Category Archives: Consumer

Privacy Awareness Week-Are We Responsible for Our Data Breach?

“The best match for me,” announced my daughter one Sunday morning sometime back, “is a Scorpio.”

“Oh really? And this piece of vital information no doubt came from Linda Goodman?” I queried, giving her a been-there-done-that look.

“Why read when there are multiple sites online that can predict the perfect match for you? You need to share your name, date of birth and place of birth and voila, the dream match is revealed!”

“Name, date of birth…hmm. What else do you share?”

“Sometimes they ask about likes and preferences and favourite colour/animal/food etc. to get a better idea of your personality so that they can get a near-perfect match.”

Not just children but adults too enjoy such online quizzes, sharing personal data to know their perfect match or personality or the movie heroine they resemble or, a new one…’how and when will you die’. Cyber crooks know just how to trap us naïve digital citizens- through non-toxic -looking quizzes, free gift offers. Thus we end up sharing a lot of personal data when we log into e-commerce, gaming or health websites etc. They make us willingly offer the data they need. If the site is breached, this data becomes available to 3rd parties.

Identity Theft’; ‘Privacy Breach’; ‘Data Mining’; ‘Ransomware’ are some of the terms that are regularly making headlines now. We are aware that there are unsavory online characters who are continually finding ways to dig deeper and get their hands on our important information. The latest McAfee global study titled ‘New Security Priorities in An Increasingly Connected World’ shows that people are becoming more aware, with 79 per cent Indians saying their concern about online security has increased compared to 5 years ago.

Our awareness levels are high, but is it reflecting in our online behaviour?

Unprotected devices can get hacked, leading to possible loss of family photos, saved passwords and/or important mails and documents. How do we protect and keep private what’s ours?

By being proactive about protecting our privacy.

We need to take ownership of our digital life and plug all possible gaps. This privacy week get the entire family to sit down together to discuss privacy norms, breaches and security tips. Let children share their latest knowledge and parents share their concerns and problems. Lay down privacy do’s and don’ts for the whole family to follow.

Some of the points that you will need to discuss and work on:

  • Device Security: All family devices should have running security software. GPS and Bluetooth need to be turned off when not in use. The default passwords of all devices should be changed. All connected devices should be password-protected.
  • Data Security: Do not store important data like passwords on devices. Regularly back up data, preferably on an external drive. Erase data with the help of tools before disposing off old gadgets. Remove temp files and cookies. Consider using ad blockers.
  • Review your content: Check whether you are inadvertently sharing any personal information. Use strong passphrases for accounts. Avoid participating in quizzes/personality tests that ask for a lot of information. Assess permission required before installing apps. Remove apps that are no more used and revoke permissions, where needed.
  • Social media checks: Think before you post. Review privacy settings of each user and read site privacy policies. Also, review profile pic and bios. Refresh knowledge of social media do’s and don’ts.

Let the family data security mantra be- ‘My data, my responsibility.’ We can’t blame the service providers if we willingly share our data with 3rd party apps. So, it’s our duty, as responsible digital citizens, to be mindful of our online activities and secure our privacy.

Last but not the least, install all updates your OS sends and use branded comprehensive security solutions for all smartphones and other internet-enabled

The post Privacy Awareness Week-Are We Responsible for Our Data Breach? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Get Your Online Privacy Under Control

Online privacy: too often managing this aspect of our digital lives gets shuffled to the bottom of our ‘to-do’ lists. The recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica drama made many of us rethink what private information we are sharing online. But many of us just don’t know what to do to fix it.

This week is Privacy Awareness Week – a great opportunity to check-in and see how we can do better. A recent survey conducted by McAfee shows that most Aussies (54%) are more concerned about their online privacy than five years ago. This is encouraging! However, a whopping 83% of us do not believe that protecting our internet-connected devices is essential to managing our privacy online. Oh dear!! ☹

The survey also showed that 23% of Aussies do not change default passwords when we purchase new devices and that only 35% of us know how to properly check if our connected home appliances or devices are secured. Clearly we still have work to do, people! We have a disconnect on our hands. Most of us realise we need to do something to manage our privacy but don’t realise that protecting our devices is a big part of the solution. You can’t have one without the other!!!

Online Privacy Made Easier

So, I’m going to make it nice and easy for you. I have compiled a list of the steps you need to take to get your online privacy under control. And yes, it may take you a few hours to get on top of it but it’s so worth it. If your privacy is compromised, your identity can be easily stolen. Which could affect you financially as well as undermine your reputation. Let’s get to it – here’s what you need to do:

 1. Protect Your Devices

  • Use comprehensive security software such as McAfee® Total Protection. You know it will guard you against viruses and threats. But do you realise it will also direct you away from dangerous downloads and risky websites – where privacy can easily come unstuck!
  • McAfee® Total Protection will also protect your smartphone and tablet, and can back up your important files.

 2. Manage Your Passwords

  • Ensure all your online accounts and all your devices have a separate, unique password. Ideally, it should have a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. I love using a nonsensical, crazy sentence.

 3. Think Before You Download Apps

  • Never download apps from unknown sources. They may be designed to mine your personal information. Always read reviews to see if anyone has had a problem and check out the app’s fine print before you download.
  • Review the apps that you have signed up to with Facebook. As you would be aware from the recent Cambridge Analytica situation, Facebook provides some of these apps with user’s private information including name, location, email or even friends list.
    So, please review these apps, people. Not sure where to start? Go to Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook and remove anything that doesn’t absolutely need access to your Facebook profile. You will still have to contact the app developer to ensure they have deleted the data they already have gathered on you.

 4. Lock Down Your Home Wi-Fi

  • To prevent hackers accessing your fleet of IoT devices at home (including your virtual assistant or your lighting or security systems), secure your home Wi-Fi with a complex password. All device passwords need to have their default passwords changed as well.
  • McAfee’s Secure Home Platform – available soon on D-Link – can secure devices through your internet router to ensure every internet-connected device in your house is safe. How good is that???

 5. Stay On Top Of Software Updates

  • Check all your devices to ensure your software (operating systems, apps) is up-to-date.
  • Out-of-date software often means there is a security vulnerability that makes it so much easier for a cybercriminal to access your device and online life.
  • Why not schedule updates so this happens automatically?

 6. Be Wary Using Wi-Fi Outside Home Or Work

  • Avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi, especially when entering personal information online, as it can leave you open to all sorts of nasty attacks.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) such as McAfee® Safe Connect to encrypt connections and keep your data secure when sharing online.

 7. Multi-Factor Authentication

And don’t forget about your kids! Teaching them the importance of proactively managing their online privacy is essential. As parents, we need to help our kids develop a toolkit of skills and knowledge, so they can prepare themselves for life’s challenges. So please share this with them – you’ll be doing them a big favour.

Alex x

The post Get Your Online Privacy Under Control appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

McAfee Blogs: Get Your Online Privacy Under Control

Online privacy: too often managing this aspect of our digital lives gets shuffled to the bottom of our ‘to-do’ lists. The recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica drama made many of us rethink what private information we are sharing online. But many of us just don’t know what to do to fix it.

This week is Privacy Awareness Week – a great opportunity to check-in and see how we can do better. A recent survey conducted by McAfee shows that most Aussies (54%) are more concerned about their online privacy than five years ago. This is encouraging! However, a whopping 83% of us do not believe that protecting our internet-connected devices is essential to managing our privacy online. Oh dear!! ☹

The survey also showed that 23% of Aussies do not change default passwords when we purchase new devices and that only 35% of us know how to properly check if our connected home appliances or devices are secured. Clearly we still have work to do, people! We have a disconnect on our hands. Most of us realise we need to do something to manage our privacy but don’t realise that protecting our devices is a big part of the solution. You can’t have one without the other!!!

Online Privacy Made Easier

So, I’m going to make it nice and easy for you. I have compiled a list of the steps you need to take to get your online privacy under control. And yes, it may take you a few hours to get on top of it but it’s so worth it. If your privacy is compromised, your identity can be easily stolen. Which could affect you financially as well as undermine your reputation. Let’s get to it – here’s what you need to do:

 1. Protect Your Devices

  • Use comprehensive security software such as McAfee® Total Protection. You know it will guard you against viruses and threats. But do you realise it will also direct you away from dangerous downloads and risky websites – where privacy can easily come unstuck!
  • McAfee® Total Protection will also protect your smartphone and tablet, and can back up your important files.

 2. Manage Your Passwords

  • Ensure all your online accounts and all your devices have a separate, unique password. Ideally, it should have a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. I love using a nonsensical, crazy sentence.

 3. Think Before You Download Apps

  • Never download apps from unknown sources. They may be designed to mine your personal information. Always read reviews to see if anyone has had a problem and check out the app’s fine print before you download.
  • Review the apps that you have signed up to with Facebook. As you would be aware from the recent Cambridge Analytica situation, Facebook provides some of these apps with user’s private information including name, location, email or even friends list.
    So, please review these apps, people. Not sure where to start? Go to Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook and remove anything that doesn’t absolutely need access to your Facebook profile. You will still have to contact the app developer to ensure they have deleted the data they already have gathered on you.

 4. Lock Down Your Home Wi-Fi

  • To prevent hackers accessing your fleet of IoT devices at home (including your virtual assistant or your lighting or security systems), secure your home Wi-Fi with a complex password. All device passwords need to have their default passwords changed as well.
  • McAfee’s Secure Home Platform – available soon on D-Link – can secure devices through your internet router to ensure every internet-connected device in your house is safe. How good is that???

 5. Stay On Top Of Software Updates

  • Check all your devices to ensure your software (operating systems, apps) is up-to-date.
  • Out-of-date software often means there is a security vulnerability that makes it so much easier for a cybercriminal to access your device and online life.
  • Why not schedule updates so this happens automatically?

 6. Be Wary Using Wi-Fi Outside Home Or Work

  • Avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi, especially when entering personal information online, as it can leave you open to all sorts of nasty attacks.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) such as McAfee® Safe Connect to encrypt connections and keep your data secure when sharing online.

 7. Multi-Factor Authentication

And don’t forget about your kids! Teaching them the importance of proactively managing their online privacy is essential. As parents, we need to help our kids develop a toolkit of skills and knowledge, so they can prepare themselves for life’s challenges. So please share this with them – you’ll be doing them a big favour.

Alex x

The post Get Your Online Privacy Under Control appeared first on McAfee Blogs.



McAfee Blogs

Why Choose Dr. Cleaner? Is It the Best Mac Cleanup App?

Millennials may be tech-savvy, but they're not necessarily up to speed on the latest cyber security protocols.

“Why choose Dr. Cleaner?” This is a common question that many people want to ask as there were too many cleanup apps for the Mac and many don’t know which one is the best one or safe to use. However, do not simply believe that there are no viruses or adware found on the macOS. Once you download apps from unknown websites or unidentified developers outside the App Store, there is a big risk that these apps may carry Trojan, viruses, or adware. Also, apps outside the App Store cannot provide a quick update when a new macOS is released. After you upgrade your system, these apps may fail to start or even make the entire system crash.

To free up disk space, use Dr. Cleaner as it’s the best Mac Memory and Disk Space Cleaner in the App Store. The App Store is the official digital distribution platform provided by Apple to allow users to search and download apps safely. Apple has an official authorization procedure to review every app’s functions and code before the app can be launched in the App Store. Apps will only run in a sandbox. For example, deleting certain files or scanning user content requires permissions from users.

 

What is Dr. Cleaner?

Dr. Cleaner is a cleanup app that offers Memory Optimization, Disk Cleaning and System Monitoring to keep your Mac optimized for its performance. Dr. Cleaner is designed to clean unnecessary files on a Mac with only a few clicks.

The latest Dr. Cleaner is equipped with several features such as Junk Files Cleaner, Big Files Scanner, Duplicate Files Finder, Intelligent App Manager and File Shredder.

Trend Micro has a wealth of experience in this field for more than 30 years, and has received recognition and praise from millions of users all over the world. We have been selling Dr. Cleaner in the App Store for quite some time and it has been downloaded millions of times since its introduction. Therefore, you can feel safe to download and use Dr. Cleaner.

Dr. Cleaner Guideline

To give you a clear picture, we’ll walk you through Dr. Cleaner from four aspects: Menu Window, Main Console, Preferences, and Technical Support.

 

Menu Window

We’ve designed an attractive user interface both in Dr. Cleaner’s menu window and on the main console. The menu window displays the usage of CPU, network, and memory, as well as the size of junk files on your Mac.

Memory Optimizer

Perhaps you didn’t know that there are applications running in the background of your Mac, which take up physical memory and affect its performance. When installed, Dr. Cleaner will automatically calculate and display memory usage and then free up your Mac’s memory in seconds with just one click. If you want to see which apps take up significant memory, you can click the three-dot icon next to “Memory Usage.” It will show you details about the app that uses the most memory on your Mac.

 

Junk Files Cleaner

Junk files, temporary files, system files and other items that you don’t need will accumulate on your Mac over time. These useless files take up precious hard disk space and degrade the performance of your Mac. With Dr. Cleaner, these unnecessary files can be cleaned up to make your Mac run much faster.

We know how much you are concerned about junk files on your Mac, so we collect as many application caches, logs and useless files as possible for you. Click “Clean” to clean up junk files quickly. You can also see the details by clicking the three-dot icon next to “Junk Files.”

 

CPU Usage Monitor

Some of you might ask, “Why is CPU usage included?” If you have a friend who loves playing online games, you will know the importance of monitoring CPU usage. With this feature, the apps that use significant CPU resources will be displayed. It also lets you know how much the CPU has been used and how long your computer battery can last at the same time.

Network Usage Monitor

If you are paying to get an unlimited data usage plan or even a plan with limited data usage, you are probably concerned about the speed of your internet connection most.

We think it is useful to let you know the real-time download and upload speeds of your Mac, so we added this feature. You can also view more network related information such as your Wi-Fi signal quality.

 

Main Console

Besides the menu window illustrated above, the main console is another important part of Dr. Cleaner. It has six sub-features: Junk Files, Big Files, Disk Map, Duplicate Files, App Manager, and File Shredder.

Junk Files 

“Junk files” on the main console is a little different from that in the menu window. We provide a lot of options that allow you to clean up more unnecessary files.

The Mac hard disk is the storage device that holds the entire Mac operating system and all of the important files and data. Through normal use of your Mac, the hard disk will become cluttered with hundreds or even thousands of junk files. These junk files are created by the system and other programs. They write temporary files to the hard disk during installation or running processes so that they can work more quickly. We equipped Dr. Cleaner with advanced efficient algorithms that make it scan and remove junk files within seconds.

 

Big Files

“Your hard disk is almost full!” You might have seen this alert message on your Mac screen. Take it easy. We know you have a lot of videos or other big files on your Mac and they occupy a lot of hard disk space. With our Big Files scanner, you can easily spot them and remove them if you don’t need them anymore. Is that all? No! If you hover your mouse on a file, you will see a magnifier and a lock icon. Once you click the magnifier icon, you will locate the file. If you click the lock icon, the file will be added to the whitelist which will be locked.

Disk Map

The “Disk Map” option is a significant function that helps you manage all the files on your hard disk using a visual map.

It quickly scans your drive and builds an amazing visualization of all the files and folders on your computer, allowing you to easily navigate the system and find the content that takes up the most space.

All folders and files under the home folder are listed out by size. As for some system-required critical-files, deleting them would provide a prompt that those are important and are not allowed to be removed. With “Disk Map”, you can also find out when this file/folder was created, modified and last opened. Furthermore, hovering your mouse on a folder then clicking the magnifier icon will direct you to the file location.

Duplicate Files

It is common that sometimes we create duplicate files such as pictures, videos or even apps without realizing it. Worse still, they occupy so much memory and affect the performance of your Mac. Whether they are self-generated or accidentally duplicated, you probably will want to remove these duplicate files. With “Duplicate Files”, it’s not a problem anymore. Let’s say you love photography and you have saved a lot of duplicate photos on your Mac. Just open Dr. Cleaner, click “Duplicate Files”, and then choose your photo library to start scanning photos on your Mac.

In the scan results, we provide an option called “Auto Select” to help you automatically select duplicate files. The information provided by “Auto Select” is listed below:

  1. Folder where duplicate files are located
  2. Dates modified
  3. Similar file names
  4. Other qualifications

 

You can choose “Remove to Trash” or “Delete Permanently” on the confirmation page. It’s really easy and effective to delete duplicate photos.

 

App Manager

According to our investigation, most users normally open an app once and never use it again. Therefore, in many cases, they may want to remove these apps. For most people, they will delete these unwanted apps by dragging them into the trash, assuming that doing so will free up hard disk space. But this isn’t enough.

When you attempt to uninstall an app, there are often invisible or hidden parts left on your Mac – even after you have emptied the trash. They are known as leftovers.

Leftovers are an app’s associated files and folders that can include different languages, log files, agents, or processes that might try to start an application. This is a natural part of how the macOS is built.

To solve this problem, we developed this App Manager to help you remove apps completely. This manager helps you detect all app leftovers automatically so you can remove them with just one click.

Is it only an app uninstaller? No! It is also an app updater. We know there are hundreds of Mac apps updating every day. For App Store apps, update is just one click away. But if you want to update the apps that are available outside the App Store, you need our App Manager. We review recently-updated non-App Store apps every day to ensure that your apps are up to date.

File Shredder

Data security is very important for everybody. Technically, to permanently remove a file from your system, you must use a program that can overwrite the file with random series of binary data multiple times. This process is often referred to as shredding. In this way, the actual content of the file is being overwritten. The possibility of recovering this fragmented file is almost impossible. With “File Shredder”, you can remove files from your hard disk without worrying that they will be recovered. If you want to delete some files permanently, you can try this feature. We use a special algorithm that can effectively prevent files from being regenerated.

Besides the features in the menu window and on the main console, “Preferences” is also a powerful tool.

Preferences

“Preferences” is the soul of a product. In Dr. Cleaner’s Preferences, you will see “General”, “Notifications”, “Memory”, “Duplicates”, “Whitelists” and “Auto Select.”

On the “General” tab, you can choose “Auto start at login” and other options according to what you prefer.

On the “Notifications” tab, you can disable the notification about smart memory optimization.

 

Furthermore, Dr. Cleaner is also equipped with the Smart Memory Optimization feature on the “Memory” tab. This feature uses artificial intelligence. You can set auto clean when your available memory is low or when apps close. We believe it’s very helpful when you use your Mac.

 

The “Duplicates,” “Whitelists” and “Auto Select” tabs work when you use the “Duplicate Files” feature on the main console. When there are too many duplicate files on your Mac, you can set the rules on the minimum file size and files to exempt and to prioritize during deletion.

 

Support

If you need technical support, click the robot icon either in the menu window or on the main console. Here comes our technical support! We provide two ways to contact us if you have suggestions or troubles when using Dr. Cleaner. You can contact us via email or online chat.

 

If you choose “Feedback,” you will get our response via email. Make sure to provide a correct email address.

 

If you choose “Online Chat”, we will provide online support for you. No matter what issues you encounter, we have a lot of Apple Certified Support engineers waiting to help you with your problems.

 

More Tools

Besides the features designed in Dr. Cleaner, one of the best helpers for the Mac, we have developed some other optional tools to make your Mac perform better.

Dr. Battery

As an amazing tool, it helps you easily access and monitor detailed battery information from the menu bar, such as the current charging level, battery capacity, power usage, number of times it has been charged, and many more. With Dr. Battery, you can extend your battery life and enjoy a more reassuring internet surfing.

Dr. Antivirus

To keep your Mac safe, we developed Dr. Antivirus to prevent viruses from infecting your Mac. We have the world’s largest antivirus and spyware active-monitoring laboratory that would safeguard your Mac all the time. 

Dr. Unarchiver

We have also developed a powerful decompression tool called Dr. Unarchiver. It is different from other decompression apps because it not only supports almost all archive formats but also has a secure check procedure before you extract a file. The best part is, we provide this app completely for free.

FAQs

Q: What does Dr. Cleaner scan on my Mac?

A: Currently, Dr. Cleaner scans only the User Home Folder that is located in /Users/[your user name]. As Dr. Cleaner is a sandbox app in the App Store, it accesses your User Home Folder under your authorization.

Q: What is the basic system requirements for Dr. Cleaner?

A: For security, we only support Dr. Cleaner on macOS 10.10 or later. And yes, we are already compatible with the latest macOS High Sierra.

Q: What languages does Dr. Cleaner support?

A: Dr. Cleaner supports the following languages:

1. English

2. French

3. Italian

4. Korean

5. German

6. Simplified Chinese

7. Spanish

8. Traditional Chinese

The Trend Micro Dr. Cleaner team has officially launched a voluntary program of multi-language translation. Many thanks to the following volunteers who have helped to translate Dr. Cleaner into non-English languages:

1. Gérard Alunni, who helped on the translation to French.

2. Peter B., who helped on the translation to German.

You are welcome to join our program. Your help is highly appreciated. Your name will be included on the Dr. Cleaner designer list in the App Store.

You can also leave us a comment if you would like us to add other languages.

Q: What is the smart uninstaller in Dr. Cleaner?

A: Dr. Cleaner has a smart uninstaller that allows you to delete leftovers of an app more thoroughly right after you move it to Trash, which is also an AI feature.

To use this function, you should follow the steps below:

1. Move an app to Trash.

 

2. Dr. Cleaner will scan the leftover files of this app automatically and prompt the user to delete these files in a popup window. Click “Deeply Uninstall” to remove these leftovers.

 

3. Dr. Cleaner will indicate how much disk space it has freed up for you.

 

 

To Wrap Up

Is Dr. Cleaner worth trying? The answer is absolutely yes! Don’t hesitate. It can clean up your disk space, help improve performance, and solve other Mac issues you might be having. What’s more, it is the cheapest cleanup app for the macOS. Whether you are new to the Mac or an advanced user, Dr. Cleaner is a good choice for you. It’s also important to note that although Dr. Cleaner can help you free up a lot of space, don’t forget to back up your important files in case of an unexpected event, for example, your hard disk malfunctions. We regard customers’ data security as the most important thing. We hope you will have fun using Dr. Cleaner!

Always Here for You

Thank you for reading this article. How do you like Dr. Cleaner? If you have any questions or suggestions, please write them here. We are trying our best to meet your needs and we are always here for you.

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Keep Your Mum Safe This Mother’s Day!

On my first Mother’s Day 21 years ago, I received a pair of gorgeous fluffy pink slippers. Last year – it was a sleek shiny green Fitbit! Technology has absolutely transformed our gift giving and Mother’s Day is no exception.

The rising popularity of internet connected gifts means many lucky mums will receive a glossy new device on Mother’s Day. It may be a digital home assistant, a fitness tracker or even a big new Smart TV. Whatever it is, we must understand the potential risks involved when giving or receiving an internet enabled device. Because we don’t want to put our mums (or our families) at risk.

But don’t let this change your shopping plans! Like anything in life, if you’re prepared you can minimise the risks and avoid getting caught out by cyber threats. So, here is the low-down on threats posed by some of the more popular gifts this Mother’s Day and tips on how to protect against them.

Digital Home Assistants

Regardless of which brand you might choose, a digital assistant can be a massive help for any busy mum.  Whether it reading the kids a bedtime story or a recipe while you cook, or setting timers – it’s the closest thing many mums can get to another set of hands!

However, there are risks associated with these mother’s helpers. If your home assistant is hacked, your personal information could be at risk. Which means your  bank accounts details or your identity could be put at risk. And as the device is ‘always on’, your personal assistant can listen to and record what is being said around your house – a definite privacy issue.

What to Do to Stay Safe

  • Protecting your Home Wi-Fi is an essential step to ensuring your home assistant is secure. Solutions such as McAfee’s Secure Home Platform, available soon on D-Link routers, will secure all your devices that connect to your Home Wi-Fi, including your home assistant. So, you have protection and peace of mind.
  • Always change the manufacturer’s default password when setting up the Wi-Fi and ensure you create a complex, unique one instead. A combination of lower and upper-case letters, numbers and special characters is ideal.
  • Don’t allow your home assistant to store your private information. I also advise against allowing your home assistant to store passwords, credit card data, or any of your contact information.

Fitness Trackers

A wearable fitness tracker might be at the top of your mum’s wish list this Mother’s Day. But there are some surprisingly worrying security risks surrounding the popular gift that she should be aware of.

Researchers have found it is possible to crack PINs and passwords by hacking into the motion sensors to track hand movements. Additional research shows that the encryption offered by wearable fitness tracker manufacturers is quite easily intercepted. This means all your personal data stored on the device can easily be hacked. And while info like your calorie intake and step count many not seem valuable to a hacker, information like where you worked out and how long you were away from home can paint a very valuable picture of who you are!

What to Do to Stay Safe

  • Keep your fitness tracker up-to-date. Just like with any connected device, as soon as software updates become available, download them immediately to prevent cyber criminals from hacking your device.
  • Set up your fitness tracker and any associated online accounts with an obscure user name and unique passwords, that are completely unrelated to any of your other accounts.
  • Read the Privacy Policy of the device or app you are considering buying. Make sure you are comfortable with the company’s commitment to protecting your data.
  • Consider disabling certain features of the fitness tracker if you feel that your privacy many be jeopardised.

Smart TVs

Whilst buying mum a smart TV would certainly make her feel spoilt this Mother’s Day, they can come with a more sinister side. In March 2017, news emerged that it may be possible to hack into smart TVs to spy on users. Since then, several critical vulnerabilities have been found in Vestel firmware, which is used in more than 30 popular TV brands. These vulnerabilities could be easily leveraged to spy on smart TV users through the microphones and cameras.

What to Do to Stay Safe

  • Buy smart TVs with security in mind. When purchasing a smart TV, it’s always important to do your homework and read up on any current vulnerabilities.
  • Secure your home’s internet at the source. Smart TVs, like all connected devices, must connect to a home Wi-Fi network to run. If they’re vulnerable, they could expose your network as a whole. Since it can be challenging to lock down all the IoT devices in a home, again a solution like McAfee Secure Home Platform can provide protection at the router-level.

If you are shopping online for mum, please remember to keep your guard up. Only shop from secure websites where the URL begins with ‘https://’ and a lock icon appears in the address bar. NEVER, EVER shop using unsecured Wi-Fi. It can leave you vulnerable to all sorts of nasty attacks and your private information may be hacked by a third party.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to thank your wonderful mum for everything she has done for you. A handwritten card with a few lines of thanks is extremely powerful!!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Alex xx

 

The post Keep Your Mum Safe This Mother’s Day! appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

You, Your Company, and BYOD: A Love Triangle

BYOD, or bring your own device, has become the new normal in the corporate workplace. But with this convenience comes impending security concerns. Although BYOD costs companies less, mobile devices are often used without proper security measures in place. This makes it difficult for employers to determine how much access employees should receive to company networks. The more access an employee has to company networks, the more opportunities for not only their personal information becoming vulnerable, but company data as well. With BYOD becoming more prevalent in the workplace, it is vital companies and employees understand the perks and security concerns that are associated with BYOD and take necessary steps to ensure personal devices and company information is protected.

BYOD can offer some really great perks: 1) employers spend less on technology and providing devices to employees thus saving the company money and 2) you get to use your own device(s) with which you are already accustomed to. Your company may already allow BYOD in your office, but do you know the associated security risks? They are complicated. Three looming concerns of BYOD that companies and employees should be addressing are accessibility to company data, lost or stolen devices, and overall maintenance. Let’s delve into why these concerns are the most pressing.

  1. Accessibility. The overarching question of BYOD is who gets access to company data on their personal devices, when and where? For example, if you are at a meeting, outside of the office and you are on a limited-access BYOD policy with your employer, you would only be able to access work email and contact but nothing stored on the company servers. If your client asks to see a specific document hosted on your company server during the meeting, you won’t be able to access it because it is sensitive and lives on the private severs. This is where BYOD backfires for the employee.
  2. Lost or stolen devices. A personal device that contains confidential company information poses a huge security threat if it is lost or stolen, and begs the question: who is responsible for retrieving the device and/or data? What is the proper response to this sort of breach? It is your personal device, with both personal and company data, so should it be locked, tracked and retrieved, or completely wiped immediately? There is no clear or correct answer, which is why companies need a clear BYOD policy and culture of security that fits both parties’ needs.
  3. Maintenance and malware. Frequency of device maintenance, software updates and uniformed app downloads can open the door to a slew of security vulnerabilities. Organizations have a hard-enough time implementing their own software across the corporate network, let alone ensuring all employees are adhering to the required software updates from device operating systems and applications. With the breadth of different phones and tablets being used around the globe, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of employees’ security posture on their personal devices.

Without the right security measures in place, there is the possibility of malware being downloaded through sketchy apps or unpatched versions of software, which could be transferred onto corporate servers depending on the employee’s access level. McAfee Labs detected over 16 million mobile malware infestations in the third quarter of 2017 alone, nearly doubling the number one year previously. This uptick in cyberattacks on mobile devices illustrates the importance of comprehensive cybersecurity policies across the board.

So how do you protect yourself when it comes to using your smartphone or tablet for both business and pleasure? Here are a few tips:

  • Practice discretion when alternating between personal and business tasks on your mobile device. Separate the two by using different, verified apps for company and personal uses to maintain safety.
  • Avoid downloading apps from third-party vendors that could make your device prone to malware, and always check permissions of any apps before downloading, particularly those that ask for to access to your device’s data.
  • Regularly update your device to ensure they are equipped with vital patches that protect against flaws and bugs that cybercriminals can exploit.
  • Avoid accessing data-sensitive apps on your device over public Wi-Fi. Cybercriminals could use this as an opportunity to take a look at your mobile data.
  • Keep your personal and work information secure with comprehensive mobile security, such as McAfee® Mobile Security, that will not only scan your device for viruses and threats but also help you identify apps that are accessing too much of your valuable personal information.

McAfee is the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company helping to secure data at all levels, on all devices. We’re helping you stop threats and protect your data wherever it resides, from your fingertips to the skies, enabling you to protect what matters on your digital journey.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

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Trivia Time: Test Your Family’s Password Safety Knowledge

Strong PasswordPasswords have become critical tools for every citizen of the digital world. Passwords stand between your family’s gold mine of personal data and the entirety of the internet. While most of us have a love-hate relationship with passwords, it’s beneficial to remember they do serve a powerful purpose when created and treated with intention.

But asking your kids to up their password game is like asking them to recite the state capitals — booooring! So, during this first week of May as we celebrate World Password Day, add a dash of fun to the mix. Encourage your family to test their knowledge with some Cybersavvy Trivia.

Want to find out what kind of password would take two centuries to crack? Or, discover the #1 trick thieves use to crack your password? Then take the quiz and see which family member genuinely knows how to create an awesome password.

We’ve come a long way in our understanding of what makes a strong password and the many ways nefarious strangers crack our most brilliant ones. We know that unique passwords are the hardest to crack, but we also know that human nature means we lean toward creating passwords that are also easy to remember. So striking a balance between strong and memorable may be the most prudent challenge to issue to your family this year.

Several foundational principles remain when it comes to creating strong passwords. Share them with your family and friends and take some of the worries out of password strength once and for all.

5 Password Power Principles

  1. Unique = power. A strong password includes numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and symbols. The more complicated your password is, the more difficult it will be to crack. Another option is a password that is a Strong Passwordpassphrase only you could know. For instance, look across the room and what do you see? I can see my dog. Only I know her personality; her likes and dislikes. So, a possible password for me might be #BaconDoodle$. You can even throw in a misspelling of your password to increase its strength such as Passwurd4Life. Just be sure to remember your intentional typos if you choose this option.
  2. Diverse = power. Mixing up your passwords for different websites, apps, and accounts can be a hassle to remember but it’s necessary for online security. Try to use different passwords for online accounts so that if one account is compromised, several accounts aren’t put in jeopardy.
  3. Password manager = power. Working in conjunction with our #2 tip, forget about remembering every password for every account. Let a password manager do the hard work for you. A password manager is a tech tool for generating and storing passwords, so you don’t have to. It will also auto-log you onto frequently visited sites.
  4. Private = power. The strongest password is the one that’s kept private. Kids especially like to share passwords as a sign of loyalty between friends. They also share passwords to allow friends to take over their Snapchat streaks if they can’t log on each day. This is an unwise practice that can easily backfire. The most Strong Passwordpowerful password is the one that is kept private.
  5. 2-step verification = power. Use multi-factor (two-step) authentication whenever possible. Multiple login steps can make a huge difference in securing important online accounts. Sometimes the steps can be a password plus a text confirmation or a PIN plus a fingerprint. These steps help keep the bad guys out even if they happen to gain access to your password.

It’s a lot to manage, this digital life but once you’ve got the safety basics down, you can enjoy all the benefits of online life without the worry of your information getting into the wrong hands. So have a fun and stay informed knowing you’ve equipped your family to live their safest online life!

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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PROTECTING YOUR PRIVACY – Part 2: How to Maximize Your Privacy on Social Media and in Your Browser

As social media sites become a bigger part of users' daily lives, they must be increasingly careful about their online privacy.

In the last post we highlighted the privacy risks associated with using popular social networking sites and browsers. You might not appreciate just how much of your personal data is being accessed by advertisers and other third parties via your social media accounts and internet browsing. Similarly, your privacy settings may have changed significantly since the last time you checked them, meaning that you’re now over-sharing via your updates and posts online.

This could lead to various unintended consequences. For example, a prospective employer may cut you from a shortlist of candidates because they don’t like what they see on your Facebook page. Or an enterprising burglar might see from a Twitter post that you’re not at home and raid your property. Hackers might even harvest the information you share and use your identity to apply for new bank cards in your name.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your privacy online — both within the sites themselves and by using third-party tools like Trend Micro’s Privacy Scanner. Let’s take a look.

Changing your Privacy Settings

You can manually configure your Privacy Settings on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and more, as well as in your browser. However, no two sites are the same, and some are easier than others to navigate.

Facebook:

The good news is that following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has made several changes designed to make it easier for you to manage your privacy settings. A privacy shortcuts button   is now accessible from the top right of any Facebook page and will help you manage who can view your content; who can contact you; and how you can stop someone hassling you. In addition, anywhere you’re able to share your status updates, photos and other posts, there’s an “audience selector” tool which allows you to specify whether they can be seen by the Public (anyone on or off Facebook), Friends, or just you. Be aware that Facebook remembers your most recent setting.

The amount of data you share with apps is also increasingly important to users. Following the recent data leakage scandal, Facebook has promised to notify if it removes any apps for breaching terms of service; remove an app’s access if it hasn’t been used in three months; and will reduce the data that an app can request without app review. If you want to manually review what info your Facebook apps can access, click  in the top right, click Settings, then go to Apps and Websites on the left-hand side. You can choose between Active, Expired or Removed websites/apps and remove those you no longer wish to access your personal data.

Twitter:

As mentioned in the previous blog, Twitter is easier to manage than Facebook, but there are some settings users may prefer to enhance their privacy. In your account, click on Settings and Privacy then Privacy and Safety and you’ll be given several options. Tweets are public by default so if you want them to be private, and only shared with approved friends, click Protect your Tweets. Similarly, there are options to remove your geolocation, not allow users to tag you in photos, or let others find you by email address/phone number. Also switch personalization off to stop sharing data with advertisers and switch off Receive Direct Messages from anyone to avoid spam direct messages.

Browser (Chrome on Windows):

As the most popular browser in the world, Google Chrome tracks and sells much of your activity to advertisers as well as sharing it with other Google products. If you don’t want to sync your personal browsing history to all devices, including your work machine, then click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner, Settings, Sync, and then toggle off the features you don’t want. You’ll need to do the same at work or for other machines.

The browser also shares information with various other services. If you’re not happy with that happening, you can toggle them off by going to Settings, Advanced (at the bottom of the page). However, enabling Do Not Track will help prevent third-party sites storing your data, although it’s not 100% effective. It’s also a good idea to keep on the service protecting you and your device from dangerous sites.

Click on “content settings” to dive into additional privacy settings. Go into Cookies and “keep local data until you quit your browser” to limit what data sites can harvest from you. Finally, consider using a password manager from a third-party expert like Trend Micro instead of storing your passwords in the browser, since it’s far more secure.

Automate Privacy Settings with Trend Micro Privacy Scanner

If you want an easier way to manage your privacy on social media and browsers, consider the Trend Micro Privacy Scanner feature, which is available within Trend Micro Security on Windows and Mac, and within Mobile Security on Android and iOS. While we can’t help you with all your social network settings, we can certainly help you with quick and easy fixes on four major platforms, as well as their linked apps, and in Windows browsers.

For Windows, the social networks covered are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, as well as Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox browsers. Privacy Scanner also works on Macs the same way for the same social networking platforms. And it works on Android (for Facebook) and iOS (for Facebook and Twitter). It’s turned on by default in Trend Micro Internet, Maximum and Premium Security and can also be launched from the Trend Micro Toolbar. Either click on the Privacy icon in the Console, or in the browser, select the Trend Micro Toolbar and “Check your Online Privacy.” Here are a few scenarios:

Facebook on Windows

A Facebook sign-in page is shown by default by the Privacy Scanner. Sign-in and then See Scan Results. Click Fix All and then Fix to fix all the issues highlighted, or click the drop down to tackle them individually. You can also view any apps here which may have privacy concerns. If you want to fix each separately click “Who can see each app and its posts?”

Once that has been completed you will get a message saying your friends’ accounts need help. In that case you can share a link to the Privacy Scanner with them on the social network.

Chrome on Windows

To start a scan, open up your browser. In the Trend Micro toolbar, select Check your online privacy. The Trend Micro Privacy Scanner portal will appear. Click on the browser you want to check. The scanner will show you where there are privacy concerns. Click Fix All and then Fix or manually fix/edit each one.

Twitter on iOS

To scan and fix Twitter via Trend Micro Mobile Security on iOS, swipe the Safe Surfing shield to the left and tap the Social Network Privacy Shield in the main Console. (Note: this UI will change in the Fall of 2018.) Tap the Twitter icon to sign-in and then Login to start the scan. Tap Improve Now or the individual settings panel to change the settings. The feature works similarly on Android.

Trend Micro Password Manager

Finally, Trend Micro Password Manager has been designed to help you protect the privacy of your account passwords across PCs, Macs, Android and iOS. It’s worth considering as an alternative to storing your online credentials in the browser, which exposes them to hackers. Trend Micro Password Manager is automatically installed with Trend Micro Maximum Security, but you can also install a free or paid stand-alone edition of the product, Password Manager.

  • Generates highly secure, unique and tough-to-hack passwords for each of your online accounts
  • Securely stores and recalls these credentials so you don’t have to remember them
  • Offers an easy way to change passwords, if any do end up being leaked or stolen
  • Makes it quick and easy to manage your passwords from any location, on any device and browser

At Trend Micro we understand that protecting your privacy and security online is becoming increasingly challenging. That’s why we’ve done our best to do the hard work for you—helping you to enjoy your digital life safely and easily.

For more info or to purchase Trend Micro Security for PC and Mac, as well as Trend Micro Mobile Security for iOS and Android, go here.

To watch a video on using Trend Micro Privacy Scanner, go here.

For more info on Trend Micro Password Manager go here, or to watch videos on using Password Manager go here.

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World Password Day – Stop Worrying, Start Using A Password Manager

“Open Sesame”!

Most of us have grown up hearing these magic words, the secret password, that know would reveal the treasures of the bandit king to Alibaba in The Arabian Nights.  They also anticipate, with a mixture of fear and thrill, the consequences Cassim (Ali’s brother) would face for forgetting the password.

I can see a parallel to our digital lives. In today’s digital era, almost all online services require a username and a password regardless of it being a paid service or not. We use passwords to protect our personal spaces in the cyber world because they contain a lot of our personal data including contacts, documents, financial details, photos and more. We use a strong password to keep it all nicely locked up but what if we forget this very vital password? We need to create another. Well, that’s fine but what if the key password falls in the wrong hands?

The modern thieves are the cyber criminals who, with their army of malware and bots, spam and phishing messages, are on the lookout for new prey – our passwords. With the expansion of our digital lives, we carry out an increasing number of tasks online because of which, we are now owners of several passwords. What if a cybercriminal gets access to them?

The recent spate of the Facebook privacy issues, has shown the importance of being vigilant about our online account security. Just a password may not offer sufficient security unfortunately as cybercriminals have very advanced domain knowledge. So, we additionally use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to strengthen our account security. But it has left us with the added hassle of creating strong but unique passwords, remembering them and then changing them periodically. We wonder- isn’t there an easier way- something that will allow us to stay safe without having to memorize, or jot down the different passwords?

On the occasion of World Password Day, which falls on May 3rd this year, let me tell you how you can make your digital world hassle-free and yet safer – switch to a password manager.

What’s a password manager and why do we need it?

In simple terms, a password manager stores all your User IDs and passwords, enabling you to log into different websites automatically. As passwords are randomly generated and encrypted, they are safe from hackers and you need to only remember your master password.

Here are some facts that will surely convince you why you need a password manager:

  • Forget the hassle of remembering separate passwords– Now all you have to do is just remember the master password and the Password Manager will remember all your login details and passwords for you
  • Enhanced safety with MFA – You can choose multiple factors including your biometrics and another device to access your account.
  • Generate random passwords that are difficult to guess– No more pulling out hair over creating new passwords- the Password Manager will take care of this task for you.
  • Simple to login and operate several accounts- The whole process of login becomes simple as you need to login to your device using your master password and MFA and the Password Manager will automatically fill in details when you enter a URL or click on the website logo.

Have you started using a Password Manager? Would love to hear how this has benefitted you. Keep writing to me and sharing your tips and concerns. Together we can make the digital world much safer.

Happy World Password Day to you!

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Security Calling: Celebrate National Telephone Day by Securing Your Mobile Devices

April 25 – otherwise known as National Telephone Day – rolls around once a year to remind us of the sheer technologic prowess and influence of the phone. What first started as an industrial revolution invention from Alexander Graham Bell, the phone has undergone quite a remarkable evolution over its nearly 150 years of existence. When people say the word ‘phone’ today, the device they’re talking about is widely different. The phone of the past has become the gateway into our digital identities and now holds the keys to all the connected things in our homes. As dependency on our mobile devices continues to grow, potential cyberthreats and need for mobile security does as well.

Consumers have been quick to adopt mobile phones, more so than at any point in the telephone’s storied history. It’s estimated that 95% of Americans own a cell phone today. This goes to show that the phone has not only become an instrumental device in today’s society, but it also speaks to how it has evolved beyond its initial capabilities to serve as a device that contains our digital persona. A phone is no longer a convenient piece of equipment but a fundamental element of many people’s lifestyles, so much so that many can’t even unplug while on vacation—only 27% say they’re unwilling to leave their smartphones at home when on vacation. As today’s world becomes more digital and interconnected, our mobile phones are at the heart of this transformation.

Of course, with any device that contains this much power and influence, the mobile phone has also become the target of cybercriminals and hackers, making mobile security a cause for much concern. McAfee Labs detected over 16 million mobile malware infestations in the third quarter of 2017, and new threats continue to emerge around the world, most of which target a consumer’s money. However, according to a recent CES Survey, 52% of respondents are either unsure of or have no idea how to check to see if their mobile devices and apps are secure against these kinds of threats—which is worrisome considering these latest mobile trends:

  • More targeted attacks – Following the money, a global spike in banking Trojans has occurred, targeting large multinationals and small regional banks.
  • Virtual bank robberies – With the growing interest in cryptocurrencies, cybercriminals are attempting virtual bank robberies by distributing fake mobile wallets and targeting the cryptocurrency industry.
  • States using malware – North Korean dissidents and journalists using the popular South Korean chat app KakaoTalk were recently targeted in a State-instigated malware attack, with the aim of implanting spyware on the victim’s device.
  • Persistent threats – The increasing proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices are significantly heightening the threat landscape, increasing the number of possible points of attack.

In order to feel safe and secure when you shout “Call me, maybe!”, take some time out of whatever festivities you may have planned for National Telephone Day to consider these tips on how to keep your mobile phones and devices secure:

  • Update regularly – Regularly updating your devices helps ensure they are armed with critical patches that protect against bugs or flaws in their operating systems that cybercriminals can leverage. Though it’s very tempting to skip out on these updates, taking a few minutes to download them means you aren’t recklessly leaving your devices open for hackers. This also applies to apps on your phone as well.
  • Use a complex password – A complex password is a secure password, so there’s no excuse to skate by with your own birthdate or a “1234” code for your mobile devices anymore. It’s good practice to have distinct passwords for every device, even though it’s a bit more burdensome on you. Still, choosing a safe and secure password is always the priority. Be sure to throw in a mix of numbers and symbols to avoid making it easy for potential hackers.
  • Turn off geolocation – When it comes to geolocation or sharing your location with apps and other services on your phone, approach with caution. It’s a good rule of thumb to only activate geolocation permissions when it’s crucial for an app’s ability to work (i.e. Uber, Google Maps, etc.). Otherwise, hackers can start to uncover your exact whereabouts and understand your movement patterns.
  • Use security software – Finally, I can’t stress enough how important it is to use comprehensive security software to protect your mobile phones and devices from the inside out.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

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Teen Gaming, Cybersecurity Specialist Training

Many of us parents have a love/hate relationship with teen gaming. While it seems to cast a spell over many kids and lure them into a trance, gaming does provide some quite welcome ‘time-out’ for all family members! But I can honestly say that in my household, disputes over allocated ‘Xbox’ time would be by far the most common variety. And they can drive me insane!!

Now new research from McAfee may just get me rethinking my often negative attitude to gaming. The Winning The Game report investigates the key challenges facing the IT Security industry in the ongoing fight against cyber threats. Just under 1000 cybersecurity managers across the US, UK, Germany, Singapore, Australia and Japan took part in the research which found that gamers may play a very big role in keeping cybercriminals at bay!

Click to view Winning the Game report

The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

Worldwide the cybersecurity industry currently has a zero-percent unemployment rate. Many experts predict that this will remain the case until at least 2021. While this is great if you are job hunting, it isn’t great news for Government departments, corporations and businesses. The increasing number of cyberattacks means these organisations are struggling to find cybersecurity professionals to help deal with these threats. Which is ultimately putting a lot of us at risk.

In addition to the skills shortage, many IT professionals believe cybersecurity defences are under unprecedented levels of attack. With malware, ransomware, sophisticated advanced threats and modes of attack, many professionals see the cyberthreat landscape as more complex than ever. Nearly half of the cybersecurity professionals who participated  in the survey expressed concern that they will find it difficult or impossible to keep up with the increase and/or complexity of threats over the next year.

So, amid these constantly evolving cyberthreats the pressure is on to find a solution to the skills crisis.

Gamers Could Be the Answer

Well apparently the long list of skills gamers acquire while learning their craft are precisely those required by cybersecurity professionals. Whether it’s cracking systems, avoiding counter attacks or deciphering codes, these talents are very easily transferrable to a security professional role.

Many of us parents might struggle to believe that the hours our teens have spent playing games could in fact have set them up for a career in cybersecurity. But the skills learnt during these ‘training’ hours – including understanding how to approach adversaries, perseverance and logic – are exactly what sets gamers apart ‘from the pack’. The statistics from the report confirm that.

  • Almost all respondents to the survey (92%) believe that gamers possess skills that make them well-suited to a career in cybersecurity. Further, they provide a fresh outlook compared to traditional cybersecurity hires.
  • 72% of respondents agreed that hiring experienced video gamers into their IT departments is a good way of plugging the cybersecurity skills gap.
  • 75% of respondents said they would consider hiring gamers even if they had no prior cybersecurity experience or training.

It’s clearly time to change our perspective, parents!

Everything in Moderation, Kids!

Whether you decide to share this information with your offspring or not, this research is clearly compelling. However, don’t think for a minute that I am suggesting a 24/7 game fest. No, no, no! Time limits, input into/supervision of game purchases and respectful online gaming behaviour still apply!

And please keep an eye out for any signs of addiction. We all know how children’s mood and behaviour can change after lengthy periods in front of a screen. But if you think your child’s interest has gone beyond enthusiasm and that there may be an issue, work through this checklist for gaming addiction. If required, please seek professional help.

Where to From Here?

In my house, nothing will change. There will still be no gaming Monday to Friday, and pre-agreed time limits will still apply. And I’m just wondering how long I can keep this information away from my four boys? Because as soon as they find out, I will be accused of ruining their prospective cybersecurity careers with my strict regime! How dare I!

Take care,

Alex x

 

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Kick Off Your Digital Spring Cleaning Efforts During World Backup Day

As spring blossoms into full-force, millions of people will start to shed the heavy baggage and gear that kept them warm during winter by partaking in a tried and true practice: spring cleaning. While whipping yourself into a cleaning frenzy around your home, take a moment to extend your spring cleaning efforts into your digital environments as well. And there’s no better time to kick off a digital spring cleaning than during World Backup Day.

What exactly is World Backup Day? I’m glad you asked.

In today’s day and age, data is basically digital gold. It’s imperative to ensure your information is organized and backed up—not just for peace-of-mind, but to protect yourself against potential malware and ransomware threats. Still, a large number of people have never backed up their files, leaving themselves vulnerable to losing everything. In fact, this has become such a systemic problem that a whole day has been devoted to reversing this trend: World Backup Day. One of the main goals of the World Backup Day initiative is to reach people who have never backed their data up or people who aren’t even aware that data backups are a thing, let alone a crucial security measure.

For those who may not know, a backup is a second copy of all your important files and information, everything from photos and documents to emails and passwords. Storing all of that data in one place, like a personal computer or smartphone, is a woefully unsafe practice. Creating another copy of that data through a backup will ensure that it’s stored and kept safe somewhere else should catastrophe befall your personal mobile devices, or if they’re lost or stolen.

Data loss isn’t something that only happens to huge conglomerates or to unsuspecting victims in spy movies. Every individual is susceptible to data loss or theft, and backing up that data is an easy, relatively painless step to protect all of your personal information and prevent pesky hackers from truly swiping your stuff.

Think about it—if you’re targeted by a nasty piece of ransomware but have successfully performed a data backup, there’s absolutely no need for you to pay the ransom because you have a second, secure copy of all that data. It’s a simple preventative measure that can pay off big time should worse come to worst. Even the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign, dedicated to increase awareness around cybersecurity and provide information to help digital citizens protect against malware, lists regular data backups as an important security action to safeguard yourself against cybercrime.

There are two main approaches to backing up your data: either in the cloud or on an external hard drive. A cloud-based backup solution is great for people who don’t want to actively back up their devices and data or worry about the space constraints that come with most external hard drives. Simply subscribing to one of these cloud solutions will do the trick—your device’s files and data will automatically be backed up and protected without you having to lift more than a finger. Cloud-based services typically come with a monthly fee, and you’ll need a good internet connection to access them. If your connection is wonky or the site is undergoing maintenance, it can be difficult to access your backed-up data.

With an external hard drive, you can manually back up all your data and files yourself onto a physical device that you have access to anytime, anywhere. These drives are extremely reliable and a great way to achieve data redundancy. An external hard drive doesn’t hinge on internet access like cloud-based services and is an easy fix when transferring data to a new device. However, using external hard drives requires a more hands-on approach when it comes to actually backing up your data. The responsibility falls upon you to regularly perform these backups yourself. Storage space can also pose a problem. Look for an external drive with at least a terabyte of space to accommodate all of your data, which tends to accumulate quickly.

Here are some other digital spring cleaning tips to consider this World Backup Day:

  • Play it extra safe and go both routes for a thorough backup by using an external drive and subscribing to a cloud-based solution. After all, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to your personal data.
  • Back up data from your mobile devices onto a central laptop or personal computer for an added layer of security and protection. Then work on backing up these devices with one (or both) of the methods laid out above.
  • Have at least one backup of your initial backup as a fail-safe measure.
  • Test your ability to restore data from backups regularly to ensure your backups have been performed correctly and that they haven’t been compromised.
  • Back up your data with a process and system that’s simple and works best for you—there’s no need to over complicate it!

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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#DeleteFacebook: Do You Really Need To?

Is it time to #deleteFacebook? Facebook’s long line of dramas has many of us rethinking our dependence on Mark Zuckerberg’s largest social media platform. While many of us were alarmed at the fake news allegations last year, the recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica has us genuinely spooked and now asking ourselves this question.

The fact that Facebook allowed British data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica to tap the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their knowledge has many of us questioning both our – and our children’s – relationship with the social media platform. How compromised is our privacy? What’s really happening with our data? Is our every online move really being monitored?

The immediate reaction of many is to delete their Facebook accounts and insist their kids do the same. When news broke of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the #deleteFacebook hashtag trended heavily on Twitter. Many high profile tech types deleted their personal and business Facebook accounts and, consequently, drove the Twittersphere into a frenzy.

To #DeleteFacebook Or Not To #DeleteFacebook?

But many of us can’t really afford to be idealists. Some of us run online businesses and rely heavily on Facebook. Others use Facebook for our jobs. Many of us (and our kids) use Facebook to run our social lives – organise events and parties, remember birthdays and stay in touch with friends and family across the world. And for nearly all of us, it is our digital scrapbook that preserves our important life events, shared moments and memories. In short, we would be lost without it.

While the black and white idealist in me absolutely agrees that we should delete Facebook, the realist in me acknowledges that life is often lived in the shades of grey. Facebook has spent more than a decade making itself a deeply entrenched part of our modern society. Saying farewell to this part of your life is a decision that I believe many of us would find almost impossible to make.

So, while deleting Facebook from your online life is the most drastic way of protecting your data, there are steps you can take to keep your account more secure and your personal information more private. Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Set up new logins for each app you are using.

    Setting up a new login and password for each app you’re using is a great way to protect yourself and your data online. Login may take fractionally longer but it will help ensure your data is not shared between different services.

  2. Review your third party apps – the ones you joined using Facebook.

    Facebook has made it just so easy for us to download apps using our Facebook settings that many of us have acquired quite the collection of apps. The problem is that Facebook provides these apps with our data including our name, location, email or even our friends list. So, review these apps, people! Not sure where to start? Go to Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook and remove anything that doesn’t absolutely need access to your Facebook profile. You will still have to contact the app developer to ensure they have deleted the data they already have gathered on you. Tedious but worth it!

  3. Don’t overshare on social media.

    Oversharing online gets many of us including our kids into trouble and allows cybercriminals and ‘data analysis types’ the ability to form an accurate picture of us very quickly! Being conscious of what is publicly available from your social media profiles is essential. Ensure every member of the family knows to NEVER share their telephone number, address or details of their school online. Also rethink whether you really want your relationship status made public, or the city of your birth.

  4. Cull your Friends list.

    The Cambridge Analytica scandal should provide us all with a reality check about how we manage online friends. In 2015, an app entitled ‘this is your digital life’ was developed by Cambridge Professor Dr Aleksandr Kogan and then downloaded by 270,000 users. Those who opted in allowed the app access to their information – including their friends – which then gave Kogan access to the data of over 50 million Facebook users. Facebook have reportedly since changed their terms of service and claim app developers can no longer access this detail, or at least, not at the same level of detail. So, go through your friend list and delete those you barely know or who were just passing acquaintances. Do you really want to share your personal or family updates with these people?

  5. Choose a different social media platform to connect to apps.

    If an app lets you choose which account you use to login, pick one which holds limited data about its users. Twitter could be a good choice as it tends to hold less personal information about you.

And while I salute those who are bold enough to #deleteFacebook and insist their kids do so, I know that it isn’t for me. I choose to stay. I’ll navigate my way around the risks and flaws, so I can enjoy the upside – belonging to my community, keeping my job and adding to my digital scrapbook.

Till next time,

Alex x

The post #DeleteFacebook: Do You Really Need To? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Indians Are Increasingly Realising Nothing Said Online Is Private

The world is becoming increasingly connected- with locks for you home controlled on your smartphone; CCTV cameras in every room that allow you to keep tabs on your home when you are out; smartphones that help you work, run and plan activities; smart TVs that allow you to connect to the internet; smart refrigerators that take stock of your grocery and place orders with the supermarket; games that can keep you glued to your screen for hours- the list is ever growing.

We all enjoy this connected lifestyle, it has made the world a global village and daily chores so much easier and faster. But there are some caveats attached. We tend to forget that in the virtual world, your safety and privacy depends a lot on you and the precautions you take. Else you end up sharing Too Much Information about yourself and your family, making you a likely candidate for ID theft and phishing.

This is exactly what a new global McAfee survey titled New Security Priorities in An Increasingly Connected World demonstrates – we are putting more personal information into the digital realm in today’s connected world. The study also reveals a disparity in concerns as Indians do not view safeguarding their connected devices (25%) as equally important as safeguarding their identity (45%) and privacy (39%).

On a positive note, 39% of Indians rank security as the most important factor when purchasing a connected home device. That’s more than one-third of the total respondents. In addition (this one is my particular favorite), 71% of the parents would be interested in a monitoring tool to supervise their kids online.

Other India-centric salient findings of the study:

  • 79% of the Indians indicate that their concern about online security has increased compared to 5 years ago. Forty-five percent rank protection of identity as top priority.
  • 39% rank security as the most important factor when purchasing a connected home device.

But though users are aware of the pitfalls of sharing too much information, they are not as proactive about their online security as they should be. The survey highlights the need for more hands-on involvement on the part of the consumer. Not only should they need to take advantage of security tools, but they also need to act responsibly online.

Do you know that if you could somehow collect all the data shared by you over the years, you might be surprised at how much you have let slip unknowingly, including facts like whether you prefer coffee to tea? A simple search or a like on a post can also reveal a lot about you and your taste and character. Worried? The thing to do is to take steps to stay safe online.

Tips to stay safe online and protect what matters most:

  • Do the little things.Cybercriminals don’t have to be great at what they do to steal your personal information. Minor tactics like changing default passwords and using a unique password can go a long way to prevent your personal information from being stolen. A password manager can help you create strong passwords and eliminate the need to remember your passwords.
  • Research before you buy.Look up products and the manufacturer before you buy internet-enabled devices. If you find a manufacturer isn’t taking security seriously, then it’s best to avoid.
  • Use identity theft protection. Consider getting an identity theft protection service to monitor use of your personally identifying information, provide insurance against financial losses and recovery tools in the event of ID theft or fraud.
  • Keep devices up to date. Update device and application software when it becomes available from the manufacturer. Many new versions of software or operating systems contain specific security updates designed to protect the user.
  • Review your account info. Regular reviews of online bank and credit account transactions can help you spot suspicious activities or purchases. If you see something suspicious report it to your financial institution and law enforcement.
  • Re-check your privacy settings. Its always important to do a quick check on privacy settings and alter them timely so that your personal data is safe and only in the hands of the few people you trust.

In an ever-changing digital world that is continually fuelled by speed, developments and complexities, your security is your responsibility too. Own your digital presence and make your digital realm a secure one.

Happy surfing!

The post Indians Are Increasingly Realising Nothing Said Online Is Private appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

McAfee Safe Connect, Two Gold Award Winners of 2018 Info Security PG’s Global Excellence Awards®

On February 28th, Info Security Products Guide Global Excellence Awards presented their 2018 award winners. We are humbled to have received two golds in the Product or Service Excellence of the Year — Security Information and Website & Web Application Security for McAfee Safe Connect.

Product Overview:

McAfee Safe Connect is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that helps users create secure online connections while using the internet.  Doing so helps our customers minimize their individual security risks and helps keep their data private – especially when connecting to a public or open Wi-Fi network. Unlike home Wi-Fi, many public Wi-Fi networks (commonly offered at cafés, airports and hotels) aren’t password-protected and don’t encrypt the user data being transmitted through. Therefore, when you connect to a hotspot, your online activities from your social media activity to your online purchase history and even your bank account credentials may be wide open to hackers. With McAfee Safe Connect, you can rest assured that your information and online activities are encrypted.

McAfee has a proven record of providing security for consumers in the digital age. To address growing concerns over Wi-Fi security, we created an award-winning VPN that would keep users’ personal information secure from online threats and unsecure networks.

McAfee Safe Connect has over 1 million downloads across Google Play and the App Store with an impressive 4.3-star rating. It is available in over 20 languages to users worldwide.

Tech behemoth Samsung also chose McAfee Safe Connect VPN for their Galaxy Note 8 – Secure Wi-Fi feature and expanded collaboration with its newly announced Galaxy S9 Smartphones.

About Info Security PG’s Global Excellence Awards

Info Security Products Guide sponsors the Global Excellence Awards and plays a vital role in keeping individuals informed of the choices they can make when it comes to protecting their digital resources and assets. The guide is written expressly for those who wish to stay informed about recent security threats and the preventive measure they can take. You will discover a wealth of information in this guide including tomorrow’s technology today, best deployment scenarios, people and technologies shaping cyber security and industry predictions & directions that facilitate in making the most pertinent security decisions. Visit www.infosecurityproductsguide.com for the complete list of winners.

We are proud of recognition given to McAfee Safe Connect, which aims to safeguard every Internet user’s online privacy. Please check out our award-winning Wi-Fi Privacy VPN product: McAfee Safe Connect.

Interested in learning more about McAfee Safe Connect and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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McAfee Safe Connect RT2Win Sweepstakes Terms and Conditions

Just a few weeks back, Info Security Products Guide awarded McAfee Safe Connect with two Gold-Level Global Excellence Awards for Product or Service Excellence of the YearSecurity Information and Website & Web Application Security!

To celebrate, we’re treating you to a #RT2Win Sweepstakes on the @McAfee_Home Twitter handle. Ten [10] lucky winners of the Sweepstakes drawing will receive a one-year free subscription of McAfee Safe Connect to provide security and privacy across your PC, iOS, and Android devices when connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots and private networks.

All you have to do is simply retweet one of our contest tweets between March 26, 2018 – April 17, 2018 for your chance to win. Sweepstake tweets will include “#McAfeeSafeConnect, #RT2Win, and #Sweepstakes”. Terms and conditions below.

#McAfeeSafeConnect #RT2Win Sweepstakes Official Rules

  • To enter, go to https://twitter.com/McAfee_Home, and find the #RT2Win sweepstakes tweet.
  • The sweepstakes tweet will be released on Monday, March 26. This tweet will include the hashtags: #McAfeeSafeConnect, #RT2Win, and #Sweepstakes.
  • Retweet the sweepstakes tweet released on the above date, from your own handle. The #McAfeeSafeConnect AND #RT2Win hashtags must be included to be entered.
  • Winners will be notified on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 via Twitter direct message.
  • Limit one entry per person.

How to Win:

Retweet one of our contest tweets on @McAfee_Home that include “#RT2Win, #Sweepstakes, and #McAfeeSafeConnect” for a chance to win a one-year free subscription to McAfee Safe Connect. Ten [10] total winners will be selected and announced on April 18, 2018. Winners will be notified by direct message on Twitter. For full Sweepstakes details, please see the Terms and Conditions, below.

McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes Terms and Conditions

How to Enter: 

No purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes will be conducted from March 26, 2018 through April 17, 2018. All entries for each day of the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes must be received during the time allotted for the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes. Pacific Daylight Time shall control the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes. The McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes duration is as follows.

McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes Duration:

  • Begins Monday, March 26, 2018­­ at 12:00pm PST
  • Ends: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 12:00am PST
  • Ten [10] winners will be announced: Wednesday, April 18th

For the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes, participants must complete the following steps during the time allotted for the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes:

  1. Find the sweepstakes tweet of the day posted on @McAfee_Home which will include the hashtags: #RT2Win, #Sweepstakes, and #McAfeeSafeConnect.
  2. Retweet the sweepstakes tweet of the day and make sure it includes the #RT2Win, #Sweepstakes, and #McAfeeSafeConnect hashtags.
  3. Note: Tweets that do not contain the #RT2Win, #Sweepstakes, and #McAfeeSafeConnect hashtags will not be considered for entry.
  4. Limit one entry per person.

Ten [10] winners will be chosen for the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes tweet from the viable pool of entries that retweeted and included #RT2Win, #Sweepstakes, #McAfeeSafeConnect. McAfee and the McAfee social team will choose winners from all the viable entries. The winners will be announced and privately messaged on April 18, 2018 on the @McAfee_Home Twitter handle. No other method of entry will be accepted besides Twitter. Only one entry per user is allowed, per Sweepstakes.   

Eligibility: 

McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes is open to all legal residents of the 50 United States who are 18 years of age or older on the dates of the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes begins and live in a jurisdiction where this prize and McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes are not prohibited. Employees of Sponsor and its subsidiaries, affiliates, prize suppliers, and advertising and promotional agencies, their immediate families (spouses, parents, children, and siblings and their spouses), and individuals living in the same household as such employees are ineligible.

Winner Selection:

Winners will be selected at random from all eligible retweets received during the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes drawing entry period. Sponsor will select the names of ten [10] potential winners of the prizes in a random drawing from among all eligible submissions at the address listed below. The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by the Official McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes Rules and the decisions of the coordinators, which shall be final and binding in all respects.

Winner Notification: 

Each winner will be notified via direct message (“DM”) on Twitter.com by April 18th. Prize winners may be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release (where permitted by law) to be returned within ten [10] days of written notification, or prize may be forfeited, and an alternate winner selected. If a prize notification is returned as unclaimed or undeliverable to a potential winner, if potential winner cannot be reached within twenty-four [24] hours from the first DM notification attempt, or if potential winner fails to return requisite document within the specified time period, or if a potential winner is not in compliance with these Official Rules, then such person shall be disqualified and, at Sponsor’s sole discretion, an alternate winner may be selected for the prize at issue based on the winner selection process described above.

Prizes: 

The prize for the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes is a one-year free subscription to McAfee Safe Connect. Entrants agree that Sponsor has the sole right to determine the winners of the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes and all matters or disputes arising from the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes and that its determination is final and binding. There are no prize substitutions, transfers or cash equivalents permitted except at the sole discretion of Sponsor. Sponsor will not replace any lost or stolen prizes. Sponsor is not responsible for delays in prize delivery beyond its control. All other expenses and items not specifically mentioned in these Official Rules are not included and are the prize winners’ sole responsibility.

General Conditions: 

Entrants agree that by entering they agree to be bound by these rules. All federal, state and local taxes, fees, and surcharges on prize packages are the sole responsibility of the prizewinner. Sponsor is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry information, whether caused by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes, or by any technical or human error, which may occur in the processing of the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes entries. By entering, participants release and hold harmless Sponsor and its respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives from any and all liability for any injuries, loss, claim, action, demand, or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes, any prize won, any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, participation in any McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes-related activity, or participation in the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes. Except for applicable manufacturer’s standard warranties, the prizes are awarded “AS IS” and WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied (including any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose).

Limitations of Liability; Releases:

By entering the Sweepstakes, you release Sponsor and all Released Parties from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action, related to any claims, costs, injuries, losses, or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the Sweepstakes or delivery, misdelivery, acceptance, possession, use of or inability to use any prize (including claims, costs, injuries, losses and damages related to rights of publicity or privacy, defamation or portrayal in a false light, whether intentional or unintentional), whether under a theory of contract, tort (including negligence), warranty or other theory.

To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, in no event will the sponsor or the released parties be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, or consequential damages, including loss of use, loss of profits or loss of data, whether in an action in contract, tort (including, negligence) or otherwise, arising out of or in any way connected to your participation in the sweepstakes or use or inability to use any equipment provided for use in the sweepstakes or any prize, even if a released party has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

  1. To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, in no event will the aggregate liability of the released parties (jointly) arising out of or relating to your participation in the sweepstakes or use of or inability to use any equipment provided for use in the sweepstakes or any prize exceed $10. The limitations set forth in this section will not exclude or limit liability for personal injury or property damage caused by products rented from the sponsor, or for the released parties’ gross negligence, intentional misconduct, or for fraud.
  2. Use of Winner’s Name, Likeness, etc.: Except where prohibited by law, entry into the Sweepstakes constitutes permission to use your name, hometown, aural and visual likeness and prize information for advertising, marketing, and promotional purposes without further permission or compensation (including in a public-facing winner list).  As a condition of being awarded any prize, except where prohibited by law, winner may be required to execute a consent to the use of their name, hometown, aural and visual likeness and prize information for advertising, marketing, and promotional purposes without further permission or compensation. By entering this Sweepstakes, you consent to being contacted by Sponsor for any purpose in connection with this Sweepstakes.

Prize Forfeiture:

If winner cannot be notified, does not respond to notification, does not meet eligibility requirements, or otherwise does not comply with these prize McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes rules, then the winner will forfeit the prize and an alternate winner will be selected from remaining eligible entry forms for each McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes.

Dispute Resolution:

Entrants agree that Sponsor has the sole right to determine the winners of the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes and all matters or disputes arising from the McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes and that its determination is final and binding. There are no prize substitutions, transfers or cash equivalents permitted except at the sole discretion of Sponsor.

Governing Law & Disputes:

Each entrant agrees that any disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or connected with these sweepstakes or any prize awarded will be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action and these rules will be construed in accordance with the laws, jurisdiction, and venue of Delaware.

Privacy Policy: 

Personal information obtained in connection with this prize McAfee Safe Connect #RT2Win Sweepstakes will be handled in accordance policy set forth at http://www.mcafee.com/us/about/privacy.html.

  1. Winner List; Rules Request: For a copy of the winner list, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope for arrival after March 26th 2018 and before April 17th 2018 to the address listed below, Attn: #RT2Win at CES Sweepstakes.  To obtain a copy of these Official Rules, visit this link or send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to the address listed in below, Attn: Sarah Grayson. VT residents may omit return postage.
  2. Intellectual Property Notice: McAfee and the McAfee logo are registered trademarks of McAfee, LLC. The Sweepstakes and all accompanying materials are copyright © 2018 by McAfee, LLC.  All rights reserved.
  3. Sponsor: McAfee, LLC, Corporate Headquarters 2821 Mission College Blvd. Santa Clara, CA 95054 USA

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Don’t Get Duped: How to Spot 2018’s Top Tax Scams

It’s the most vulnerable time of the year. Tax time is when cyber criminals pull out their best scams and manage to swindle consumers — smart consumers — out of millions of dollars.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), crooks are getting creative and putting new twists on old scams using email, phishing and malware, threatening phone calls, and various forms of identity theft to gain access to your hard earned tax refund.

While some of these scams are harder to spot than others, almost all of them can be avoided by understanding the covert routes crooks take to access your family’s data and financial accounts.

According to the IRS, the con games around tax time regularly change. Here are just a few of the recent scams to be aware of:

Erroneous refunds

According to the IRS, schemes are getting more sophisticated. By stealing client data from legitimate tax professionals or buying social security numbers on the black market, a criminal can file a fraudulent tax return. Once the IRS deposits the tax refund into the taxpayer’s account, crooks then use various tactics (phone or email requests) to reclaim the refund from the taxpayer. Multiple versions of this sophisticated scam continue to evolve. If you see suspicious funds in your account or receive a refund check you know is not yours, alert your tax preparer, your bank, and the IRS. To return erroneous refunds, take these steps outlined by the IRS.

Phone scams

If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS demanding a past due payment in the form of a wire transfer or money order, hang up. Imposters have been known to get aggressive and will even threaten to deport, arrest, or revoke your license if you do not pay the alleged outstanding tax bill.

In a similar scam, thieves call potential victims posing as IRS representatives and tell potential victims that two certified letters were previously sent and returned as undeliverable. The callers then threaten to arrest if a payment the victim does not immediately pay through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the purchase of the card is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) system.

Note: The IRS will never initiate an official tax dispute via phone. If you receive such a call, hang up and report the call to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Robo calls

Baiting you with fear, scammers may also leave urgent “callback” requests through prerecorded phone robot or robo calls, or through a phishing email. Bogus IRS robo often politely ask taxpayers to verify their identity over the phone. These robo calls will even alter caller ID numbers to make it look as if the IRS or another official agency is calling.

Phishing schemes

Be on the lookout for emails with links to websites that ask for your personal information. According to the IRS, thieves now send very authentic-looking messages from credible-looking addresses. These emails coax victims into sharing sensitive information or contain links that contain malware that collects data.

To protect yourself stay alert and be wary of any emails from financial groups or government agencies Don’t share any information online, via email, phone or by text. Don’t click on random links sent to you via email. Once that information is shared anywhere, a crook can steal your identity and use it in different scams.

Human resource/data breaches

In one particular scam crooks target human resource departments. In this scenario, a thief sends an email from a fake organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.  This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES). 

Using the collected data criminals then attempt to file fraudulent tax returns to claim refunds. Or, they may sell the data on the Internet’s black market sites to others who file fraudulent tax returns or use the names and Social Security Numbers to commit other identity theft related crimes. While you can’t personally avoid this scam, be sure to inquire about your firm’s security practices and try to file your tax return early every year to beat any potentially false filing. Businesses/payroll service providers should file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

As a reminder, the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or e-mail.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you are the victim identity, theft be sure to take the proper reporting steps. If you receive any unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov (and then delete the emails).

This post is part II of our series on keeping your family safe during tax time. To read more about helping your teen file his or her first tax return, here’s Part I.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

The post Don’t Get Duped: How to Spot 2018’s Top Tax Scams appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Cyberbullying – How Parents Can Minimize Impact On Kids

Cyberbullying: if you have a tween or teen and haven’t workshopped this with your kids then you need to put a time in the diary now. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest challenges our children’s generation will face and unfortunately, it isn’t going away.

The recent tragic suicide of 14 year old Aussie girl Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett as a result of online bullying needs to be a wake-up call for parents. Many kids who are bullied online feel completely ashamed and publicly humiliated and can’t see a way past the embarrassment. They don’t have the skills to handle it and don’t know where to seek help. Yes, we are first-generation digital parents BUT we need to prioritise our children’s safety and well-being online. And sort this out FAST!

How Big An Issue Is Cyberbullying?

Image of crying girl in silhouette surrounded by cyberbullying text messages.
Aussie tweens/teens aged 12-16 are the primary targets of cyberbullying. 63% of the victims are girls.

In its 2016-17 annual report, the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner reveals an increase of 60% in the reported cases of cyberbullying compared with the previous year. The report also shows that:

  • Aussie tweens/teens between the ages of 12 and 16 are the primary targets of cyberbullying
  • Girls made up 63% of the victims

And it isn’t just us parents that consider this to be a big issue – our teens are also concerned. A study of 5000 teens across eleven countries by Vodafone in 2015 showed that in fact over half the teens surveyed considered cyberbullying to be worse than face-to-face bullying, and that 43% believe it is a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse!

So, clearly we have a problem on our hands – and one that isn’t getting better over time.

Why Is Cyberbullying Occurring More Frequently?

Many parenting experts believe a lack of empathy to be a major factor in cyberbullying. In her book, Unselfie, US Parenting Expert Dr Michele Borba explains that we are in the midst of an ‘empathy crisis’ which is contributing to bullying behaviour. She believes teens today are far less empathetic than they were 30 years ago.

Giving children access to devices and social media before they have the emotional smarts to navigate the online world is another factor. You would be hard-pressed to find a child in Year 5 or 6 at a primary school in any Australian capital city who doesn’t have access to or own a smartphone. And once that phone has been given to your child, it’s impossible to supervise their every move. Within minutes they can join social media platforms (some creativity required on the age), enter chat rooms, and view highly disturbing images.

The younger the child, the less likely he or she is to have the emotional intelligence to either navigate tricky situations or make smart decisions online. Perhaps we should all take a lesson from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who made his kids wait till they were 14 until being given a phone?

How To Minimise The Risk Of Your Child Being Cyberbullied

There are no guarantees in life, but there are certain steps we can take to reduce the chance of our children being impacted by cyberbullying. Here are my top 5 suggestions:

  1. Communicate.
    Establishing a culture where honest, two-way communication is part of the family dynamic is one of the absolute best things you can do. Let your children know they can confide in you, that nothing is off-limits and that you won’t overreact. Then they will be more likely to open up to you about a problem before it becomes insurmountable.
  2. Understand Their World.
    With a deep understanding of your child’s world (their friends, their favourite activities, the movies they see) you’re better equipped to notice when things aren’t swimming along nicely. Establishing relationships with your child’s teachers or year group mentors is another way to keep your ear to the ground. When a child’s behaviour and activity level changes, it could be an indicator that all is not well. So some parental detective work may be required!
  3. Weave Cyber Safety Into Your Family Dialogue.
    We all talk about sun safety and road safety with our children from a young age. But we need to commit to doing the same about cyber safety. Teach your kids never to share passwords, never to give out identifying information of any kind online, never to respond to online trolls or bullies. Then they will definitely add a layer of armour to shield them from becoming a victim of cyberbullying.
  4. Limit Screen Time.
    I know it seems like an ongoing battle but limiting screen time for social media is essential. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by offering them attractive real-life options. Bike rides, beach visits and outings with friends and family are all good ways of redirecting their attention. And make sure their phone/tablet is out of easy reach at night. Yes, it is more effort but it is so worth it. Less time online = less risk!
  5. Teach Your Kids What To Do If They Are Cyberbullied.
    It is essential your kids know what to do if they are being cyberbullied. Blocking the bullying is critical, so take some time with your kids to understand the block features on the social networks they use. Collecting evidence is crucial, everything should be screen-shot – ensure your child knows how to do this. You can report the cyberbullying incident to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner who work to have offensive material removed and cyberbullying situations addressed. And why not check out the support offered by your child’s school? It’s important your kids know they have a number of trusted adults in their life they can get help from if things get tough.

So, let’s commit to doing what we can to protect our kids from cyberbullying. Your kids need to know that they can talk to you about anything that is bothering them online – even if it is tough or awkward. Dolly Everett’s final drawing, before she took her life, included the heart-rending caption ‘…speak even if your voice shakes.’ Please encourage your kids to do so.

Alex xx

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Cheat Codes to Digital Parenting

As digital immigrants, I have seen a lot of my friends in a constant dilemma/struggle about bringing up children in this digital age. I understand, there aren’t any rule books that can be used as a guide or any previous experience to fall back upon. Consequently, there arises digital conflicts between parents and kids ranging from device use to social media excesses. Before we get onto the solution, we need to understand the inherent nature of kids living in a connected world.

  • It is difficult to keep kids off the digital world – The demarcation between the real world and digital world is fast disappearing, as children start using the digital medium for education, entertainment and socializing at an early age and continue to use it increasingly as they grow up.
  • Stay updated on all that’s happening in your teen’s life -To understand our kids better and be on the same page with them, we need to be aware of issues they relate to, including staying updated on tech.
  • Monitoring is essential – I am sure we never intend to let our kids away from our sight while going out until they are mature. The same way there is a need to monitor their digital footprints as well. They should be guided on the dos and don’ts, until they show an adequate sense of responsibility and know how to rightly handle online situations.

Keeping these in our mind, let’s get started on our digital citizenship primer for kids. Here are some cheat codes that will surely make digital parenting a much smoother experience.

#Cheat Code 1: Extend real life values to cover the virtual world.

The values we have and revere are those that have been handed down to us by our families and enforced in the Value Education classes in school. These include:

  • Courtesy
  • Responsibility
  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Judiciousness

They work well in the virtual world too. Teach him/her to be well-mannered, stand up against wrongs like cyberbullying and respect people’s need for privacy. Also, explain the need for discretion with personal data

#Cheat Code 2: Think of digital devices as portals to unknown territories. Use home safety rules.

You have the ‘Dos and Don’ts of staying alone at home’ drilled into your child, right? Let’s extend this to cover the cyberworld.

  • Secure devices– Use only those devices that are secured with a comprehensive security tool. This is how you fortify your digital space.
  • Stop unauthorized access Use only secure Wi-Fi connections, VPN or mobile internet connections.
  • THINK. CLICK. – Do not click on links or attachments or respond to spam emails. Keep passwords strong and DO NOT share them with anyone except parents.

#Cheat code 3: Extend your stranger-danger rule to cover the digital world. 

  • Do not connect with strangers: It is very easy to hide one’s identity and pretend to be someone else online. The same person may adopt different identities. It’s safer to connect with people you know in the real world.
  • Do not trust online friends: If someone asks too many questions or makes you feel uncomfortable immediately report that person to your parents and together decide what to do.
  • Do not visit unfamiliar sites: You may suddenly land on a website that looks exciting and interesting but stop a minute! Did you want to go there? Does the web address seem genuine? If in doubt, abort mission and return to safety.
  • Do not accept free gifts or favour from anyone; nothing comes free in this world.

#Cheat Code 4: Reiterate that every action has consequence online too

Help kids develop long-term vision, understand what seems like fun may actually not be so:

  • Over Sharing: If privacy is breached, your personal information may be misused. So, avoid sharing too much data. Sometimes, you unknowingly share your personal data, for instance while signing up on gaming websites or taking quizzes etc. Things you should avoid sharing include your name, date of birth, address, pet’s name and mother’s maiden name. These may be used to steal your identity.
  • Digital addiction: Like excess of cold drinks harms teeth, excess of online activities is also harmful to health. Practice digital balance.
  • Say NO to cyberbullying: Neither should you accept bad behaviour online nor should you be a party to cyberbullying. It’s wrong and may have unforeseen consequences. Report bullies to parents or teachers.

It’s pretty simple after knowing these cheat codes, isn’t it? As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’, open your communication channels with your kids. Involve them and make your way through to protect your kids online from the digital world threats.

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McAfee CEO Chris Young Talks About the Impact of Connected Devices in MWC 2018 Keynote

MWC 2018 came and went in the blink of an eye and new mobile innovations and exciting announcements emerged from vendors across the globe. Though we had our fair share of unique insights and innovations to share, we also had the pleasure of leading the conversation around the foundations of the digital economy, as McAfee CEO Chris Young was a keynote speaker on this topic.

The keynote dives into how the digital economy has been catalyzed by the rapid growth of mobile technologies in the hands of billions of people, and how these devices will continue to transform how we do business. Chris Young adds his unique security perspective on this phenomenon and explores how mobile applications have changed the way we live and secure our personal lives. He notes that the world is now at a precipice, and asks the important question – how can we secure a large-scale connected device ecosystem without stifling the growth and innovation of this ecosystem?

Find out his proposed answer and learn more about the state of the mobile security landscape by watching Chris’ keynote (his part starts around 33 minutes) here:

To stay up-to-date all McAfee MWC news, be sure to follow us at @McAfee and @McAfee_Home, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Using the Internet as a Medium For Women To Break The Glass Ceiling

You know, the internet has done wonders for my business,” said a lady baker to me, beaming at all the appreciation coming her way from happy guests at a party she was catering.

How so?” I asked.

When I started out as a home baker, it was all word of mouth as far as advertisement went and my clientele was limited. Today I have my own Facebook page and my WhatsApp is filled with price requests for customized baked goods.”

We have come a long way since the launch of the internet in India in 1995. By 2021, the count of internet users in India is likely to reach about 635.8 million, of which 40% would be women, according to a recent study. Many of these women, including in rural areas, are taking advantage of the internet to achieve their dreams. What a better day than Women’s Day to show appreciation to such women, who are in sync with the Digital India vision that aims to empower women.

2017 also saw a lot of women lead a global movement of advocacy, activism and support for gender parity through the medium of the internet. Taking cue from the same, the global theme for International Women’s day 2018 is #PressForProgress, which aims to motivate women to think, act and be gender inclusive.

There are many women’s self-help groups online that offer them a platform not just to connect, set up a support network and seek advice but also to conduct e-commerce. Cyber-savvy women are already using WhatsApp to form local groups to carry on home business, including the supply of home-cooked food, samplings, cakes, caregivers and even drivers! The internet has been a blessing to women who are able to pursue their career from home.

There are also forums like Sheroes, Women Web and VAW (Violence Against Women) that work for women empowerment by giving them a voice, and in the case of Sheroes, a second chance at a career. There has also been a rise in synergy between the urban and rural sectors, thanks to the internet. Urban businesswomen are helping to revive dying crafts and traditions in rural communities by taking orders for such products.

There’s more! Women are also using the internet to showcase their talents. The growing count of YouTube accounts sharing music, story-telling sessions, cookery classes, dance and exercise, e-books, and DIY shows are proof to that! Such sharing has given women a new self-confidence and quite a few have already become internet influencers. Let’s see if you can name a few J

Kudos ladies but be aware of the cyber threats that exist, including identity theft, scams, cyberbullying, trolling, malware attacks, ransomware and data theft. Also, a tendency to ignore ‘stranger-danger’ and sharing too much online may lead to consequences in the future.

As we aim to become a responsible netizen, we can impart the same learnings to our kids. Mothers nowadays are leveraging the internet to understand the digital world better so that they can bring up their children to be digital literates. This is fantastic because cyber safety training needs to start at an early age and preferably at home.

As the saying goes, we have to move ahead with the times and adapt to the changing environment. As technology is the way forward, we should strive to adopt it and utilize it to carve out a better future for ourselves.

For that, we should take charge of our digital safety first and foremost

  • Device and account security: This is THE most important step for you to protect your data and that of your clients. Secure all your devices with licensed security tools and ensure auto upgrade is turned on. You already know how unsafe it is to use public network so get your own data plan and a VPN connection.
  • Double the Security: Two Factor Authentication may sound tedious but this added layer of security will give enhanced protection to you. Activate this for not only social media accounts but also financial accounts.
  • Password protection: We all know we must use unique passwords that need to be kept secret. If you are not good at remembering, then consider using a password manager and put an end to all your password woes.
  • Account Privacy and Security: Check privacy and security options on your accounts on a regular basis. Revoke access given to 3rd party apps if not in use.
  • Profile authenticity: Where there is money, there may be scammers. Always verify details and read reviews before finalizing a transaction.
  • Block and report: Most users will be appreciative, but some may not be nice. Learn to accept critical comments but do not submit to cyberbullying. Report such profiles and block them.

Personally, I believe every day is Women’s Day, but marking a particular day as such reminds us of the fact that we are women and we need to take charge of our lives and make it more meaningful. So let’s make the most of the internet and share your inspiring digital stories with other women who are still not on the bandwagon. Cheers!

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Key Mobile Threat Takeaways from the 2018 Mobile Threat Report

The term “mobile” has come to encompass a wide range of devices these days. Mobile devices have become much more than our Androids and iPhones. Wearable watches, tablets, even home devices all fall under the mobile umbrella of IoT and have the ability to impact our lives for better, or for worse.

This rich IoT landscape holds the key to your digital identity, your connected home and potentially, even your kid’s digital future. Gartner predicts that by the year 2020, 20.8 billion connected devices will populate the consumer home. (Current global population is 7.6 billion people.) As these devices continue to increase in presence in our daily lives, it’s important to understand not only the convenience they offer, but the threats they pose as well.

With the dawn of an even more connected era fast approaching, we at McAfee are examining the mobile threats that might be waiting on the horizon. This year’s Mobile Threat Report, takes a deep dive into some significant trends that demonstrate just how these mobile platforms are targeting what’s most sacred to us – our home. Let’s take a look into some of the most common trends in mobile malware, and a few tips on how to protect your home.

Mobile Malware in the IoT Home  

According to Gartner, 8.4 billion connected “things” were in use last year, and chances are one or more of these devices is living in your home today. While many of these devices bring convenience and ease to the home, it’s important to note that they also significantly increase the risk of attack. Many of these devices are developed with innovation in mind, and little to no focus on – security. With that being said, everyday users of mobile devices have grown phenomenally, hence the increased need for security as the frequency of mobile attacks continues to grow.

DDoS Causes SOS  

IoT attacks such as Mirai and Reaper showed the world just how vulnerable smart homes and connected devices can be to malicious code. These attacks targeted millions of IoT devices with the intent of creating a botnet army from trusted connected items within the household.

The Mirai malware authors, leveraged consumer devices such as IP cameras and home routers to create a botnet army, launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against popular websites. By taking advantage of the low-levels of security on most home connected devices, this malware was able to seize control of millions of devices. All it had to do was guess the factory default password.

The “Reaper” malware strain also took advantage of limited security of many connected home devices. However, these malware authors evolved their tactics by looking for devices with known vulnerabilities to exploit and by implementing a set of hacking tools that showed greater sophistication. The IoT reaper clocked in as many as 2 million infected devices, at nearly ten times the rate as Mirai.

The evolution of the malicious code targeting mobile and IoT devices represents a growing threat to consumers who wish to embrace a culture of connected living. So how can we welcome these devices into our homes without opening the door to cyberthreats? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Protect your devices, protect your home. As we continue to embrace a culture of smart homes and connected devices, it is also important for us to embrace internet security at a network level. With the presence of targeted attacks growing globally, we must remain vigilant in protecting our connected lives by making sure each individual device is secure, especially the home network. The MTR has dubbed 2018 as “The Year of Mobile Malware,” and very tech user should consider using a home gateway with built-in security to ensure every device in their home is protected.

 

  • Download apps with caution and update them regularly. Malware campaigns having been targeting users on the Google Play stores almost since its inception. In fact, McAfee recently discovered Android Grabos, one of the most significant campaigns of this year, found present within 144 apps on Google Play. Stay current on which applications are supported in your application store and update them regularly. If an app is no longer supported in the play store, delete it immediately.

 

  • Invest in comprehensive security. I can’t stress enough how important is to use comprehensive security software to protect your personal devices. Malware is constantly evolving with technology, so ensure your all of your devices are secured with built-in protection.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

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Warning: Crypto-Currency Mining is Targeting Your Android

Cryptocurrency, a virtual form of currency designed to work as a secure form of exchange, has gained a lot of traction in the world of finance and technology. But for many, the concept of obtaining cryptocurrency, or “crypto-mining,” is obscure. Investopedia defines crypto-mining as, “the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the blockchain, and also the means through which new currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are released.”

The practice has been around since 2009, and anyone with access to the Internet, the required programs and hardware can participate in mining. In fact, by the end of this month, Forbes Magazine will have published its first “Top Richest” list dedicated to Crypto Millionaires.

With the rise in popularity of digital currency, it’s no surprise that cybercriminals across the globe are leveraging malicious code to obtain it. Hackers would rather develop or utilize mining malware instead of paying the expensive price tag associated with mining machines, which can be upwards of $5000. In China, the ADB Miner malware is spreading and targeting thousands of Android devices for the primary purpose of mining cryptocurrency. The malware is spread through the publicly accessible Android Debug Bridge (abd) on an opened port 5555. This port is typically closed but can be opened by an ADB debug tool. Once infected, a device will look for other devices with the same vulnerability to spread the malware and leverage other Android-based smartphones, tablets, and televisions for crypto-mining.

So why are cybercriminals now targeting Android mobile devices? This could be due to the fact that hackers know they can easily manipulate vulnerabilities in Google Play’s app vetting system. Last year McAfee Mobile Threat Research identified more than 4,000 apps that were removed from Google Play without notification to users. Currently, the app store does not have consistent or centralized reporting available for app purchasers. Even if an app is supported by Google Play at the time of download, it could later be identified as malicious and Android users may be unaware of the fact that they’re harboring a bad app.

Researchers have found over 600 blacklisted malicious cryptocurrency apps across 20 app stores including Apple and Google Play. Google Play was found to have the highest amount of malicious crypto apps, with 272 available for download. In the United States, researchers have found another crypto-mining malware that is so demanding of phone processors, its causing them to implode. Loapi, a newly-discovered Trojan crypto-miner, can cause phone batteries to swell up and burst open the device’s back cover, and has been found in up to 20 mobile apps.

Crypto-mining malware isn’t a new phenomenon. Before the WannaCry attacks last summer, cryptocurrency malware sprung up as another malicious software looking to take advantage of the same Windows vulnerabilities that WannaCry exploited. But, instead of locking down systems with ransomware, these cybercriminals were putting them to work, using a cryptocurrency mining malware called Adylkuzz.

Here are a few tips to ensure your Android-devices are protected from crypto-mining malware:

  • Download your apps from a legitimate source. While some malicious apps may slip through the cracks, app stores like Google Play do have security measures in place to protect users, and it’s much safer than downloading from an unknown source.
  • Delete any apps that you haven’t used over the past 6-months. An app’s security can change over time; applications that were once supported by an app store can be flagged as malicious and removed from the platform without notification. If an app is no longer supported in the app store, you should delete it immediately.
  • Keep all of your software up to date. Many of the more harmful malware attacks we’ve seen, like the Equifax data breach, take advantage of software vulnerabilities in common applications, such as operating systems and browsers. Having the latest software and application versions ensures that any known bugs or exploits are patched, and is one of the best defenses against viruses and malware.
  • Double up on your mobile security software. I can’t stress enough how important is to use comprehensive security software to protect your personal devices.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

 

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Share Your Heart, Not Your Identity: Here’s How You Can Stay Safe on Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s day, it’s the one day of the year exclusively dedicated to sharing: we share our feelings, our affection, and special gifts with our loved ones. It’s a great time to show the people in our lives just how much they mean to us. Thanks to social media and mobile friendly retailers, giving your loved ones the world is just a few clicks away.

Tech devices have made it so much easier to share our hearts with the people we care about. But, could our emotional vulnerability ultimately leave us vulnerable to cyber-attacks? Historically, Valentine’s day has been a big day for cybercrime. Criminals have found clever ways to take advantage of retail, online dating platforms, and social media to launch attacks against romantic hopefuls. If you’re wondering how to avoid the most common V-day scams, here are a few things to remember when sharing the love online, and some useful tips to keep your precious data safe.

Dating Apps Are a Data Goldmine

Apps like Tinder or Zoosk are very attractive to hackers around this time of year. Considering the amount of intimate details shared on these platforms, dating apps are prime targets for cybercriminals looking to gain access to personal data and even payment information. In fact, online dating has seen a growing number of cyber-threats since 2015.

If you’re wondering “what’s the worst that could happen if my Tinder account is hacked?”, look no further than the hundreds of pages of data that the app keeps stored on its users. This particular dating app doesn’t just match singles looking to spark a connection, it also collects behavioral data, such as how often you connect, when and where you connect, and even your “likes” and posts from other associated accounts. Some of this data might seem trivial to unsuspecting users, but if placed in the wrong hands this information could be detrimental to the security of your identity.

Florist Are a Favorite for Phishing Scams

A bright, beautiful bouquet of roses is my favorite gift to receive when February 14th rolls around. Unsurprisingly, flowers make one of the most common gifts given around Valentine’s Day but, sending and receiving flowers may not be as harmless as it seems. In 2016, cybercriminals leveraged the popularity of flower services to attack unsuspecting vendors through a series of DDoS attacks designed to extort money from them. While these attacks did not result in leaked information, it’s important to be cautious of which vendors you allow to keep your credit card information on file. After all, you’re expecting your florist to deliver an assortment of beautiful flowers, not a bouquet of personal data to cyber criminals!

If an attack on your friendly florist isn’t enough to peak your senses, hackers have also been known to take advantage of admirers looking to send flowers. Cybercriminals prey on the likelihood that you’ve sent flowers to your loved ones to launch phishing scams, using bogus packages and “Failure to Deliver” notices to collect your data.

Social Media Isn’t Always Your “Friend” 

Valentine’s day is easily one of the most socially sharable days of the year. With so much love in the air, you can’t help but share pictures and posts about your loved ones with other friends and family online. Although most people associate cyber-attacks with some form of malware, many do not realize how vulnerable they are when sharing personal information on social media. Through social engineering, hackers use the information you share online to exploit you. The more personal information you choose to share on social media, the easier it is to exploit that information. Through social media, hackers can find out information about your job, the places you frequent, and even your mother’s maiden name. But don’t worry, we’ve got a few tips up our sleeve to help you share all of the love you want across social.

Seasonal events, like Valentine’s Day, present an opportunity for cybercriminals to leverage their schemes. But don’t be deterred from sharing the love— here’s how you can connect securely and keep your data safe from hackers:

  • Get friendly with your privacy settings on your social media apps. Social platforms like Facebook are making it easier to adjust your privacy settings through a  “privacy center” so you can stay on top of the information you share and who you share it with.
  • Be careful of which accounts you link. Being connected to your online community is great, but linking accounts across platforms only gives cybercriminals easier access to your data. While Tinder does require you to link your Facebook account to sign up, you can turn off Tinder Social so that Tinder won’t be able to post anything to Facebook. And, when possible, avoid linking your dating profiles to other personal accounts.
  • Think before you click that link. Hover over it to see if the URL address looks legitimate to avoid phishing scams. If you know you didn’t send flowers, send that scam to your spam.
  • Double up on your security software. There are plenty of apps that keep your phone safe from malicious attacks. Consider using a service for your phone that offers web protection and antivirus.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

 

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How to keep our kids safe online – start by talking about it

Whether or not you’re lucky enough to be a parent or grandparent, as adults we should all be concerned about the safety of children online. That’s why, on Safer Internet Day, a day dedicated to promoting the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, I wanted to share some thoughts on what we can do about it. Because we all have a responsibility to look out for the generation of tomorrow.

Firstly, let’s agree on a few basic truths. Today’s generation of children are unlike any that have come before them. The fortunate ones have grown up with technology all around them, and children are engaging and interacting with technology from an ever-younger age. What’s more, this isn’t always a case of stealing mum’s mobile phone, or dad’s iPad. No, much of it is technology aimed specifically at kids.

It’s not a surprise therefore that today’s generation of children are often seen glued to their phones, tablets and connected toys. And while most of this technology is incredible stuff, the unfortunate reality is that it often opens children up to a whole host of dangers. These might seem like trivialities to the younger generation, but how many children forget to inform their parents about who they are talking to online, the pages they are visiting and what they are sharing.

So what can be done about it, and how can we ensure that children are able to take advantage of the many benefits of technology, while also protecting them from its darker side? As with many things in this world, talking about it helps.

Below are some conversation starters you can use to help talk about these issues with children. These are from Safer Internet Day’s online resource, but there are lots of others out there should you want more inspiration.

Get the conversation started on a positive note:

  • Ask them what they like most about the internet and why?
  • What’s their favourite game/app/site?
  • Ask them to show you the most creative thing they’ve made online, e.g. a video they’ve made, or picture they’ve drawn.
  • Explain how the internet offers brilliant opportunities for making connections with others. Ask them who they like to keep in touch with online and what apps or services do they use?

Talk about safety:

  • Ask them what they would do if they saw that a friend online needed some help or support?
  • Ask them how they stay safe online? What tips do they have and where did they learn them?
  • Ask them to show you how to do something better or safer online.
  • Ask them to tell you what it’s okay to share online. What is it not okay to share online?
  • Do they know where to go for help, where to find safety advice and how to use safety tools on their favourite apps and games?

Discuss digital lives and wellbeing:

  • Ask them how the internet and technology makes their life better?
  • Ask how does the internet make them feel? Do different apps and games makes them feel differently?
  • Ask what could they do if being online was making them feel worse rather than better?
  • Ask them how might they know if they were using the internet and technology too much?

Talk about respect:

  • Ask what could they do if someone online was making them or someone they know feel worried or upset?
  • Who do they look up to or respect online? Why?
  • Ask them if people can say or do whatever they want online? Why / why not?
  • Ask what is different about talking online to someone compared to talking face to face? Is there anything that is the same?
  • Do they have any tips for how to be positive and show respect online?

In the hyper-connected world in which we live, it really is the responsibility of all adults to protect children online. And Safer Internet Day is the perfect opportunity to talk to your child about using the internet safely, responsibly and positively.

If you want to find out more there’s a whole host of resources to be found on the Safer Internet Day website, here: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre

And if you’re interested in joining the discussion on how to keep children safe online, we’ll be hosting a Twitter chat from 13:00 GMT today. You can get involved by including #SetUpSafe in your tweet.

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Indian Digital Citizens Need to Better Balance Their Device Use and Manage Online Safety

As Bryan Adams croons in the background (Everything I do) I do it for you…. and you give the last touches to your Valentine’s Day preparations, don’t forget to do that one thing that is playing a big spoilsport in relationships today- put your devices away! After all, you don’t want a phone buzz to spoil that perfectly romantic mood.

Good idea you say? But unfortunately, many don’t. McAfee released findings from a recent India survey, “Three’s Company: Lovers, Friends and Devices” that aims to understand the online behavior of people and how it affects their real-world relationships with friends and significant others. The survey findings highlight the need for better digital balance and greater vigilance while sharing personal information.

Consider the facts discovered by this year’s survey:

  • 67% of the people in a relationship have felt that their significant other was more interested in their internet connected device than in them.
  • 77% of the respondents feel that the use of technology gets in the way of relationships
  • 89% of Indians would be concerned if their significant other did not take the necessary steps to protect their personal information.

No doubt devices have become an integral part of our lives and we cannot imagine a life without them. We need them to connect, share, learn and discover. They can also prove to be life-saving at times. Having said that, it is also imperative that we do not let devices take over our lives, or our special times with the people who matter most to us. Face-to-face interactions are very important, whether it be with your significant other, or kids, or friends.

A comparison with the 2017 survey shows an increase in undesirable device habits over the year:

  • 84% said they share their personal passwords and PINs with their partners in 2018, up from 46% in 2017.
  • 75% indicated that they have had to compete for the attention of their date with their device, up from 57% in 2017.
  • 39% indicate that they have/would allow their significant other to use their work device (s), which is slightly higher than the 35% recorded last year.

On a positive note, 76% Indians are also taking the necessary steps to ensure their personal information is protected on their connected devices. That’s great to know and they should also be more vigilant about sharing too much. Though 89% of Indians think privacy is important in a relationship, there is a lot of sharing going on between partners and it’s not just love and sweet nothings. 84% share their passwords and PINs with their partners for:

  • Online shopping websites – 60%
  • Social media accounts – 45%
  • Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) – 42%
  • Personal email accounts – 41%
  • Banking and financial services websites – 38%
  • Work specific devices/accounts – 38%

Tip: Proactively practice digital balance by keeping devices away or on silent mode when talking to family members or your partner. Give your 100% attention to them.

We want you to stay safe online as well as stay close to your loved ones! Here are a few tips that will help you stay safe while staying in love:

  • Protect your loved ones online… secure their devices. Take control of your privacy and security. Products like McAfee Total Protection helps secure all your devices and keep your personal data personal.
  • Keep control over emotions when it comes to passwords. Please tell me your password isn’t Love2018 or MyLoveXYZ?? Be as romantic as you want in real life but be very careful when choosing passwords, they are the keys to your accounts and shouldn’t be easy to hack. Use the TrueKey app to manage all your passwords. Also, enable Two-Factor-Authentication on all accounts for enhanced safety.
  • Love you…. but love my device more? No way! I know that feeling, of wanting to ‘just scroll through’ social media messages or checking the battery if there has been no ping for some time; but hey, relax and take a chill pill. Messages won’t disappear so, give priority to real connections over virtual ones.

A successful life and relationship is all about prioritizing and doing the right thing at the right time. This Valentine’s Day give priority to a device-free date and you will love the joy and positive vibes you feel around you.

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Safer Internet Day 2018: How To Develop Online Respect At Home

Today is Safer Internet Day – an annual global event aimed at encouraging a better internet. And this year’s theme is a beauty: ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect. A Better Internet Starts With You.’

As a mum and technology educator, I believe respect is at the core of all positive and safe online (and offline) behaviours. Kids with a healthy amount of respect in their ‘tool box’ will almost always have more successful social interactions. But it’s important to look at respect in two ways: respect for others and, just as importantly, respect for ourselves.

Respecting Others Online

Respecting others online means you acknowledge them and are considerate of their opinions and privacy. Yet it does not mean that you have to agree with everything they say or do. To borrow the words of pop icon, Taylor Swift:

‘We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.’

In my view, a lack of respect for conflicting opinions online is where a lot of teens (and adults) come unstuck. Many interpret an opposing opinion as criticism and respond aggressively. This can quickly turn a civil exchange of opinions into an exchange of insults! In other words, a large part of showing respect online is being mindful of the way you communicate. And this means:

  • being aware of your tone;
  • not using bad language or insulting others; and
  • avoiding use of upper case as it is considered shouting and can rapidly escalate an argument.

So, whether your child is a Tay-Tay fan or not, her words of wisdom need to be shared.

Respecting Yourself Online

On the other hand, a healthy dose of respect for yourself can be very helpful when dealing with the negativity that can sometimes be experienced online. As American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:

‘He that respects himself is safe from others. He wears a coat of mail that no one can pierce.’

If you respect yourself, you will know when you are being treated badly and will have the courage to stand up for yourself. Self-respect also means you will treat others well and know that, by doing so, others will treat you well in return.

As parents, it is essential that we teach our kids self-respect. Showing and telling them they are worthy, valuable and important is a very good place to start. Teaching them about appropriate boundaries around their physical and mental health is also essential. So is instilling in them that no one has the right to jeopardise their physical or emotional safety. Your kids need to know that if they are on the receiving end of behaviour that isn’t appropriate, they can come to you or other nominated trusted adults in their life.

Don’t Forget About Empathy!

In my opinion, empathy is the perfect partner to respect. This is the ability to identify with and feel for another person’s concerns, and is a key element of emotional intelligence (EQ). It is an essential foundation upon which positive interactions – both offline and online – are built.

According to US parenting expert Dr Michele Borba our generation of children are experiencing an ’empathy crisis’ which is contributing to bullying and poor academic performance. She believes empathy is such a powerful emotion it can halt violent and cruel behaviour and encourage us to treat others kindly. Which makes it an essential element of positive online interactions.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

I strongly encourage you to take some time today to consider the theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day. Do you need to fine-tune your approach to respect and empathy at home? Is there a way of weaving some of these messages into your family dialogue? And most importantly: are you modelling respect and empathy for your kids to see and copy?

Till next time!

Stay Safe Online,

Alex x

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Your Kids Are My Problem, Here’s Why

This post was written by Jessica Brookes

Snow falls outside the large steamy windows at a popular coffee shop in the suburbs of London. It’s crowded with dogs, children, people on laptops, people on mobiles and people on another planet. At a corner table, two friends are talking about how much (or how little) they know about keeping their children safe “on devices”.  One remarks they rely on the parental settings in web browsers whilst the other confesses not to know if their mobile phone has parental controls. “Must do better”, “must look into that” is the closing sentiment but not before both do some personal admin whilst chatting; online banking for one and eBay listings for the other. The coffee shop is not unusual and neither are these parents.

According to the latest impact report from Internet Matters, the pace of change from 2013 to 2016 shows that parents’ concern increased in almost every area of online issues children face. Yet Parenting Digital Natives, also from Internet Matters, shows that only 49% of the parents surveyed had spoken to their 6-10 year olds about online safety in the last month, yet 78% of 10-12 year olds have social media accounts and online has overtaken TV with 5-15 year olds spending an average of 15 hours a week online. But what does all this research mean?

It means the children that surround us are spending more time online, potentially without adult insight into what they are doing, seeing and sharing. In contrast to television, knowing what is happening on a tablet, phone or laptop requires being involved. It also requires being educated about the risks as well as benefits of social Apps, games and websites children are frequenting. In order to facilitate information sharing and constructive discussions about how to stay safe it’s imperative, as adults, we know what we are talking about. We may not know more than our children, students, neighbours, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc but we have an obligation to know as much as they do. If they are using the Apps we should be too; especially parents, carers and teachers. And if we can’t keep up to date on the latest, then we can ask the right questions: what are you sharing? Can you chat on it? Can you make friends on it? Can you play games on it? One area often overlooked in social media are the T&Cs. As an example, children usually think they are protected because parents are saying it’s ok. Snapchat is a favourite because the photos disappear after 24 hours, however, the terms and conditions mean that they can and are sold as stock images.

Why all the questions? The question and answer portion of my day is normally at the bequest of my eight-year-old twins, not the other way around. But I know that will change soon. And when it does I want to ensure the lines of communication are open and I know enough about what they are doing to give them practical (even if not always welcome) advice on how to stay safe online. Why then, should other adults in their life or in my community for that matter to also have enough awareness to hold an intelligent conversation with a 10-year-old about online safety? Social apps an online activity are replacing the block party/neighbourhood get together culture I grew up with. I firmly believe that as adults we all have a social responsibility for educating and keeping children safe or society will degrade to the point where the monkeys are running the zoo.

I am back in the steamy café with espresso machines hissing, groups laughing and babies gurgling. The friends conducting financial transactions over an unsecured wi-fi connection gather their things to leave. One dog barks, then another and then another. Within seconds it’s turned from a coffee shop into a rowdy kennel and all it takes is one tall human to quiet a pooch and in an equal amount of time order is restored. If each of us take the view that the small humans of today will be running the world of tomorrow it’s our responsibility to participate in what that world looks like.

Follow me on Twitter @JBroLdn
 

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The Future of IoT: What to Expect From Our Devices This Year

The beginning of the new year is always an exciting time for consumer technology enthusiasts. Business leaders, pioneers and forward-thinking companies gather in Las Vegas to showcase their latest devices at The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where next-generation innovations take center-stage and the world gets a glimpse into the future of IoT. I had the pleasure of attending CES with my colleagues this year and was blown away by the breadth of technology showcased. While the innovations stretched across many industries, I’d like to focus on the reoccurring themes in home and personal technology and how we can secure ourselves through the gadget-filled year ahead:

Smart Homes Will Become “Smarter” 

My favorite devices are the ones designed to enhance the smart home. Companies are striving to advance technology and make our lives easier in the comfort of our homes. From smart thermostats to smart assistants, there is certainly no shortage of household innovation; and companies like Google and Samsung are making strides to contribute to the smart home ecosystem. During CES, Samsung pledged to make all of its devices “smarter” by 2020, linking together all devices via its SmartThings cloud. Meanwhile, Google announced that Google Assistant will now be built in (or compatible) with a range of household products including your smart doorbell and ceiling fan.

As our homes become increasingly connected, the need to secure our internet-connected devices is critical. More IoT devices mean more points of data to attack and leverage for cybercrime. Hackers have the ability to access your personal information through connected home devices, which poses a threat to your identity. Consider using a service with built-in security to ensure every device in your home is well protected― especially the ones that often fly under the radar. Secure routers and gateways can protect all of your connected devices, even the ones without screens.

Smart Technology Will Track Your Sleep 

Technology is even changing the way we sleep, with smart sleep solutions for consumers. At CES 2018, Terraillon announced HOMNI, a device designed to help improve a user’s sleep environment. This device tracks the sleeper’s movement, sending your sleep data to a free app so that users can see how well they’ve slept. There’s nothing technology can’t solve for, including a good night’s sleep. However, when it comes to our personal data, it’s wise to be aware of how your data is being tracked or used.

As the use of connected devices in our homes and personal lives grow, so does the need for security beyond your PC or mobile phone. Many of the devices that we welcome into our daily routine aren’t equipped with proper security controls. It’s important to remember that these connected devices often run on our personal information, information such as your name, age, location –and in this case, your sleeping habits. While a sleep tracker may collect your information with the intentions of helping perfect your sleeping patterns, it has the potential to put your information in places that you might not intend. This is another example of why it’s exceedingly important to secure the connection at its source: your home.

“Ask Alexa” Will Live in Your Eyewear

Amazon Alexa has the ability to communicate with just about every connected device, so it’s no wonder that the Alexa Voice Service will have the ability to connect with your glasses soon, too. During CES, Vuzix announced that its latest pair of AR glasses, the Vuzix Blade, can communicate with Amazon Alexa. Blending augmented reality with AI assistant’s functionality, this headset acts as a fully functional computer with the ability to send email and text notifications via Bluetooth through the processing power of Android and unparalleled display.

Amazon Alexa has become a pseudo-family member in many households, offering assistance in the kitchen and even reading bedtime stories to children. To keep Cybercriminals from gaining access to your personal data , be sure you enable an extra measure of security, like setting up a PIN code for your voice command purchases.

Adding an extra layer of security to your smart devices is key to becoming an empowered consumer in today’s day and age. By taking these extra steps you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of a secured smart home.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

 

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Take Charge of Your Online Privacy on Data Privacy Day

We spend a large part of our lives in the virtual world. Not only do we study, play, socialize and work; we also shop, pay bills and store documents. Today’s digital generation finds it tough to visualize a world where people had to stand in long queues each time they wanted to withdraw money from the bank, loan a book from the library or even buy a train ticket! There’s no doubt that the digital world spells ease, comfort, speed and time-efficiency. But it also means that there is a lot of our personal data out there that can be compromised, if it fell in the wrong hands.

Our data is our private property but due to malicious attacks or negligence, it may end up in the hands of unknown parties.

The aim of Data Privacy Day, celebrated on January 28th every year, is to make people aware of their rights to personal data protection and privacy.

So, what kind of data are we talking about? To name a few:

  • Resumes, certificates, photos
  • Health and employment records
  • Date of birth
  • Bank account details
  • Social media account login credentials
  • Credit and debit card details
  • Search patterns

Think back, haven’t you been surprised by how after searching for a product online you continue to receive ads for the same from various sources? How did they know your particular choice and how did the sellers get hold of it? There are these 3rd party apps that you unknowingly give permission to access your data when you install them. They collect, analyze and share the same without your explicit knowledge or consent.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s no wonder that data protection has assumed such importance. The recent Supreme Court’s verdict on ‘Right to Privacy’ stand testimony to the same. It’s our data and we need to ensure it is kept private.

First and major step towards this involves securing devices, adopting good cyber practices and being a smart social media user. On Data Privacy Day, let us resolve to become more responsible netizens and take charge of our privacy through adhering to the following:

  • Don’t be pennywise pound foolish: Free security tools offer only basic security and hackers today are highly advanced in their techniques. Secure all internet-enabled devices as soon as you bring them home with reputed comprehensive security tools. And don’t you forget to secure your smartphone!
  • Double your account security: All default password for newly bought devices like smartphones, PCs and routers, should be modified right at the beginning. Create strong passwords and activate 2-Factor Authentication for all your accounts, including banking, e-shopping and social media
  • Share with care on social media: This is totally in your hands. If you are careful about not sharing your private details, contact and preferences online or telephonically, you are quite safe.
  • Consistent Backups: It’s a good idea to periodically transfer data from phone, tabs and laptops to an external storage device. That way even if a device gets hacked, your data remains safe.
  • Think before you click: Infected links and attachments are commonly used for phishing scams. Avoid clicking if not sure of the source or if the source looks suspicious with spelling errors in the URL.
  • Educate kids: Activate parental controls on your child’s devices and monitor their behaviour online. Teach them the importance of owning their online presence early on

The key is therefore to adopt good cybersafety practices and abide by them. And not just you and I, but everyone in the cyber world needs to do so as our security is linked. If one account gets hacked, it compromises all the other accounts which have been linked. That makes it our responsibility to ensure that our connected devices and virtual environment are all secure.

Dear readers, when you go online henceforth, remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT. SHARE. Make everyday a Data Privacy Day and let’s start on this cyber safety journey today.

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The Rise and Rise of the Cyber Economy – PandaLabs Q1 2017 Report

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Developments in Cyber-crime, Cyberwarfare and AI mark the first quarter of 2017, as indicated by PandaLabs Q1 Report. The Report by Panda Security’s malware resource facility identifies prominent tactics, attack methods and shifts in the industry.

The Cyber-crime industry continues to grow on the back of profitable attacks. The development of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) and organisations like Vdos, an organisation specialising in DDos attacks, indicate the professionalism of the cyber-crime industry. In Q1 we continue to see new and adapted attack methods such as RDPatcher, malware detected by PandaLabs in its attempt to access the victim’s endpoint and prepare it for rental on the Dark Web.

Politically motivated cyber-attacks

Fueling the continued development of the cyber-crime industry are politically motivated cyber-attacks. In recent months, Cyberwarfare has become a popular tactic in enforcing political agendas. In Q4 of 2016, we saw some of the first high profile instances of cyberwarfare, with accusations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections. The gravity the development is clear as countries like Germany have now begun to develop cyber-command centres to monitor online activity – this quarter France and the Netherlands reconsidered electronic voting procedures to avoid situations like the 2016 US elections.

Targeted IoT device attacks

Targeted attacks on IoT devices continue to threaten our safety in line with the ever-increasing number of IoT devices. In February, at the European Broadcasting Union Media Cyber Security Seminar, security consultant Rafael Scheel demonstrated more ways these devices can breach unsecured networks by creating an exploit that would allow an attacker to take control of a Smart TV using only a DDT signal.

A perfect device for eavesdropping

Recent developments in Robotics and AI have led to that belief that the fourth industrial revolution is not far off. Robotics and AI technology could do more than just take over jobs – introducing virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo, can become a dangerous in road for hackers. Introduced in February 2017, Google Home can tune into your home IoT devices while waiting to be called on – making it the perfect device for eavesdropping. Police recently requested access to an Amazon Echo device as it may have held evidence that could be useful to their case.

Over the course of 2016 Ransomware attacks earned criminals billions of Rand. Fueled by its profitability, Ransomware attacks continue to increase, with new variants created daily. In Q1 PandaLabs discovered Ransomware variant WYSEWYE -that allows the attacker to select and take control of specific folders on the victim’s endpoint, ultimately demanding a ransom to give back control to the victim.

See the full report by PandaLabs here.

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A User-Friendly Interface for Cyber-criminals

IMG-MC-wysiwye

Installing malware through Remote Desktop Protocol is a popular attack method used by many cyber-criminals. over the past few months Panda Security’s research facility PandaLabs, has analysed several attacks of this nature.

Once credentials are obtained through brute a force attack on the RDP, the cyber-criminals gain access to the company. Attackers simply execute the corresponding malware automatically to start the encryption.

wysiwye-530x483Recently however, PandaLabs has noticed more personalised attacks. Analysing this intrusion we see that the ransomware comes with its own interface, through which its can be configured according to the attackers preferences. Starting with details such as which email address will appear in the ransom note. This customised attack makes it possible to hand-pick the devices the hackers would like to action on.

Advanced attacks we continue to see in this environment require businesses to employ a corporate network security strategy. Preventing zero-day attacks from entering your network is essential, along with efforts to neutralise and block attacks.

Data collected from Panda clients in Europe indicated that Panda Adaptive Defense 360 (AD360) was able to detect and block this particular attack. Timely investment in prevention, detection and response technology, such as AD360 guarantees better protections against new age threats.

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Panda Security Rated Top in Antivirus Test

IMG AVComp 03-17 - Blog

A recent study conducted by AV Comparatives recognised Panda Security for having obtained the highest possible score by detecting 100% of the malware samples tested.
 

AV Comparatives most rigorous test ranks Panda Security number one for malware detection

 

The analysis took into account the same infection vectors that a user might experience on an ordinary day. The fundamental objective of AV Comparatives’ Real-World Test is to determine if the security solutions are able to protect the system as it is exposed to an array of malware samples. Panda Security’s Free Antivirus proved it was able to detect 100% of malware to which it had been exposed.

“We are proud of the excellent results we received in the AV-Comparatives Real-World Test – these results validate our efforts to offer our users the best protection against all types of threats under real conditions. Panda Security is fully committed to the constant improvement of our solutions in order to provide maximum security levels with minimum performance impact.” say Jeremy Matthews, Regional Manager Panda Security Africa.
 
Infographic AVComp
 
These results speak to the success of the set of technologies leveraged by Panda Security to develop a solution that is ideal for all types of users – private or public, large or small. Panda Security’s solution comes in response to the rapid evolution of malware in recent years. In this regard, it offers the most effective response to threats such as ransomware, and proves to be the best ally in the prevention, protection and response to the latest attacks.

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Cybercrime Surges in Q3

young man with glasses sitting in front of his computer, programming. the code he is working on (CSS) can be seen through the screen.

PandaLabs Q3 Report indicates that incidences of cybercrime continue to increase, with 18 million new malware samples captured this quarter – more than 200,000 samples daily.

The Quarter at a Glance

Cybercrime continues to grow at an exponential rate, fuelled by the opportunity for large financial rewards.

Hackers have taken to developing new variants of successful Ransomware such as Locky, and the development of a model known as Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), whereby developers create Ransomware for distributors, these distributors then target and infect victims – allowing both parties to achieve greater profits.

Another key development was the occurrence of DDoS attacks. Most natably that of Cyber Security journalist Brian Krebs. Krebs exposure of vDoS lead to the arrest of its key members and subsequently made Krebs’ site the target of a massive DDoS attack that saw Google step in to restore the site. As one of the largest attack of its kind, hackers leveraged IoT devices to send 620GB of data per second – at its peak – to the site.
graphs_cabecera-mediacenter
This quarter cyber-attacks targeted multiple gaming sites, gaining access to millions of users’ personal information. These attacks were largely launched using botnets composed of smartphones, and effected users of Overwatch, World of Warcraft and Diablo 3. Further attacks saw more than 3.5 million users exposed when Dota 2 and mobile game Clash of the Kings were targeted. These highlight just a few incidences in the Gaming world in the last 3 months.

The Banking sector remained a target for hackers as attacks on ATM’s, POS terminals and Bitcoin wallets continue to become more frequent and more advanced.

A Taiwanese ATM attack this quarter indicated just how advanced cybercriminals have become when they were able to hack the banks internal network and withdraw over R28 million without even touching the ATM itself.

Another big victim was Yahoo – one of the biggest attacks of its kind revealed this quarter indicated that 500 million user accounts had been comprised in a 2014 attack.

Finally, Q3 saw the largest Bitcoin robbery to date, when R 84 billion worth of Bitcoin was stolen by hackers.

View the full PandaLabs Q3 Report for more detail on specific attacks and find out how you can protect yourself and your business from the advanc

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Evolution of Locky – A Cat & Mouse Game

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In the on-going game of cat and mouse between cyber attackers and defensive internet security providers, the appearance of a new tactic from the Locky family of Ransomware comes as no surprise.

As we discussed in February this year, Locky targets victims through seemingly legitimate email attachments. Once the victim clicks on the attachment the malicious macro begins encrypting the users’ files.

Given the nature of this environment, security experts are constantly working on ways to stop Locky, coming up with solutions that will render it ineffective.

Distribution of the latest attack

In the latest development, cyber attackers have come up with new tactics to bypass security. The malware is still distributed via email attachments, but no longer uses a Trojan. These emails have varying names and subject lines to attract the victims’ attention and usually contain Zip files.

locky-2
The Malware skips the downloader Trojan and gets the Locky variant in DLL format, and is then executed using Windows rundll32.exe. By using a script file as well as a DLL, instead of a Trojan and .exe, Locky is not immediately detected and blocked, and the Ransomware can begin its course.

To further ensure its success cyber attackers have given Locky an added fall-back mechanism, this means that the malware will still be able to complete its actions even in cases where it can’t reach command and control servers. The weak point in this is that the encryption key is the same for every computer.

These attacks appear to present in weekly waves and have already targeted victims in North and South America, and Europe, as well as attacks in Africa and Asia.

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In order to protect yourself, security experts suggest setting up filters for script files that arrive via email, as well as ensuring your antivirus is up to date. Advanced solutions such as Panda’s Adaptive Defence allow for active classification of every running application by leveraging Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) technologies. This means that you have a greater chance of defending your network against today’s advanced threats.

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