect you from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats.

Use a website reputation tool

Use a website reputation tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor, which alerts users when they are about to visit a malicious site.

Use parental control software

Kids are fans of celebrities too, so ensure that limits are set for your child on their devices and use parental control software to help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and for more resources on staying secure from home, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post Check Out the McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Convenience vs. Online Security: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

online safety

Convenience vs. Online Security: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

We live in a world where convenience is king. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without my calendar alerts popping up on my smartphone, ensuring that I don’t miss any important meetings (or birthdays).  I can also use a variety of apps to make appointments with my family’s doctor and check up on my kids’ educational progress while they are at home distance learning. While this technology is great and convenient, it has led to increased connectivity which tends to cause security implications. At what point do we draw the line between convenience and online security, and is there a way to ultimately have both? Let’s take a look.

Are Consumers Confident in Their Online Safety?

Consumers want to live their lives fast. They are constantly on the go, prioritizing speedy technology and convenience – sometimes more than safety. As a result, basic security hygiene, like updating passwords, has fallen by the wayside. In fact, a recent survey conducted by YouGov in April of 2020 revealed that consumers are overconfident in the level of protection that their credentials provide. 77% believe that their banking credentials are the most secure, followed by online shopping (74%), and work network logins (71%). Due to consumers’ overconfidence in the strength of their credentials, over half of online shoppers admitted that they have no plans to update their login details – and even more admitted to not updating bank and work passwords. As someone who just recently wrote a blog on common password habits and how they can affect our online safety,

Finding a Balance Between Convenience and Security

As today’s users are trying to grasp what the “new normal” means for them and how they live their lives, many are branching out from the typical ways they used to order food, take workout classes, and more. Consumers are using food delivery sites that they’ve never used before and signing up for online fitness classes on new platforms to  stay healthy while social distancing. But by using these unfamiliar websites to establish a sense of normalcy, users might forget to take basic security precautions like making sure these websites have the standard https:// security clearance or using a VPN. Paying attention to these security measures while exploring new platforms will allow users to enjoy the convenience of these tools without putting their online safety at risk.

According to McAfee Labs, more than 113,000 websites have been published that used COVID-19 to lure internet users into giving up their personal details. But despite the risks associated with poor security hygiene, consumers appear to be pretty indifferent. When asked if COVID-19 and increased fraud influenced them to use alternative banking or shopping apps/websites with more secure options, over three-quarters of U.S. consumers stated no, or that they didn’t know. At the onset of the pandemic when consumers were under pressure to buy scarce, staple items, 26% of consumers in the U.S. admitted to overlooking online security concerns by using third-party merchants to buy things like toilet paper and disinfecting products.

Today’s users already have so much to worry about – I can’t blame them if their online security is falling by the wayside to allow physical health and wellness to take precedent. It’s times like these when people need to prioritize their health and basic survival above all else that consumers benefit most from intrinsic security that is constantly working in the background, so they can have peace of mind.

Let Them Have Security (and Convenience!)

The good news: convenience and security don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I can still use my healthcare provider’s app to schedule appointments and check in on my kids as they distance learn without risking our family’s privacy. When it comes to balancing convenience and online security, you and your family should use trusted solutions that will allow you to enjoy all that the internet has to offer  by providing security that is easy, convenient, and empowers you to enjoy a safe and private digital live.

Users can enjoy a comprehensive, yet holistic approach to protection by employing the help of a security solution like McAfee® Total Protection. Consumers are safeguarded from malware  so they can continue to use their devices and web browsing to stream live workout classes, catch up with family over video conference, and more. The software’s detection capabilities are constantly being updated and enhanced without compromising users’ device performance.

McAfee Total Protection also includes McAfee® WebAdvisor – web protection that enables users to sidestep attacks before they happen with clear warnings of risky websites, links, and files. McAfee WebAdvisor allows consumers to online shop or order food from their favorite restaurant while giving them the peace of mind that they’re on a safe website.

McAfee Total Protection also includes our secure VPN to ensure your family is prepared for potential threats that could be lurking around the corner. By enabling a VPN on your device, you can feel confident that the next time you bank or pay bills online, your connection is secure. With solutions like McAfee Total Protection and McAfee WebAdvisor in place, consumers can strike a balance between convenience and security, without sacrificing either.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

The post Convenience vs. Online Security: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Stay Connected & Protected: Weaving Security Into Our Social Media Habits

Social Media Habits

Stay Connected & Protected: Weaving Security Into Our Social Media Habits

Today, there are so many different avenues where we receive information.

Personally, I prefer finding out what’s going on in the world by scanning my favorite news channels’ websites and by receiving personalized feeds and notifications to my phone. My wife, however, scans social media platforms – from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram – to discover the latest happenings. My teenage daughter spends 2+ hrs a day on social media platforms engaging with her friends.

While were initially meant to help us stay connected, they come with their own handful of security implications. Let’s explore what these threats are and how to stay protected.

Sketchy Links Get Social

Users rely on social media to feel connected. So while the world was social distancing, social media grew more popular than ever before – as of March 2020, people are on social media 44% more worldwide. However, with these platforms being so popular, they’ve become a hotspot for cybercriminal schemes.

There’s a variety of potential threats on social platforms, including misinformation, account takeovers, and phishing scams. The latter threat is all too common, as these platforms have become a popular avenue for cybercriminals to spread troublesome links and websites.

To lure unsuspecting users into clicking on these links, hackers often tap into what consumers care about. These topics have ranged from fake tech support scams to getting verified on Instagram.

Scan Social Safely with McAfee® WebAdvisor

At McAfee, we want users to enjoy a safe online social life. That’s why we created a new McAfee® WebAdvisor feature that scans for dangerous links across six major social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, and LinkedIn – so users can scroll their feeds with confidence. To do this, McAfee WebAdvisor now color codes links across these social platforms, as it has always done for online searches, to show which ones are safe to visit.

It’s important to take advantage of new technologies that help us adapt and grow into security superstars. My family and I are excited to see this new feature roll out across our existing McAfee® Total Protection subscription. That way we can keep up with the latest news and trends, as well as stay connected with family and friends without worrying about any potential threats. I can sleep much better at night knowing that my whole family will be both connected and protected.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and for more resources on staying secure from home, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Telehealth, Distance Learning, & Online Banking: Securing Digital Frontiers

2020 has propelled us into a new digital reality – one where we are reliant on technology to help us maintain our way of life. This forced all age groups, from 8-80, to learn how to conduct their day-to-day online. I personally had my mother asking a million questions about how to video conference!

But while we’re all looking to remain connectedwe need to also focus on staying protected. For those of us a little more tech-savvy, that means helping our family and friends learn how this new digital reality impacts online security.  

Let’s examine what that entails.

Keeping Personal Health Private

Digital healthcare’s rise was predicted back in January when Bain & Company reported that 40% of U.S. physicians expect to start using telemedicine over the next two years. Then came COVID-19, which drove healthcare providers to turn toward digital options to deliver socially distanced patient care. Many PCPs moved almost entirely to telehealth, with half of those surveyed using telemedicine in over 75% of their patient care.

While telehealth significantly increases patient care availability, there are also intrinsic privacy and security risks that go along with it. For example, telehealth requires that patients submit their health information through online platforms – some of which lack the proper data safeguards and don’t meet HIPAA requirements. Like all data transferred over the internet, private health information used for telemedicine could be intercepted by hackers if users don’t take proper security precautions. This means ensuring you and your loved one employ best practices – locking your platform account with a strong password, ensuring you only give your personal information to your doctor or verified resource, etc. These simple steps from McAfee experts are more important than ever before, as the healthcare industry is a preferred target for criminals.

Supporting Students Distance Learning

School may be back in session, but it looks pretty different than previous years. For parents, this means navigating the unknown terrain that is a virtual classroom – and how the new environment affects your family’s online security 

Distance learning has led to a substantial spike in online video conferencing  tools to conduct virtual lectures – which is only compounded by the fact that kids are already constantly on devices to play and socializeHowever, some of the tools  they use have proven to lack necessary security measures, which could jeopardize your students’ academic success and online security. Beyond video platform concernsthe combination of increased personal device usage on not-as-secure home networks poses a threat of its own 

Parents must ensure their students succeed – at both school and security. While they’re helping kids adjust to distance learning, parents can help keep them safe online by conducting router firmware updates, changing any default passwords on home networks, and leveraging a VPN. Additionally, parents must teach kids good security hygiene, such as always updating an app or device when an update is available. With parents juggling so much right now, they can also look for some extra support in the form of a comprehensive security solution that covers all their family’s devices with an extra layer of protection. 

Bank Online Without Prying Eyes

Many consumers have adopted digital financial services to make contactless payments or participate in online banking – some for convenienceothers to help minimize contact in light of recent events. However, as this tech grows, so does the need for up-to-date security.  

As users incorporate digital financial services into their everyday lives, they may fall victim to the risks commonly associated with making online payments. My mother, for example, is new to mobile banking and doesn’t know to look out for targeted phishing attacks from hackers who are trying to trick her out of money. Even the most tech-savvy online banking users can fall victim to more sophisticated phishing schemes out there. 

To ensure cybercriminals don’t trick my mom into sharing sensitive information by impersonating her bank, we’ve discussed some ways she can identify an attack. Now, she knows to always hover over suspicious links, avoid interacting with messages from unknown senders, and to go directly to her bank’s official website.  

Securing Our New Digital Frontiers

We can use technology to adapt and grow during this time, just as long as we all employ security best practices. So, whether it be telehealth, distance learning, or digital finances, your family should always keep the aforementioned tips top of mind 

And remember – you’re not in this alone. You’ve got the support you need during this new digital reality in the form of a comprehensive security solution, McAfee® Total Protection. With this solution, consumers are safeguarded from malware with cloud-based threat protection that uses behavioral algorithms to detect new threats. It includes comprehensive internet security, multi-faceted privacy protection, and our secure VPN to ensure your family is prepared for any potential threat. 

With robust, comprehensive security in place, your family’s devices will be consistently protected from the latest threats that came from our digital reality. With all these devices safe, everyone’s online life is free from worry.    

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and for more resources on staying secure from home, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

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Together, We Block and Tackle to Give You Peace of Mind

As a leader in cybersecurity, we at McAfee understand that every aspect of your digital life has potential weak spots that could make you vulnerable to threats and attacks. By incorporating security into everything you do online, you’re better protected from potential threats. To mount your offense, we’ve enlisted a team of partners that puts your security needs first, seamlessly blending our security with their services so you can live a confident life online. We bring our McAfee security teams together with industry players like PC & smartphone manufacturers, software & operating system developers, and more to make sure we can keep scoring security wins for you.

PC Partners Sweat the Security So You Don’t Have To

When was the last time you worried about security while you were shopping for a new PC? You were probably checking out the specs, price, and making sure it had all the capabilities you needed for working remotely, distance learning, and maybe a little gaming. And that’s all in addition to the day-to-day productivity, banking, and browsing you do. Like a strong defensive line, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and ASUS work closely with us to make sure that your personal data and devices are secure, especially as you spend more time online than ever before. That’s why so many new PCs are preloaded with a free McAfee® LiveSafe trial to provide integrated protection from malware, viruses, and spyware from day 1 with minimal impact on performance.

McAfee protection goes beyond just antivirus. We help you keep apps and Windows up to date and patched against vulnerabilities, block intruders with our firewall, and help you clean up cookies and temporary files to minimize the digital footprint on your PC.

We build our security directly into the devices consumers rely on for everything from remote yoga to distance learning, so that they know they’ll be safer online, regardless of what their new normal looks like.

Our Defense Is More Mobile Than Ever

Part of a good defense is understanding how the game has changed. We recognize that our customers are using multiple devices to connect online these days. In fact, their primary device may not even be a computer. That’s why we work with mobile providers to ensure customers like you have access to our comprehensive multidevice security options. Devices like mobile phones and tablets allow users to access social media, stream content, and even bank on their terms. For that reason, our mobile protection includes features like VPN, so that you can connect any time, any place safely and use your apps securely.

Retail Partners Make Plug and Play Even Easier

Our online and brick & mortar retail partners are also irreplaceable on the field. We understand that shopping for security can be complicated – even intimidating – when faced with a wall of choices. Whether you’re in-store or browsing online, we’ll work together to address your security needs so that your devices and personal data are protected with the solution that works best for you. Many of our retailers offer additional installation and upgrade support so you can have one less thing to worry about.

Software Partners Help Us Mount a Better Defense

Your web browser is more than a shortcut to the best chocolate chip cookie recipe; it connects you to endless content, information, and communication. Equally important is your operating system, the backbone that powers every app you install, every preference you save, and every vacation destination wallpaper that cycles through. We partner closely with web browsers, operating systems, and other software developers to ensure that our opponents can’t find holes in our defense. Everything that seamlessly works in the background stays that way, helping stop threats and intruders dead in their tracks. Whether it’s routine software updates or color-coded icons that help differentiate safe websites from phishing scams, we’re calling safety plays that keep our customers in the game.

Our Security Sets Teams Up for Success

At McAfee, we work tirelessly to do what we do best: blocking the threats you see, and even the ones you don’t. These days your “digital life” blurs the lines between security, identity, and privacy. So, we go into the dark web to hunt down leaked personal info stolen by identity thieves. We include Secure VPN in all our suites to give you privacy online. It’s these capabilities that strengthen both the offense and defense in our starting lineup of security suites like McAfee® Total Protection and McAfee® LiveSafe.

In short, your protection goes from a few reminders to scan your device to a team of experts helping you stay primed for the playoffs. It’s a roster that includes technology and humans solely devoted to staying ahead of the bad guys, from McAfee Advanced Threat Research (ATR) investigating and reporting like to artificial intelligence and machine learning that strengthens with every threat from every device. In fact, in just the first three months of this year, our labs detected over six threats per second!

Cybercriminals may be taking advantage of this current moment, but together, we can ensure our defense holds strong. After all, defense wins championships.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee  and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home  on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Speed or Security? We Say Speed AND Security

“Security software slows down my PC.”

We often hear this sentiment when users talk about malware protection. While people recognize the value of computer security, most get frustrated if the software bogs down their device. I mean, I myself become frustrated when I’m trying to crunch numbers and I’m suddenly greeted with an hourglass!

While this may happen with some online safety products, McAfee’s security suites are as light as they get. We understand that while consumers need malware protection, it shouldn’t come at the price of device performance. So, we put our products to the test – AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives to be exact – to show users that they can stay secure without interrupting their digital lives with slow software.*

*AV-Test Results

*AV-Comparatives Results

Testing the Relationship Between Security and Speed

Modern tech users are multitaskers at heart. We need our devices to run all of our favorite programs efficiently, from email to photo editing apps to music streaming services. Security software is another program we need to run – one we’re worried will slow down the rest. So how can we be sure that our PC performance won’t be poorly impacted? Answer: measure it.

To measure how much impact malware protection has on PC performance, some independent test labs include performance impact benchmarks in their security product tests. The most well-known of these test labs are AV-TEST, which is based in Germany, and the Austria-based AV-Comparatives. These independent labs are among the most reputable and well-known anti-malware test labs in the world.

These organizations work by testing and evaluating a number of security products and the impact they have on PC performance. The AV-TEST lab evaluates the latest versions of various security products and measures the average impact of the product on computer speed. On the other hand, AV-Comparatives uses low-end computers and mimics users’ daily usage as much as possible, focusing on activities like copying files, installing and uninstalling applications, launching applications, downloading files, and browsing websites. Based on these tests’ results, products are graded in award levels ranging from ADVANCED+ (the highest ranking) to STANDARD (the lowest ranking).

So, how does McAfee stand up to the competition? Since May 2018, McAfee has consistently received the highest score in all performance tests. As a result McAfee® Total Protection was awarded the ‘2019 Performance Award’ by AV-TEST in March 2020. Additionally, McAfee has achieved the ADVANCED+ ranking continuously since October 2016. In other words, McAfee Total Protection is one of the fastest and lightest products on the market. With results like these, I have to toot our own horn!

How Do These Results Impact Our Day-To-Day Lives?

During the WFH era, users are more reliant on devices than ever before. They need to work quickly and safely, without worrying about online threats. Especially since today’s malware comes in many forms, adapting to new technological advancements and the behaviors of tech-savvy consumers who use them. In fact, hackers often pair their threats to whatever is present in consumers’ lives – so lately we’ve seen malware attacks emerge via COVID-related phishing emails or known device or app vulnerabilities.

What Else Helps with McAfee’s Performance Results?

McAfee Total Protection comes with PC Boost features, which benefit both productivity and entertainment by automatically giving more horsepower to apps you are actively working in and by pausing annoying auto-play videos in your browser. While these additions don’t specifically factor into the aforementioned test results, these automated tools help your computer run faster and more efficiently.

By leveraging a comprehensive solution like McAfee Total Protection, users can ultimately be more efficient with their time online, whether that’s crunching numbers, playing games, or running multiple apps at once. And let’s face it – when our devices make us feel empowered, our digital lives are better.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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How to Protect Your Privacy From Tracking Apps

Working from home

Apps – what would life be without them? Imagine opening a brand-new browser tab every time you wanted to check your email, access photos, connect with friends on social media, or even pay your bills online.

Apps have greatly enhanced the way consumers interact with and complete tasks on their mobile devices. But what many consumers don’t realize is that they are tracked by many of the apps they know and use daily. Tracking can stem from a variety of platforms, however one type in particular has brought this issue even more into the forefront: contact tracing apps, which can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

What Are Contact Tracing Apps?

According to MIT Technology Review, technologists have been working to build contact tracing apps and systems to identify and notify those who have come in contact with a virus carrier. Tech giants and public health authorities worldwide have quickly signed up to build the application programming interfaces (APIs) and apps necessary to support this project’s scale. However, many users are skeptical that they know very little about these apps, what data is collected, and who this data is shared with.

The success of these contact tracing apps rests on user participation. However, for these apps to make a real impact, developers must overcome potential privacy and security risks to assure individuals their data will only be used to fight the virus’ spread.

The Impact of Contact Tracing Technology

According to Health IT Security, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation released reports outlining potential privacy and security risks developers should consider when building APIs and drafting privacy policies. Some of these risks include geo-location tracking or tracking a device’s location in real-time.

Then there’s user behavior to keep in mind. Some individuals may not understand the extent of the information they share with an app, while others are uneasy about the idea that the government – or a hacker – could easily access their whereabouts. What’s more, users are concerned that data collection will fail to end after the pandemic and authorities will use it in the future for unwarranted public surveillance.

While the privacy concerns around contact tracing apps are genuine, it’s also important to consider how this technology could greatly benefit public health. Although the privacy protection instilled in some apps is still a work-in-progress, some technologies have successfully contact traced without putting users’ privacy at risk. For example, Singapore’s app TraceTogether only collects and gathers data at the point that someone 1) is confirmed to have COVID-19 and 2) consents to the scraping of that data. From there, the data is anonymized, encrypted, and doesn’t reveal the identity of the infected user or the person that may have come in contact with them. What’s more, the data is deleted automatically after 21 days. By employing a thoughtful approach to contact tracing, positive strides can be made towards stopping the virus’s spread without risking user privacy.

How to Stay Secure

As a consumer living in a world riddled with uncertainty, you can take steps to help protect your digital life. When it comes to the rise of contact tracing technology and other apps you may use, here are some tips to consider to help safeguard your private information.

Understand and read the terms

Because this technology is relatively new, there is much to consider if you’re thinking about downloading a contact tracing app. Consumers can protect their privacy by reading the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service so they can know just what they’re dealing with.

Update your settings

If you’re concerned about an app having permission to access your location, photos, or other data, check your settings to see which apps have access to this information. Change permissions by either deleting the app or changing your settings on your device.

Consider other options

If you are not comfortable downloading a contact tracing app on your device but would like to be informed of the virus’ spread, you can visit the CDC’s website for COVID-19 cases, which can be narrowed down by state and county.

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post How to Protect Your Privacy From Tracking Apps appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Why Should You Pay for a Security Solution?

Online safety

Do you ever go a single day without using a digital device? The answer is probably not. According to the Digital 2019 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, users spend almost 7 hours a day online. And due to the recent stay-at-home orders, that number has only increased (internet hits recently surged between 50% to 70%). What’s more, U.S. households are now estimated to have an average of 11 connected devices – that’s almost 3 devices per person in my family!  

As the use of devices, apps, and online services increases daily, so do the number of online threats consumers face. That’s why it is important users consider what the best method is for securing their digital life 

My advice? Use a comprehensive security solution (and I’m not only saying this because I work for McAfee). Here’s why. 

The Limitations of Free Security Tools

Let’s be real – we all love free stuff (Costco samples anyone?). However, when it comes to my family’s security, am I willing to risk their safety due to the limitations of free solutions?  

Free tools simply don’t offer the level of advanced protection that modern technology users need. Today’s users require solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats they face, including everything from new strains of malware to hacking-based attacks. These solutions also quite literally limit consumers’ online activity too, as many impose limits on which browser or email program the user can leverage, which can be inconvenient as many already have a preferred browser or email platform (I know I do).  

Free security solutions also carry in-app advertising for premium products or, more importantly, may try to sell user data. Also, by advertising for premium products, the vendor indirectly admits that a free solution doesn’t provide enough security. These tools also offer little to no customer support, leaving users to handle any technical difficulties on their own. What’s more, most free security solutions are meant for use on only one device, whereas the average consumer owns over three connected devices. 

Security should provide a forcefield that covers users in every sense of the word – the devices they use, where they go online, how they manage and store information, and their personal data itself 

Connected Consumers Need Comprehensive Solutions

Today’s users need more than just free tools to live their desired digital life. To truly protect consumers from the evolving threat landscape, a security solution must be comprehensive. This means covering not only the user’s computers and devices, but also their connections and online behaviors. Because today’s users are so reliant on their devices and connections to bridge the gap between themselves and the outside world, security solutions must work seamlessly to shield their online activity – so seamlessly that they almost forget the solution is there. This provides the user with the protection they need without the added distractions of in-app advertising or the constant worry that their subpar solution might not secure them from common online threats.  

Why McAfee Matters

Free security products might provide the basics, but a comprehensive solution can protect the user from a host of other risks that could get in the way of living their life to the fullest. McAfee knows that users want to live their digital lives free from worry. That’s why we’ve created a line of products to help consumers do just that. With McAfee® Total Protection, users can enjoy robust security software with a comprehensive, yet holistic approach to protection.  

First, consumers are safeguarded from malware with cloud-based threat protection that uses behavioral algorithms to detect new threats – specifically protecting the device and web browsing. The software’s detection capabilities are constantly being updated and enhanced, without compromising the performance of users’ devices.  

McAfee also provides users with protection while surfing the web, where they can face a minefield of malicious ads or fraudulent websites. These pesky threats are designed to download malware and steal private information. That’s why McAfee® LiveSafe and McAfee® Total Protection include McAfee® WebAdvisor – web protection that enables users to sidestep attacks before they happen with clear warnings of risky websites, links, and files. They also include McAfee® Identity Theft Protection, which helps users stay ahead of fraud with Dark Web monitoring and SSN Trace to see if personal information has been put at risk 

Finally, we can’t forget about the importance of mobile threat detection, given that consumers spend nearly half of their online time via their mobile devices. Hackers are fully aware that we live in a mobile world, and coincidentally they’ve stepped up mobile attacks. That’s why McAfee solutions provide multi-device protection so you can safely connect while on the go.  

With robust, comprehensive security in placeyour family’s devices will be consistently protected from the latest threats in the ever-evolving security landscape. With all these devices safeeveryone’s online life is free from worry.   

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things  McAfee  and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Homeon Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook. 

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