Author Archives: Cybermum Australia

How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

Did you know that searching for your favourite celebrities online may very well increase your chance of running into trouble?

For the thirteenth year running, McAfee has put together its Most Dangerous Celebrities List which includes the celebrities who generate the riskiest search results that could potentially expose their fans to malicious websites and viruses. And, as usual, Aussies feature!!

Who Are the Riskiest Aussie Celebrities?

After a tumultuous year in and out of love, Liam Hemsworth – Aussie actor and ex-husband of popstar Miley Cyrus – has taken out top honours as the most dangerous Australian born celebrity coming in at 19th place on the list. Rose Byrne, Cate Blanchett and Kylie Minogue also feature on the list coming in at 37th, 41st and 52nd place respectively.

Talk Show Hosts Top the List

While previous years have seen Reality TV stars, such as The Kardashians, top of the list, in 2019 – it’s all about talk show hosts. In fact, there are 4 talk show hosts in the top 10. John Oliver takes out 1st place, followed by James Corden in 4th place, Jimmy Kimmel in 6th place and Jimmy Fallon in 10thplace.

Whether it’s their karaoke singing or their viral views on politics, our fascination with charismatic talk show hosts is clearly very strong. McAfee’s research also shows that the names of these 4 hosts are strongly associated with the search term ‘torrent’. This indicates people may be trying to avoid paying expensive subscriptions to view these cult shows and are pursuing free yet riskier alternatives.

Singers Are Also Proving Risky!

English singer Dua Lipa came in at no 2 on the list, followed by Scottish singer/DJ Calvin Harris in 5th place and teen favourite Billie Eilish at no 7. Our quest for immediate or free content about our favourite singers could mean that we visit sites purposefully designed by cybercriminals to extract our personal information or even better, our credit card details!

And then there’s Game of Thrones

The world’s love affair with Game of Thrones saw Emilia Clarke take out the 9th spot in this year’s list of risky celebs to search for online. Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy series, was joined by Hollywood royalty Morgan Freeman in the top 10 list.

Cybercriminals Capitalise on Our Love for Celebrities

Our love of ‘all things celebrity’ has clearly not escaped the attention of cybercriminals with many spending a lot of time

and energy creating malicious websites designed to trick consumers into visiting. Whether it’s the promise of a ‘sneak-peak’ of the latest Star Wars movie, or free access to full episodes of a favourite American talk show, consumers will often drop their guard in favour of speed or convenience and quickly enter their personal details to gain access to a site without thinking about the consequences.

How to Avoid Getting Stung!

The good news is that you don’t need to give up your obsession with your favourite celebrity to stay safe online. Instead, develop some patience and trust your gut. Here are my top tips to help you stay ahead of the cybercriminals:

  1. Be Careful What You Click

Only stream and download movies and TV shows from reliable sources. While it may feel boring, the safest thing to do is wait for the official release of a movie instead of visiting a 3rd party site that could contain malware.

  1. Avoid Using Illegal Streaming Sites – No Exceptions!

Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated videos. Do yourself a favour and stream the show from a reputable source.

  1. Use a Web Reputation Tool

A web reputation tool such as McAfee’s freely available WebAdvisor will alert users if they are about to visit a malicious website. Very handy!

  1. Consider Parental Control Software

Kids love celebrities too! Ensure you set limits on device usage with your kids and use parental control software to help minimise exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

But if you aren’t convinced your kids are going to take your advice on board then why not invest in some comprehensive security software like McAfee’s Total Protection for the whole family? This Rolls Royce cybersecurity software will protect you (and your kids) against malware and phishing attacks. A complete no-brainer!!

Alex xx

 

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Stay Smart Online Week 2019

Let’s Reverse the Threat of Identity Theft!!

Our online identities are critical. In fact, you could argue that they are our single most unique asset. Whether we are applying for a job, a mortgage or even starting a new relationship, keeping our online identity protected, secure and authentic is essential.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week in Australia – an initiative by the Australian Government to encourage us all to all take a moment and rethink our online safety practices. This year the theme is ‘Reverse the Threat’ which is all about encouraging Aussies to take proactive steps to control their online identity and stop the threat of cybercrime.

What Actually Is My Online Identity?

On a simple level, your online identity is the reputation you have generated for yourself online – both intentionally or unintentionally. So, an accumulation of the pics you have posted, the pages you have liked and the comments you have shared. Some will often refer to this as your personal brand. Proactively managing this is critical for employments prospects and possibly even potential relationship opportunities.

However, there is another layer to your online identity that affects more than just your job or potential career opportunities. And that’s the transactional component. Your online identity also encompasses all your online movements since the day you ‘joined’ the internet. So, every time you have registered for an online account; given your email address to gain access or log in; joined a social media platform; undertaken a web search; or made a transaction, you have contributed to your digital identity.

What Are Aussies Doing to Protect Their Online Identities?

New research from McAfee shows Aussies have quite a relaxed attitude to managing their online identities. In fact, a whopping two thirds (67%) of Aussies admit to being embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.

Why Does My Online Identity Really Matter?

As well as the potential to hurt career or future relationship prospects, a relaxed attitude to managing our online identities could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercrims on a platter!!

Is Identity Theft Really Big Problem?

As at the end of June, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claims that Aussies have lost at least $16 million so far this year through banking scams and identity theft. And many experts believe that this statistic could represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as it often takes victims some time to realise that their details are being used by someone else.

Whether it’s phishing scams; texts impersonating banks; fake online quizzes; phoney job ads, or information skimmed from social media, cybercriminals have become very savvy at developing novel ways of stealing online identities.

What Can You Do to ‘Reverse the Threat’ and Protect Your Online Identity?

With so much at stake, securing your online identity is more important than ever. Here are my top tips on what you can do to give yourself every chance of securing your digital credentials:

  1. Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected.

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

  1. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication Wherever Possible!

Enabling two-factor authentication for your accounts will add an extra layer of defence against cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication is simply a security process in which the user provides 2 different authentication factors to verify themselves before gaining access to an online account. As one of the verification methods is usually an extra password or one-off code delivered through a separate personal device like a smartphone, it makes it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to a person’s device or online accounts.

  1. Lock Down Privacy and Security Settings

Leaving your social media profiles on ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat everything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.

  1. Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution

If you are serious about managing your online identity, then you need to use public Wi-Fi sparingly. Unsecured public Wi-Fi is a very risky business. Anything you share could easily find its way into the hands of cybercriminals. So, avoid sharing any sensitive or personal information while using public Wi-Fi. If you travel regularly or spend the bulk of your time on the road then consider investing in a VPN such as McAfee Safe Connect. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your activity which means your login details and other sensitive information is protected. A great insurance policy!

Thinking it all sounds a little too hard? Don’t! Identity theft happens to Aussies every day with those affected experiencing real distress and financial damage. So, do your homework and take every step possible to protect yourself, for as Benjamin Franklin said: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

Alex xx

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Aussies Fear Snakes, Spiders and Getting Hacked

Fears and phobias. We all have them. But what are your biggest ones? I absolutely detest snakes but spiders don’t worry me at all. Well, new research by McAfee shows that cybercriminals and the fear of being hacked are now the 5th greatest fear among Aussies.

With news of data breaches and hacking crusades filling our news feed on a regular basis, many of us are becoming more aware and concerned about the threats we face in our increasingly digital world. And McAfee’s latest confirms this with hackers making their way into Australia’s Top 10 Fears.

According to research conducted by McAfee, snakes are the top phobia for Aussies followed by spiders, heights and sharks. Cybercriminals and the fear of being hacked come in in 5th place beating the dentist, bees, ghosts, aeroplane travel and clowns!

Aussie Top 10 Fears and Phobias

  1. Snakes
  2. Spiders
  3. Heights
  4. Sharks
  5. Hackers/Cybercriminals
  6. The dentist
  7. Bees or wasps
  8. Ghosts
  9. Aeroplane travel
  10. Clowns

Why Do We Have Phobias?

Fears and phobias develop when we perceive that we are at risk of pain, or worse, still, death. And while almost a third of respondents nominated snakes as their number one fear, there is less than one-in-fifty thousand chance of being bitten badly enough by a snake to warrant going to hospital in Australia, according to research from the Internal Medicine Journal.

In contrast, McAfee’s analysis of more than 108 billion potential online threats between October and December 2018, identified 202 million of these threats as genuine risks. With a global population of 7.5 billion, that means there is approximately a one in 37 chance of being targeted by cybercrime. Now while this is not a life-threatening situation, these statistics show that chance of us being affected by an online threat is very real.

What Are Our Biggest Cyber Fears?

According to the research, 82% of Aussies believe that being hacked is a growing or high concern. And when you look at the sheer number of reported data breaches so far this year, these statistics make complete sense. Data breaches have affected Bunnings staff, Federal Parliament staff, Marriott guests, Victorian Government staff, QLD Fisheries members, Skoolbag app users and Big W customers plus many more.

Almost 1 in 5 (19%) of those interviewed said their top fear at work is doing something that will result in a data security breach, they will leak sensitive information or infect their corporate IT systems.

The fear that we are in the midst of a cyberwar is another big concern for many Aussies. Cyberwar can be explained as a computer or network-based conflict where parties try to disrupt or take ownership of the activities of other parties, often for strategic, military or cyberespionage purposes. 55% of Aussies believe that a cyberwar is happening right now but we just don’t know about it. And a fifth believe cyber warfare is the biggest threat to our nation.

What Can We Do to Address Our Fear of Being Hacked?

Being proactive about protecting your online life is the absolute best way of reducing the chances of being hacked or being affected by a data breach. Here are my top tips on what you can now to protect yourself:

  1. Be Savvy with Your Passwords

Using a password manager to create unique and complex passwords for each of your online accounts will definitely improve your online safety. If each on your online accounts has a unique password and you are involved in a breach, the hacker won’t be able to use the stolen password details to log into any of your other accounts.

  1. Stop AutoFill on Chrome

Storing your financial data within your browser and being able to populate online forms quickly within seconds makes the autofill function very attractive however it is risky. Autofill will automatically fill out all forms on a page regardless of whether you can see all the boxes. You may just think you are automatically entering your email address into an online form however a savvy hacker could easily design an online form with hidden boxes designed to capture your financial information. So remove all your financial information from Autofill. I know this means you will have to manually enter information each time you purchase but your personal data will be better protected.

  1. Think Before You Click

One of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to compromise their victim is by using phishing emails to lure consumers into clicking links for products or services that could lead to malware, or a phoney website designed to steal personal information. If the deal seems too good to be true, or the email was not expected, always check directly with the source.

  1. Stay Protected While You Browse

It’s important to put the right security solutions in place in order to surf the web safely. Add an extra layer of security to your browser with McAfee WebAdvisor.

  1. Always Connect with Caution

I know public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea, but if consumers are not careful, they could be unknowingly exposing personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals who are snooping on the network. If you are a regular Wi-Fi user, I recommend investing in a virtual private network or (VPN) such as McAfee’s Safe Connect which will ensure your connection is completely secure and that your data remains safe.

While it is tempting, putting our head in the sand and pretending hackers and cybercrime don’t exist puts ourselves and our families at even more risk! Facing our fears and making an action plan is the best way of reducing our worry and stress. So, please commit to being proactive about your family’s online security. Draw up a list of what you can do today to protect your tribe. And if you want to receive regular updates about additional ways you can keep your family safe online, check out my blog.

‘till next time.

Alex x

 

 

 

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How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene

Fact – your social media posts may affect your career, or worse case, your identity!

New research from the world’s largest dedicated cybersecurity firm, McAfee, has revealed that two thirds (67%) of Aussies are embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. Yikes! And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.

So, next time these Aussies apply for a job and the Human Resources Manager decides to ‘check them out online’, you can guess what the likely outcome will be…

Proactively Managing Social Media Accounts Is Critical For Professional Reputation

For many Aussies, social media accounts operate as a memory timeline of their social lives. Whether they are celebrating a birthday, attending a party or just ‘letting their hair down’ – many people will document their activities for all to see through a collection of sometimes ‘colourful’ photos and videos. But sharing ‘good times’ can become a very big problem when social media accounts are not proactively managed. Ensuring your accounts are set to the tightest privacy settings possible and curating them regularly for relevance and suitability is essential if you want to keep your digital reputation in-tact. However, it appears that a large proportion of Aussies are not taking these simple steps.

McAfee’s research shows that 28% of Aussies admit to either never or not being able to recall the last time they checked their social media timeline. 66% acknowledge that they have at least one inactive social media account. 40% admit that they’ve not even thought about deleting inactive accounts or giving them a clear-out and concerningly, 11% don’t know how to adjust their privacy settings! So, I have no doubt that some of the Aussies that fall into these groups would have NOT come up trumps when they were ‘checked out online’ by either their current or future Human Resources Managers!!

What Social Media Posts Are Aussies Most Embarrassed By?

As part of the research study, Aussies were asked to nominate the social media posts that they have been most embarrassed by. Here are the top 10:

  1. Drunken behaviour
  2. Comment that can be perceived as offensive
  3. Wearing an embarrassing outfit
  4. Wardrobe malfunction
  5. In their underwear
  6. Throwing up
  7. Swearing
  8. Kissing someone they shouldn’t have been
  9. Sleeping somewhere they shouldn’t
  10. Exposing themselves on purpose

Cybercriminals Love Online Sharers

As well as the potential to hurt career prospects, relaxed attitudes to social media could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercriminals on a platter!!

Considering how much personal information and images most social media accounts hold, it’s concerning that 16 per cent of Aussies interviewed admitted that they don’t know how to close down their inactive social media accounts and a third (34%) don’t know the passwords or no longer have access to the email addresses they used to set them up – effectively locking them out!

What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?

The good news is that there are things we can do TODAY to improve our social media hygiene and reduce the risk of our online information getting into the wrong hands. Here are my top tips:

  1. Clean-up your digital past. Sift through your old and neglected social media accounts. If you are not using them – delete the account. Then take some time to audit your active accounts. Delete any unwanted tags, photos, comments and posts so they don’t come back to haunt your personal or professional life.

  1. Lockdown privacy and security settings. Leaving your social media profiles on the ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat anything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.

 

  1. Never reuse passwords. Use unique passwords with a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols for each one of your accounts, even if you don’t think the account holds a lot of personal information. If managing all your passwords seems like a daunting task, look for security software that includes a password manager.

 

  1. Avoid Sharing VERY Personal Information Online. The ever-growing body of information you share online could possibly be used by cybercriminals to steal your identity. The more you share, the greater the risk. Avoid using your full name, date of birth, current employer, names of your family members, your home address even the names of your pets online – as you could be playing straight into the hands of identity thieves and hackers.
  1. Think before you post. Think twice about each post you make. Will it have a negative impact on you or someone you know now or possibly in the future? Does it give away personal information that someone could use against you? Taking a moment to think through the potential consequences BEFORE you post is the best way to avoid serious regrets in the future.

 

  1. Employ extra protection across all your devices. Threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware can all reach you through your social media. Install comprehensive security software to protect you from these nasties.

 

If you think you (or one of your kids) might just identify with the above ‘relaxed yet risky’ approach to managing your social media, then it’s time to act. Finding a job is hard enough in our crowded job market without being limited by photos of your latest social gathering! And no-one wants to be the victim of identity theft which could possibly affect your financial reputation for the rest of your life! So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work cleaning up your digital life! It’s so worth it!!

Alex xx

 

 

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How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

With winter almost gone, now is the perfect time to start planning your annual spring clean. When we think about our yearly sort out, most of us think about decluttering our chaotic linen cupboards or the wardrobes that we can’t close. But if you want to minimise the opportunities for a hacker to get their hands on your private online information then a clean-up of your digital house (aka your online life) is absolutely essential.

Not Glamourous but Necessary

I totally accept that cleaning up your online life isn’t exciting but let me assure you it is a must if you want to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Think about how much digital clutter we have accumulated over the years? Many of us have multiple social media, messaging and email accounts. And don’t forget about all the online newsletters and ‘accounts’ we have signed up for with stores and online sites? Then there are the apps and programs we no longer use.

Well, all of this can be a liability. Holding onto accounts and files you don’t need exposes you to all sorts of risks. Your devices could be stolen or hacked or, a data breach could mean that your private details are exposed quite possibly on the Dark Web. In short, the less information that there is about you online, the better off you are.

Digital clutter can be distracting, exhausting to manage and most importantly, detrimental to your online safety. A thorough digital spring clean will help to protect your important, online personal information from cybercriminals.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for its victims. It occurs when a person’s personal information is stolen to be used primarily for financial gain. A detailed set of personal details is often all a hacker needs to access bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards and basically destroy your credit rating and reputation.

How To Do a Digital Spring Clean

The good news is that digital spring cleaning doesn’t require nearly as much elbow grease as scrubbing down the microwave! Here are my top tips to add to your spring-cleaning list this year:

  1. Weed Out Your Old Devices

Gather together every laptop, desktop computer, tablet and smartphone that lives in your house. Now, you need to be strong – work out which devices are past their use-by date and which need to be spring cleaned.

If it is finally time to part ways with your first iPad or the old family desktop, make sure any important documents or holiday photos are backed up in a few places (on another computer, an external hard drive AND in cloud storage program such as Dropbox and or iCloud) so you can erase all remaining data and recycle the device with peace of mind. Careful not to get ‘deleting’ confused with ‘erasing,’ which means permanently clearing data from a device. Deleted files can often linger in a device’s recycling folder.

  1. Ensure Your Machines Are Clean!

It is not uncommon for viruses or malware to find their way onto your devices through outdated software so ensure all your internet-connected devices have the latest software updates including operating systems and browsers. Ideally, you should ensure that you are running the latest version of apps too. Most software packages do auto-update but please take the time to ensure this is happening on all your devices.

  1. Review and Consolidate Files, Applications and Services

Our devices play such a huge part in our day to day lives so it is inevitable that they become very cluttered. Your kids’ old school assignments, outdated apps and programs, online subscriptions and unused accounts are likely lingering on your devices.

The big problem with old accounts is that they get hacked! And they can often lead hackers to your current accounts so it’s a no-brainer to ensure the number of accounts you are using is kept to a minimum.

Once you have decided which apps and accounts you are keeping, take some time to review the latest privacy agreements and settings so you understand what data they are collecting and when they are collecting it. You might also discover that some of your apps are using far more of your data than you realised! Might be time to opt-out!

  1. Update Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected. Why not use your digital spring cleaning as an excuse to update and strengthen your credentials?

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

Finally, wherever possible, you should enable two-factor authentication for your accounts to add an extra layer of defense against cyber criminals. Two-factor authentication is where a user is verified by opt-out password or one-off code through a separate personal device like a smart phone.

Still not convinced? If you use social media, shop online, subscribe to specialist newsletters then your existence is scattered across the internet. By failing to clean up your ‘digital junk’ you are effectively giving a set of front door keys to hackers and risking having your identity stolen. Not a great scenario at all. So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work!

Til Next Time

Alex xx

 

 

 

 

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How To Help Your Kids Manage Our ‘Culture of Likes’

As a mum of 4 sons, my biggest concerns about the era of social media is the impact of the ‘like culture’ on our children’s mental health. The need to generate likes online has become a biological compulsion for many teens and let’s be honest – adults too! The rush of dopamine that surges through one’s body when a new like has been received can make this like culture understandably addictive.

 

Research Shows Likes Can Make You Feel As Good As Chocolate!

The reason why our offspring (and even us) just can’t give up social media is because it can make us feel just so damn good! In fact, the dopamine surges we get from the likes we collect can give us a true psychological high and create a reward loop that is almost impossible to break. Research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows the brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are also activated when teens see large numbers of ‘likes’ on their own photos or photos of peers in a social network.

Likes and Self Worth

Approval and validation by our peers has, unfortunately, always had an impact on our sense of self-worth. Before the era of social media, teens may have measured this approval by the number of invitations they received to parties or the number of cards they received on their birthday. But in the digital world of the 21st  century, this is measured very publicly through the number of followers we have or the number of likes we receive on our posts.

But this is dangerous territory. Living our lives purely for the approval of others is a perilous game. If our self-worth is reliant on the amount of likes we receive then we are living very fragile existences.

Instagram’s Big Move

In recognition of the competition social media has become for many, Instagram has decided to trial hiding the likes tally on posts. Instagram believes this move, which is also being trialled in six other countries including Canada and New Zealand, will improve the well-being of users and allow them to focus more on ‘telling their story’ and less on their likes tally.

But the move has been met with criticism. Some believe Instagram is ‘mollycoddling’ the more fragile members of our community whilst others believe it is threatening the livelihood of ‘Insta influencers’ whose income is reliant on public displays of likes.

Does Instagram’s Move Really Solve Address our Likes Culture?

While I applaud Instagram for taking a step to address the wellbeing and mental health of users, I believe that it won’t be long before users simply find another method of social validation to replace our likes stats. Whether it’s follower numbers or the amount of comments or shares, many of us have been wired to view social media platforms like Instagram as a digital popularity contest so will adjust accordingly. Preparing our kids for the harshness of this competitive digital environment needs to be a priority for all parents.

What Can Parents Do?

Before your child joins social media, it is imperative that you do your prep work with your child. There are several things that need to be discussed:

  1. Your Kids Are So Much More Than Their Likes Tally

It is not uncommon for tweens and teens to judge their worth by the number of followers or likes they receive on their social media posts. Clearly, this is crazy but a common trend/ So, please discuss the irrationality of the likes culture and online popularity contest that has become a feature of almost all social media platforms. Make sure they understand that social media platforms play on the ‘reward loop’ that keep us coming back for more. Likes on our posts and validating comments from our followers provide hits of dopamine that means we find it hard to step away. While many tweens and teens view likes as a measure of social acceptance, it is essential that you continue to tell them that this is not a true measure of a person.

  1. Encourage Off-Line Activities

Help your kids develop skills and relationships that are not dependent on screens. Fill their time with activities that build face-to-face friendships and develop their individual talents. Whether it’s sport, music, drama, volunteering or even a part time job – ensuring your child has a life away from screens is essential to creating balance.

  1. Education is Key

Teaching your kids to be cyber safe and good digital citizens will minimise the chances of them experiencing any issues online. Reminding them about the perils of oversharing online, the importance of proactively managing their digital reputation and the harsh reality of online predators will prepare them for the inevitable challenges they will have to navigate.

  1. Keep the Communication Channels Open – Always!

Ensuring your kids really understand that they can speak to you about ANYTHING that is worrying them online is one of the best digital parenting insurance policies available. If they do come to you with an issue, it is essential that you remain calm and do not threaten to disconnect them from their online life. Whether it’s cyberbullying, inappropriate texting or a leak of their personal information, working with them to troubleshoot and solve problems and challenges they face is a must for all digital parents.

Like many parents, I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of the competition the likes culture has created online for many of our teens. But that is not possible. So, instead let’s work with our kids to educate them about its futility and help them develop a genuine sense of self-worth that will buffer them from harshness this likes culture has created.

Alex xx

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How to Book Your Next Holiday Online and NOT Get Scammed

Taking our tribe on an annual family holiday has always been a top priority for my husband and me. But with 4 sons – who all eat like ridiculous amounts – this can be an expensive exercise. So, like most people, I am always on the lookout for deals and ways to save money to our favourite holiday destinations.

But according to research from McAfee, our need to secure a great deal to a hot destination may mean we are cutting corners and taking risks online. Over one-third of us (32%) report that we are likely to use a website we have never heard of before just because it offers great deals!

And cybercriminals are fully aware of this, so they spend a lot of time and effort creating malicious travel websites and fraudulent links to lure us ‘travel nuts’ away from the reputable online travel players. Their goal is to get us to their fraudulent site, install malware on our devices so they can steal our personal information, passwords and, ideally, our money!

How Many Aussies Have Been Scammed?

McAfee’s research also shows that 1 in 5 of us have either been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a holiday online with many of us (32%) signing up for a deal that turned out to be fake. And horrifyingly, 28% of holiday scam victims only realised that they had been scammed when checking-in to their holiday accommodation!! Can you imagine breaking the news to the kids? Or worse still having to pay twice for the one holiday?

Cybercriminals Also Have Favourite Holiday Hot Spots

Not only are cybercriminals capitalising on our need for a deal when booking a holiday, but they are also targeting our favourite destinations. The findings from McAfee’s research show holiday hot spots such as Thailand, India, the Philippines and the UK generate the riskiest search results when people are on the hunt for holidays online.

The top holiday destinations for Aussies that hackers are targeting via potentially malicious sites:

  1. New Delhi, India
  2. Bangkok, Thailand
  3. London, England
  4. Phuket, Thailand
  5. Manila, Philippines

Cybercriminals take advantage of the high search volumes for accommodation and deals in these popular destinations and drive unsuspecting users to their malicious websites often using professional looking links, pop-up ads and even text messages.

What You Can Do to Avoid Being Scammed

With Aussie school holiday just a few weeks away, do not despair! There are definitely steps you can take to protect yourself when booking your Winter getaway. Here are my top tips:

  1. Think Before You Click

With 25% of holiday bookings occurring through email promotions and pop-up ads, it’s essential to properly research the company behind the ads before you proceed with payment. Check out reviews and travel forums to ensure it is a legitimate online travel store. And it’s always best to use a trusted online retailer with a solid reputation even if it costs a little more.

  1. Use Wi-Fi With Caution

Using unsecured Wi-Fi is a risky business when you are travelling. If you absolutely must, ensure it is secured BUT never conduct any financial or sensitive transactions when connected. Investing in a virtual private network (VPN) such as McAfee Safe Connect is the best way to ensure that your connection is secure and your data remains private.

  1. Protect Yourself

Ensuring your device has current comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, will ensure any malicious websites will be identified when you are browsing. It will also protect your device against malware – which could come in handy if you are tricked into visiting a fraudulent site.

So, next time you come across an amazing, bargain-basement deal to Thailand, PLEASE take the time to do your homework. Is the retailer legitimate? What do the reviews say? What are the terms and conditions? And, if it isn’t looking rosy, remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

‘till next time

Alex xx

 

The post How to Book Your Next Holiday Online and NOT Get Scammed appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

What You Can Do to Reduce Your E-Waste This World Environment Day

Our love of technology and often biological need for new devices has created one of the biggest environmental issues of our time – e-waste. Today is World Environment Day – a great opportunity to ensure we are doing all we can to minimise landfill and protect our precious environment.

Over the last 12 months, BYO shopping bags, paper straws and ‘truly recyclable’ takeaway coffee cups have dominated our national environmental dialogue as essential ways to minimise future landfill. But with the average Aussie family generating a whopping 73 kg per year of e-waste, it’s critical that we turn our attention to our growing e-waste crisis this World Environment Day.

What is e-Waste?

E-Waste refers to old technology that you are no longer using. It includes microwaves, computers, TVs, batteries, screens, chargers, printer cartridges and even kitchen appliances.

High amounts of non-renewable resources such as plastic and precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, nickel, zinc, copper and aluminium) are found in e-waste. So, recycling these materials to make new electronics not only makes good financial sense but it also prevents products from winding up in a landfill.

According to experts, the average Aussie household own a startling 17 devices with predictions that this will increase to 27 by 2022.  So, it’s clear that our e-waste problem needs to be tackled head-on.

How Much e-Waste Is Generated Annually?

In January, the United Nations and World Economic Forum reported that the world produces 50 million tonnes of e-waste a year – around the same mass as 125,000 jumbo jets which is more than all the commercial aircraft ever built!

But interestingly, e-waste isn’t all bad news. In 2017, the UN University estimated the value of raw materials in e-waste to be worth  $US62.5 billion annually which exceeds the GDP (gross domestic product) of 123 countries. So, the opportunities contained in effective e-waste management are not only environmental but financial as economies could be bolstered and jobs could be created.

What Can We Do to Minimise It?

There are definitely steps we can all take to reduce our e-waste. While the obvious (less popular) strategy is to STOP purchasing new electronics, focussing in recycling and repurposing will go a long way to reducing our e-waste footprint. Here are my top tips:

  1. Repair or Refresh Your Current Devices

While we all love the idea of a shiny, new device, it’s often possible to repair or rejuvenate devices to avoid spending big bucks on a new one. Most devices can usually be repaired and even enhanced with a little expert ‘know-how’. I have spent a large chunk of my parenting career repairing and rescuing smartphones that were dropped, ‘washed’ or just deemed not ‘cool enough’. But the good news, it doesn’t take much to fix these issues: screens can be replaced, faults can be rectified, and new covers can be purchased to re-energise ‘the look’. And don’t forget the power of a software upgrade to ensure your phone is operating at its peak performance. If you are an Apple user, why not book a visit to their Genius Bar and let their staff show you how to get your device working at its optimum level?

  1. Sell or Give Away Your Unwanted Electronics

One of the easiest ways to manage your unwanted electronic devices is to rehome them. Gumtree and eBay are great online marketplaces to make a bit of extra cash by selling your obsolete devices. I know my boys have taken great delight in making a few extra bucks selling old phones and iPads over the years. Many charities also welcome donations of pre-loved smartphones or laptops so they can rehome them to people in Australia and overseas who just can’t afford to purchase their own. But don’t forget to wipe the data from your devices, remove your SIM cards and ideally do a factory reset of the phone to protect your privacy.

  1. Repurpose Your Old Smartphone

Instead of throwing out your old phone, why not repurpose it? Consider using it as a standalone GPS device in your car or perhaps dedicate it to your family’s music collection? Or why not turn it into a stand-alone home security camera?  Or even a baby monitor or a Google Home speaker? The possibilities are endless

  1. Turn Your Smartphone into a Child-Friendly Entertainment Device

If your little ones are after their ‘own phone’ then why not turn your old one into a custom child-friendly device? It’s super easy to set a passcode and turn age-appropriate restrictions on. Within minutes, you can lock down the device and turn off access to anything you don’t want your child to get involved with. This includes the camera, web browser and permission to install apps. Genius!

  1. Organise Your Current Fleet Before You Buy Anything New

Before you invest in new devices, organise what you already own to make sure you really need to make that purchase. A clean-up of desks, cupboards and kitchen drawers may yield a stash of chargers, USB sticks, hard drives and even old smartphones you had forgotten about. And consider sharing gadgets and chargers between family members to avoid buying new items.

  1. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

But if you decide, it’s time to say farewell to your old devices, PLEASE recycle them properly. Many e-waste experts, including Craig Reucassel environmental champion from the ABC’s ‘War on Waste’, believe the biggest challenge to reducing e-waste is getting devices out of people’ s drawers and garages and into designated recycling stations.

But the good news is that there are a number of user-friendly recycling options available:

  1. TechCollect is a free Australia-wide e-waste recycling initiative which is funded by some of the leading tech brands with the aim of avoiding landfill. Check out their website for the closest recycling centre to you.
  2. Mobile Muster provides mobile phone recycling facilities in Australia with over 3000 drop locations. Check out your closest drop-off point on their website.
  3. Many local councils also offer recycling options for e-waste. Why not contact yours to find out your options?
  4. Consider recycling your smartphone to support your favourite charity. It is now possible to recycle your phone and benefit your favourite charity at the same time. For no cost to the consumer, the Aussie Recycling Program (ARP) will recycle your phone and donate the profits to your nominated charity. They will either sell it on, recycle it or break it down into small parts that can be sold to manufacturers.

With e-waste set to become one of the biggest environmental issues of our generation, it’s time we all took responsibility for our unloved tech goods. If you are a closet hoarder, it’s time to workshop these issues quickly. Because our failure to take action could mean our discarded devices with their toxic by-products end up in landfill potentially polluting our waterways and food supply. So, let’s make this a priority!

Alex xx

 

 

 

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