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The Connected Lives of Babies: Protecting First Footprints in the Digital World, Part Two

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The Connected Lives of Babies: Protecting Their First Footprints in the Digital World, Part Two

Picture an infant with a credit card.
In her name. With a $10,000 limit.

Well, it happens. As recent as 2017, it was estimated that more than 1 million children in the U.S. were victims of identity theft. Of them, two-thirds were under the age of seven, and the total losses connected to all this fraud weighed in $2.6 billion dollars.

As I mentioned in part one of our article on the connected lives of babies, babies can make their first digital footprints before they’re even born. What’s more, the moment a child enters this world along with a unique ID like a Social Security Number, they become a tempting target for cybercriminals. The reason is this: babies and very young children are effectively a blank slate, upon which crooks can write their own illicit history of fraud. And it can be years before you or your child find out, long after the damage to their credit has been done.

So, let’s pick up where we left off in part one by taking a close look baby’s privacy and how you can protect it.

Protect baby’s identity

There’s rightfully a great deal of conversation out there about the things we can do to protect our identity from theft. What’s talked about less often is protecting children from identity theft. In fact, little ones are high-value targets for cybercriminals is because we typically don’t run credit reports on children. In this way, a crook with the Social Security Number of a child in the U.S. can open all manner of credit and accounts and go undetected for years until that child attempts to rent an apartment or open his or her first credit card.

To protect your family from this kind of identity theft, the major credit reporting agencies suggest the following:

I. Check your child’s credit regularly. If your child indeed has a credit report against their name, there’s a strong chance that their identity has been stolen. You can work directly with the credit reporting agency to begin resolving the issue. If there is theft, file a report with the appropriate law enforcement agency. You’ll want a record of this as you dispute any false records.
II. Freeze your child’s credit. A freeze will prevent access to your child’s report and thus prevent any illicit activity. In the U.S., you’ll need to create a separate freeze with each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). It’s free to do so, yet you’ll have to do a little legwork to prove that you’re indeed the child’s parent or guardian.
III. Secure your documents and keep personal info close to the vest. Along with things like a passport, insurance cards, and birth certificates, store these items in a safe location when you’re not actively using them. That goes extra for Social Security cards. Likewise, doctor’s offices often ask patients for their Social Security Number, which typically helps with their billing. See if they can accept an alternative form of ID, use just the last four digits, or simply forgo it altogether.

Register a URL for your child

Getting your kiddo a website is probably low on your list of priorities, yet it’s a sound move to consider. Here’s why: it carves out a piece of digital real estate that’s theirs and theirs alone.

Whether you opt for a dot-com or one of several hundred other extensions like .net, .us, and .me, a personal URL gives you and your child ownership of yet another piece of their digital identity. No one else can own it as long as you’re paying the fee to maintain it. Think of it as an investment. Down the road, it could be used for a personal email address, a professional portfolio site someday, or just a side project in web design. With internet URLs being a finite resource, it’s wise to see if spending a relatively small fee each a year is worth securing this piece of your child’s identity.

Sharenting: Think of baby’s future

We all have one—that picture from our childhood that we absolutely dread because it’s embarrassing as all get-out. Now contrast that with today’s digital age, where an estimated 95 million photos are posted each day on Instagram alone. We’re chronicling our lives, our friends’ lives, and the lives of our families at an incredible rate—almost without thinking about it. And that opens a host of issues about privacy and just how much we share. Enter the notion of “sharenting,” a form of oversharing that can trample your child’s right to privacy.

For babies, we have to remember that they’re little people who, one day, before you know it, will grow up. How will some of those photos that seemed cute in the moment hold up when baby gets older? Will those photos that you posted prove embarrassing some day? Could they be used to harm their reputation or damage their sense of privacy and trust in you?

With that, let’s remember a couple things when it comes to sharing photos of our children:

• The internet is forever. Work on this basic assumption: once you post it, it’s online for good.
• Babies have a right to privacy too. It’s your job to protect it while they can’t.

So, before you post, run through that one-two mental checklist.

Sharenting: Identity Theft

Sharenting can also lead to identity theft. In 2018, Barclay’s financial services estimated that oversharing by parents on social media will amount to more than 7 million cases of identity theft a year by 2030—just shy of a billion dollars U.S. worth of damage. This includes all the tips and cues that crooks can glean from social media posts and geographic metadata that’s captured in photographic files. Things like birthdays, pet names, names of schools, favorite teams, maiden names, and so forth are all fodder for password hacks and targeted phishing attacks. The advice here is to keep your digital lives close to the vest:
I. Set all social media accounts to private. Nothing posted on the internet is 100% private. Even when you post to “friends only,” your content can still get copied and re-shared.
II. This way, the general public can’t see what you’re posting. However, keep in mind that nothing you ever post online is 100% private. Someone who has access to your page could just as easily grab a screenshot of your post and then continue to share it that way.
III. Go into your phone’s settings and disable location information for photos. Specifics will depend on the brand of your phone, but you should have an option via the phone’s “location services” settings or within the camera app itself. Doing so will prevent the geographic location, time, date, and even device type from appearing in the metadata of your photos.
IV. Above all, think twice about posting in the first place. “Do I really need to share this?” is the right question to ask, particularly if it can damage your child’s privacy or be used by a scammer in some form, whether today or down the road.

The first steps for keeping your family safe online

Like new parents don’t have enough to think about already! However, thinking about these things now at the earliest stages will get you and your growing family off on a strong and secure start, one that you can build on for years to come—right up to the day when they ask for their first smartphone. But you have a while before that conversation crops up, so enjoy!

Stay Updated

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

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The Connected Lives of Babies: Protecting First Footprints in the Digital World, Part 1

Digital from birth

The Connected Lives of Babies: Protecting The First Footprints in the Digital World, Part One

A baby can leave their first footprints internet even before they’re born.

The fact is that children start creating an identity online before they even put a little pinky on a device, let alone come home for the first time. That “Hello, world!” moment can come much, much sooner. And it will come from you.

From posting baby’s ultrasound pic to sharing a video of the gender reveal celebration, these are the first digital footprints that your child will make. With your help, of course, because it’s you who’ll snap all those photos, capture all those videos, and share many of them on the internet. Yet even though you’re the one who took them, those digital footprints you’ve created belong to your child.

And that’s something for us to pause and consider during this wonderful (and challenging!) stretch of early parenthood. Just as we look out for our children’s well-being in every other aspect of their little lives, we must look out for their digital well-being too. Babies are entitled to privacy too. And their little digital lives need to be protected as well.

The connected lives of babies

Babies lives are more connected than you might think. Above and beyond the social media posts we make to commemorate all their “firsts,” from first solid food to first steps, there’s digital information that’s associated with your child as well. Things like Social Security Numbers, medical records, and even financial records related to them all exist, all of which need to be protected just like we protect that same digital information as adults.

Likewise, there’s all manner of connected devices like Wi-Fi baby monitors, baby sleep monitors, even smart cribs that sense restlessness in your baby and then rocks and soothes those little cares away. Or how about a smart changing table that tracks the weight of your child over time? You and your baby may make use of those. And because all these things are connected, they have to be protected.

This is the first of two articles that takes a look at this topic, and we’ll start with a look at making good choice about purchasing “smart devices” and connected baby monitors—each pieces of technology that parents should investigate before bringing them into their home or nursery.

Buying smart devices for baby, Part One: Connect with your care provider

As a new parent, or as a parent who’s just added another tyke to the nest, you’ll know just how many products are designed for your baby—and then marketed toward your fears or concerns. Before buying such smart devices, read reviews and speak with your health care provider to get the facts.

For example, you can purchase connected monitors that track metrics like baby’s breathing, heart rate, and blood-oxygen levels while they sleep. While they’re often presented as a means of providing peace of mind, the question to ask is what that biometric information can really do for you. This is where your health care provider can come in, because if you have concerns about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), that’s a much larger conversation. Your provider can discuss the topic with you about and whether such a device is an effective measure for your child.

Buying smart devices for baby, Part Two: Do your security research

Another question to ask is what’s done with the biometric data that such devices monitor. Is it kept on your smartphone, or is it stored in the cloud by the device manufacturer? Is that storage secure? Is the data shared with any third parties? Who owns that data? Can you opt in or opt out of sharing it? Can you access and delete it as needed? Your baby’s biometrics are highly personal info and must be protected as such. Without clear-cut answers about how your baby’s data is handled, you should consider giving that device a hard pass.

How do you get those answers? This is another instance where you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and read the privacy policy associated with the device or service in question. And as it is with privacy policies, some are written far more clearly and concisely than others. The information is in there. You may have to dig for it. (Of note, there are instances where parents consented to the use of their data for the purposes of government research, such as this study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.)

Related, here’s the advice I share on every connected “smart” device out there, from baby-related items to smart refrigerators: before you purchase, read up on reviews and comments from other customers. Look for news articles about the device manufacturer too. The fact of the matter is that some smart device manufacturers are much better at baking security protocols into their devices than others, so investigate their track record to see if you can uncover any issues with their products or security practices. Information such as this can help you make an even more informed choice.

Secure your Wi-Fi baby monitor (and other smart devices too)

An online search for “hacked baby monitor” will quickly call up several unsettling stories about hackers tuning into Wi-Fi baby monitors—scanning the camera about the room at will and perhaps even speaking directly to the child. Often, this is because the default factory password has not been changed by the parents. And a “default password” may as well be “public password” because lists of default passwords for connected devices are freely available on the internet. In fact, researchers from Ben Gurion University looked at the basic security of off-the-shelf smart devices found that, “It only took 30 minutes to find passwords for most of the devices and some of them were found only through a Google search of the brand.”

The three things you can do to prevent this from happening to your Wi-Fi baby monitor, along with other connected devices around your home, are:

  1. Change the default password. Use a strong and unique password for your baby monitor and other devices.
  2. Update. Check regularly for device updates, as they often harden the security of the device in addition to adding performance upgrades.
  • Use two-factor authentication if available. This, in addition to a password, offers an extra layer of protection that makes a device far more difficult to hack.

What about “old-style” baby monitors that work on a radio frequency (RF) like a walkie-talkie does? Given that they’re not connected to the internet, there’s less risk involved. That’s because hacking into an RF monitor requires a per person to be in close physical proximity to the device and have access to the same broadcast frequency as your device—a far less likely proposition, yet a risk none the less. Some modern RF baby monitors even encrypt the radio signal, mitigating that much more risk.

And now, let’s talk about online privacy for babies and children

Next up, we’ll take a closer look at baby’s privacy online. Yes, that’s a thing! And an important one at that, as taking charge of their privacy right now can protect them from cybercrime and harm as they get older.

Stay Updated 

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

 

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CES 2021: Highlights From the “Cleanest” Show Yet!

CES 2021

Typically, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gives us a sense of where technology is going in the future. However, this year’s show was arguably more about technology catching up with how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives. While gathering in person was not an option, we still had the opportunity to witness incredible technological feats virtually – primarily those meant to help us better adapt to the new normal.
From devices aimed at making the world more sanitary to new work-from-home solutions, here are some of the highlights from this year’s first ever virtual CES:

Extreme Home Makeover: Digital Edition

Every year, CES introduces a plethora of smart home devices aimed at making our lives easier. But now that our homes have expanded beyond where we live to function as a workplace and classroom, companies have developed new gadgets to improve our lives while we stay at home. In fact, the smart home market grew 6.7% from 2019 to 2020 to $88 billion and is expected to reach $246.42 billion by 2025.

This year, Kohler showed off voice control features for its sinks and other fixtures, so homeowners can turn on faucets without touching them. And while every CES is paved with an array of flashy new TVs, LG drummed up lots of excitement with its new 55-inch transparent TV that you can see through when it’s turned off.

From monitors to keyboards and Wi-Fi upgrades to charging stations, plenty of the gadgets coming out of this year’s show were designed to improve the remote work experience. Take Dell’s UltraSharp 40-inch Curved Ultrawide U4021QW Monitor, for example. Ultrawide is the functional equivalent of two 4K monitors side-by-side, but without the seam. Belkin and Satechi also brought their latest charging stations to CES 2021 to improve the home office, allowing users to charge multiple devices at once. With so many companies creating innovative devices to make our work-from-home lives more manageable in the long run, it’s clear that remote work is likely here to stay.

Staying Healthy at Home in Global Health Crisis

CES 2021 also brought us a whole new lineup of technology designed to help us monitor our health at home. Fluo Labs debuted Flō, a device that stops your body from releasing histamines when pollen, dust, and other allergens enter your body. HD Medical also introduced HealthyU, a device smaller than a GoPro that includes a seven-lead ECG, a temperature sensor, a pulse oximeter, microphones to record heart and lung sounds, a heart rate monitor, and a blood pressure sensor. HealthyU is designed for people with heart issues to keep tabs on their health every day and send that information to their doctors remotely. Not only will these devices enable us to take better care of ourselves if we can’t physically go to a doctor’s office, but they will also enhance our awareness of ourselves and our loved ones.

Touchless Tech is on the Rise

In 2020, we became hyper-aware of germs and how they can easily spread – one of those ways being on digital devices. While disinfecting these surfaces with an alcohol solution can help, many look to taking a different approach to avoid germ-spreading: touchless technology.

While no one technology can win the battle against the virus, many companies are doing their part to promote a cleaner, healthier future. For example, Plott built a doorbell called the Ettie that can take people’s temperature before they’re allowed to enter. Another company, Alarm.com, created a Touchless Video Doorbell to cut down on the transmission of bacteria and viruses that we otherwise often leave on places we touch. Kohler also built a toilet that flushes with the wave of a hand. As we head further into 2021 and beyond, be on the lookout for more voice-activated and touchless devices to help slow the spread of germs and help us live our lives free from worry.

Adapt to the Cybersecurity Landscape in a Hyper-Connected World

We’ve become more reliant on technology than ever before to stay connected with loved ones from afar, work from home without missing a beat, participate in distance learning, and find new forms of digital entertainment. But with this increase in time spent online comes a greater risk of cyberthreats, and we must stay vigilant when it comes to protecting our online safety. Hackers continue to adapt their techniques to take advantage of users spending more time online, so we must educate and protect ourselves and our devices from emerging threats. This way, we can continue to embrace new technologies, while we live our digital lives free from worry.

Stay Updated

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

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Looking Ahead to 2021: The Things We’ll Carry Forward

Looking Ahead to 2021: The Things We’ll Carry Forward

Right now, I’m thinking about how my life changed in 2020. Not so much in the sweeping and upending ways. More in the little ways. I’m thinking about the coping ways. The cobble-it-all-together ways. The little changes to make things work ways. There were plenty.  Now, with the first doses of vaccine going to those who need it most, I find myself wondering which of those little changes from 2020 will carry over into post-pandemic days.

One thing I do know, central to many of those changes was the internet.

The little things meant a lot

For starters, I now have a chocolatier in my home. That’s courtesy of the online Master Classes my husband  and I took—his course of study being chocolate making. (We’ll see how he tops that in 2021. Chocolate sets a pretty high bar.) Would we have taken our respective classes otherwise? Hard to say. But I will say this—it was a comfort.

I know that ordering my mother’s groceries online so she could avoid going into the store and stay safe was new. And through working online, I feel like I got invited into my team members’ homes where I had the pleasure of meeting  their spouses, children and pets. Also, while I could not travel like I wanted to, I could still go exploring with virtual tours of the world’s great museums plus catch a few great dive sites without getting wet. Those were all unique to 2020 as well.

I count myself fortunate that I had those options available to me, as many people simply did not—whether because a lack of connectivity held them back, or their working situations simply could not make the jump to online. With that, I think of the essential workers, the first responders, the medical professionals of all walks, and the people who kept our communities going by being on the front lines of this pandemic. We all owe them so much, both now and moving forward.

The internet helped us live our lives in 2020

Yet where possible, the internet responded, in the best way that it could. For those of us who saw our work, studies, and livelihoods shift online, the internet proved that it could step in. It’s been far from ideal, of course. The internet is simply no substitute for us working and being together, yet it helped so many of us face the challenges of 2020. Even if we didn’t use the internet for work or school, it helped us find employment, get care by way of telemedicine, and keep in touch thanks to free video conferencing, just to name a few things.

Put plainly, the internet helped us live our lives this year. And out of necessity, it re-shaped the way we live our lives too. So, without question, I can see some of little changes I made carrying over. My husband and I will take more Master Classes. I like the idea of helping my mom with the shopping when I can’t be with her. And I’ll keep exploring, even while that means restricting it to online for now. I’m sure you can count think of a few examples of your own too—things that made your life a little better this year and that can make the years to come better too.

Some of the big changes ahead in 2021

Looking beyond my own homestead, I’m hoping that 2021 will prompt broader, and immensely positive, changes as part of lessons learned from 2020.

With regards to internet access, this year has underscored the internet’s role as an essential utility. It’s no longer a luxury. I predict we’ll see renewed energy in public and private partnerships that will connect more people to fixed broadband internet connections so that they can benefit from the same professional, educational, and personal opportunities that the rest of us on broadband already enjoy.

During the election year here in the U.S., there’s been plenty of conversation about the propagation of disinformation and misinformation on the internet, both by bad actors and by the unwitting parties who fall prey to their falsehoods. We covered the topic extensively in our election blogs, and I believe the ability to critically assess what we see and read on the internet is a major issue of our time, whether it’s an election year or not. Disinformation and misinformation online are here to stay, and there’s an opportunity for schools to introduce instruction on smart media consumption as part of their curriculums.

And, what about working from home? Will it become a new norm for business in some shape or other? Working from home remains a complicated conversation, as a mix of public health concerns, local mandates, and stark financial realities drove that shift to remote workforces in the first place. Now, similar questions arise as communities and economies recover. Companies will make strategic decisions about their properties, people, and how they all work together—not to mention how they ensure personal and corporate security in a remote workplace setting. If we use major outdoor retailer REI as one example, we’ll see that the answers are nuanced—particularly when the end result means selling a newly built and never-used corporate headquarters like REI did.

A stronger and greater 2021

To bring it all back home, let’s see what’s worth carrying forward into 2021. We learned a multitude of hard lessons in 2020, and we pulled off plenty of clever moves in response. As much as we’d like to put 2020 behind us, let’s take a moment to pause and consider where some of the silver linings were and see if we can spin them into something stronger and greater in 2021.

And on a personal note I would like to end 2020 and start 2021 expressing my gratitude for the frontline workers, teachers and humanitarians who place service to society above all else. We have heroes in our midst and that is something to celebrate!

Happy New Year!

Stay Updated 

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

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Best Smart Home Devices for a Connected New Year

smart gifts

 Like many of you, I spent a lot of time at home this year, but it came with an unexpected upside: an excuse to upgrade all my home tech! With so many great new products on the market, from 5G devices to smart TVs, cameras, and more, there’s a lot to choose from this holiday season, and into the New Year.

In fact, the smart home market is set to grow by nearly 12% over the next five years, to $135 billion, so I’m sure even more devices are coming. But for now, here are the devices on my wish list, and how to protect them once they’re unboxed.

Smart Thermostats—These have been around for a while, but the newest additions include features that keep your home comfortable, and eco-friendly, by giving you greater control over your energy use. Some thermostats can detect your habits, and heat or cool different areas of your home, depending on which rooms you are using. And others now connect to smart speakers, allowing you to stream your favorite music and podcasts, or receive calendar alerts.

Bluetooth Speakers—Speaking of high-tech speakers, this category has taken off in recent years, but now there are more options for different types of users. While some people like the voice command features that turn their speakers into personal assistants, other users just want portable speakers with great sound quality and a sleek style. Now you can find a variety of different designs, sizes, and price points.

Smart TVs—With the explosion of streaming content services, and the demand for more in-home entertainment during the pandemic, smart TVs have become a must-have item for many. The latest offer 4K streaming video, which gives you higher resolution, although you need to stream 4K content to get the benefit. It may be worth the investment for other new features, however, such as a faster user interface, and a built-in universal search engine that will allow you to easily locate a favorite movie, actor, or genre.

IP Cameras— Internet-connected cameras can be an affordable security option, and the latest versions offer extra surveillance with wide-angle lenses, night vision, and wireless options for outdoors. Some cameras even do motion tracking, and offer facial recognition, in case you want to know right away if the person on your property is a known entity or a stranger. Just keep in mind that to get the advanced features you usually need to sign up for a subscription service as well.

Gaming Router—As the father of two school-aged children, I know a lot of parents are wary of online gaming, but here’s why a gaming router may be a great gift, even if there are no hardcore gamers in the house. These routers aim to give you a more reliable internet connection, while allowing multiple devices to simultaneously receive data streams, which could be a game changer if your whole family is trying to work and learn online from home.

Some routers even offer Wi-Fi 6, which is a huge jump in potential speed to 9.6 Gbps from the current 3.5 Gbps. This also means that all the devices connected to your network could see a significant speed increase, but only if you have devices that can take advantage of it.

Here are a few more great holiday gifts ideas:

  • Smart locks and doorbells
  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Intelligent air purifiers

How To Secure Your Smart Home Devices?

While the best smart home devices can certainly make your home more convenient, safe, and fun, they do open the door to some risk. You may have read about IP cameras being hacked, or other ways in which home networks are vulnerable to attacks. This is because most Internet of Things (IoT) devices come with little built-in security, making them an easy target for hackers.

Here’s how to secure both your network and your devices so you can enjoy them without worry.

  • Buy from reputable brands—Try to choose products from brands you trust, and who have a good reputation when it comes to support and built-in security features.
  • Change the Default Username & Passwords—Default names and passwords are often available on the dark web, allowing cybercriminals to login to your devices. Once logged in, they could potentially use the connection to distribute malware aimed at infecting the computers or smartphones connected to the same network.
  • Setup A Guest Network—To further protect your content-rich devices, set up a guest network on your router that is exclusively for your home IoT. With a guest network, you can also make sure that devices are only connected during the right times, and with the right permissions. Follow the instruction in your router manual or look them up online.
  • Practice Good Password Hygiene —Since you need to change the default passwords anyway, make each password unique and change them regularly. To make life even easier, use a password manager to generate and track your complex passwords for you.
  • Secure Your Network—Since your router is the central hub for all the connected devices, make it as secure as possible by checking to see that it uses encryption to scramble your data so that no one else can see it. A solution like McAfee Secure Home Platform makes it easy to protect your connected home.
  • Use Powerful Security Software—Invest in comprehensive security software that can detect and block a variety of threats, and make sure it includes a firewall so all the computers and devices on your home network are protected. A product like McAfee® Total Protection has the added benefit of including a password manager, multi-device compatibility, device security, and a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which ensures that you can safely connect to the internet no matter where you go. Importantly, it also includes dark web monitoring to help protect your personal and financial information by alerting you if your data is lost or stolen.

 

By taking these precautions as soon as you unwrap your smart home devices, you’re setting yourself up for a fun, and safe, tech-filled New Year.

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Top Ten Tips for Protecting Your Identity, Finances, and Security Online

Cybersecurity technology

Top Ten Tips for Protecting Your Identity, Finances, and Security Online

Whether you’re working, banking, shopping, or just streaming a few shows online, these quick tips will make sure you’re more secure from hacks, attacks, and prying eyes.

1 – Protect your computers

Start with the basics: get strong protection for your computers and laptops. And that means more than basic antivirus. Using a comprehensive suite of security software like McAfee® Total Protection can help defend your entire family from the latest threats and malware, make it safer to browse, help steer you clear of potential fraud, and look out for your privacy too.

2 – Protect your phones and tablets too!

Aside from using it for calls and texting, we use our smartphones for plenty of things. We’re sending money with payment apps. We’re doing our banking. And we’re using them as a “universal remote control” to do things like set the alarm, turn our lights on and off, and even see who’s at the front door. Whether you’re an Android owner or iOS owner, get security software installed on your smartphones and tablets so you can protect all the things they access and control.

3 – Create new passwords

Get a fresh start with strong, unique passwords for all your accounts using a strong method of password creation. And keep those passwords safe—don’t store them in an unprotected file on your computer, which can be subject to a hack or data loss. Better yet, instead of keeping them on a notebook or on sticky notes, consider using a password manager. It can actually create strong passwords for you, store them as you create them, and automatically use them as you surf, shop, and bank.

4 – Keep updated

Make sure you have the latest software updates for your computers, laptops, phones, tablets, and apps, and internet of things (IoT) devices like camera and alarm systems. Updates are important for two reasons: one, they’ll make sure you’re getting the latest functionality from your app or device; and two, they often contain security upgrades. If there’s a setting that lets you receive automatic updates, enable it so that you always have the latest.

5 – Beware of what you share

Hackers love playing the role of imposters to get a hold of sensitive info and account logins—because it’s often so effective. If you get what appears to be a suspicious request from a recruiter, co-worker, vendor, friend, or family member, verify the message with that person directly before opening or responding. Remember that an employer will never request sensitive information such as social security numbers or bank routing numbers over email or text.

6 – Watch out for phony web addresses

When searching, give the results a good look before clicking. Ask yourself if the website you want to click is legitimate—are there any red flags, like a strange URL, an unfamiliar name, a familiar brand name with an unusual addition to it, or a description that simply doesn’t feel right when you read it. If so, don’t click. They could be malware sites. Better yet, use a built-in browser advisor that helps you search and surf safely. It’ll call out any known or suspected bad links clearly before you click.

7 – Make your meetings password protected

To ensure that only invited attendees can access your video or audio conference call, make sure your meeting is password protected. For maximum safety, activate passwords for new meetings, instant meetings, personal meetings, and people joining by phone. To keep users (either welcome or unwelcome) from taking control of your screen while you’re video conferencing, select the option to block everyone except the host (you) from screen sharing.

8 – Watch out for phishing scams

If you receive an email asking to confirm your login credentials or that’s asking for any personal info, go directly to the company’s website or app—even if the email looks legitimate. Phishing attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, meaning that hackers are getting pretty good at making phishing emails look real. Don’t open any attachments or click any links in these emails. Instead, check the status of your account at the site or in your app to determine the legitimacy of the request.

9 – Use two-factor authentication

Our banks, many of the online shopping sites we use, and numerous other accounts use two-factor authentication to make sure that we’re logging in we really are who we say we are. In short, a username and password combo is an example of one-factor authentication. The second factor in the mix is something you, and only you, own, like your mobile phone. Thus when you log in and get a prompt to enter a security code that’s sent to your mobile phone, you’re taking advantage of two-factor authentication. If your IoT device supports two-factor authentication as part of the login procedure, put it to use and get that extra layer of security.

10 – Use a VPN

Another line of defense you can use to hamper hackers is a virtual private network (VPN), which allows you to send and receive data while encrypting your information so others can’t read it. When your data traffic is scrambled that way, it’s shielded from prying eyes, which helps protect your network and the devices you have connected to it. If you’re working from home, check with your employer to see if they have a corporate VPN that you can use.

Stay even more secure with these free resources

Find out plenty more about working and schooling from home, health and well-being, in addition to articles on healthcare and dating online too. Drop by McAfee’s Safer Together site for a wealth of free articles and resources.

Safety Tips

Stay Updated

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

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Putting Protection to The Test

McAfee win

Putting Protection to The Test

 This year has thrown a lot of challenges at us, and our digital lives were not immune. As millions of people around the world suddenly switched to working and learning online from home during the pandemic, digital threats spiked, making security and performance essential.

At McAfee, we are hyperaware of what our users are going through this year, with changes to their work, school, and lifestyles. At the same time, we are keeping our eyes on the threats aimed at taking advantage of the situation.

For example, we know that publicly disclosed security breaches increased by 41% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter. And, COVID-related threats are also on the rise. But with everything going on, it’s easy to see how technology users can become overwhelmed. That means that security not only has to protect against a wide range of threats, but also be seamless.

Security that Stands Strong

While you’ve been busy keeping up with all the changes this year has brought, we have been working on providing comprehensive security that protects you from existing and emerging threats so you can have peace of mind. In fact, Austria-based AV-Comparatives recently gave McAfee® Total Protection their highest three-star, “Advanced +” rating for malware protection measured against 16 competitors, and the German anti-malware test lab AV-Test awarded McAfee Total Protection with the TOP Product rating because of its 100% protection scores.

AV-Test also gave McAfee Mobile Security for Android its highest rating in terms of protection, performance, and usability against 14 competitors.

These labs also test for “false positives.” False positives happen when antivirus software identifies legitimate files or processes as malware by mistake.  In recent tests, our products have also scored well when it comes to avoiding false positives. AV-Test showed that McAfee Total Protection and McAfee Mobile Security flagged zero false positives during testing.

Both of these independent antivirus testing organizations specifically look for how well security products protect their users against various threats, which is critically important given today’s threat landscape.

Always Improving

One of the key ways we keep on top of threats is through continuous product development. We don’t stop working on our software tools just because they are released to the public. Our products are continuously updated with new features and enhancements when they become available because security isn’t static. Regardless of if you bought your product in 2019 or early 2020, we make sure that you have the latest protection installed through automatic product updates.

Underscoring our dedication to continual product improvement, U.K.-based SE Labs recently named McAfee the 2020 winner for “Best Product Development.”

SE Labs’s slogan is “testing like hackers” because it evaluates a product’s effectiveness at various stages of attacks, from malicious emails and keystroke loggers, to full-on network attacks and system harm. All of these assessments are important to ensure that we can protect our users in real-world settings.

Performance Still Matters

I’ve written before about how security software has to be convenient, and not get in the way of our productivity. Given the climate, it’s more important than ever that we offer comprehensive security tools that are lightweight and easy to manage.

For instance, I know how important these days are for my kids to meet with their teachers in online classes. If our security software was taking up so much of our computer’s resources that it kept them from being able to stream video while taking notes, it wouldn’t just be frustrating, but detrimental.

McAfee has consistently received some of the best scores in performance tests, while having a minimal impact on users’ systems. Just this month, AV-Comparatives awarded McAfee Total Protection the highest possible ADVANCED+ rating yet again, for the ninth time in a row!

This is great news for us, but even more important for our users since it shows that they do not have to sacrifice protection or performance, whether on their computers or mobile devices.

How It Helps You

Of course, we know the threat landscape is continuously evolving, and we need to evolve with it.

By offering you tools that can guard against the latest risks while allowing you to be productive and connect with family and friends, we hope to be a strong ally in your digital life. It’s great to see that these three independent testing organizations recognize our accomplishments so far in protection efficacy and performance. We promise to keep it up so you can live a carefree digital life.

Stay Updated

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

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Free VPNs May Still Come with a Price

Strong passwords

Free VPNs May Still Come with a Price

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free VPNs – Risky Business

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

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

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

Privacy Worth Paying For – Paid VPN Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

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Christmas Shopping 2020

How To Stay Safe While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

I’m pleased to report that I’ve achieved a number of personal bests in 2020 but the one I’m most proud about is my achievement in the highly skilled arena of online shopping. I’ve shopped online like I’m competing in the Olympics: groceries, homewares, clothing – even car parts! And my story is not unique. Living with a pandemic has certainly meant we’ve had to adapt – but when it came to ramping up my online shopping so we could stay home and stay safe – I was super happy to adapt!

And research from McAfee shows that I am not alone. In fact, over 40% of Aussies are buying more online since the onset of COVID-19 according to the 2020 Holiday Season: State of Today’s Digital e-Shopper survey. But this where it gets really interesting as the survey also shows that nearly 1/3 of us (29%) are shopping online 3-5 days a week, and over one in ten consumers (11%) are even shopping online daily!! But with many online retailers offering such snappy delivery, it has just made perfect sense to stay safe and stay home!

Santa Isn’t Far Away…

With just over a month till Santa visits, it will come as no surprise that many of us are starting to prepare for the Holiday season by purchasing gifts already. Online shopping events such as Click Frenzy or the Black Friday/Cyber Monday events are often very compelling times to buy. But some Aussies have decided they want to get in early to secure gifts for their loved ones in response to warnings from some retailers warning that some items may sell out before Christmas due to COVID-19 related supply chain issues. In fact, McAfee’s research shows that 48% of Aussies will be hitting the digital links to give gifts and cheer this year, despite 49% feeling cyber scams become more prevalent during the holiday season.

But What About The Risks?

McAfee’s research shows very clearly that the bulk of us Aussies are absolutely aware of the risks and scams associated with online shopping but that we still plan to do more shopping online anyway. And with many of us still concerned about our health and staying well, it makes complete sense. However, if there was ever a time to take proactive steps to ensure you are minimizing risks online – it is now!

What Risks Have McAfee Found?

McAfee’s specialist online threat team (the Advanced Threat Research team) recently found evidence that online cybercrime is on increase this year, with McAfee Labs observing 419 threats per minute between April to June 2020 – an increase of almost 12% over the previous quarter.

And with many consumers gearing up to spend up big online in preparation for the Holiday season, many experts are worried that consumers are NOT taking these threats as seriously as they should. McAfee’s research showed that between April to June 2020, 41% of 18-24 year olds have fallen victim to an online scam and over 50% of the same age group are aware of the risks but have made no change to their online habits.

My Top Tips To Stay Safe While Shopping Online

At the risk of sounding dramatic, I want you to channel your James Bond when you shop online this holiday period. Do your homework, think with your head and NOT your heart and always have your wits about you. Here are my top tips that I urge you to follow to ensure you don’t have any unnecessary drama this Christmas:

  1. Think Before You Click

Click on random, unsafe links is the best way of falling victim to a phishing scam. Who wants their credit card details stolen? – no one! And Christmas is THE worst time for this to happen! If something looks too good to be true – it probably is. If you aren’t sure – check directly at the source – manually enter the online store address yourself to avoid those potentially nasty links!

  1. Turn On Multi-Factor Authentication Now

This is a no-brainer – where possible, turn this on as it adds another lay of protection to your personal data and accounts. Yes, it will add another 10 seconds to the log-in process but it’s absolutely worth it.

  1. Invest in a VPN

If you have a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) on your laptop, you can use Wi-Fi without any concern – perfect for online purchases on the go! A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the router which means anything you share is protected and safe! Check out McAfee’s Safe Connect which includes bank-grade encryption and private browsing services.

  1. Protect Yourself – and Your Device!

Ensuring all your devices are kitted out with comprehensive security software which will protect against viruses, phishing attacks and malicious website is key. Think of it as having a guardian cyber angel on your shoulder. McAfee’s Total Protection software does all that plus it has a password manager, a shredder and encrypted storage – and the Family Pack includes the amazing Safe Family app – which is lifechanging if you have tweens and teens!

So, yes – please make your list and check it twice BUT before you dive in and start spending please take a moment to ask yourself whether you are doing all you can to minimise the risks when online shopping this year. And don’t forget to remind your kids too – they may very well have their eye on a large gift for you too!

Happy Christmas Everyone

Alex xx

 

 

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‘Sleigh’ Holiday Shopping by Protecting Your Online Security

Holiday Shopping Online

‘Sleigh’ Holiday Shopping by Protecting Your Online Security

And just like that, the holiday shopping season is among us! Like consumers everywhere, you may be trying to plan ahead when it comes to picking out gifts for your friends and family, scouring far and wide to cross items off your list. This year, however, will likely be different than past holiday shopping seasons.

While more than 124 million consumers shopped in-store during the 2019 holiday shopping weekend, findings from McAfee’s 2020 Holiday Season: State of Today’s Digital e-Shopper survey revealed that consumers plan to do more shopping online – and earlier – this holiday season. But how will this increase in online activity impact users’ digital lives?

Let’s explore what this online shopping trend means for consumer security this holiday shopping season.

Gearing Up For Shopping Season? So Are Holiday Hackers

The onset of the global health emergency caused users everywhere to live, work, play, and buy through their devices – maybe more than ever before. McAfee’s survey shows that general shopping activity has increased, with 49% of respondents stating they are buying online more since the onset of COVID-19. As one could predict, researchers expect these online shopping habits to bleed into the holiday shopping season. In fact, 36% of Americans note that they plan on using digital links to give gifts and spread cheer this year. However, this increase in online activity doesn’t exactly mean an increase in online safety.

Hackers love to take advantage of online trends, so it’s no surprise that they see an increase in online activity as more opportunities to spread threats.  In fact, McAfee Labs observed an almost 12% increase in online threats per minute in Q2 2020 compared to the previous quarter.

Increased online activity serves as the perfect opportunity for hackers to interrupt consumers’ merriment and spread malicious misdeeds.  And 36% of consumers noted that their online buying habits will increase this holiday season, even though they are aware of cyber risks.  This lack of concern is troublesome, especially as hackers get stealthier in how they scam consumers. Take Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts, for example. Forty-three percent of survey respondents admitted to not checking the authenticity of these so-called deals when going through their emails and text messages. By not taking proper security precautions, users potentially open themselves up to a blizzard of cyberthreats.

Holiday Shopping Scams
The 2020 e-Shoppers Guide

Spread Holiday Cheer Without Fear

While these survey results confirm that cyber-grinches are using their tricks to interrupt the merriment, that doesn’t mean consumers can’t still have a holly, jolly shopping experience. By taking the necessary steps to protect themselves – and their loved ones – this holiday season, consumers can continue to live their digital lives with confidence. To help ensure hackers don’t put a damper on your festive celebrations, follow these security tips:

Employ multi-factor authentication

Two or multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, as it requires multiple forms of verification. This reduces the risk of successful impersonation by hackers.

Go directly to the source

Instead of clicking on a link in an email or text message, it’s always best to check directly with the source to verify a Black Friday or Cyber Monday offer or track a package’s shipment.

Browse with caution

Use a comprehensive security solution, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites.

Protect your identity

Hackers often use consumers’ personally identifiable information to make fraudulent purchases – a trick that would certainly interrupt a holiday shopping spree. A solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure.

Stay Updated

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

 

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What You Need to Know About Among Us

Among Us – one of the Most Popular Online Game of 2020

(pictured credit: axel 795, Pixabay)

If you have teens and you haven’t yet heard of ‘Among Us’ then I guarantee it won’t be long. Among Us is an online deception and strategy game that is having a real moment worldwide. Over the last six months, it has amassed 85 million players on both PC and mobile. In September, it broke the all-time record-setting peak player ceiling on Steam when nearly 400,000 people played it simultaneously and, Google Trends reports that there were 50 times more Google searches for it at the beginning of October, as compared to the beginning of August.

What’s The Game About?

Among Us is an online multi-player game that is set on a failing spaceship. Suitable for up to 10 players, it has been compared to ‘Murder in the Dark’ or ‘Murder Wink’ – the old-school party game you may have played as children.

At the start of the game, you’re advised whether you are a regular crew member or an imposter. Crew mates are tasked with completing small tasks that benefit the spaceship eg cleaning our air-conditioning ducts whereas imposters (between 1-3 players) create havoc on the spaceship and seek out victims to kill – without letting anyone know.

Every time a dead body is found, a crewmember will call a meeting to workshop who they think the imposter is. This is one of the few times players can talk to each other. As you can imagine, this can get very heated (and entertaining) as players try to implicate others and remove themselves from focus. All players then vote on who they think the imposter is – and the player with the most votes is ejected from the spaceship’s airlock.

Crewmates win by managing to repair the ship and eject all the imposters while the imposter wins by killing all the crewmates before they complete their jobs.

Why Has It Become So Popular?

Among Us was actually launched in 2018 but to little fanfare. But the planets have aligned for the developers at InnerSloth and it has become one of the biggest online games ever. In fact, it’s so successful that the developers have abandoned plans for a sequel and are instead, investing their resources into perfecting the original.

There’s no doubt that pandemic life has contributed to the popularity of Among Us with many touting it as the ultimate group party game. In fact, some believe it brings all the energy and pizazz of board game night – just virtually.

It is extremely easy to learn. So, if you aren’t a gamer with years of experience (that’s me) you can absolutely play. This concept has been described by popular YouTube gamer Pegasus as ‘ingenious’ for its simplicity, and praised for its ‘extremely social’ nature.

The game is also very well priced. In fact, it’s free on mobile – but you will have to view some ads. And it’s only around $7 on a PC – so much cheaper than anything my kids have played in years!

What Parents Are Asking

Is it Suitable?

The Classification Board here is Australia gives Among Us a PG rating which means the content is mild in impact. But they do state that PG rated content is ‘not recommended for viewing by people under the age of 15 without guidance from parents, teachers or guardians.’

In Australia, the game is rated as suitable for 9+ on the App Store. On Google Play it is nominated as suitable for ages 10+.

The role of the imposter in the game to hunt and murder players is aggressive and violent. Yes, it is a cartoon-like visual which does reduce the impact but there are still bodies left lying around after the deed is done.

Parents know their children the best. Absolutely take heed of the advice, but ultimately, you need to decide what’s suitable for them. If you do decide to let your younger children play – or they’ve already discovered it – please talk about violence in video games. Does watching violent images make them feel scared or more aggressive? Do they feel better if they talk about it or, in fact, choose to watch something less violent?

Can They Chat With Strangers During The Game?

There is opportunity to chat with strangers in the game but it is less than most online games. Players can chat in the online waiting room before a game starts and of course, there is also interaction in the meetings during which the group tries to work out who the imposter is. Enabling the censor chat mode is a good option here – this limits word and aims to block out expletives however I understand that isn’t completely fool proof.

But you can choose to play the game offline, locally, which means you play only with people you know. You simply share a generated code with the players you want to join the game. I highly recommend this for younger children and teens or if you want to play the game as a family. The game can be played with as few as four players which makes an offline game far easier to get happening.

Does It Share A Positive Message?

Both trust and deceit are at the core of this game. Learning who to place your trust in is part of being a successful crewmember in Among Us whilst being a master of deceit will win you the game as an imposter.

You could argue that these themes are no different to playing Murder in the Dark or even the old classic Cluedo. However, I would absolutely have a conversation with your kids about the difference between real life and online (or gaming) life. Why not weave it into your dinnertime conversation?

My boys are really enjoying playing Among Us, in fact – we have earmarked this weekend for a family game. But please ensure you are comfortable with the game before you give your kids the green light. And if you do, be assured that one of the reasons this game is so popular is because players feel like they are part of a community – and isn’t that what we all need at the moment?

‘till next time.

Alex xx

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Trend Micro HouseCall for Home Networks: Giving You a Free Hand in Home Network Security

Remember when only desktop computers in our homes had connections to the internet? Thanks to the latest developments in smart device technology, almost everything now can be connected— security cameras, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and network storage, to name just a few. While a home network provides lots of benefits, it can also expose us to safety and privacy risks.

But checking for those risks need not be costly. How about a network security checker available for free? Yes, you read that right. Trend Micro’s free Housecall for Home Networks (HCHN) scans the connected devices in your home network and detects those that pose security risks. And in doing so, it gives you a sense for what real network security entails. We have a solution for that also.

Want to know more?

Trend Micro HCHN uses intelligent network scanning technology to scan the devices connected to your home network for vulnerabilities. These can range from a low risk type—such as an easily identifiable Wi-Fi Name that hackers can use to attack your router and home network—to high risk types, such as SSL-Poodle (for man-in-the-middle attacks), Shellshock (for remote code execution attacks), Heartbleed (which puts website passwords at risk) and WannaCry (which is a Windows ransomware cryptoworm). These and other vulnerabilities can be detected through the help of this handy tool.

In addition, HCHN checks devices for open ports that are usually targeted by hackers and malware and can be exploited for cybercriminal activities. Examples include ports 20 and 21, used via the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to transfer files between an FTP client (20) and FTP server (21), which can deliver a multitude of vulnerabilities to the internet; as well as port 23, which sends data in Clear Text, which can be used by attackers to listen in, watch for credentials, or inject commands, enabling the hacker to perform Remote Code Executions.

Moreover, HCHN gives you a report about the status of your home network and its connected devices and offers helpful advice for keeping your network and devices secure.

Lastly, HCHN provides you a notification when:

  • A new device joins the network
  • Connecting to a new network
  • A new vulnerability is found in the network.

 

Ready to install?

HCHN is easy to use and accessible from any device, be it Windows (7, 8 and 10), MacOS (10.12 or later), Android (5.0 or later) or iOS (8.0 or later). For your computer hardware, you just need to have Intel Pentium or compatible processor, a 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended) with at least 50MB available disk space and you’re set.

  • Download and install the application from the Web, Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
  • During install, accept the Privacy and Personal Data Collection Disclosure Agreement which indicates the necessary information gathered in order to check for and identify vulnerabilities in devices connected to your home network and you’re good to go.
  • Once installed, inspect your home network’s security risk exposure by clicking (applies to Windows and MacOS) or tapping (applies to Android and iOS) Scan Now. You’re then presented with the result.

 

Are my home network and connected devices safe?

Here’s a few scans we did–from a Windows PC, then from and Android and iOS devices.

When the scan is complete on a Windows computer it shows two tabs: Home Network and Devices.

The first tab indicates a snapshot of your home network, identifying the devices at risk.

Figure 1. HouseCall for Home Networks – Home Network

The second tab indicates a list of the devices scanned and the details of any device risks found.

Figure 2. HouseCall for Home Networks – Device List

On the Android device, once the scan has finished, the screen will reveal any security risks detected. You can view the issue to see more details of the security risk in your home network. You can then slide to the next panel and check to verify all the connected devices on your network.

Figure 3. HCHN – At Risk Devices

Similarly, upon completing the network scan from an iOS device, the app will display the risk that needs your attention. Just as with the Android device, you can move to the next panel to review the list of connected devices that were identified by Trend Micro HCHN.

Figure 4. HCHN – Needs Attention

A Few Reminders and Recommendations …

  • Use HCHN regularly to check the posture of your home network security, since new vulnerabilities and network risks may appear in the device after a time due to lack of firmware updates or a failure by the manufacturer to address a newfound risk.
  • Ensure that the devices (including mobile devices such as phones or tablets) are on and connected to the network when a scan is performed.
  • Some security products installed from the device initiating the network scan might detect the scan as suspicious and show a warning message or block user access. This doesn’t mean that HCHN is a malicious application. Add HNCN to your security product’s exception list, so it’s allowed to examine your network and connected devices for security risks.
  • The HNCN app does not automatically block dangerous network traffic or suspicious devices from connecting to your network. For that, and more home network security features, you should increase your home’s network protection with Trend Micro Home Network Security. To that we now turn.

What Home Network Security Provides

While a free network scan helps to determine the underlying dangers in your home network, to fully protect not only your home network but your family, you should consider Trend Micro Home Network Security (HNS) as a permanent enhancement to your network. It can shield your home against a wide variety of threats, including network intrusions, risky remote connections, phishing, ransomware, harmful websites and dangerous downloads. Additional features include the following:

  • New Device Approval gives you control over the devices that are allowed access to your home network.
  • Remote Access Protection limits malicious individuals from using remote desktop programs to connect to your devices at home.
  • Voice Control lets you issue voice commands to Alexa or Google Home to perform specific functions on HNS such as conducting a scan, obtaining your home network’s security status, pausing internet usage, disabling internet access for a user, and so on.
  • Parental Controls’ flexible and intuitive feature set, comprised of Filtering, Inappropriate App Used, Time Limits and Connection Alerts, can help any parent to provide a safe and secure internet experience for their kids. Combined with Trend Micro Guardian, parents can extend these protections to any network their children connect to, Wi-Fi or cellular.

Download the HNS App on your Android or iOS device to give it a spin. Note that the HNS App, when used by itself, performs the same functions as the HCHN app on those devices.

If you like what you see, pair the HNS App to a Home Network Security Station to get the full range of protections. (Note too that once you do, the HCHN App will be disabled on all your devices and network and replaced by Home Network Security.)

Figure 5. Home Network Security (HNS) App

Figure 6. HNS App Paired with the Home Network Security Station

Final Words

Home networks come with security risks. As the tech-savvy member of your household, you need to be aware of those risks. Using Trend Micro HouseCall for Home Networks (HCHN), you’ll be able to know which devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi network and whether these devices bear security risks that can be exploited by hackers and malicious software. Moreover, you’ll be provided with suggestions, in case your devices are found vulnerable.

However, just knowing the security risks is only half the battle in protecting your home network. You’ll need a more robust system that can automatically block suspicious and malicious traffic and do more— such as protecting your child’s online safety. Trend Micro Home Network Security (HNS) can address your home network’s security, even as it monitors your home network, prevents intrusions, blocks hacking attempts and web threats, and protects your family’s privacy, while keeping the internet safe for your kids.

Download Trend Micro Housecall for Home Networks from the Web, Google Play Store or Apple App Store to give it a try.

Go to Trend Micro Home Network Security to get more details on the solution, or to buy.

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

U.S. Elections

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

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

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

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

Demystifying Mail-In Voting

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

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

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

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

Safe Election Surfing

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

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

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

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

In-Person Voting

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

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

 Exercise Your Right

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

 

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5G and the IoT: A Look Ahead at What’s Next for Your Home and Community

5G

5G and the IoT: A Look Ahead at What’s Next for Your Home and Community

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is led by the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—a national non-profit focused on cybersecurity education & awareness. McAfee is pleased to announce that we’re a proud participant.

Imagine it’s 20 years ago and someone at a dinner party predicts that one day you could pop down to the appliance store and buy an internet-connected fridge. Your year 2000 self might have shook that off and then then asked, “Why would someone ever do that?”

Yet here we are.

Today, so much is getting connected. Our appliances, security systems, and even our coffeemakers too.  So far this month, we’ve talked about protecting these connected things and securing these new digital frontiers as Internet of Things (IoT) devices transform not only our homes, but businesses and communities as well.

To wrap up Cybersecurity Awareness Month, let’s take a look ahead at how the next wave of connected devices could take shape by taking a look at the network that billions of them will find themselves on: 5G networks.

5G is the key

You’ve no doubt seen plenty of commercials from the big mobile carriers as they tout the rollout of their new, more powerful 5G networks. And more powerful they are. For starters, 5G is expected to operate roughly 10 times faster than the 4G LTE networks many of us enjoy now—with the potential to get yet faster than that over time.

While mention of faster speeds continues to be the top selling point in ads and the like, 5G offers another pair of big benefits: greater bandwidth and lower latency. Taken together, that means 5G networks can host more devices than before and with a near-instantaneous response time.

The implication of these advances is that billions and billions of new devices will connect to mobile networks directly, at terrific speeds, rather than to Wi-Fi networks. Of those, many billions will be IoT devices. And that means more than just phones.

What will those devices look like?

One answer is plenty more of what we’re already starting to see today—such as commercial and industrial devices that track fleet vehicles, open locks on tractor trailer deliveries based on location, monitor heating and air conditioning systems, oversee supply chains. We’ll also see more devices that manage traffic, meter utilities, and connect devices used in healthcare, energy, and agriculture. That’s in addition to the ones we’ll own ourselves, like wearables and even IoT tech in our cars.

All together, we’ll add about 15 billion new IoT devices to the 26 billion IoT devices already in play today for a total of an expected 41 billion IoT devices in 2025.

Securing 5G and the IoT

Citing those examples of IoT applications underscores the critical need for safety and security in the new 5G networks. This is a network we will count on in numerous ways. Businesses will trust their operations to the IoT devices that operate on it. Cities will run their infrastructure on 5G IoT devices. And we, as people, will use 5G networks for everything from entertainment to healthcare. Not only will IoT devices themselves need protection, yet the networks will need to be hardened for protection as well. And you can be certain that increased network security, and security in general, is a part of our future forecast.

The GSMA, an industry group representing more than 750 operators in the mobile space, calls out the inherent need for security for 5G networks in their 5G Reference Guide for Operators. In their words, “New threats will be developed as attackers are provided live service environment to develop their techniques. 5G is the first generation that recognizes this threat and has security at its foundation.” When you consider the multitude of devices and the multitude of applications that will find their way onto 5G, a “square one” emphasis on security makes absolute sense. It’s a must.

While standards and architectures are taking shape and in their first stages of implementation, we can expect operators to put even more stringent defenses in place, like improved encryption, ways of authenticating devices to ensure they’re not malicious, creating secure “slices” of the network, and more, which can all improve security.

Another consideration for security beyond the oncoming flood of emerging devices and services that’ll find their way onto 5G networks is the sheer volume of traffic and data they’ll generate. One estimate puts that figure of 5G traffic at 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data in 2025. (What’s a zettabyte? Imagine a 10 followed by 21 zeroes.) This will call for an evolution in security that makes further use of machine learning and AI to curb a similarly increased volume of threats—with technologies much like you see in our McAfee security products today.

The newest IoT devices making their way into your home

“Siri/Alexa/Cortana/Google, play Neko Case I Wish I Was the Moon.”

We’ve all gotten increasingly comfy with the idea of connected devices in our homes, like our smart assistants. Just in 2018, Juniper Research estimated that there’d be some 8 billion digital voice assistants globally by 2023, thanks in large part to things like smart TVs and other devices for the home. Expect to see more IoT devices like those available for use in and around your house.

What shape and form might they take? Aside from the voice-activated variety, plenty of IoT devices will help us automate our homes more and more. For example, you might have smart sensors in your garden that can tell when your tomatoes are thirsty and activate your soaker hoses for a drink—or other smart sensors placed near your water heater that will text you when they detect a leak.

Beyond that, we’re already purchasing connected lights and smart thermostats, yet how about connecting these things all together to create presets for your home? Imagine a setting called “Movie Night,” where just a simple voice command draws the shades, lowers the lights, turns on the gas fireplace, and fires up the popcorn maker. All you need to do is get your slippers.

Next, add in a degree of household AI, which can learn your preferences and habits. Aspects of your home may run themselves and predict things for you, like the fact that you like your coffee piping hot at 5:30am on Tuesdays. Your connected coffeemaker will have it ready for you.

These scenarios were once purely of the George Jetson variety (remember him?), yet more and more people will get to indulge in these comforts and conveniences as the technology becomes more pervasive and affordable.

Technology for All

One point of consideration with any emerging technology like the IoT on 5G is access.

This year drove home a hard reality: access to high-speed internet, whether via mobile device or a home network is no longer a luxury. It’s a utility. Like running water. We need it to work. We need it to study. We need it to bank, shop, and simply get things done.

Yet people in underserved and rural communities in the U.S. still have no access to broadband internet in their homes. Nearly 6 in 10 of U.S. parents with lower incomes say their child may face digital obstacles in schoolwork because of reduced access to devices and quality internet service. And I’ve heard anecdotes from educators about kids taking classes online who have to pull into their school’s parking lot to get proper Wi-Fi, simply because they don’t have a quality connection at home.

The point is this: as these IoT innovations continue to knit their way into our lives and the way the world works, we can’t forget that there’s still a digital divide that will take years of effort, investment, and development before that gap gets closed. And I see us closing that gap in partnership, as people and communities, businesses and governments, all stand to benefit when access to technology increases.

So as we look to the future, my hope is that we all come to see high-speed internet connections for what they are—an absolute essential—and take the steps needed to deliver on it. That’s an advance I’d truly embrace.

Stay Updated 

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

 

 

 

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Seven Tips for Protecting Your Internet-Connected Healthcare Devices

Healthcare from Smartphone

Seven Tips for Protecting Your Internet-Connected Healthcare Devices: Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is led by the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—a national non-profit focused on cybersecurity education & awareness. McAfee is pleased to announce that we’re a proud participant.

Fitness trackers worn on the wrist, glucose monitors that test blood sugar without a prick, and connected toothbrushes that let you know when you’ve missed a spot—welcome to internet-connected healthcare. It’s new realm of care with breakthroughs big and small. Some you’ll find in your home, some you’ll find inside your doctor’s office, yet all of them are connected. Which means they all need to be protected. After all, they’re not tracking any old data. They’re tracking our health data, one of the most precious things we own.

What is internet-connected healthcare?

Internet-connected healthcare, also known as connected medicine, is a broad topic. On the consumer side, it covers everything from smart watches that track health data to wireless blood pressure monitors that you can use at home. On the practitioner side, it accounts for technologies ranging from electronic patient records, network-enabled diagnostic devices, remote patient monitoring in the form of wearable devices, apps for therapy, and even small cameras that can be swallowed in the form of a pill to get a view of a patient’s digestive system.

Additionally, it also includes telemedicine visits, where you can get a medical issue diagnosed and treated remotely via your smartphone or computer by way of a video conference or a healthcare provider’s portal—which you can read about more in one of my blogs from earlier this year. In all, big digital changes are taking place in healthcare—a transformation that’s rapidly taking shape to the tune of a global market expected to top USD 534.3 billion by 2025.

Privacy and security in internet-connected healthcare

Advances in digital healthcare have come more slowly compared to other aspects of our lives, such as consumer devices like phones and tablets. Security is a top reason why. Not only must a healthcare device go through a rigorous design and approval process to ensure it’s safe, sound, and effective, it also held to similar rigorous degrees of regulation when it comes to medical data privacy. For example, in the U.S., we have the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which sets privacy and security standards for certain health information.

Taken together, this requires additional development time for any connected medical device or solution, in addition to the time it takes to develop one with the proper efficacy. Healthcare device manufacturers cannot simply move as quickly as, say, a smartphone manufacturer can. And rightfully so.

Seven tips for protecting your internet-connected healthcare devices

However, for this blog, we’ll focus on the home and personal side of the equation, with devices like fitness trackers, glucose monitors, smart watches, and wearable devices in general—connected healthcare devices that more and more of us are purchasing on our own. To be clear, while these devices may not always be categorized as healthcare devices in the strictest (and regulatory) sense, they are gathering your health data, which you should absolutely protect. Here are some straightforward steps you can take:

1) First up, protect your phone

Many medical IoT devices use a smartphone as an interface, and as a means of gathering, storing, and sharing health data. So whether you’re an Android owner or iOS owner, get security software installed on your phone so you can protect all the things it accesses and controls. Additionally, installing it will protect you and your phone in general as well.

2) Set strong, unique passwords for your medical IoT devices

Some IoT devices have found themselves open to attack because they come with a default username and password—which are often published on the internet. When you purchase any IoT device, set a fresh password using a strong method of password creation.  And keep those passwords safe. Instead of keeping them on a notebook or on sticky notes, consider using a password manager.

3) Use two-factor authentication

You’ve probably come across two-factor authentication while banking, shopping, or logging into any other number of accounts. Using a combination of your username, password, and a security code sent to another device you own (typically a mobile phone) makes it tougher for hackers to crack your device. If your IoT device supports two-factor authentication, use it for extra security.

4) Update your devices regularly

This is vital. Make sure you have the latest updates so that you get the latest functionality from your device. Equally important is that updates often contain security upgrades. If you can set your device to receive automatic updates, do so.

5) Secure your internet router

Your medical IoT device will invariably use your home Wi-Fi network to connect to the internet, just like your other devices. All the data that travels on there is personal and private use already, and that goes double for any health data that passes along it. Make sure you use a strong and unique password. Also change the name of your router so it doesn’t give away your address or identity. One more step is to check that your router is using an encryption method, like WPA2, which will keep your signal secure. You may also want to consider investing in an advanced internet router that has built-in protection, which can secure and monitor any device that connects to your network.

6) Use a VPN and a comprehensive security solution

Similar to the above, another way you can further protect the health data you send over the internet is to use a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN uses an encrypted connection to send and receive data, which shields it from prying eyes. A hacker attempting to eavesdrop on your session will effectively see a mish-mash of garbage data, which helps keep your health data secure.

7) When purchasing, do your research

One recent study found that 25% of U.S. homeowners with broadband internet expect to purchase a new connected consumer health or fitness device within the next year. Just be sure yours is secure. Read up on reviews and comments about the devices you’re interested in, along with news articles about their manufacturers. See what their track record is on security, such as if they’ve exposed data or otherwise left their users open to attack.

Take care of your health, and your health data

Bottom line, when we speak of connected healthcare, we’re ultimately speaking about one of the most personal things you own: your health data. That’s what’s being collected. And that’s what’s being transmitted by your home network. Take these extra measures to protect your devices, data, and yourself as you enjoy the benefits of the connected care you bring into your life and home.

Stay Updated 

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

 

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Stay Connected and Protected During Work, School, and Play

Stay Connected and Protected During Work, School, and Play

These days, work and home mean practically the same thing. Our house is now an office space or a classroom, so that means a lot of our day-to-day happens online. We check emails, attend virtual meetings, help our children distance learn, use social media platforms to check in on our friends and family – our entire lives are digital! This increase in connectivity could mean more exposure to threats – but it doesn’t have to. That’s why this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) you should learn what it means to be cyber smart.

In our third blog for this NCSAM this year, we examine what that entails. Let’s dive in.

Stay Secure While Working Remote

According to Stanford research, almost twice as many employees work from home than at the office in the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And this new work-from-home economy is probably only going to expand in the future. Your pets and children will continue to make surprise guest appearances on work calls, or you may continue your new job hunt from the kitchen table. But as you work on juggling your work life and personal life at home base, this doesn’t mean that you should have to juggle security threats too.

The new WFH landscape has also brought about increased risk from . Unlike corporate offices – which usually have IT staff responsible for making any necessary network security updates and patches – users’ home network security is in their own hands. This means users must ensure that their Wi-Fi connections are private and locked with a complex password or employ the help of a VPN to prevent hackers from infiltrating your work.

Be Cybersmart While Distance Learning

Work isn’t the only element of consumers’ lives that’s recently changed – school is also being conducted out of many students’ homes as they adapt to distance learning. As a result, parents are now both professionals and teachers, coaching students through new online learning obstacles. But as more students continue their curriculum from home and online activity increases, so does the possibility of exposure to inappropriate content or other threats.

For instance, the transition to distance learning has led to an increase in online students to lose valuable time meant to be spent on their education.

To help ensure that learning from home goes as smoothly as possible, parents must stay updated on the threats that could be lurking around the corner of their children’s online classrooms. Take the time to secure all the devices that power your kids’ learning with a comprehensive security solution.

Enhance Your Streaming Security

Of course, everyone needs to find a balance between work, school, and play! These days, that means scavenging the internet for new content to help keep entertained at home. In fact, according to Nielson, there was an 85% increase in American streaming rates in the first three weeks of March this year compared to March 2019 reports. However, causing users to turn to other less secure alternatives such as illegal downloads and links to “free” content riddled with malware. This could open consumers up to a whole host of threats.

Users looking to stream the latest TV show or movie should be cautious and only access entertainment content directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from credible websites, instead of downloading a “free” version from a website that could contain malware.

If You Connect It, Protect It

We all need to be cybersmart and aware of the threats that come with our lifestyle changes. By following these pointers, you can block threats from impacting your new day-to-day and ensure security is one less thing to worry about. When looking ahead to the future, incorporate the aforementioned pointers into your digital life so that you are prepared to take on whatever the evolving security landscape brings – now that’s being cybersmart!

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, look out for our other National Cybersecurity Awareness Month blogs, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

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Election 2020 – Fake Election Websites: Five Tips So You Don’t Get Fooled

Protect Your Vote

Election 2020 – Fake Election Websites: Five Tips So You Don’t Get Fooled

When you spot a .GOV web domain tacked onto the end of a U.S. election website, that’s a strong sign you can turn to it for trustworthy election information. However, the overwhelming majority of local county election websites fail to use the .GOV domain.

Recent research by McAfee found that more than 80% of the 3,089 county election administration websites in the U.S. don’t use a .GOV domain.  The concern behind that stat is this: the lack of .GOV domain usage could allow bad actors to create fake election websites—which could in turn spread disinformation about the election and potentially hamper your ability to cast a valid ballot.

Moreover, nearly 45% of those 3,089 sites fail to use HTTPS encryption, a security measure which can further prevent bad actors from re-directing voters to fake websites that can misinform them and potentially steal their personal information.

And it appears that a number of fake sites have cropped up already.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening and what you can do to protect your vote.

Why .GOV domains matter

Not anyone can get a .GOV domain. It requires buyers to submit evidence to the U.S. government that they represent a legitimate government entity, such as a local, county, or state election administrative body. Thus, .GOV sites are quite difficult to fake.

Compare that to elections site that use publicly available domains like .COM, .ORG, and .US. A bad actor could easily create fake election sites by purchasing a URL with a similar or slightly mis-typed name to the legitimate election site—a practice known as typosquatting—and use it spread false information.

A rise in fake election sites?

Typosquatted election sites are more than a theory. Just this August, it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning bulletin to election officials that stated, ““The FBI between March and June 2020 identified suspicious typosquatting of U.S. state and federal election domains, according to recent FBI reporting from a collaborative source.”

And just last week, the Feds issued another warning about the risk of fake websites exploiting the lack of .GOV in the names of election websites.

What makes this approach of mimicry and typosquatting so attractive to bad actors? Rather than clear the much more difficult hurdle of meddling with ballots and other vote-tabulating infrastructure, bad actors can take the relatively easier route of faking websites that pass along incorrect voter information, all in an effort to keep people from casting a valid vote in the first place.

Protect your vote

While we have no direct control over the use of the .GOV domain and HTTPS encryption by our local election sites, there are still steps we can take to protect our vote. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Stay informed. Check that the site you’re visiting is a .GOV website and that HTTPS security protection is in place to ensure your security. If your local site is one of the many that does not use one, the other, or both, contact your local officials to confirm any election instructions you receive. gov provides an excellent resource for this as does the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
  2. Look out for suspicious emails. Scrutinize all election-related emails you receive. An attacker could use time-tested phishing techniques to misinform you with emails that can sometimes look strikingly legitimate. Check this blog for tips on how to spot such phishing attacks.
  1. Trust official voting literature. The U.S. Postal Service is the primary channel state and local governments use to send out voting information. Look to those printed materials for proper information. However, be sure to validate the polling information you find in them as well—such as with a visit this list of polling places by state compiled by Vote.org.
  2. Steer clear of social media. It’s quite easy for bad actors to spread bad information by setting up phony social media groups or profiles. For more on spotting fake news in your social media feed and election misinformation, check out my recent blogs on those topics.
  3. Protect yourself and your devices. Using strong security software that protects your computers, tablets, and smartphones will help prevent phishing attacks, block links to suspicious sites, and help protect your privacy and identity. Also, disable pop-ups in your browser. Together, these will offer a line of defense against attempts to steer you toward a phony election site.

Stay Updated 

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

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Cyber Security Awareness: A Critical Checklist

October 2020 marks the 17th year of National CyberSecurity Awareness Month, where users and organizations are encouraged to double their efforts to be aware of cybersecurity issues in all their digital dealings—and to take concrete steps to increase their privacy and security as necessary. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has announced a four-week security strategy under the theme “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart”. (You can use the NCSAM hashtag #BeCyberSmart during October to promote your involvement in raising cybersecurity awareness.) Their schedule includes the following:

 

 

  • Week of October 5 (Week 1):If You Connect It, Protect It
  • Week of October 12 (Week 2):Securing Devices at Home and Work
  • Week of October 19 (Week 3):Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare
  • Week of October 26 (Week 4):The Future of Connected Devices

Here in Trend Micro’s Consumer Division, we’d like to do our part by providing a breakdown of the security issues you should be aware of as you think about cybersecurity—and to give you some tips about what you can do to protect yourself and your family while working, learning, or gaming at home. To help, we’ve also taken a look back at articles we’ve written recently to address each category of threat—and to provide some quick links to access our library of relevant blogs all in a single place.

The range of threats

As you think about potential threats during Cybersecurity Awareness Month and beyond, keep in mind our basic breakdown of where and how threats arise, which we outlined at the beginning of the year in our Everyday Cyber Threat Landscape blog. An updated summary is given here:

Home network threats: Our homes are increasingly powered by online technologies. Over two-thirds (69%) of US households now own at least one smart home device: everything from voice assistant-powered smart speakers to home security systems and connected baby monitors. But gaps in protection can expose them to hackers. There were an estimated 105m smart home attacks in the first half of 2019 alone. With home routers particularly at risk, it’s a concern that 83% are vulnerable to attack. In the first half of 2020, Trend Micro detected over 10.6 billion suspicious connection attempts on home routers’ unavailable ports—an issue made more worrisome by recent lab-based evidence that home routers are riddled with insecurities, as the Fraunhofer Home Router Security Report 2020 shows. This means you need to take steps to mitigate your router’s weaknesses, while deploying a home network security solution to address other network insecurities and to further secure your smart devices.

Relevant Blogs:

Endpoint threats: These are attacks aimed squarely at you the user, usually via the email channel. Trend Micro detected and blocked more than 26 billion email threats in the first half of 2019, nearly 91% of the total number of cyber-threats. These included phishing attacks designed to trick you into clicking on a malicious link to steal your personal data and log-ins or begin a ransomware download. Or they could be designed to con you into handing over your personal details, by taking you to legit-looking but spoofed sites. Endpoint threats sometimes include social media phishing messages or even legitimate websites that have been booby-trapped with malware. All this means is that installing endpoint security on your PCs and Macs is critical to your safety.

Relevant Blogs:

Mobile security threats: Hackers are also targeting our smartphones and tablets with greater sophistication. Malware is often unwittingly downloaded by users, since it’s hidden in normal-looking mobile apps, like the Agent Smith adware that infected over 25 million Android handsets globally in 2019. Users are also extra-exposed to social media attacks and those leveraging unsecured public Wi-Fi when using their devices. Once again, the end goal for the hackers is to make money: either by stealing your personal data and log-ins; flooding your screen with adverts; downloading ransomware; or forcing your device to contact expensive premium rate phone numbers that they own. The conclusion? Installing a mobile security solution, as well as personal VPN, on your Android or iOS device, should be part of your everyday security defense.

Relevant Blogs:

Identity data breaches are everywhere: The raw materials needed to unlock your online accounts and help scammers commit identity theft and fraud are stored by the organizations you interact with online. Unfortunately, these companies continued to be targeted by data thieves in 2019. As of November 2019, there were over 1,200 recorded breaches in the US, exposing more than 163 million customer records. Even worse, hackers are now stealing card data direct from the websites you shop with as they are entered in, via “digital skimming” malware. That said, an increasingly popular method uses automated tools that try tens of thousands of previously breached log-ins to see if any of them work on your accounts. From November 2017 through the end of March 2019, over 55 billion such attacks were detected. Add these to the classical phishing attack, where email hoaxes designed to get you to unwittingly hand over your data—and your data and identity can be severely compromised. In this category, using both a password manager and an identity security monitoring solution, is critical for keeping your identity data safe as you access your online accounts.

Relevant Blogs:

How Trend Micro can help

Trend Micro fully understands these multiple sources for modern threats, so it offers a comprehensive range of security products to protect all aspects of your digital life—from your smart home network to your PCs and Macs, and from your mobile devices to your online accounts. We also know you need security for your email and your social networks, or simply when browsing the web itself.

Trend Micro Home Network Security: Provides protection against network intrusions, router hacks, web threats, dangerous file downloads and identity theft for every device connected to the home network.

Trend Micro Premium Security Suite: Our new premium offering provides all of the products listed below for up to 10 devices, plus Premium Services by our highly trained pros. It includes 24×7 technical support, virus and spyware removal, a PC security health check, and remote diagnosis and repair. As always, however, each solution below can be purchased separately, as suits your needs.

  • Trend Micro Security:Protects your PCs and Macs against web threats, phishing, social network threats, data theft, online banking threats, digital skimmers, ransomware and other malware. Also guards against over-sharing on social media.
  • Trend Micro Mobile Security:Protects against malicious app downloads, ransomware, dangerous websites, and unsafe Wi-Fi networks.
  • Trend Micro Password Manager:Provides a secure place to store, manage and update your passwords. It remembers your log-ins, enabling you to create long, secure and unique credentials for each site/app you need to sign-in to.
  • Trend Micro WiFi Protection:Protects you on unsecured public WiFi by providing a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts your traffic and ensures protection against man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.
  • Trend Micro ID Security (AndroidiOS): Monitors underground cybercrime sites to securely check if your personal information is being traded by hackers on the Dark Web and sends you immediate alerts if so, so you can take steps to address the problem.

The post Cyber Security Awareness: A Critical Checklist appeared first on .

Election 2020 – Keep Misinformation from Undermining the Vote

Protect Your Vote

Election 2020 – Keep Misinformation from Undermining the Vote

On September 22nd, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an advisory about the potential threat from foreign actors and cybercriminals attempting to spread false information. Their joint public service announcement makes a direct statement regarding how this could affect our election:

“Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions.”

Their call to action is clear—critically evaluate the content you consume and to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources, such as state and local election officials. Not just leading up to Election Day, but during and after as well.

Here’s why: it’s estimated that roughly 75% of American voters will be eligible to vote by mail, potentially leading to some 80 million mail-in ballots being cast. That’s twice the number from the 2016 presidential election, which could prolong the normal certification process. Election results will likely take days, even weeks, to ensure every legally cast ballot is counted accurately so that the election results can ultimately get certified.

That extended stretch of time is where the concerns come in. Per the FBI and CISA:

“Foreign actors and cybercriminals could exploit the time required to certify and announce elections’ results by disseminating disinformation that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections’ illegitimacy.”

In short, bad actors may attempt to undermine people’s confidence in our election as the results come in.

Our moment to act as smart consumers, and sharers, of online news has never been more immediate.

Misinformation flies quicker, and farther, than the truth

Before we look at how we can combat the spread of false information this election, let’s see how it cascades across the internet.

It’s been found that false political news traveled deeper and more broadly, reached more people, and was more viral than any other category of false information, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study on the spread of true and false news online, which was published by Science in 2018.

Why’s that so? In a word: people. According to the research findings,

“We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information … Contrary to conventional wisdom, robots accelerated the spread of true and false news at the same rate, implying that false news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”

Thus, bad actors pick their topics, pumps false information about them into social media channels, and then lets people spread it by way of shares, retweets, and the like—thanks to “novel” and click-baity headlines for content people may not even read or watch, let alone fact check.

Done on a large scale, false information thus can hit millions of feeds, which is what the FBI and CISA is warning us about.

Five ways you can combat the spread of false information this election

The FBI and CISA recommend the following:

  1. Seek out information from trustworthy sources, such as state and local election officials; verify who produced the content; and consider their intent.
  2. Verify through multiple reliable sources any reports about problems in voting or election results and consider searching for other reliable sources before sharing such information via social media or other avenues.
  3. For information about final election results, rely on state and local government election officials.
  4. Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
  5. If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about election-related problems or results.

Stick to trustworthy sources

If there’s a common theme across our election blogs so far, it’s trustworthiness.

Knowing which sources are deserving of our trust and being able to spot the ones that are not takes effort—such as fact-checking from reputable sources like FactCheck.org, the Associated Press, and Reuters or researching the publisher of the content in question to review their credentials. Yet that effort it worthwhile, even necessary today. The resources listed in my recent blogs can help:

Stay Updated 

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

 

The post Election 2020 – Keep Misinformation from Undermining the Vote appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Spot Fake News and Misinformation in Your Social Media Feed

fake news

Spot Fake News and Misinformation in Your Social Media Feed

Where do you get your news? There’s a good chance much of it comes from social media.

In 2019, Pew Research found that 55% of American adults said they get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes,” which is an 8% rise over the previous year. We can visualize what that mix might look like. Some of their news on social media may come from information sources they’ve subscribed to and yet more news may appear via articles reposted or retweeted by friends.

So, as we scroll through our feeds and quickly find ourselves awash in a cascade of news and comments on the news, we also find ourselves wondering: what’s true and false here?

And that’s the right question to ask. With the advent of the internet, anyone can become a publisher. That’s one of the internet’s greatest strengths—we can all have a voice. Publishing is no longer limited to newspaper, TV, and radio ownership bodies. Yet it’s one of the internet’s greatest challenges as well—with millions of publishers out there, not everyone is posting the truth. And sometimes, people aren’t doing the posting at all.

For example, last May, researchers at Carnegie Melon University studied more than 200 million tweets about the current virus. Of the top 50 most influential retweeters, 82% of them were bots. Some 62% of the top 1,000 retweeters were bots as well. What were they retweeting? Researchers said the tweets revolved around more than 100 types of inaccurate stories that included unfounded conspiracy theories and phony cures. Researchers cited two reasons for this surge: “First, more individuals have time on their hands to create do-it-yourself bots. But the number of sophisticated groups that hire firms to run bot accounts also has increased.”

With the sheer volume of news and information we wade through each day, you can be assured that degrees of false and misleading information make their way into people’s social media mix. And that calls for all of us to build up our media literacy—which is our ability to critically analyze the media we consume for bias and accuracy.

What follows are a few basics of media literacy that can help you to discern what’s fact and what’s fiction as you scroll through your social media feed for news.

The difference between misinformation and disinformation

When talking about spotting truth from falsehood on social media, it helps to first define two types of falsehood: unintentional and the deliberate.

First off, there’s unintentional misinformation. We’re only human, and sometimes that means we get things wrong. We forget details, recall things incorrectly, or we pass along unverified accounts that we mistakenly take for fact. Thus, misinformation is wrong information that you don’t know is wrong. An innocent everyday example of this is when someone on your neighborhood Facebook group posts that the drug store closes at 8pm on weeknights when in fact it really closes at 7pm. They believe it closes at 8pm, but they’re simply mistaken.

That differs entirely from deliberate disinformation. This is intentionally misleading information or facts that have been manipulated to create a false narrative—typically with an ulterior motive in mind. The readiest example of this is propaganda, yet other examples also extend to deliberate untruths engineered to discredit a person, group, or institution. In other words, disinformation can take forms both large and small. It can apply to a person just as easily as it can to a major news story.

Now, let’s take a look at some habits and tactics designed to help you get a better grasp on the truth in your social media feed.

Consider the source

Some of the oldest advice is the best advice, and that holds true here: consider the source. Take time to examine the information you come across. Look at its source. Does that source have a track record of honesty and dealing plainly with the facts? Likewise, that source has sources too. Consider them in the same way as well.

Now, what’s the best way to go about that? For one, social media platforms are starting to embed information about publications into posts where their content is shared. For example, if a friend shares an article from The Economist, Facebook now includes a small link in the form of an “i” in a circle. Clicking on this presents information about the publication, which can give you a quick overview of its ownership, when it was founded, and so forth.

Another fact-finding trick comes by way of Michael Caufield, the Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University. He calls it: “Just Add Wikipedia.” It entails doing a search for a Wikipedia page by using the URL of an information source. For example, if you saw an article published on Vox.com, you’d simply search “Wikipedia www.vox.com.” The Wikipedia entry will give you an overview of the information source, its track record, its ownership, and if it has fired reporters or staff for false reporting. Of course, be aware that Wikipedia entries are written by public editors and contributors. These articles will only be as accurate as the source material that they are drawn from, so be sure to reference the footnotes that are cited in the entry. Reading those will let you know if the entry is informed by facts from reputable sources as well. They may open up other avenues of fact-finding as well!

Expand your media diet

A single information source or story won’t provide a complete picture. It may only cover a topic from a certain angle or narrow focus. Likewise, information sources are helmed by editors and stories are written by people—all of which have their biases, whether overt or subtle. It’s for this reason that expanding your media diet to include a broader range information sources is so important.

So, see what other information sources have to say on the same topic. Consuming news across a spectrum will expose you to thoughts and coverage you might not otherwise get if you keep your consumption to a handful of sources. The result is that you’re more broadly informed and have the ability to compare and contrast different sources and points of view. Using the tips above, you can find other reputable sources to round out your media diet.

Additionally, for a list of reputable information sources, along with the reasons why they’re reputable, check out “10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts” published by Forbes and authored by an associate professor at The King’s College in New York City. It certainly isn’t the end all, be all of lists, yet it should provide you with a good starting point.

Let your emotions be your guide

Has a news story you’ve read or watched ever made you shake your fist at the screen or want to clap and cheer? How about something that made you fearful or simply laugh? Bits of content that evoke strong emotional responses tend to spread quickly, whether they’re articles, a post, or even a tweet. That’s a ready sign that a quick fact check could be in order.

There’s a good reason for that. Bad actors who wish to foment unrest, unease, or simply spread disinformation use emotionally driven content to plant a seed. Whether or not their original story gets picked up and viewed firsthand doesn’t matter to these bad actors. Their aim is to actually get some manner of disinformation out into the ecosystem. They rely on others who will re-post, re-tweet, or otherwise pass it along on their behalf—to the point where the original source of the information is completely lost. This is one instance where people readily begin to accept certain information as fact, even if it’s not factual at all.

Certainly, some legitimate articles will generate a response as well, yet it’s a good habit to do a quick fact check and confirm what you’ve read. This leads us right back to our earlier points about considering the source and cross-checking against other sources of information as well.

Keep an eye out for “sponsored content”

You’ve probably seen headlines similar to this before: THIS FAT-BURNING TRICK HAS DOCTORS BAFFLED! You’ll usually spot them in big blocks laden with catchy photos and illustrations, almost to the point that they look like they’re links to other news stories. They’re not. They’re ads, which often strike a sensationalistic tone.

The next time you spot one of these, look around the area of the web page where they’re placed. You should find a little graphic or snippet of text that says “Advertisement,” “Paid Sponsor,” or something similar. And there you go. You spotted some sponsored content. These so-called articles aren’t intentionally developed to misinform you. They are likely trying to bait you into buying something.

However, in some less reputable corners of the web ads like these can take you to malicious sites that install malware or expose you to other threats. Always surf with web browser protection. Good browser protection will either identify such links as malicious right away or prevent your browser from proceeding to the malicious site if you click on such a link.

Be helpful, not right

So, let’s say you’ve been following these practices of media literacy for a while. What do you do when you see a friend posting what appears to be misinformation on their social media account? If you’re inclined to step in and comment, try to be helpful, not right.

We can only imagine how many spoiled relationships and “unfriendings” have occurred thanks to moments where one person comments on a post with the best intentions of “setting the record straight,” only to see tempers flare. We’ve all seen it happen. The original poster, instead of being open to the new information, digs in their heels and becomes that much more convinced of being right on the topic.

One way to keep your friendships and good feelings intact is this: instead of entering the conversation with the intention of being “right,” help people discover the facts for themselves. You can present your information as part of a discussion on the topic. So while you shouldn’t expect this to act like a magic wand that whisks away misinformation, what you can do is provide a path toward a reputable source of information that the original poster, and their friends, can follow if they wish.

Be safe out there

Wherever your online travels take you as you read and research the news, be sure to go out there with a complete security suite. In addition to providing virus protection, it will also help protect your identity and privacy as you do anything online. Also look for an option that will protect your mobile devices too, as we spend plenty of time scrolling through our social media feeds on our smartphones.

If you’re interested in learning more about savvy media consumption, pop open a tab and give these articles a read—they’ll give you a great start:

Bots in the Twittersphere: Pew Research
How to Spot Fake News: FactCheck.org

Likewise, keep an eye on your own habits. We forward news in our social media feeds too—so follow these same good habits when you feel like it’s time to post. Make sure that what you share is truthful too.

Be safe, be well-read, and be helpful!

Stay Updated

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

The post Spot Fake News and Misinformation in Your Social Media Feed appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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

Most Dangerous Celebrity

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

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

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

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Celebrities

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

 

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Lights, Camera, Security

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

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

Secure Yourself From Malicious Search Results

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

Be careful what you click

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

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

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

Protect your online safety with a cybersecurity solution

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

Use a website reputation tool

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

Use parental control software

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

 Stay Updated

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

 

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

Anna Kendrick Is McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Anna Kendrick Is McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020

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

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

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

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Celebrities

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

Most Dangerous Celebrity

Lights, Camera, Security

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

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

Secure Yourself From Malicious Search Results

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

Be careful what you click

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

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

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

Protect your online safety with a cybersecurity solution

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

Use a website reputation tool

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

 Use parental control software

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

Stay Updated

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

 

 

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

Check Out the McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020

Most Dangerous Celebrity

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

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

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

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

The Top Ten Most Dangerous Celebrities

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

 

Lights, Camera, Security

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

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

Secure Yourself From Malicious Search Results

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

Be careful what you click

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

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

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

Protect your online safety with a cybersecurity solution

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

Use a website reputation tool

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

Use parental control software

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

Stay Updated

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

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

Most Dangerous Celebrity 2020 Sweepstakes

McAfee “Most Famous to Most Dangerous to Search for Online” 2020 MDC Sweepstakes

Terms and Conditions

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.

THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS INTENDED FOR PLAY IN THE UNITED STATES ONLY AND VOID IN FLORIDA, NEW YORK, AND RHODE ISLAND, AND WILL BE GOVERNED BY U.S. LAW.  DO NOT ENTER IF YOU ARE NOT BOTH ELIGIBLE AND LOCATED IN THE UNITED STATES, EXCLUDING FLORIDA, NEW YORK AND RHODE ISLAND, AT THE TIME OF ENTRY.

  1. Sweepstakes Period:

The McAfeeMost Famous to Most Dangerous to Search for Online” 2020 MDC Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) begins at 8:00:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (“PDT”) on 10/6/2020 and ends at 5:00:00 PM PDT on 10/25/2020 (“Sweepstakes Period”). The Sweepstakes Administrator’s computer will be the official timekeeping device.

  1. How To Enter:

During the Sweepstakes Period, visit https://www.mcafee.com/en-us/consumer-support/2020-most-dangerous-celebrity.html (the “Website”), or the appropriate McAfee social handles listed below, and complete the following to receive the corresponding entries into the Sweepstakes:

Action # Entries Received Detail
Social Comment – Facebook or Twitter

 

 

@McAfee

https://www.facebook.com/McAfee/

 

 

 

@McAfee_Home

https://twitter.com/mcafee_home?lang=en

 

 

 

1 (per comment) Go to the website to review the instructions and terms & conditions.

 

Click through to the applicable McAfee social page(s).

 

Follow that McAfee social handle.

 

Find the social posts using the campaign hashtag (#RiskyCelebSweeps)

 

Comment only on those posts for means of entry.

 

1 comment = 1 entry into the sweepstakes for a chance to win.

 

Commenting on any of the sweepstakes specific posts (using #RiskyCelebSweeps) during the sweepstakes time frame allows for an entry for a chance to win the grand prize.

 

 

  1. Eligibility:

The Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the United States, excluding residents of Florida, New York and Rhode Island and where otherwise prohibited by law, who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Employees of McAfee, LLC, and each of their respective parents, 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.

  1. Winner Selection/Odds:

There will be one grand prize winner. The prize winner will be selected at random from the final pool of entrants (commenters) on the applicable sweepstakes social posts. Anyone who comments on any of the sweepstakes posts, within the sweepstakes time period, is included in the Prize entry pool. Limit one (1) prize per person per household. By participating, entrants acknowledge the McAfee Privacy Notice and agree to be bound by the Official Sweepstakes Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor which shall be final and binding in all respects. The odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received.

  1. Winner Notification:

Prize winner will be notified the week of 10/26/20.  No winners will be announced prior to this time.  All winners will be notified by the official McAfee Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/McAfee/ ) or McAfee_Home Twitter (https://twitter.com/McAfee_Home) page. McAfee will not ask you to provide any credit card information to claim a prize. Prize winner will be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release (where permitted by law) to be returned within (4) days of written notification, or prize may be forfeited. If a prize notification is returned as unclaimed or undeliverable to a potential winner, if potential winner cannot be reached within four (4) calendar days from the first 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 prize may be forfeited. Sponsor is not responsible for any change of email address, mailing address and/or telephone number of entrants.  Sponsor reserves the right to select an alternative winner should the first winner fail to claim the prize.

  1. Prize:

GRAND PRIZE – Approximate ARV = $900

  • iPad Air
  • Disney+ subscription for 1-year (includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Nat. Geo)
  • Spotify Premium for 1-year
  • $200 Visa Gift Card

Limit one (1) prize per person per household. Prizes are non-transferable and no cash equivalent or substitution of prize is offered. Subscriptions are subject to the terms and conditions available at https://www.mcafee.com/en-us/consumer-support/2020-most-dangerous-celebrity.html. If a prize, or any portion thereof, cannot be awarded for any reason, Sponsor reserves the right to substitute prize with another prize of equal or greater value. Prize winner will be solely responsible for all federal, state and/or local taxes, and for any other fees or costs associated with the prizes they receive, regardless of whether it, in whole or in part, are used. Since the prize value exceeds $600, the prize winner will be issued a W-9 form to fill out and return prior to receiving their prize. The sweepstakes Sponsor must mail a copy of the 1099-MISC form postmarked by January 31st of the year following the year in which the winner won the prize.

  1. Internet/Limitations Of Liability:

Sponsor and others are not responsible for interrupted or unavailable network server or other connections; for miscommunications; failed telephone or computer transmissions; for jumbled, scrambled or misdirected entries or transmissions; for phone, electrical, network, computer hardware or software or program malfunctions, failures or difficulties; for other errors, omissions, interruptions, or deletions of any kind, whether human, typographical, mechanical or electronic; or for any damage to any person’s computer related to participating in the Sweepstakes. Sponsor and others are not responsible for illegible, unintelligible, late, lost, stolen on entries not received; for incorrect or inaccurate entry information, whether caused by Website users or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; or for any typographical, technical or human errors which may occur in the processing of any entries in this Sweepstakes. Persons found tampering with or abusing any aspect of this Sweepstakes as solely determined by Sponsor will be disqualified and may be subject to prosecution. Any person attempting to enter using multiple email addresses, multiple identities, any bot, robotic or any other device or artifice to enter multiple times with different identities or email addresses or to interfere with the proper play of this Sweepstakes or to be otherwise behaving in an unsportsmanlike manner as determined by Sponsor will be disqualified from participation in the Sweepstakes. If in the judgment of Sponsor, the Sweepstakes is compromised by virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor, which corrupts the administration, security, fairness or proper play of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to modify, discontinue, suspend or terminate the Sweepstakes and randomly award the prizes from among all eligible, non-suspect entries received prior to any such modification, discontinuation, suspension or termination. Should multiple users of the same email account enter the Sweepstakes and a dispute thereafter arise regarding the identity of the entrant, the authorized account holder of said email account at the time of entry will be considered the entrant.  “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider or other organization which is responsible for assigning email addresses or the domain associated with the submitted email address. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of an entrant based on his/her Facebook or Twitter account, the authorized Facebook or Twitter account holder submitted at time of entry will be deemed the entrant. Please see the privacy notice located at http://www.mcafee.com/us/about/privacy.html or details of Sponsor’s policies regarding the use of personal information collected in connection with this Sweepstakes. If you are selected as a winner, your information may also be included in a publicly-available winners list.

CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSORS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY SUCH PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

  1. Release:

By participating in the Sweepstakes, each entrant releases and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Sponsor, Prize Providers and others from and against any and all costs, claims, damages, (including, without limitation, any special, incidental or consequential damages), or any other injury, whether due to negligence or otherwise, to person(s) or property (including, without limitation, death or violation of any personal rights, such as violation of right of publicity/privacy, libel, or slander), due in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, to participation in the Sweepstakes, or arising out of participation in any Sweepstakes-related activity, or the receipt, enjoyment, participation in, use or misuse, of any prize.

 

  1. Publicity Rights:

By accepting a prize, the winner agrees to allow Sponsor and Sponsor’s designees the perpetual right to use his/her name, biographical information, photos or likeness, and statements for promotion, trade, commercial, advertising and publicity purposes, at any time or times, in all media now known or hereafter discovered, worldwide, including but not limited to on the Internet, without notice, review or approval and without additional compensation except where prohibited by law.  Any collection of personal information from entrants will be governed by the McAfee Privacy Policy.

 

  1.  Disputes:

EACH ENTRANT AGREES THAT ANY DISPUTES, CLAIMS, AND CAUSES OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF OR CONNECTED WITH THIS CONTEST OR ANY PRIZE AWARDED WILL BE RESOLVED INDIVIDUALLY, WITHOUT RESORT TO ANY FORM OF CLASS ACTION, AND EXCLUSIVELY BY THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE OR THE APPROPRIATE STATE COURT LOCATED IN DOVER OR WILMINGTON, DELAWARE. THESE OFFICIAL RULES ARE GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE WITHOUT REGARD TO CHOICE OF LAW OR CONFLICT OF LAWS RULES.  YOU WAIVE ANY AND ALL OBJECTIONS TO JURISDICTION AND VENUE IN THESE COURTS AND HEREBY SUBMIT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THOSE COURTS.

 

  1. Limitations of Liability:

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 CONTEST OR USE OR INABILITY TO USE ANY EQUIPMENT PROVIDED FOR USE IN THE CONTEST OR ANY PRIZE, EVEN IF A RELEASED PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

 

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 CONTEST OR USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE ANY EQUIPMENT PROVIDED FOR USE IN THE CONTEST 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.

  1. The Sweepstakes and the Official Rules are governed by US law and are subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of the Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of Entrant and Sponsor in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, U.S.A., without giving effect to the conflict of laws rules thereof, and any matters or proceedings which are not subject to arbitration as set forth above, in these Official Rules and/or for entering any judgment on an arbitration award, shall take place in the State of New York.

 

Winner’s List:  For a list of winners, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: “Most Famous to Most Dangerous to Search for Online” to 100 Crown Street, New Haven, CT 06510. Requests must be received by 11/30/20.

 

Sponsors: McAfee Corporate Headquarters, 2821 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054

 

Administrator: Response Marketing, 100 Crown Street 3rd Floor, New Haven, CT 06510

 

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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: If You Connect It, Protect It

#BeCyberSmart

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: If You Connect It, Protect It

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is led by the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—a national non-profit focused on cybersecurity education & awareness. McAfee is pleased to announce that we’re a proud participant.

We live in a day and age when even lightbulbs can be hacked.

Perhaps you’ve caught the stories in the news: various devices like home cameras, smart appliances, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices falling prey to hackers and attacks, such as when the Mirai botnet took out large swathes of the internet in 2016. As posted by Statista, estimates project that the world will have nearly 40 billion IoT devices in the next five years and upwards of 50 billion by 2030. That’s in homes and businesses alike, ranging anywhere from digital assistants, smart watches, medical devices, thermostats, vehicle fleet management devices, smart locks, and yes, even the humble lightbulb—and like our computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, they all need to be protected.

The reason is simple: your network is only as safe as the weakest device that’s on it. And we’re putting so much more on our networks than ever before. In effect, that means our homes have more targets for hackers than ever before as well. In the hands of a dedicated crook, one poorly protected device can open the door to your entire network—much like a thief stealing a bike by prying open the weak link in a chain lock. Therefore, so goes the saying, “If You Connect It, Protect It.”

The Eight-Point List for Protecting Your IoT Devices

What’s challenging is that our IoT devices don’t always lend themselves to the same sort of protections like our computers, laptops, and phones do. For example, you can’t actually install security software directly on them. However, there are things you can do to protect those devices, and the network they’re on too.

1) Do your IoT homework

Just because that new smart device that’s caught your eye can connect to the internet doesn’t mean that it’s secure. Before you purchase, read up on reviews and comments from other customers. Look for news articles about the device manufacturer too. The fact of the matter is that some IoT device manufacturers are much better at baking security protocols into their devices than others, so look into their track record to see if you can uncover any issues with their products or security practices. Information such as this can help you make an even more informed choice.

2) Don’t use the default—Set a strong, unique password

One issue with many IoT devices is that they often come with a default username and password. This could mean that your device, and thousands of others just like it, all share the same credentials, which makes it painfully easy for a hacker to gain access to them as those default usernames and passwords are often published online.

When you purchase an IoT device, set a fresh password using a strong method of password creation.  And keep those passwords safe. Instead of keeping them on a notebook or on sticky notes, consider using a password manager. It acts as a database for all your passwords and stores new codes as you create them. As always, don’t store them in an unprotected file on your computer, which can be subject to a hack or data loss.

3) Use two-factor authentication

Our banks, many of the online shopping sites we use, and numerous other accounts use two-factor authentication to make sure that we’re logging in we really are who we say we are. In short, a username and password combo is an example of one-factor authentication. The second factor in the mix is something you, and only you, own, like your mobile phone. Thus when you log in and get a prompt to enter a security code that’s sent to your mobile phone, you’re taking advantage of two-factor authentication. If your IoT device supports two-factor authentication as part of the login procedure, put it to use and get that extra layer of security.

4) Secure your internet router

Your router acts as the internet’s gateway into your home. From there, it works as a hub that connects all of your devices—computers, tablets, and phones, along with your IoT devices as well. That means it’s vital to keep your router secure. A quick word about routers: you typically access them via a browser window and a specific address that’s usually printed somewhere on your router. If you’re renting your router or you’ve purchased it through your internet provider, they should have help documentation that can guide you through this the process. Likewise, if you purchased your own, your manual should provide the guidance you need.

As we mentioned above, the first thing to do is change the default password and name of your router if you haven’t done so already. Again, use a strong method of password creation. Also, change the name of your router. When you choose a new one, go with name that doesn’t give away your address or identity. Something unique and even fun like “Pizza Lovers” or “The Internet Warehouse” are options that mask your identity and are memorable for you too. While you’re making that change, you can also check that your router is using an encryption method, like WPA2, which will keep your signal secure. If you’re unsure, reach out to your internet provider or check the documentation that came with your router.

5) Set up a guest network specifically for your IoT devices

Just as you can offer your guests secure access that’s separate from your own devices, creating an additional network on your router allows you to keep your computers and smartphones separate from IoT devices. This way, if an IoT device is compromised, a hacker will still have difficulty accessing your other devices, like computers and smartphones, along with the data and info that you have stored on them. You may also want to consider investing in an advanced internet router that has built-in protection and can secure and monitor any device that connects to your network.

6) Use a VPN and a comprehensive security solution

Another line of defense that can hamper hackers is using a VPN, which allows you to send and receive data while encrypting your information so others can’t read it. When your data traffic is scrambled that way, it’s shielded from prying eyes, which helps protect your network and the devices you have connected to it.

7) Update!

As with our computers, laptops, phones, tablets, and apps, make sure you have the latest software updates for your IoT devices. The reasons here are the same: one, they’ll make sure you’re getting the latest functionality from your device; and two, updates often contain security upgrades. If there’s a setting that lets you receive automatic updates, enable it so that you always have the latest.

8) Protect your phone

You’ve probably seen that you can control a lot of your connected things with your smartphone. We’re using them to set the temperature, turn our lights on and off, and even see who’s at the front door. With that, it seems like we can add the label “universal remote control” our smartphones—so protecting our phones has become yet more important. Whether you’re an Android owner or iOS owner, get security software installed on your phone so you can protect all the things it accesses and controls—in addition to you and the phone as well.

And protect your other things too

And of course, let’s not forget our computers and laptops. While we’ve been primarily talking about IoT devices here, it’s a good reminder that computers and laptops need protection too. Using a strong suite of security software like McAfee® Total Protection, can help defend your entire family from the latest threats and malware, make it safer to browse, and look out for your privacy too.

If you connect it, protect it

We’re connecting our homes and ourselves with IoT devices at an tremendous rate—now at an average of 10 connected devices in our homes in the U.S. Gone by are the days when all we had was a computer or phone or two to look after. Now, even when we’re not in front of a laptop or have a smartphone in our hand, we’re still online, nearly all the time. Take this week to make sure that what you’ve connected is protected. Even that little lightbulb.

Stay Updated 

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

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

online safety

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

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

Are Consumers Confident in Their Online Safety?

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

Finding a Balance Between Convenience and Security

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

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

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

Let Them Have Security (and Convenience!)

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

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

 

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Identity Fraud: How to Protect Your Identity Data, Accounts and Money During the Coronavirus Crisis

We’ve all been spending more of our time online since the crisis hit. Whether it’s ordering food for delivery, livestreaming concerts, holding virtual parties, or engaging in a little retail therapy, the digital interactions of many Americans are on the rise. This means we’re also sharing more of our personal and financial information online, with each other and the organizations we interact with. Unfortunately, as ever, there are bad guys around every digital corner looking for a piece of the action.

The bottom line is that personally identifiable information (PII) is the currency of internet crime. And cyber-criminals will do whatever they can to get their hands on it. When they commit identity theft with this data, it can be a messy business, potentially taking months for banks and businesses to investigate before you get your money and credit rating back. At a time of extreme financial hardship, this is the last thing anyone needs.

It therefore pays to be careful about how you use your data and how you protect it. Even more: it’s time to get proactive and monitor it—to try and spot early on if it has been stolen. Here’s what you need to know to protect your identity data.

How identity theft works

First, some data on the scope of the problem. In the second quarter of 2020 alone 349,641 identity theft reports were filed with the FTC. To put that in perspective, it’s over half of the number for the whole of 2019 (650,572), when consumers reported losing more than $1.9 billion to fraud. What’s driving this huge industry? A cybercrime economy estimated to be worth as much as $1.5 trillion annually.

Specialized online marketplaces and private forums provide a user-friendly way for cyber-criminals and fraudsters to easily buy and sell stolen identity data. Many are on the so-called dark web, which is hidden from search engines and requires a specialized anonymizing browser like Tor to access. However, plenty of this criminal activity also happens in plain sight, on social media sites and messaging platforms. This underground industry is an unstoppable force: as avenues are closed down by law enforcement or criminal in-fighting, other ones appear.

At-risk personal data could be anything from email and account log-ins to medical info, SSNs, card and bank details, insurance details and much more. It all has a value on the cybercrime underground and the price fraudsters are prepared to pay will depend on supply and demand, just like in the ‘real’ world.

There are various ways for attackers to get your data. The main ones are:

  • Phishing: usually aimed at stealing your log-ins or tricking you into downloading keylogging or other info-stealing malware. Phishing mainly happens via email but could also occur via web, text, or phone. Around $667m was lost in imposter scams last year, according to the FTC.
  • Malicious mobile apps disguised as legitimate software.
  • Eavesdropping on social media: If you overshare even innocuous personal data (pet names, birth dates, etc.,) it could be used by fraudsters to access your accounts.
  • Public Wi-Fi eavesdropping: If you’re using it, the bad guys may be too.
  • Dumpster diving and shoulder surfing: Sometimes the old ways are still popular.
  • Stealing devices or finding lost/misplaced devices in public places.
  • Attacking the organizations you interact with: Unfortunately this is out of your control somewhat, but it’s no less serious. There were 1,473 reported corporate breaches in 2019, up 17% year-on-year.
  • Harvesting card details covertly from the sites you shop with. Incidents involving this kind of “web skimming” increased 26% in March as more users flocked to e-commerce sites during lockdown.

 

The COVID-19 challenge

As if this weren’t enough, consumers are especially exposed to risk during the current pandemic. Hackers are using the COVID-19 threat as a lure to infect your PC or steal identity data via the phishing tactics described above. They often impersonate trustworthy institutions/officials and emails may claim to include new information on outbreaks, or vaccines. Clicking through or divulging your personal info will land you in trouble. Other fraud attempts will try to sell counterfeit or non-existent medical or other products to help combat infection, harvesting your card details in the process. In March, Interpol seized 34,000 counterfeit COVID goods like surgical masks and $14m worth of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.

Phone-based attacks are also on the rise, especially those impersonating government officials. The aim here is to steal your identity data and apply for government emergency stimulus funds in your name. Of the 349,641 identity theft reports filed with the FTC in Q2 2020, 77,684 were specific to government documents or benefits fraud.

What do cybercriminals do with my identity data?

Once your PII is stolen, it’s typically sold on the dark web to those who use it for malicious purposes. It could be used to:

  • Crack open other accounts that share the same log-ins (via credential stuffing). There were 30 billion such attempts in 2018.
  • Log-in to your online bank accounts to drain it of funds.
  • Open bank accounts/credit lines in your name (this can affect your credit rating).
  • Order phones in your name or port your SIM to a new device (this impacts 7,000 Verizon customers per month).
  • Purchase expensive items in your name, such as a new watch or television, for criminal resale. This is often done by hijacking your online accounts with e-tailers. E-commerce fraud is said to be worth around $12 billion per year.
  • File fraudulent tax returns to collect refunds on your behalf.
  • Claim medical care using your insurance details.
  • Potentially crack work accounts to attack your employer.

How do I protect my identity online?

The good news among all this bad is that if you remain skeptical about what you see online, are cautious about what you share, and follow some other simple rules, you’ll stand a greater chance of keeping your PII under lock and key. Best practices include:

  • Using strong, long and unique passwords for all accounts, managed with a password manager.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) if possible on all accounts.
  • Don’t overshare on social media.
  • Freeze credit immediately if you suspect data has been misused.
  • Remember that if something looks too good to be true online it usually is.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi when out-and-about, especially not for sensitive log-ins, without a VPN.
  • Change your password immediately if a provider tells you your data may have been breached.
  • Only visit/enter payment details into HTTPS sites.
  • Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
  • Only download apps from official app stores.
  • Invest in AV from a reputable vendor for all your desktop and mobile devices.
  • Ensure all operating systems and applications are on the latest version (i.e., patch frequently).
  • Keep an eye on your bank account/credit card for any unusual spending activity.
  • Consider investing in a service to monitor the dark web for your personal data.

How Trend Micro can help

Trend Micro offers solutions that can help to protect your digital identity.

Trend Micro ID Security is the best way to get proactive about data protection. It works 24/7 to monitor dark web sites for your PII and will sound the alarm immediately if it finds any sign your accounts or personal data have been stolen. It features

  • Dark Web Personal Data Manager to scour underground sites and alert if it finds personal info like bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, SSNs and passport information.
  • Credit Card Checker will do the same as the above but for your credit card information.
  • Email Checker will alert you if any email accounts have been compromised and end up for sale on the dark web, allowing you to immediately change the password.
  • Password Checker will tell you if any passwords you’re using have appeared for sale on the dark web, enabling you to improve password security.

Trend Micro Password Manager enables you to manage all your website and app log-ins from one secure location. Because Password Manager remembers and recalls your credentials on-demand, you can create long, strong and unique passwords for each account. As you’re not sharing easy-to-remember passwords across multiple accounts, you’ll be protected from popular credential stuffing and similar attacks.

Finally, Trend Micro WiFi Protection will protect you if you’re out and about connecting to WiFi hotspots. It automatically detects when a WiFi connection isn’t secure and enables a VPN—making your connection safer and helping keep your identity data private.

In short, it’s time to take an active part in protecting your personal identity data—as if your digital life depended on it. In large part, it does.

 

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Election 2020 – Five Tips to Secure a Mail-In Ballot That Counts

Elections 2020

Election 2020 – Five Tips to Secure a Mail-In Ballot That Counts

Forecasts predict that roughly 80 million votes will get cast by mail-in ballots—double the number cast by mail in the 2016 election. Here are a couple tips to make sure your vote counts for the 2020 election.

Smart use of the internet will help you cast a mail-in ballot that counts.

Projections abound, yet forecasts predict that roughly 80 million votes will get cast by mail-in ballots—double the number cast by mail in the 2016 election. While we’ll only know the final tally of mail-in voters sometime after election day, what we know right now is that nearly 75% of U.S. voters will be able to vote by mail in the 2020 election

If you’re one of those voters, or know someone who is, this quick five-point primer of online resources should help.

Fake ballots, the pandemic and other election concerns

Pew Research found that Americans are split 50/50 as to whether voting in the 2020 election will be “easy” or “hard.” Compare that to the 2018 figures where 85% said that voting would be “easy” in that election. We can chalk that up to several factors this year, most notably the effect of the pandemic on voting, which I touched on in my blog last week.

However, there are other concerns at play. We’ve seen concerns about mail-in ballot fraud, along with confusion about how to get a mail-in ballot, and yet further confusion as to who is eligible to get a mail-in ballot in the first place… just to name a few.

These concerns all share a common remedy: the facts.

Good information, direct from your state election officials, will point the way. Skip social media altogether. It is not a trusted resource. In all, it’s a mistake to get any election information on social media, according to F.B.I. Director, Christopher Wray. Instead, let’s point ourselves in the right direction.

Cast your mail-in ballot securely with these five tips:

  1. Refer to your state and local officials for guidance: Visiting your state’s election website and resources they offer is your best bet for clearing up any questions about your eligibility to vote by mail or to report any difficulties you may have.
  2. Follow the directions closely: Mail-in ballots, and the rules for filling them out, also vary from state to state. Get to know yours with a visit to your state’s election website. Common errors like failing to get a witness signature (or signatures), failing to slip your ballot into a second security envelope, or using the wrong colored pen are all examples of ways ballots can get disqualified in some states. And when you get your ballot, read it closely before you start—including the mailing or drop off instructions.
  3. Know your election timeline: Deadlines are everything—such as when you can apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot, when they need to be returned or postmarked, and if you have other drop off options other than the mail. Again, your state or local election website will clearly call all that out.
  4. Give the mail extra time: Don’t leave your vote to chance. Request your mail-in ballot, as needed, right away. Once you’ve filled it out, get it in the mail early. The U.S. Postal Service has an entire site dedicated to election mail that’s loaded with plenty of good advice for mail-in voters, whether you’re stateside, overseas, or deployed elsewhere with the military.
  5. Track your ballot: The ability and means to track your ballot will of course vary from state to state. However, checking in with your state’s election website will show you what your options are.

Stay Updated 

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

 

The post Election 2020 – Five Tips to Secure a Mail-In Ballot That Counts appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month Helps Us All be #BeCyberSmart

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity Awareness Month Helps Us All be #BeCyberSmart

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—a national non-profit focused on cybersecurity education & awareness in conjunction with the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). McAfee is pleased to announce that we’re a proud participant.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

If there’s ever a year to observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month, this is it.

As millions worked, schooled, and simply entertained themselves at home (and continue to do so) this year, internet usage increased by up to 70%. Not surprisingly, cybercriminals followed. Looking at our threat dashboard statistics for the year so far, you’ll see:

  • 113,000+ new malicious websites and URLS referencing COVID-19
  • 5+ Million threats that exploit COVID-19
  • A large spike in trojan-based attacks in April followed by a higher spike in July and August

And that doesn’t account for the millions of other online scams, ransomware, malicious sites, and malware out there in general—of which COVID-19-themed attacks are just a small percentage.

With such a high reliance on the internet right now, 2020 is an excellent year to observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month, along with its focus on what we can do collectively to stay safer together in light of today’s threats.

#BeCyberSmart

Unified under the hashtag #BeCyberSmart, Cybersecurity Awareness Month calls on individuals and organizations alike to take charge of protecting their slice of cyberspace. The aim, above making ourselves safer, is to make everyone safer by having us do our part to make the internet safer for all. In the words of the organizers, “If everyone does their part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences or training employees, our interconnected world will be safer and more resilient for everyone.”

Throughout October, we’re participating as well. Here in our blogs and across our broad and ongoing efforts to boost everyone’s awareness and expertise in cybersecurity and simply staying safe online, we’ll be supporting one key theme each week:

Week of October 5: If You Connect It, Protect It

If you’ve kept up with our blogs, this is a theme you’ll know well. The idea behind “If you connect it, protect it” is that the line between our lives online and offline gets blurrier every day. For starters, the average person worldwide spends nearly 7 hours a day online thanks in large part to mobile devices and the time we spend actively connected on our computers. However, we’re also connecting our homes with Internet of Things (IoT) devices—all for an average of 10 connected devices in our homes in the U.S. So even when we don’t have a device in our hand, we’re still connected.

With this increasing number of connections comes an increasing number of opportunities—and challenges. During this weel, we’ll take a look at how internet-connected devices have impacted our lives and how you can take steps that reduce your risk.

Week of October 12 (Week 2): Securing Devices at Home and Work

As we shared at the open of this article, this year saw a major disruption in the way we work, learn, and socialize online. There’s no question that our reliance on the internet, a safe internet, is greater than before. And that calls for a fresh look at the way people and businesses look at security.

This week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month will focus on steps users and organizations can take to protect internet connected devices for both personal and professional use, all in light of a whole new set of potential vulnerabilities that are taking root.

Week of October 19 (Week 3): Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare

Earlier this year, one of our articles on telemedicine reported that 39% of North Americans and Europeans consulted a doctor or health care provider online for the first time in 2020.   stand as just one example of the many ways that the healthcare industry has embraced connected care. Another noteworthy example comes in the form of internet-connected medical devices, which are found inside care facilities and even worn by patients as they go about their day.

As this trend in medicine has introduced numerous benefits, such as digital health records, patient wellness apps, and more timely care, it’s also exposed the industry to vulnerabilities that cyber criminals regularly attempt to exploit. Here we’ll explore this topic and share what steps both can take do their part and #BeCyberSmart.

Week of October 26 (Week 4): The Future of Connected Devices

The growing trend of homeowners and businesses alike connecting all manner of things across the Internet of Things (IoT) continues. In our homes, we have smart assistants, smart security systems, smart door locks, and numerous other home IoT devices that all need to be protected. Businesses manage their fleets, optimize their supply chain, and run their HVAC systems with IoT devices, which also beg protection too as hackers employ new avenues of attack, such as GPS spoofing. And these are just a fraction of the applications that we can mention as the world races toward a predicted 50 billion IoT devices by 2030.

As part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’ll look at the future of connected devices and how both people and businesses can protect themselves, their operations, and others.

Give yourself a security checkup

As Cybersecurity Awareness Month ramps up, it presents an opportunity for each of us to take a look at our habits and to get a refresher on things we can do right now to keep ourselves, and our internet, a safer place. This brief list should give you a great start, along with a catalog of articles on identity theft, family safety, mobile & IoT security, and our regularly updated consumer threat notices.

Use strong, unique passwords

Given the dozens of accounts you need to protect—from your social media accounts to your financial accounts—coming up with strong passwords can take both time and effort. Rather than keeping them on scraps of paper or in a notebook (and absolutely not on an unprotected file on your computer), consider using a password manager. It acts as a database for all your passwords and stores new codes as you create them. With just a single password, you can access all the tools your password manager offers.

Beware of messages from unknown users

Phishing scams like these are an old standard. If you receive an email or text from an unknown person or party that asks you to download software, share personal information, or take some kind of action, don’t click on anything. This will steer you clear of any scams or malicious content.

However, more sophisticated phishing attacks can look like they’re actually coming from a legitimate organization. Instead of clicking on a link within the email or text, it’s best to go straight to the organization’s website or contact customer service. Also, you can hover over the link and get a link preview. If the URL looks suspicious, delete the message and move on.

Use a VPN and a comprehensive security solution

Avoid hackers infiltrating your network by using a VPN, which allows you to send and receive data while encrypting – or scrambling – your information so others can’t read it. By helping to protect your network, VPNs also prevent hackers from accessing other devices (work or personal) connected to your Wi-Fi.

In addition, use a robust security software like McAfee® Total Protection, which helps to defend your entire family from the latest threats and malware while providing safe web browsing.

Check your credit

At a time where data breaches occur and our identity is at risk of being stolen, checking your credit is a habit to get into. Aside from checking your existing accounts for false charges, checking your credit can spot if a fraudulent account has been opened in your name.

It’s a relatively straightforward process. In the U.S., the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires credit reporting agencies to provide you with a free credit check at least once every 12 months. Get your free credit report here from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Other nations provide similar services, such as the free credit reports for UK customers.

Be aware of the latest threats

To track malicious pandemic-related campaigns, McAfee Advanced Programs Group (APG) has published a COVID-19 Threat Dashboard, which includes top threats leveraging the pandemic, most targeted verticals and countries, and most utilized threat types and volume over time. The dashboard is updated daily at 4pm ET.

Stay Updated 

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

 

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

Social Media Habits

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

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

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

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

Sketchy Links Get Social

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

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

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

Scan Social Safely with McAfee® WebAdvisor

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

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

Stay Updated

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

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Career change? Cybersecurity companies are hiring.

apps that track

Career change? Cybersecurity companies are hiring.

If you’re thinking career change or career shift, there’s a field that has an estimated 4 million jobs open. Cybersecurity.

According to survey and research data from the International Cybersecurity Organization (ICS)2, there’s a cybersecurity workforce gap—a terrifically high volume of jobs left unfilled. Published in 2019, the gap they identified looked like this:

  • Nearly 500,000 jobs unfilled in the U.S.
  • Globally, a gap of 4 million jobs was reported.
  • 65% of the respondents say they’re short on cybersecurity staff.

Needless to say, there’s opportunity in the field for both technical and non-technical roles.

Here’s an important thing to keep in mind about cybersecurity:, it’s not solely about understanding technology. It’s about understanding people too and how people and technology interact.

The moment you see cybersecurity through that broader lens, you can see how the field opens widely to encompass a range of roles. Of course, there are analysts and engineers, yet it also includes other roles like digital forensics and cyber investigation, healthcare information security, cryptography, and even cyber law. Additionally, there’s needed expertise in the realms of privacy, governance, ethics, and even digital ethics. And if you take a role with a security company such as ours, the opportunity further extends to positions in account management, marketing, and operations. (In fact, you can drop by our careers page for a look at our current openings and what workday life is like around here.)

Why now’s a great time to consider a cybersecurity career

There are plenty of reasons. Above that data published in 2019, our unprecedented reliance on the internet to work, learn, and stay connected in 2020, demand for cybersecurity jobs is yet more so on the rise. As so many of us turned increasingly to the internet to get through our day, the same is true for hackers and crooks.

With that, let’s take a quick look at several of the factors working in your favor as you consider a change.

There’s demand for cybersecurity jobs.

We’ve all seen the news stories of major breaches at big retailers, credit reporting agencies, hotels, and even healthcare providers. It’s not just the private sector that’s been grappling with cybersecurity concerns, there’s need in the public sector as well—like municipalities. In all, every organization needs cybersecurity (just as we all need cybersecurity for our homes), and thus there’s plenty of opportunity out there. Using just one of the many possible cybersecurity roles as an example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 32% increase in demand for information security analysts through 2028—which is far higher than the average of other professions.

You don’t need a specific degree in cybersecurity to get a job.

In fact, the same (ICS)2 survey discovered that only 42% of current cybersecurity pros said that their first job after higher education was in the field of cybersecurity. In other words, the majority of cybersecurity pros ended up that way by some means of career shift or change. And they got there through certifications and training rather than by way of a degree from a college or university.

Transferrable skills absolutely apply.

Our own Chief Human Resources Officer, Chatelle Lynch, put it quite well in an interview with Business Insider just a few weeks ago: “It’s no secret that the demand for cybersecurity staff has steadily grown over the past decade,” she says. “This means opportunity, so if you don’t have a degree, don’t let that slow you down. You may have unique work experience or relevant certifications, alternative learning, or transferable skills that you need to make sure you highlight when applying and interviewing.”

For example, she goes on to say that prior military service, IT experience, and volunteer or hobbyist activities (even online gaming) are a good foundation for cybersecurity roles.

Cybersecurity employers seek candidates with non-technical soft skills.

These skills absolutely apply, and they’re sought after skills as well. The ability to work independently, lead projects, write and document well, and particularly strong people skills are vital for a role where you’ll be interfacing with numerous individuals, departments, and business units. Likewise, as called out above, certain roles focus more on the non-technical side of security solutions.

Getting trained in cybersecurity

The beauty of making a career change to cybersecurity is that there are plenty of ways you can get it done at home and on your time.

If you’re just getting started, you can test the waters for free or at relatively low cost with a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) that gives you the basics on cybersecurity. Future Learn’s “Introduction to Cybersecurity”  from The Open University is one example of an intro program, as is the University of Michigan’s “Securing Digital Democracy” class that’s offered through Coursera.

If you’re already an IT pro or have a strong technical background, there are similar MOOC courses available that cater to your current level of knowledge and skill. The University of Maryland’s “Cybersecurity Specialization” and “Usable Security” are geared accordingly.

For a list of cybersecurity programs available online, drop by CyberDegrees.org. Their listing is one of many good places to start.

Other free and low-cost avenues out there include subscribing to some security bloggers, grabbing some hands-on work with coding and IT networking fundamentals from online learning companies like Udemy, Codecademy, and Khan Academy, or joining some online cybersecurity groups for a little professional networking. In all, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn from others, both in structured class settings and in more unstructured peer and mentorship relationships.

Prepare for that online interview

When you’re ready to start your job search, there’s a good chance that your interview will be conducted online. Online interviews have been part of the job-hunting landscape for a few years now, yet with many employers enacting work from home measures, it’s the way hiring gets done right now. I expect this to continue, as employers have embraced its many benefits, particularly in the early stages of interviews. If the prospect of an online interview is new to you, I put together a pair of articles this spring that can help.

Your cybersecurity career

As you make the jump, here’s the most important thing you’ll need: a love of technology and a desire to protect the people who use it. If you can combine a drive to understand both technology and people better with the further drive to see it all through, you’ll be well on your way. Like any career shift or change, there’s work ahead, yet it’s my impression that our field is a welcoming and supportive one—and very much on a keen lookout for new talent.

Stay Updated 

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

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U.S. Election 2020 – Don’t Let COVID-19 Misinformation Suppress Your Vote

Elections 2020

U.S. Election 2020 – Don’t Let COVID-19 Misinformation Suppress Your Vote  

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, another pandemic of sorts took root—this one an “infodemic.” Whether designed to mislead, instill fear, capitalize on crank remedies, or push phony cures that caused harm or worse, millions of outright false stories about COVID-19 proliferated across the internet. And continue to do so.

Now, with our upcoming election in the U.S., there’s concern that this infodemic of misinformation about COVID-19 will keep people away from the polls or from working at them. Particularly elders.

With this blog, my aim is to point you toward trustworthy resources online that can help you get your vote cast and counted safely.

COVID-19 misinformation is on the rise

First, a word about COVID-19 misinformation in general.

Since the initial outbreak, we’ve monitored online threats and scams related to COVID-19. As shown in our July 2020 Threat Report, the first three months saw the number of malicious and scam websites related to COVID-19 jump from 1,600 to more than 39,000, along with a wave of spam emails and posts that peddled bogus sites for protective gear, masks, and cures. Now, in mid-September, our threat detection team has uncovered three million online threats related to COVID-19 and counting. (See the daily tally here for the latest figures.)

Elsewhere, global and national public health officials have worked diligently to counter these waves of misinformation, such as the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 “mythbuster” site, in addition to further mythbusting from major news outlets around the world and yet more mythbusting from respected science publications. However, instances of misinformation, both big and small, persist and can lead to negative health consequences for those who buy into such misinformation.

Resources for voting safely 

Whether you’ll vote in person or by mail, these links provide a mix of trustworthy information about voting and the latest verified information about the virus:

  • vote.org COVID-19 Page: This is a one-stop site that provides voting resources and information on a state-by-state basis. Here you’ll find the official voter information for your state, links to your state’s election website, and the means to request an absentee or mail-in ballot (as allowed) by your state.
  • The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Site: The focus of this site is how to protect yourself and others and includes the latest information on how COVID-19 spreads, how to select and use a mask, how to practice effective social distancing, and more. The site also covers activities and going out, which are applicable to voters heading to the polls.
  • The World Health Organization COVID-19 Site: This site offers further advice and resources for preventing the spread of COVID-19, along with staying well both physically and mentally.
  • Verified by the United Nations: Verified is a daily or weekly briefing that you can sign up for through the U.N., which contains “content you can trust: life-saving information, fact-based advice, and stories from the best of humanity.”

Be aware that our collective understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve. The pandemic isn’t even a year old at this time, and new research continues to reveal more about its nature. Be sure to check with these resources along with your local public health resources for the latest on the virus and how to stay safe.

How to Vote by Mail in All 50 States

If you’re considering voting by mail, the following is for you. Published by U.S. News and World Report, this article breaks down how you can vote by mail in your state. While all 50 states allow for mail-in voting in some form or fashion, specifics vary, and some states make it easier to do than others. (For example, a handful of states like Texas, Indiana, and Louisiana currently do not allow COVID-19 concerns as a valid reason for requesting a mail-in ballot.)

Note that this article was published at the end of August, so be sure to follow the links for your state as published in the article for the absolute latest information. Yet don’t wait to look into your absentee or mail-in options. As noted above, each state has its terms and deadlines, so it’s best to review your options now.

Meanwhile, five states— Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington state, and Utah already conduct their elections entirely by mail. Such practices have proven to be successful alternatives to voting in person, they have slightly increased voter turnout while minimizing the risks of voter fraud.

Follow trusted resources and vote safely this year

Get your vote out safely. Whether it’s by visiting the polls following the safety guidelines or by way of mail as also allowed by your state, it can be done—particularly when you have trusted information sources at hand.

Stay Updated 

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

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Evolving Security Products for the new Realities of Living Life From Home

Strong Passwords

Announcing McAfee’s Enhanced Consumer Security for New Consumer Realities

With millions of people continuing to work and study remotely, scammers have followed them home—generating an average of 375 new threats per minute so far this year. In response, our enhanced consumer portfolio directly addresses the new needs and new threats people face.

McAfee Labs found that these new threats via malicious apps, phishing campaigns malware, and more, according to its McAfee COVID-19 Threat Report: July 2020, which amounted to an estimated $130 million in total losses in the U.S. alone.

To help people stay safer and combat these threats, today we announced our latest consumer security portfolio. Our enriched products come with better user experiences such as a native Virtual Private Network (VPN), along with new features, including integrated Social Media and Tech Scam Protection—all of which are pressing security essentials today.

Specifically, our product lineup has been updated to include:

Boosts to security and privacy

Scams involving tech support and product activation have continued to sneak into people’s inboxes and search results, which require a critical eye to spot. Here are some tips on how to identify these scams. We’re making it easier for people to stay safer with new features such as:

  • Tech Scam Protection: McAfee® WebAdvisor now provides a warning when visiting websites that can be used by cybercriminals to gain remote access to your PC, helping combat the  $55 million total fraud loss in the U.S. due to tech scams.
  • Advanced Malware Detection: McAfee enhanced its machine learning capabilities to improve overall time to detect emerging threats across devices as well as added protection against file-less threats.

Improvements make it easier for you to stay safer

With jobs and things that simply need to get done “right now,” security can be an afterthought. Sometimes that desire for convenience has consequences, leading to situations where people’s devices, data, and personal information get compromised. In response, we’re doing our part to make security more intuitive so that people can get things done quickly and safely:

  • A Better User Experience: An improved PC and app experience with easier navigation and readable alerts, and clear calls to action for faster understanding of potential issues.
  • Native VPN: Easier access to VPN and anti-malware device protection via one central place and log-in.
  • Updated Password Protection: Access iOS applications even faster with automatically filled in user account information and passwords in both apps and browsers on iOS devices.

Further security enhancements for today’s needs and tomorrow’s threats

With people’s newfound reliance on the internet, we’ve made new advances that help them live their increasingly connected lives—looking after security and privacy even more comprehensively than before on security and the apps they use:

  • Optimized Product Alerts: Redesigned product alerts, so consumers are better informed about possible security risks, with a single-click call to action for immediate protection.
  • Social Media Protection: To help prevent users from accidentally visiting malicious websites, McAfee now annotates social media feeds across six major platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, and LinkedIn.
  • Enhanced App Privacy Check: Consumers can now easily see when mobile apps request personal information, with app privacy now integrated into the main scan of Android devices.

McAfee is on a journey to ensure security allows users to be as carefree as possible online, now that more time is spent on devices as consumers navigate a new normal of life from home. For more information on our consumer product lineup, visit https://www.mcafee.com/en-us/antivirus/mcafee-total-protection.html

Stay Updated 

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

 

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Phishing Email Examples: How to Recognize a Phishing Email

email phishing scams

Phishing Email Examples: How to Recognize a Phishing Email

Keeping your identity safe on the internet can be challenging. Phishing is a scam that tricks you into voluntarily providing important personal information. Protect yourself from phishing by reviewing some examples of phishing emails and learning more about this common online scam.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a type of cybercrime that steals your sensitive information. To trick you into willingly providing information like your website logins and credit card numbers, phishing scammers disguise themselves as major corporations or other trustworthy entities. Phishing scammers will usually contact you via text or email.

What is a phishing email?

A phishing email is a fraudulent email message that is made to look like it was sent by a legitimate company. These emails contain messages that ask you to provide sensitive personal information in various ways. If you don’t look carefully at the emails you receive, you might not be able to tell the difference between a normal email and a phishing email. Scammers work hard to make phishing emails resemble emails sent by trusted companies as closely as possible, which is why you need to be cautious when you open emails and click the links they contain.

How do you spot a phishing email?

Phishing scammers often undo their own plans by making simple mistakes that are easy to spot once you know how to recognize them. Check for the following signs of phishing every time you open an email:

It’s poorly written

Phishing emails often contain grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and other telltale signs that they weren’t written by marketing departments at major corporations. Even the biggest companies sometimes make small errors in their emails, but if you see multiple, glaring grammatical errors in an email that asks for your personal information, you might have become the target of a phishing scammer.

The logo doesn’t look right

To enhance the credibility of their emails, phishing scammers often steal the logos of prominent corporations or websites. In many cases, however, they don’t steal corporate logos correctly. The logo in a phishing email might have the wrong aspect ratio, or it might be low-resolution. If you have to squint to make out the logo in an email message, chances are that it’s a phishing email.

The URL doesn’t match

Phishing emails always center around links that you’re supposed to click. There are a few ways to check whether a link you’ve been emailed is legitimate. With some email clients, just hovering over the link will be enough to display its URL. Alternatively, you can right-click the link, copy it, and paste the URL into a word processor. On mobile devices, you can check the URL of a link by pressing and holding it with your finger. If the URL you discover doesn’t match up with the entity that supposedly sent you the email, you might have received a phishing email.

Types of phishing emails

Phishing emails come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few types of phishing emails that are more common than others. Let’s review some examples of the most frequently sent phishing emails:

Account suspended scam

Some phishing emails appear to notify you that your bank account has been temporarily suspended due to unusual activity. If you receive an account suspension email from a bank that you haven’t opened an account with, delete it immediately, and don’t look back. Suspended account phishing emails from banks you do business with, however, are harder to spot. Use the methods we listed above to check the veracity of the email, and if all else fails, contact your bank directly instead of opening any links within the email you received.

Two-factor authentication scam

Two-factor authentication (2FA) has become common, so you’re probably used to receiving emails that ask you to confirm your login information with six-digit numerical codes. Phishing scammers also know how common 2FA has become, and this service that’s supposed to protect your identity might be used for nefarious purposes. If you receive an email asking you to log into an account to confirm your identity, use the criteria we listed above to verify the authenticity of the message. Be especially wary if you’re asked to provide 2FA for an account you haven’t accessed for a while.

Tax refund scam

Everyone likes getting money from the government. That’s what phishing scammers are counting on when they send you phony IRS refund emails. You should always be careful when an email informs you that you’ve received a windfall of cash, and be especially dubious of emails that were supposedly sent by the IRS since this government agency only contacts taxpayers via snail mail. Tax refund phishing scams can do serious harm since they usually ask for your social security number as well as your bank account information.

Phishing at work

You need to be wary of phishing when you’re using your work email as well. One popular phishing scam involves emails that are designed to look like they were sent by someone in the C-suite of your company. They ask workers to wire funds to supposed clients, but this cash actually goes to scammers. Use the tips we listed above to spot these phony emails.

What happens if you click a link in a phishing email?

Never click links in suspicious emails. If you do click a link in an email you suspect was sent by a phishing scammer, however, you will be taken to a web page with a form where you can enter sensitive data such as your social security number, credit card information, or login credentials. Do not enter any data on this page.

What do you do if you suspect you’ve been phished?

If you accidentally enter data in a webpage linked to a suspicious email, disconnect your device from the internet. Next, perform a full malware scan on your device. Once the scan is complete, backup all of your files, and change your passwords. Even if you only provided a phishing scammer with the data from one account, you may have also opened the door to other personal data, so it’s important to change all the passwords you use online in the wake of a suspected phishing attack.

How to recognize a phishing email: simple tips

Let’s wrap things up with some summarized tips on how to avoid phishing emails:

  • When in doubt, directly contact the organization that supposedly emailed you instead of opening links included in suspicious emails.
  • Examine suspicious emails carefully to check for telltale signs of phishing such as poor grammar, grainy logos, or bogus links.
  • If you accidentally click a phishing link, don’t enter any data, and close the page.
  • If you think you’ve been phished, run a virus scan, backup your files, and change all your passwords.

Stay protected

Phishing emails only work on the unwary. Now that you know how to spot phishing emails and what to do if you suspect you’ve been phished, you won’t fall for this type of scam. Just remember to always be careful with your personal information when you use the internet, and err on the side of caution whenever anybody asks you to divulge sensitive details about your identity, your finances, or your login information.

The post Phishing Email Examples: How to Recognize a Phishing Email appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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

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

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

Let’s examine what that entails.

Keeping Personal Health Private

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

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

Supporting Students Distance Learning

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

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

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

Bank Online Without Prying Eyes

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

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

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

Securing Our New Digital Frontiers

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

The post Telehealth, Distance Learning, & Online Banking: Securing Digital Frontiers appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Defense Is More Mobile Than Ever

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

Retail Partners Make Plug and Play Even Easier

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

Software Partners Help Us Mount a Better Defense

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

Our Security Sets Teams Up for Success

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

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The First Smartphone for Free-Ranging Kids

Teaching Kids Internet Safety

The First Smartphone for Free-Ranging Kids

In an earlier article, we took a look at smartphone alternatives for free-ranging kids. Next up is the follow-on conversation … the time you give them their first, fully functional smartphone—and how to manage having it in your lives.

For children, learning to use a first smartphone is just like learning to ride a bike. And that’s just as true for you just as it is for them.
When a child learns to ride a bike, they take it in steps and stages. Maybe they start tooling around on little kick-bikes, a tricycle, scooter, or so on, just to get their feet under them so to speak. Next, it’s that first bike with training wheels, and then the big day that they come off (complete with a few scrapes and bruises too). They’re on two wheels, and a whole new world has opened up for them—one that you have to monitor and parent as you give them increasing freedom to roam—from the block, to the neighborhood, to your town—as they grow older and more responsible.

Your Child’s First Smartphone

Now, apply that same progression to the day your child finally gets their first smartphone. Plenty has led up to that moment: the times when they first tapped around your phone as a toddler, when as a preschooler they watched cartoons on a tablet, and maybe when they got a little older they had some other device, like a smartphone alternative designed just for kids.

Then comes along that first smartphone. And for parents it’s a game-changer, because it opens up yet another new world to them. The entire internet.

As you can see, your child doesn’t enter the world of smartphones entirely cold. They’ve already been on the internet and had the chance to experience selective slices of it under your supervision. But a smartphone—well, that’s another story entirely. A smartphone, out of the box, is a key to the broader internet. And just as you likely wouldn’t let your brand-new cyclist ride five miles to go and buy ice cream in town, there are plenty of places you wouldn’t let your new internet user go.

What follows here are a few words of advice that can ease your child into that new world, and ease you into it as well, so that you can all get the tremendous benefits of smartphone ownership with more confidence and care.

Start with the Basics: Smartphone Protection and Parental Controls

Whether you go with an Android device or iPhone, make sure you protect it. You can get mobile security for Android phones and mobile security for iPhones that’ll give you basic protection, like system scans, along with further protection that steers your child clear of suspicious websites and links. While I recommend protection for both types of phones, I strongly recommend it for Android phones given the differences in the way Apple and Android handle the code that runs their operating systems.

Apple is a “closed platform,” meaning that they do not release their source code to the public and partners. Meanwhile, Android is “open-source” code, which makes it easier for people to modify the code—hackers included. So while Apple phones have been historically less prone to attacks than Android phones, any device you own is inherently a potential target, simply because its connected to the internet. Protect it. (Also, for more on the differences between the security on Android phones and iPhones, check out this article from How-To Geek. It’s worth the quick read.)

Next up on your list is to establish a set of parental controls for the smartphone. You’ll absolutely want these as well. After all, you won’t be able to look over their shoulder while they’re using their phone like you could when they were little. Think of it as the next line of protection you can provide as a parent. A good set of parental controls will allow you to:

• Monitor their activity on their phone—what they’re doing and how much they’re doing it.
• Limit their screen time—allowing you to restrict access during school hours or select times at home.
• Block apps and filter websites—a must for keeping your children away from distractions or inappropriate content.

The great thing about parental controls is that they’re not set in stone. They give you the flexibility to parent as you need to parent, whether that’s putting the phone in a temporary time out to encourage time away from the screen or expanding access to more apps and sites as they get older and show you that they’re ready for the responsibility. Again, think about that first bike and the day you eventually allowed your child ride beyond the block. They’ll grow and become more independent on their phone too.

You need more than technology to keep kids safe on their smartphones.

Unlike those rotisserie ovens sold on late-night infomercials, a smartphone isn’t a “set it and forget it” proposition. Moreover, you won’t find the best monitoring, safety, and guidance software in an app store. That’s because it’s you.

As a parent, you already have a strong sense of what does and does not work for your household. Those rules, those expectations, need to make the jump from your household to your child’s smartphone and your child’s behavior on that smartphone. Obviously, there’s no software for that. Here’s the thing, though: they’ve established some of those behaviors already, simply by looking at you. Over the years, your child has seen your behavior with the phone. And let’s face it, none of us have been perfect here. We’ll sneak a peek at our phones while waiting for the food to show up to the table at a restaurant or cracked open our phones right as we’ve cracked open our eyes at the start of the day.

So, for starters, establishing the rules you want your child to follow may mean making some fresh rules for yourself and the entire household. For example, you may establish that the dinner table is a phone-free zone or set a time in the evening when phones are away before bedtime. (On a side note, research shows that even dim light from a smartphone can impact a person’s sleep patterns and their health overall, so you’ll want to consider that for your kids—and yourself!)

Whatever the rules you set in place end up being, make them as part of a conversation. Children of smartphone age will benefit from knowing not only what the rules are but why they’re important. Aside from wanting them to be safe and well, part of the goal here is to prepare them for the online world. Understanding “the why” is vital to that.

“The (Internet) Talk”

And that leads us to “The Internet Talk.”. In a recent McAfee blog on “What Security Means to Families,” we referred to the internet as a city, the biggest one there is. And if we think about letting our children head into town on their bikes, the following excerpt from that blog extends that idea to the internet:

For all its libraries, playgrounds, movie theaters, and shopping centers, there are dark alleys and derelict lots as well. Not to mention places that are simply age appropriate for some and not for others. Just as we give our children freer rein to explore their world on their own as they get older, the same holds true for the internet. There are some things we don’t want them to see and do.

There are multiple facets to “The Talk,” ranging anywhere from “stranger danger” to cyberbullying, and just general internet etiquette—not to mention the basics of keeping safe from things like malware, bad links, and scams. That’s a lot! Right? It sure is.

The challenge is this: while we’ve grown up with or grown into the internet over the course of our lives, the majority of children are amongst the first waves of children who were “born into” the internet. As parents, that means we’re learning much, if not all, of what we know about digital parenting from scratch.

The good news is that you’re far from alone. Indeed, a good portion of our blog is dedicated entirely to family safety. And with that, I’ve pulled out a few select articles below that can give you some information and inspiration for when it’s time to have “The Internet Talk.”

Stranger Danger
Keeping Your Kids Safe from Predators Online
Building Digital Literacy
Screen Time and Sleep Deprivation in Kids
Lessons Learned: A Decade of Digital Parenting
Social Influencers and Your Kids
Getting Kids to Care About Their Safety Online

And those are just a few for starters. We have plenty more, and a quick search will keep them coming. Meanwhile, know that once you have The Internet Talk, keep talking. Making sure your child is safe and happy on the internet is an ongoing process—and conversation, which will cover more in a moment.

Keeping tabs on their activity

One reason parents often cite for giving their child a smartphone is its location tracking capabilities that allow parents to see where their children are ranging about with a quick glance. And whether or not you choose to use such tracking features, that’s a decision you’ll have to make. However, consider your child’s privacy when you do. That’s not to say that you’re not in charge or that you shouldn’t track your child. Rather, it’s a reminder that your child is in fact getting older. Their sense of space and privacy is growing. Thus, if you choose to monitor their location, let them know you’re doing it. Be above the board with the intent that if you don’t hide anything from them, they’ll be less inclined to hide anything from you.

The same applies to parental controls software. Many of them will issue a report of app usage and time spent using the app, along with surfing habits too. Go ahead, monitor those early on and then adjust as them as it feels right to you. Let your child know that you’re doing it and why.

Another thing I’ve seen many of the parents I know do is share the credentials to any social media account their child sets up. Doing this openly lets your child take those first steps into social media (when you feel they’re ready) while giving you the opportunity to monitor, correct, and even cheer on certain behaviors you see. Granted, it’s not unusual for kids to work around this by setting up alternate accounts that they hide from their parents. With parental controls in place, you can mitigate some of that behavior, yet vigilance and openness on your part will be the greatest tool you have in that instance.

While you’re at it, go ahead and have conversations with your kid about what they’re doing online. Next time you’re in the car, ask what’s the latest app their friends are using. Take a peek at what games they’re playing. Download that game yourself, give it a try, and play it online with them if you can. This kind of engagement makes it normal to talk about the internet and what’s happening on it. Should the time come to discuss more serious topics or pressing matters (like a cyberbullying event, for instance), you have a conversational foundation already built.

The common denominator is you.

So, as we’ve discussed, technology is only part of the answer when managing that first smartphone in your child’s life. The other part is you. No solution works without your engagement, care, consistent application of rules, and clear expectations for behavior.

So, as you once looked on proudly as those training wheels came off your child’s first bike, you’ll want to consider doing the digital equivalent in those first months of that first smartphone. Keep your eyes and ears open as they use it. Have conversations about where their digital travels have taken them—the games they’re playing, the friends they’re chatting with. While you do, keep a sharp eye on their moods and feelings. Any changes could be a sign that you need to step in and catch them before they fall or pick them up right after they’ve fallen.
In all, your child’s first smartphone is a wonderful moment for any family, as it represents another big step in growing up. Celebrate it, have fun with it, and play your role in making sure your child gets the very best out of it.

Stay Updated

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

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What is GPS spoofing?

 What is GPS spoofing?

Global positioning system (GPS) technology is now the standard way for travelers to efficiently get from point A to point B. While GPS delivers unparalleled opportunities to businesses and individuals, there are some drawbacks to using this technology. GPS devices can be vulnerable to cyber attacks through GPS spoofing.

GPS Spoofing 101

Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) have been around for years in many industrialized countries, and GPS is just one of those systems.   GPS spoofing happens when someone uses a radio transmitter to send a counterfeit GPS signal to a receiver antenna to counter a legitimate GPS satellite signal. Most navigation systems are designed to use the strongest GPS signal, and the fake signal overrides the weaker but legitimate satellite signal.

Commercial Hazards of GPS Spoofing

GPS spoofing isn’t to be confused with GPS jamming. GPS jamming happens when a cyber criminal blocks GPS signals altogether. Selling or using GPS jamming equipment that can block communications is illegal in the United States. While GPS jamming appears to be the greater threat, GPS spoofing delivers a sucker punch to a variety of businesses.

GPS spoofing allows hackers to interfere with navigation systems without operators realizing it. The fake GPS feeds cause drivers, ship captains, and other operators to go off course without any coercion. Businesses that are particularly vulnerable to GPS spoofing are shipping companies, taxi services, and construction companies.

Shipping Companies

Shipping companies that haul freight via land, air, and sea all use GPS-based navigation systems to get cargo safely to destinations all over the world. GPS spoofing leaves these shipments vulnerable to hijacking and theft. A practical example of this is where hijackers use GPS spoofing to misdirect a vehicle to a location where its cargo can be robbed—and hid the truck’s location while it’s happening. Additionally, many shippers use GPS-enabled locks to secure their cargo, allowing them to open only when the truck arrives at its set destination. GPS spoofing undoes those locks as well. In all, this puts drivers in danger, and trucking companies lose millions of dollars of cargo each year due to hijacking incidents such as these.

Taxi and Ride Sharing Services

Gone are the days when taxi drivers relied solely on their knowledge of a city’s streets to transport passengers. Today’s taxi drivers can go into any city that their license allows and do their jobs efficiently with the use of GPS technology. This flexibility comes with some drawbacks, however. GPS spoofing allows drivers to fake their location and commit criminal acts while still on the clock. Drivers from ride services can also use the technique to fraudulently place themselves in surge areas to get more money for their services. Projecting a false location is a financial risk to companies and is potentially dangerous for passengers.

Construction Companies

While skilled construction workers are certainly valued, specialized tools, equipment, and machinery are the assets that many construction companies seek to track. These expensive assets commonly go missing on worksites, which eats into company profits. In recent years, GPS asset tracking systems have been installed to make sure construction equipment, tools, and machinery remain at authorized worksites. By using GPS spoofing, a thief could move an asset to a new location without anyone knowing about it until it was too late.

Dangers of GPS Spoofing for Everyone Else

GPS spoofing isn’t just a threat to businesses and government agencies; it also can be the catalyst for significant harm to individuals who rely on GPS. Cruising waterways along the coasts is a favorite hobby for those who enjoy boating.. Modern boats are equipped with GPS-based navigation systems. A cyber criminal can use GPS spoofing to get a skipper to steer his boat off course and into the path of danger from modern-day pirates.

The makers of location-based dating apps tout them as a safe way to meet a potential mate. These apps use GPS technology to help users identify dates by their location. When a bad actor uses GPS spoofing, he can fake his location or guide his date to a dangerous location.

The future of driving is now. Some electric cars are already equipped with an autopilot feature that offers unparalleled convenience to travel-weary drivers. However, independent research findings have uncovered a critical vulnerability in the cars’ navigation systems.  What will happen when fully autonomous, self-driving cars are made without steering devices that would allow a person to take control of their car during a GPS spoofing incident?

Tips to Combat GPS Spoofing Attacks

If you own a business that relies on GPS-based navigation systems, you’ll want to know the best ways to sabotage GPS spoofing attacks. The Department of Homeland Security points out some physical and procedural techniques to fight the problem. It recommends that companies hide GPS antennas from public view. GPS spoofing works well when an attacker can get close to an antenna and override legitimate GPS signals that come from orbiting satellites.

The agency suggests installing a decoy antenna that’s in plain view of would-be cyber criminals. Adding redundant antennas in different locations at your site allows you to notice if one antenna is being targeted for GPS spoofing. Companies such as Regulus Cyber are also developing GPS spoofing detection software that alerts users of spoofing incidents and keeps their devices from acting on spoofed GPS data.

Additionally, organizations should consider taking GPS-enabled equipment offline whenever connectivity isn’t actively required—thus making them less susceptible to attack. Likewise, following the basics of security hygiene provide further protection, such as regular updates and changing of passwords, along with the use of two-factor authentication, network firewalls, and other cyber defenses.

GPS Spoofing for Privacy

While GPS spoofing can cause big problems for people, businesses, and governments, there is a legitimate use for the practice. GPS tracking and location sharing present everyone with real privacy issues. GPS spoofing allows users to hide their actual location from those who could cause harm. Security companies can use GPS spoofing to guard high-profile clients or expensive merchandise. Individuals can install GPS spoofing apps for free on their Android phones to mask their locations and protect their privacy.

 

 

References
• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPS_signals
• https://medium.com/@theappninjas/what-are-gps-spoofing-apps-actually-doing-5c9f373540c4
• https://nordvpn.com/blog/gps-spoofing/
• https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lexa.fakegps&hl=en_US
• https://www.csoonline.com/article/3393462/what-is-gps-spoofing-and-how-you-can-defend-against-it.html
• https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/gps-spoofing/
• https://www.gps.gov/spectrum/jamming/
• https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/31092/new-type-of-gps-spoofing-attack-in-china-creates-crop-circles-of-false-location-data
• https://maximumridesharingprofits.com/drivers-can-get-deactivated-using-fake-gps-apps/
• https://www.prnewswire.com/il/news-releases/tesla-model-s-and-model-3-prove-vulnerable-to-gps-spoofing-attacks-as-autopilot-navigation-steers-car-off-road-research-from-regulus-cyber-shows-300871146.html
• https://www.regulus.com/blog/gps-spoofing-the-auto-cybersecurity-threat-hiding-in-plain-sight/
• https://www.csoonline.com/article/3393462/what-is-gps-spoofing-and-how-you-can-defend-against-it.html
• https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Features/story/Article/1674004/what-on-earth-is-the-global-positioning-system/

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What Security Means to Professionals

What Security Means to Professionals

Recently, we conducted a survey of 600 families and professionals in the U.S. to better understand what matters to them—in terms of security and the lives they want to lead online. The following article reflects what they shared with us, and allows us to share it with you in turn, with the aim of helping your workday go a little more smoothly.1

How many windows are open on your computer right now? Check out your browser. How many tabs do you have? If it’s a typical workday, you’ve probably run out of fingers counting them up.

Professionals put their computers through the paces. Consider the number of back-to-back meetings, video conferences, and presentations you lead and attend in a day, not to mention the time that you pour into work itself. Your computer has to keep up. It’s certainly no surprise that this is exactly the notion that came up in our research, time and time again.

What’s on the minds of professionals when it comes to their security?

In speaking with professionals about security, their answers largely revolved getting work done.

  • I need trusted apps and sites to work, always.
  • I need to maximize battery life while in transit or on a plane.
  • I need live presentations and demos to be seamless.
  • I need to multitask with multiple apps or multiple browser tabs open without locking up.
  • I need my computer to respond reliably and quickly without locking up.

While on the surface this may mean performance is top of mind, a closer look reveals that performance is often a function of security. A quick and easy example of this is the classic virus infection, where getting a virus on your computer can bring work to a screeching halt.

More broadly though, we see security as far more than just antivirus. We see it as protecting the person and helping them stay productive—giving them the tools to take care of the things that matter most to them. Thus, plenty of what we offer in a security suite focuses squarely on those concerns:

Battery optimization keeps you working longer without fretting over finding an outlet in the airport or simply working without wires for longer.

Password managers let you log into the apps and sites you count on without a second thought, also knowing that they’re securely stored and managed for protection.

Vulnerability scanners make sure that your apps always have the latest updates, which ensures you have all the upgraded features and security protocols that come along with those updates.

Inbox spam filters take yet another headache off your plate by removing junk mail before it can clutter up your inbox.

Secure VPN keeps data safe from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi in places like airports, hotels, and coffee shops, which gives you more independence to work in more places knowing that your information is secure.

Those are a few examples of specific features. Yet also important is that any security solution you use should your computer running quickly as well as smoothly. It should be lightweight and not hog resources so that your computer runs and responds quickly. (That’s a major focus of ours, where independent labs show that our performance is five times better than the average competitor.)

Where can professionals get started?

Drop by our page that’s put together just for professionals. We’ve gathered up several resources that’ll help you stay productive and safer too. Check it out, and we hope that it’ll keep you going whether you’re working on the road, in the office, or at home.

Stay Updated 

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

 

  • Survey conducted in October 2019, consisting of 600 computer-owning adults in the U.S.

 

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ScamsWeek2020

Here’s How to Be Yourself and NOT let a Scammer Be You!

If you hadn’t truly embraced the incredible benefits of managing your life online, then I bet 2020 has changed things for you. With social distancing still a big consideration in day to day life, more Aussies than ever are managing their lives online so they can stay home and stay well. But, unfortunately, there is a downside – online scams. The expanded online playground of 2020 means cybercrims are upping the ante and investing even more energy doing what they do so well – scamming everyday Aussies out of their hard-earned cash.

This week is Scams Awareness Week in Australia – a good opportunity to be reminded of how our growing use of technology can give scammers more opportunities to trick us into giving away our valuable personal information. In 2019, a whopping $630 million dollars was lost by Australians in scams.

Scammers are Pivoting Too!

We’ve all heard it. 2020 is about pivoting – being flexible and seeking out new opportunities. Well, clearly, we aren’t the only ones heeding the advice with scammers changing things up to capitalise on the chaotic nature of 2020. In fact Scamwatch has seen a 55 per cent increase in reports involving loss of personal information this year compared with the same period in 2019, totalling more than 24, 000 reports and over $22 million in losses.

Many experts are warning that scammers are renowned for ‘following the money’ so are currently expending a lot of energy targeting Aussies’ superannuation and government relief payments. Using email, text or phone, a scammer will often pretend to be from a Government agency eg MyGov or the Health Department and will insist that they require personal information in order to help the ‘victim’ access government payments, or access their super fund.

They are after driver’s license details, Medicare numbers – whatever they can get their hands on that will give them 100 points of identification which is enough for them to assume the identity of the victim and effectively do anything in their name. They could apply for a credit card, access superannuation accounts, or even tap into a victim’s government payments!

What Can We Do to Protect Ourselves?

There are steps we can all take to minimise the risk of getting caught up in a scam and, to be honest, most of them are remarkably simple. Here are my top tips:

  1. Think Critically

If there was ever a time to tap into your inner Sherlock Holmes, it’s now! If you receive a call, text, or email from someone out of the blue who claims to be from a government agency then tread VERY carefully! Do not feel pressured to share any information with anyone who has contacted you – regardless of what they say. Take a moment and ask yourself why they would be contacting you. If they are calling you – and you still aren’t sure – ask for their number so you can call them back later.

Remember – reputable organisations will rarely – if ever – call you and ask for personal information. And if you still aren’t sure – ask a family member of trusted friend for their advice. But remain sceptical at all times!

  1. Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

Yes, I know I sound like a broken record – but having an easily guessable password that you use on all your devices and accounts is no different to playing Russian Roulette – you won’t come out on top! Unfortunately, data breaches are a reality of our digital life. If a scammer gets their hands on your email and password combo through a data breach – and you have used that same combo on all your accounts – then you are effectively giving them access to your online life.

So, you need a separate complex password for each of your online accounts. It needs to be at least 8 characters and a combination of numbers, letter (lower and uppercase) and symbols. I love using a nonsensical sentence but a password manager that does all the thinking – and remembering – is the absolute best way of managing your passwords. Check out McAfee Total Protection, which includes a Password Manager.

  1. Keep Your Personal Information Tight

The best way to keep your personal information safe is by keeping it to yourself! Limit the amount of personal information you share – particularly on social media. Oversharing online makes it even easier for a scammer to steal your identity. And please avoid linking up your credit or debit cards to your online accounts unless absolutely necessary. Yes, it’s so convenient and a great way of making spontaneous purchases but it is a very risky business.

2020 has certainly been a tough year for us all. Many of us are struggling – financially and psychologically as we come to grips with our changing world. So, please – take a little time to tighten up your online life and remember if something seems too good to be true then it probably is!

Stay safe everyone!

Alex x

 

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Back-to-School: Could Your Remote Learner Be Cyber Cheating?

Back-to-School cyber-cheating

Back-to-School: Could Your Remote Learner Be Cyber Cheating?

As families across the country ramp up for the new school year, most are considering one of three basic learning options. Kids can attend traditional, in-class learning, they can attend their classes online from home, or they can choose a hybrid of the two. There are also learning pods, or small community groups, springing up as we recently discussed.

Whatever learning scenario your family chooses, each will likely have its own unique challenges. One challenge that seems to be heating up online chats lately is cyber cheating. And it’s not just teachers, administrators, and parents concerned about the potential fallout, kids aren’t thrilled either.

Macy, who is going into her sophomore year of high school will be returning to the classroom. “I’m going to be in class every day taking notes and then studying at night. On exam day, I’ll take the exam and if it’s a tough subject like Statistics, I will be lucky to get a C. My friend Lindley, whose parents let her learn do school online can take the same exam, figure out a way to cheat, and probably get an A. How is that fair?”

The topic is inspiring a number of potential solutions.

Some schools have included cyber cheating as part of their Back-to-School Guidelines for teachers. Others are leaving testing and monitoring up to individual teachers while some districts with bigger budgets are hiring digital proctors or relying on robots, video feeds, and webcams to curb cyber cheating.

At the college level, the effort to reduce cyber cheating is getting sophisticated. T staff at Georgia Tech recently programmed an online bot named Jack to infiltrate popular online cheating sites and pose as a student willing to write papers and do homework for a fee. It’s working.

While exactly how to even out testing requirements for all students — in-class or at home — is a work in progress, there are some practical ways to set your kids up for success this school year wherever they choose to learn.

Ways to Curb Cyber Cheating

Discuss expectations. Does your child understand exactly what cheating is? Sometimes the lines between the real world and the digital world can blur and create grey areas that are tough for kids to navigate. Depending on the age of your child, be sure to define cheating and establish the expectation of integrity and honesty whether in a classroom or at home. Discuss the goal of comprehension and understanding versus googling answers.

Don’t do your child’s work. Parents want to help struggling kids but can often go overboard. When we do our child’s work, it’s easy to forget — we’re actually cheating!

Review the hot topics. Discuss the big topics around cheating such as plagiarism, googling answers, cheat sites, downloading past tests, crib sheets, sharing school work between friends, doing work for others, copyright violations, giving proper attribution.

Keep in touch with teachers. With school guidelines constantly changing, it’s important to keep in close contact with teachers. Ask about test monitoring and expectations for remote students.

Be present. It’s natural to hover over younger kids but we can get lax with our teens. Be present and monitor their workload. Let your remote high schooler know that his or her learning is a priority.

Monitor workload. As academic pressure mounts, so too can the temptation to cut corners or cheat. Talk through the rough spots, get your child a tutor if needed, and step in to help prepare for tests (just don’t do the work).

Rely on software for help. If you suspect our child may be cheating, or that it may be a temptation, use parental monitoring software. Monitoring software can show you a log of sites accessed on any given day and allow you to block other sites.

Equip Yourself. Follow the advice of a Pennsylvania superintendent who says his teachers will be reading Generation Z Unfiltered, a book by Tim Elmore, to help them easily identify signs of cheating.

No matter where your child settles in to learn this year, it will take a family-sized effort to navigate these new academic halls. Stick together, keep talking, give extra grace for mistakes along the way, and work together to make this the best school year ever. You’ve got this, parents!

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Back-to-School: Prepping Your Tech for Learning Pods or Micro School

Back-to-School: Prepping Your Tech for Learning Pods or Micro School

With a new academic year starting up, the look of “back to school” will vary greatly depending on where you live. While some schools will open again for in-person classes, numerous others will adopt a hybrid mix of in-person and online education, with others remaining online-only for the time being. In all, this leaves many families in the same situation they faced last spring: school at home.

In April, I published a series of articles with the aim of offering parents and children some support as they made this sudden shift to online learning. Whether your school year is about to start, or if it’s just getting underway, let’s revisit that advice and make a few updates to it as well.

Meeting the challenges of schooling at home

There’s a good chance that this is your second round with schooling at home. And no doubt, there’s certainly a range of feelings that come along with that as you face the challenges of school at home once again. You’re not alone. Back in April, we checked in with 1,000 parents of school-aged children in the U.S. and got their take on the challenges their families were facing when remote learning was just beginning. Here’s a quick refresher:

The Top Five Difficulties

1. Keeping children focused on schoolwork (instead of other online activities) – 50.31%
2. Establishing a daily routine – 49.26%
3. Balancing household responsibilities and teaching – 41.83%
4. Establishing a wake-up and bedtime schedule – 33.40%
5. Balancing working from home and teaching – 33.31%

Perhaps you’ve experienced much the same, and perhaps you’ve found a few solutions to address these difficulties since then. For parents who’re looking for a little more support on that front, check out my blog on bringing structure to your school day at home. I wrote it along with a long-time educator who was tackling the same challenges herself, albeit on two fronts: one as a teacher and one as a parent of school-aged and college-aged children. There’s plenty of good advice in there—from sample schedules to free educational resources.

What are learning pods and how do you get your tech ready for one?

Another approach to remote learning that’s generating some conversation right now are “learning pods,” also referred to as “bubbles” or “micro-schools” in some places as well. Broadly, a learning pod entails a small group of families sharing spaces and the responsibilities of schooling at home by gathering a few children together to do their online learning as a group—which appears to be very much in response to those top 5 difficulties mentioned above.

These learning pods take many forms, and in some instances tutors participate in the pods as well. I encourage you to read up on the topic, and to get to know the pros, cons, and issues associated with it. This is all relatively new territory and the practices are still taking shape. Needless to say, health, safety, and well-being are vital considerations as we continue to navigate these days and figure out the best way to educate and support our children.

One place you can get started is by checking out our recent blog article on keeping remote learning pod students safe online, which provides a look at several security considerations that are specific to families who are considering participating in a pod.

Get your devices ready for school at home

Whether your family participates in a learning pod or not, your child will likely have a primary device that they’ll use for online schooling. That could be one your child already has, one that they share with other members of the family, or one that’s provided to them by their school. In any case, you’ll want to make sure that the device they’re using is protected. Here’s a quick look:

Using your home computer or laptop for school

In the case of a computer that your family already has, you’ll want to ensure that it has a full security service installed. This means more than just antivirus, though. A strong security service will also have firewall protection that protects from hackers, safe browsing tools that alert you of unsafe sites or links before you click them, plus a set of parental controls that will block distractions like certain apps or websites—along with inappropriate content. One other reality of online learning is a set of new passwords as your child is pointed towards new learning portals and educational sites. A good option here is to use a password manager that will keep all of that organized and encrypted so that they’re safer from attacks.

Using computers issued by schools

In some cases, this will be a laptop computer or tablet provided by the school district, which students can keep for the school year. In this case, the security on these devices, security software and settings, will already in place thanks to the district. Be aware that a device that’s managed centrally this way will likely be limited in terms of which settings can be updated and what software can be added. Thus, if your child has a school-issued device, follow the advice of the school and its IT admin. If you have any questions, contact them.

Protect your children even more with a VPN

I recommend the use of a VPN (virtual private network) pretty much across the board, and I likewise recommend one here. A sound VPN service will protect the privacy of your internet connection with bank-level encryption and keep hackers at bay, such as when they try to steal passwords or data. This is particularly ideal for your child, who will be spending several hours a day online with school and other activities. The bonus is that anyone who uses the device with the VPN service will be similarly protected too.

Get your Wi-Fi ready for the best bandwidth

Whether you’re planning on taking part in a learning pod or will have multiple family members using your Wi-Fi at once, giving your network a tune for performance is a must.

1) Start out with a speed test. This will give you a baseline idea of just how fast your network is. There are plenty of free services available, like the speed test from Ookla. The results take just seconds, which you can then compare to the speed you’ve subscribed to on your internet bill. If you see a gap, you can contact your provider to diagnose the issue or perhaps get an updated router from them.

2) Check your router location. Place it in a central location in your residence if possible, preferably high on a shelf with no obstructions like books or furniture. This will help broadcast a better signal and avoid “dead zones” in your home. Another option is to contact your provider about Wi-Fi extenders, which are often simple as a little plug-in device that will rebroadcast your Wi-Fi router’s signal and give you better coverage. You can also look for home routers that include built-in security. 

3) Create a guest network with its own password. This option allows you to share your Wi-Fi with guests without worrying about them accessing things like shared folders, printers, or other devices on your network. This way, if your home network is called “MyFamily,” you can create “MyFamily-Guest” that offers more limited access and with its own unique password. The way you go about this varies from router to router, yet it involves using your browser to adjust your router settings. Because of this, your best bet is to get in touch with your provider for help, as they should have resources that can walk you through it.

Look after your mental well-being this school year too.

With another round of schooling at home upon so many of us, the other thing we should talk about is our continued well-being—particularly as so much of daily life still feels as if it’s in limbo. Beyond taking care of your devices, take care of yourself too. While we’re all spending more time on our screens, remember the importance of unplugging on a regular basis and mixing up your routine. Likewise, take time to strengthen your family’s wellbeing, both online and offline.

We’ve been learning so much as we’ve made what seems like a continued stream of adaptations to the days we’re living in. Some we’ll be glad to cast aside when the time is right, yet I’m sure there are others that will be welcome additions to our lives. I know of more than a few I’ll certainly keep when this has all passed. And I hope you have a good list of your own too.

Stay Updated

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

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How to ‘Online Date’ Safely in 2020

If you are a young person looking for your ‘special someone’ then 2020 would have seriously cramped your style. Whether you’ve been in lockdown, working from home or simply staying home to stay well, your social life would have taken a hit. So, it comes as no surprise that dating sites have become the playground for young people – in fact all aged people – who are ‘looking for love’.

The New Normal

Our ‘in-person’ social lives look a whole lot different to 2019. Over the last six months, we’ve all been living with a barrage of new restrictions which has meant a lot of time at home. Earlier in 2020, many cities effectively closed-up while others – such as Melbourne – recently imposed a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. In NSW, cafes, pubs, and restaurants reopened but with tight restrictions on the number of people allowed inside. My older boys spent a few Saturday nights lining up to get into the local pub but ended up returning home to the couch.

And of course, it goes without saying that protecting our people should be the biggest priority, but it has taken a toll on our ability to socialise and connect with others.

Most Aussies Now Meet Their Partners Online

One of my oldest friends found the love of her life online. 15 years later and all is going swimmingly! She was an Aussie and he was an Englishman – but it didn’t matter – love prevailed! There is no humanly possible way, these two would have connected if it wasn’t for the wonders of technology.

A recent survey of over 54,000 Australians by the ABC – the Australia Talks National Survey showed that more people meet their partner online than anywhere else and in fact – it has been that way since 2010! And of the Aussies who met their partners in 2019 – 1/3 made the connection online. So, even before 2020 – people were looking online to find a match.

But add in a global pandemic and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict that these statistics will only increase!

Proceed with Caution

With so many people, understandably, feeling isolated and lonely, online dating is a wonderful way to make connections – both romantic and platonic. But you do need to have your wits about you to stay safe.

Scammers will often prey on our need to feel connected to each other and expend a lot of energy developing relationships for all the wrong reasons. So, if you have a teen or young adult in your house who is directing their energies into online dating sites, then please check in with them to ensure they are being safe.

Here are my top tips on staying safe while you look for love online:

  1. Don’t Get Too Personal – While it might feel harmless sharing your name, location and occupation to your new online friends, it doesn’t take much for a scammer to piece together your details to access your personal info, bank accounts or even steal your identity. Never use your full name on dating sites and only share what is absolutely necessary!
  2. Do Your Homework – Before you meet someone in person after meeting them online, always do your homework. A Google search is a great place to start and even using Google Images will help you get a better understanding of a person. Don’t forget to check out their LinkedIn account too. And why not investigate whether you might have mutual friends? If so, ask them for their ‘2 cents worth’ too.
  3. Think Before You Send – Sharing sexy pics or videos with the person you are dating online might seem like a good idea in the moment but please consider how this could affect you in the future. Once those pictures and videos are online, they are online forever. Even social media apps that say pictures go away after a few seconds can be easily circumvented with a screenshot.  It’s not just celebrities who have intimate pictures spread around the Internet!
  4. Make passwords a priority – Ensure all your online dating and social media accounts, and all your devices, have separate and unique passwords. Ideally, each password should have a combination of lower- and upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters. I love using a nonsensical, crazy sentence!

 

One of the greatest lessons of 2020 for me is our need for human connection.

My biggest takeout from 2020? Humans need other humans to not only survive but thrive. So, if you’re looking for your life partner – or even companionship – the online world may be the perfect way for the moment. But, please – exercise caution and be safe – because as I say to my boys all the time – trust your gut, because it’s usually right!

Stay safe

Alex x

 

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What Security Means to Elders

senior using smartphone

What Security Means to Elders

Recently, we conducted a survey of 600 families and professionals in the U.S. to better understand what matters to them—in terms of security and the lives they want to lead online. The following article reflects what they shared with us, and allows us to share it with you in turn, with the aim of helping you and your family stay safer and more secure. 1

Findings from Pew Research Center show that internet usage by elders has risen from an average of 14% in 2000 to 67% on average 2017. As these numbers continue to rise, we wanted to find out what was important to them—particularly as more and more of their lives go online.

While many of us take shopping, surfing, and banking online for granted, they mark a dramatic shift for elders. They’ve gone from the days when banking meant banker’s hours and paper passbook to around-the-clock banking and a mobile app. And even if they use the internet sparingly, banking, finances, and commerce have gone digital. Their information is out there, and it needs to be protected.

The good news is, elders are motivated.

What’s on the minds of elders when it comes to their security?

Most broadly, this sentiment captures it well: Technology may be new to me, but I still want to be informed and involved. For example, elders told us that they absolutely want to know if something is broken—and if so, how to fix it as easily as possible. In all, they’re motivated to get smart on the topic of security, get educated on how to tackle risks, and gain confidence that they go about their time on the internet safely. Areas of interest they had were:

Identity protection: This covers a few things—one, it’s monitoring your identity to spot any initial suspicious activity on your personal and financial accounts before it becomes an even larger one; and two, it’s support and tools for recovery in the even your identity is stolen by a crook. (For more on identity theft, check out this blog.)

Social Security monitoring:  Government benefits are very much on the mind of elders, particularly as numerous agencies increasingly direct people to use online services to manage and claim those benefits. Of course, hackers and crooks have noticed. In the U.S., for example, Social Security identified nearly 63,000 likely fraudulent online benefit applications in fiscal 2018, according to the agency’s Office of the Inspector General, up from just 89 in fiscal 2015.

Scam prevention: An article from Protect Seniors Online cities some useful insights from the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Better Business Bureau. According to them there are five top scams in the U.S. that tend to prey on older adults.

  • Tech support scams are run by people, sometimes over the phone, that pretend to be from a reputable company, which will then ask for access to your computer over the internet, install malware, and then claim there’s a problem. After that, they’ll claim to “help” you by removing that malware—for an exorbitant fee.
  • Ransomware scams, where a crook will block access to your computer until you pay a sum of money. This is like the tech support scam, yet without the pretense of support—it’s straight-up ransom.
  • Tax scams that attempt to steal funds by instructing people to make payments to a scammer’s account. In the U.S., note that the IRS will not call to demand payment or appeal an amount you owe.
  • False debt collectors are out there too, acting in many ways like tax scammers. These will often come by way of email, where the hacker will hope that you’ll click the phony link or open a malicious attachment.
  • Sweepstakes and charity scams that play on your emotions, where you’re asked to pay to receive a prize or make a donation with your credit card (thereby giving crooks the keys to your account).

Where can professionals get started?

With that, we’ve put together several resources related to these topics. Drop by our site and check them out. We hope you’ll find some basic information and knowledge of behaviors that can keep you safe.

Stay Updated 

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

Survey conducted in October 2019, consisting of 600 computer-owning  adults in the U.S

 

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What Security Means to Families

digital parenting

What Security Means to Families

One truth of parenting is this: we do a lot of learning on the job. And that often goes double when it comes to parenting and the internet.

That’s understandable. Whereas we can often look to our own families and how we were raised for parenting guidance, today’s always-on mobile internet, with tablets and smartphones almost always within arm’s reach, wasn’t part of our experience growing up. This is plenty new for nearly all of us. We’re learning on the job as it were, which is one of the many reasons why we reached out to parents around the globe to find out what their concerns and challenges are—particularly around family safety and security in this new mobile world of ours.

 Just as we want to know our children are safe as they walk to school or play with friends, we want them to be just as safe when they’re online. Particularly when we’re not around and there to look over their shoulder. The same goes for the internet. Yet where we likely have good answers for keeping our kids safe around the house and the neighborhood, answers about internet safety are sometimes harder to come by.

Recently, we conducted a survey of 600 families and professionals in the U.S. to better understand what matters to them—in terms of security and the lives they want to lead online. The following article reflects what they shared with us, and allows us to share it with you in turn, with the aim of helping you and your family stay safer and more secure. 1

What concerns and questions do parents have about the internet?

The short answer is that parents are looking for guidance and support. They’re focused on the safety of their children, and they want advice on how to parent when it comes to online privacy, safety, and screen time. Within that, they brought up several specific concerns:

Help my kids not feel anxious about growing up in an online world.

There’s plenty wrapped up in this statement. For one, it refers to the potential anxiety that revolves around social networks and the pressures that can come with using social media—how to act, what’s okay to post and what’s not, friending, following, unfriending, unfollowing, and so on—not to mention the notion of FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” and anxiety that arises from feelings of not being included in someone else’s fun.

Keep my kids safe from bullying, or bullying others.

Parents are right to be concerned. Cyberbullying happens. In a study spanning 30 countries, one child in three has said they’ve been the victim of cyberbullying according to a study conducted by UNICEF. On the flip side of that, a 2016 study of more than 5,000 students in the U.S. by the Cyberbullying Research Center reported that 11.5% of students between 12 and 17 indicated that they had engaged in cyberbullying in their lifetime.

Feel like I can leave my child alone with a device without encountering inappropriate content.

If we think of the internet as a city, it’s the biggest one there is. For all its libraries, playgrounds, movie theatres, and shopping centers, there are dark alleys and derelict lots as well. Not to mention places that are simply age appropriate for some and not for others. Just as we give our children freer rein to explore their world on their own as they get older, the same holds true for the internet. There are some things we don’t want them to see and do.

Balance the amount of screen time my children get each day.

Screen time is a mix of many things—from schoolwork and videos to games and social media. It has its benefits and its drawbacks, depending on what children are doing and how often they’re doing it. The issue often comes down to what is “too much” screen time, particularly as it relates to the bigger picture of physical activity, face-to-face time with the family, hanging out with friends, and getting a proper bedtime without the dim light of a screen throwing off their sleep rhythms.

Where can parents get started?

Beyond our job of providing online security for devices, our focus at McAfee is on protecting people. Ultimately, that’s the job we aim to do—to help you and your family be safer. Beyond creating software for staying safe, we also put together blogs and resources that help people get sharp on the security topics that matter to them. For parents, check out this page which puts forward some good guidance and advice that can help. Check it out, and we hope that you’ll find even more ways you can keep you and your family safe.

Stay Updated 

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

 

 

  • Survey conducted in October 2019, consisting of 600 computer-owning adults in the U.S.

 

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