Author Archives: Cybermum Australia

How to Keep Your Celebrations Happening – Virtually & Safely!

2020 has certainly been the year of the ‘new normal’. Our new life in which we stay home and socially distance has affected the way we work and learn but just as importantly, the way we celebrate!

Without a doubt, the video call saved the day while we all stayed home and socially distanced. Work meetings continued and learning at home still happened thanks to this wonderful technology. And while some people used video calls to remain in touch with family and friends, this remarkable technology also helped many people worldwide continue to celebrate life’s important milestones such as school and university graduations; weddings and, even the celebration of life at funerals.

Graduating Virtually

One of my oldest friends has two daughters who have just virtually graduated from their high school and university. Before each occasion, the girls were sent their cap and gown and their graduation certificates via the post. On the day of each event, the girls donned their specially purchased dresses – which were purchased long before ‘lockdown’ (along with their cap and gown) – and participated in the ceremony via video call. Dressed to the 9’s, their immediate family also watched the ceremony and witnessed their daughter (and sister) officially graduate.

While there wasn’t perhaps the same sense of camaraderie as if their cohort had graduated together in person, the video call was definitely the next best thing. It allowed them to see their friends, receive the public accolades they both so deserved and, most importantly, it provided a sense of completion and closure that allowed them to start thinking about their next phase in life.

Virtual Weddings

Within weeks of lockdown, the virtual wedding industry was well established. Companies such as Simply Eloped were offering virtual wedding packages that provided planning assistance, a virtual ceremony emcee, advice on acquiring a license and tech support. Specialised tech companies were also offering to coordinate weddings on video calling apps and manage guests on multiple devices.

And if you are getting married, of course you need photography so virtual photographers became a thing as did customised wedding backdrops providers and virtual live musicians to entertain your guests. If there was ever an example of an industry that mastered the art of pivoting, it was definitely the wedding industry!

Celebrating the End Of A Life – Virtually

Probably one of the hardest milestones to miss in person during lockdown was the celebration of life – the funeral. Around the world, many countries limited attendees at funerals to as low as 10 to ensure social distancing which meant live streaming the service became the next best option.

Specialised funeral live streaming companies such as OneRoom sprung up allowing family and friends the opportunity for a private farewell even if they couldn’t attend in person.  While a funeral service is an important way to remember and celebrate the life of the recently deceased, it is also an important part of the grieving process. I have several friends who lost treasured family members during the lockdown period who were very comforted by having the option to have a copy of the live-streamed service which they could watch several times.

If there’s ever a time to be grateful for the power of technology (and video calls) it’s now! I just can’t imagine how we have all survived the isolation without being able to stay in touch and see the faces of family and friends! But just like every aspect of online life, video calling apps are fantastic when used sensibly but they do also carry some risks. Here are my top tips to ensure that you can safely celebrate life’s milestones online:

  1. Don’t Share Links to Video Calls

Whether it’s a wedding ceremony, baby shower, meeting with a virtual photographer or a funeral service, sharing links to video calls means you are essentially extending the invitation to anyone who gets their hands on the link. Not only does this compromise the privacy of everyone involved but video call ‘bombers’ have been known use threatening and intimidating language which could be very unsettling.

  1. Keep Your Personal Meeting ID Tight!

Some video calling apps allocate each user a PMI or personal meeting ID. Your PMI is basically one continuous meeting so anyone that has access to it can enter any of your future meetings or gatherings. Always generate a random meeting ID for any events where you don’t truly know your invitees.

  1. Video Calls Can Be Recorded

Don’t forget that video calls can be recorded. Even though a video call may feel like real life – it is not! So, if you are celebrating hard at your friend’s wedding, be mindful that your ‘high-energy’ behaviour may be recorded on camera!!

While ‘lockdown life’ may almost be over for some of us, many experts believe ‘social distancing’ will be a way of life for some time. So, if you have an important celebration on your radar, don’t despair – a well-planned virtual celebration can definitely be worthwhile and will be a great story to pass down to future generations!

Happy Virtual Celebrating!

Alex xx

The post How to Keep Your Celebrations Happening – Virtually & Safely! appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

How Entertaining Ourselves at Home Has Become a Risky Business

Online entertainment is certainly having a moment. While we all stayed home and socially distanced, many of us filled our time binge-watching movies and TV series  – and wasn’t it fabulous!! But did you know that researching your next binge-watching project could actually be putting you at risk?

Aussies Love TV

There is no doubt that us Aussies love our TV and the statistics confirm this. With over three-quarters of Aussies watching TV and over two-thirds browsing the internet to pass the time during lockdown, we are clearly a country of screen-time professionals. And with just under a million new Aussies gaining access to a streaming service in their household, it seems everyone is doing their bit to support the entertainment industry!

But streaming isn’t cheap and can add up fast (particularly when you have multiple accounts) prompting many of us to look for free alternatives. And our desire to save a buck or two when trying to find our next binge-watching project hasn’t escaped the attention of cybercriminals who have a knack for crafting convincing scam strategies that are in sync with consumer trends.

What’s the Most Targeted Show to Search For?

McAfee analysed over 100 of the top ‘talked about’ entertainment titles available across the leading streaming providers here in Australia and identified the 10 most targeted shows (both TV and film) to search for.

The series Unorthadox and movie Ace Ventura took the top place in their respective categories as having the highest ‘web search risk’ which means cybercriminals have put a lot of effort into developing scams around these titles. Scams could include websites offering free downloads of these titles – which require you to enter your personal information – or, pirated videos that contain malware which could access the private data on your device.

Here are the top 10 riskiest shows in both categories:

Series – Australian Top 10 Most Targeted

  1. Unorthadox
  2. You
  3. Family Guy
  4. Big Mouth
  5. Homeland
  6. The Vampire Diaries
  7. Dynasty
  8. Lost
  9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  10. Stranger Things

Movies – Australian Top 10 Most Targeted

  1. Ace Ventura
  2. Green Book
  3. John Wick
  4. Machinist
  5. Annihilation
  6. Ex Machina
  7. A Star Is Born
  8. Fyre
  9. Lady Macbeth
  10. Bird Box

Horror and Thriller Films seem to be the trend!

It appears as though our love for horror and thriller films may be putting us in danger, with five of the top ten films most targeted by cybercriminals falling into these genres. With social distancing restrictions in place, Aussies are clearly seeking to add some thrill back into their lives which has opened up new opportunities for cybercriminals. Consumers need to be careful when it comes to searching for stimulating content to escape reality to ensure it doesn’t translate to real-life malware horror.

How You Can Stay Safe While Binge-Watching At Home

Now, I want to make it very clear – this news doesn’t mean you need to give up nights on the couch. Not at all! Instead, just follow a few simple steps and you can continue binge-watching till your heart is content!

Here are my top tips for staying safe:

  1. Be Careful What You Click –if you are looking to catch up on the latest season of You or A Star is Born, please only access entertainment content directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from sources like iTunes or Amazon, instead of downloading a “free” version from a website that could contain malware.
  2. Do NOT use Illegal Streaming Sites – this is not negotiable! Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware disguised as pirated video files. Malware could cause you a world of pain. Not only could it cause your device to freeze or crash, it could steal sensitive information and give cybercrims unauthorized access to system resources. So, do your device a favor and stream your favourite show from a reputable source.
  3. Protect your Online Life with a Cybersecurity Solution –why not send your regards to malicious actors with a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect you from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which helps alert users of malicious websites.

So, when you are looking for your next binge-watching project, please take a moment before you download. Ensure the site you are accessing content from is legit (have you heard of it before? is it offering something for free when every other streaming service has a fee?) and if you are even a little unsure that it doesn’t look professional then DON’T click! The last thing you want is a bonus virus to interrupt your night in on the couch!

Happy Watching!!

Alex xx

 

 

 

 

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World Password Day 2020

Are Your Password Habits Keeping You Safe Online?

Learning how to navigate our entire lives online has definitely been a steep learning curve for many of us over the last few weeks. Whether it’s working from home, helping our kids learn from home, conducting ‘wine time’ from home or even doing our Zumba classes from home – it’s essential now more than ever that we are doing this safely. And one of the most powerful yet simple ways we can ‘sure-up’ our online safety is by being smart with our passwords.

World Password Day – Take A Minute To Check Your Approach

Today is World Password Day – the perfect opportunity to ensure we are doing all we can to manage our online logins. It’s quite unsettling to think that one of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to get their hands on the sensitive information we store in our online accounts is through our passwords.

Passwords act like a key to our digital identity. Not only do they allow us to bank, shop, work, learn, date and socialise online but they also protect us as well. Strong, complex passwords ensure all the information we store online (aka our digital assets) are protected which is essential for our privacy and financial and personal security.

So, let’s use this annual event to make sure we are doing all we can to lock down our precious online data by managing our passwords properly.

Same Password For Every Account? – Rookie Error

If I had to count up all my online accounts on my fingers and toes, I would quickly run out of body parts! With so many logins to remember, many of us end of using the same password for every account. And while that might seem so practical it, in fact, makes us very vulnerable. Just think about this scenario: if you become the victim of an online scam and the password to one of your online accounts is stolen, then a cybercriminal can then use this same password to access all your online accounts.

So, before you know it, a cybercriminal can access your emails, bank accounts, online shopping accounts – that may have stored credit cards, private photo and video files.

What You Can Do TODAY to Ensure your Password Habits are Keeping you Safe

Yes, we are all human which means we are going to take shortcuts. I get it! I love shortcuts – I’m a fan of using pasta sauce from the jar! But if there’s one area where shortcuts should NOT be used it’s with passwords. So, here are my top suggestions on how you can stop your private online data falling into the wrong hands and block cybercriminals at the very first point of entry.

  1. Commit to NOT Using Common Passwords

If your password is ‘123456’ then you need to change it now. The UK’s National Cyber Safety Centre showed in a survey last year that this is the most commonly used password. In fact, in the eight years since I’ve been doing this job, this password has annually topped surveys.

Passwords are the gateway to our digital lives. To avoid giving the wrong people access to your accounts, make sure you create strong and unique passwords. This means including numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters and symbols. The more complex your password, the more difficult it is to crack. Why not create a nonsensical phrase or sentence? And always avoid using simple personal details within your password altogether. Your date of birth, middle name or pet names are things cybercriminals can trace through your social media accounts.

  1. Same Password For Every Account? Think Again

The idea of having one password across all online accounts is alluring because let’s admit it…we’ve all been locked out of an account after failing to remember the password! While having one password to remember for all accounts seems to make life easier, it increases the risk of your vital online data being compromised at once across different accounts. So, ensure that your logins are unique for every account to avoid having all your accounts becoming vulnerable in case you are hacked.

  1. ALWAYS Select Multi-Factor Authentication

Wherever possible, embrace multifactor authentication (MFA) for online accounts. MFA is a security system that requires more than one way of identification before gaining access to an account. Most commonly, it involves a security code sent to your smartphone, security questions or even a fingerprint, on top of the password. An extra layer of defence to stop sham access to vital online data? Yes please!

  1. Give Your Passwords a Health Check

What better way to check the health of your passwords than to see whether they’ve been compromised in a data breach. The website www.haveibeenpwned.com.au is an effective way to check whether a cybercriminal has discovered your passwords. If yes, give your passwords an overhaul and change them wherever they are used to safeguard your data.

  1. Employ A Password Manager

If you are currently feeling a tad overwhelmed at the thought of creating and managing unique passwords for your multiple online accounts, do not stress – I have a solution – a password manager. This marvellous software program will create random and complex passwords for each of your accounts and store them securely which means you don’t need to! All you need to do is remember the master password!! When choosing a password manager, ensure it uses multi-factor authentication to identify you eg facial recognition, fingerprint and a password.

If you have a spare 30 minutes today then please take the time to give your password habits an overhaul. I know we are all so flat out juggling work and kids at the moment but a careless approach to password security is no different to a careless approach to home security. So, get your passwords working for you so you can continue living your life online – especially Friday night ‘virtual drinks’!!

 

 

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