Category Archives: Consumer

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.

The post Election 2020 – Fake Election Websites: Five Tips So You Don’t Get Fooled appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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.

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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.

Careers in Cybersecurity

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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Ransom from Home – How to close the cyber front door to remote working ransomware attacks

Coronavirus has caused a major shift to our working patterns. In many cases these will long outlast the pandemic. But working from home has its own risks. One is that you may invite ransomware attacks from a new breed of cyber-criminal who has previously confined his efforts to directly targeting the corporate network. Why? Because as a remote worker, you’re increasingly viewed as a soft target—the open doorway to extorting money from your employer.

So how does ransomware land up on your front doorstep? And what can a home worker do to shut that door?

The new ransomware trends

Last year, Trend Micro detected over 61 million ransomware-related threats, a 10% increase from 2018 figures. But things have only gotten worse from there. There has been a 20% spike in ransomware detections globally in the first half of 2020, rising to 109% in the US. And why is that?

At a basic level, ransomware searches for and encrypts most of the files on a targeted computer, so as to make them unusable. Victims are then asked to pay a ransom within a set time frame in order to receive the decryption key they need to unlock their data. If they don’t, and they haven’t backed-up this data, it could be lost forever.

The trend of late, however, has been to focus on public and private sector organizations whose staff are working from home (WFH). The rationale is that remote workers are less likely to be able to defend themselves from ransomware attacks, while they also provide a useful stepping-stone into high-value corporate networks. Moreover, cybercriminals are increasingly looking to steal sensitive data before they encrypt it, even as they’re more likely to fetch a higher ransom for their efforts than they do from a typical consumer, especially if the remote employee’s data is covered by cyber-insurance.

Home workers are also being more targeted for a number of reasons:

  • They may be more distracted than those in the office.
  • Home network and endpoint security may not be up to company levels.
  • Home systems (routers, smart home devices, PCs, etc.,) may not be up-to-date and therefore are more easily exposed to exploits.
  • Remote workers are more likely to visit insecure sites, download risky apps, or share machines/networks with those who do.
  • Corporate IT security teams may be overwhelmed with other tasks and unable to provide prompt support to a remote worker.
  • Security awareness programs may have been lacking in the past, perpetuating bad practice for workers at home.

What’s the attack profile of the remote working threat?

In short, the bad guys are now looking to gain entry to the corporate network you may be accessing from home via a VPN, or to the cloud-hosted systems you use for work or sharing files, in order to first steal and then encrypt company data with ransomware as far and wide as possible into your organization. But the methods are familiar. They’ll

  • Try to trick you into dangerous behavior through email phishing—the usual strategy of getting you to click links that redirect you to bad websites that house malware, or getting you to download a bad file, to start the infection process.
  • Steal or guess your log-ins to work email accounts, remote desktop tools (i.e., Microsoft Remote Desktop or RDP), and cloud-based storage/networks, etc., before they deliver the full ransomware payload. This may happen via a phishing email spoofed to appear as if sent from a legitimate source, or they may scan for your use of specific tools and then try to guess the password (known as brute forcing). One new Mac ransomware, called EvilQuest, has a keylogger built into it, which could capture your company passwords as you type them in. It’s a one-two punch: steal the data first, then encrypt it.
  • Target malware at your VPN or remote desktop software, if it’s vulnerable. Phishing is again a popular way to do this, or they may hide it in software on torrent sites or in app stores. This gives them a foothold into your employer’s systems and network.
  • Target smart home devices/routers via vulnerabilities or their easy-to-guess/crack passwords, in order to use home networks as a stepping-stone into your corporate network.

How can I prevent ransomware when working from home?

The good news is that you, the remote worker, can take some relatively straightforward steps up front to help mitigate the cascading risks to your company posed by the new ransomware. Try the following:

  • Be cautious of phishing emails. Take advantage of company training and awareness courses if offered.
  • Keep your home router firmware, PCs, Macs, mobile devices, software, browsers and operating systems up to date on the latest versions – including remote access tools and VPNs (your IT department may do some of this remotely).
  • Ensure your home network, PCs, and mobile devices are protected with up-to-date with network and endpoint AV from a reputable vendor. (The solutions should include anti-intrusion, anti-web threat, anti-spam, anti-phishing, and of course, anti-ransomware features.)
  • Ensure remote access tools and user accounts are protected with multi-factor authentication (MFA) if used and disable remote access to your home router.
  • Disable Microsoft macros where possible. They’re a typical attack vector.
  • Back-up important files regularly, according to 3-2-1 rule.

How Trend Micro can help

In short, to close the cyber front door to ransomware, you need to protect your home network and all your endpoints (laptops, PCs, mobile devices) to be safe. Trend Micro can help via

  • The Home Network: Home Network Security (HNS) connects to your router to protect any devices connected to the home network — including IoT gadgets, smartphones and laptops — from ransomware and other threats.
  • Desktop endpoints: Trend Micro Security (TMS) offers advanced protection from ransomware-related threats. It includes Folder Shield to safeguard valuable files from ransomware encryption, which may be stored locally or synched to cloud services like Dropbox®, Google Drive® and Microsoft® OneDrive/OneDrive for Business.
  • Mobile endpoints: Trend Micro Mobile Security (also included in TMS) protects Android and iOS devices from ransomware.
  • Secure passwords: Trend Micro Password Manager enables users to securely store and recall strong, unique passwords for all their apps, websites and online accounts, across multiple devices.
  • VPN Protection at home and on-the-go: Trend Micro’s VPN Proxy One (Mac | iOS) solution will help ensure your data privacy on Apple devices when working from home, while its cross-platform WiFi Protection solution will do the same across PCs, Macs, Android and iOS devices when working from home or when connecting to public/unsecured WiFi hotspots, as you venture out and about as the coronavirus lockdown eases in your area.

With these tools, you, the remote worker, can help shut the front door to ransomware, protecting your work, devices, and company from data theft and encryption for ransom.

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

Security for all devices

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.

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

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

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

Let’s examine what that entails.

Keeping Personal Health Private

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

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

Supporting Students Distance Learning

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

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

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

Bank Online Without Prying Eyes

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

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

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

Securing Our New Digital Frontiers

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Defense Is More Mobile Than Ever

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

Retail Partners Make Plug and Play Even Easier

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

Software Partners Help Us Mount a Better Defense

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

Our Security Sets Teams Up for Success

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

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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

 

The post How to ‘Online Date’ Safely in 2020 appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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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Smartphone Alternatives for Free-Ranging Kids

Child using smartphone

Smartphone Alternatives for Free-Ranging Kids

A popular topic in our blogs is “when to buy a child a smartphone,” and for good reason. It’s an important conversation, one that calls for plenty of research and reflection as you look to balance the risks and rewards of giving your child a smartphone. Maybe you’ve already arrived at your answer and decided that your child isn’t ready—yet you still like the idea of using technology to keep in touch with your kiddo. If so, you still have options.

Why is smartphone ownership for children on the rise?

And that’s the thing. We want to keep in touch with our kids. We’ve seen studies and heard anecdotal references time and time again: one of the top reasons parents give a child a smartphone is “to stay in touch.” Whatever the reason parents cite, smartphone ownership by young users is on the rise. According to recent research from Common Sense Media, 19% of eight-year-olds in the U.S. owned a smartphone in 2019, compared to just 11% in 2015. (Nearly double!) Looking at older tweens, 69% of twelve-year-olds owned one, whereas that number was just 41% in 2015.

As these numbers rise, it begs some questions about how families can benefit from giving a smartphone to a child, particularly a younger one. One thought that quickly comes to mind is that families have a lot to juggle with jobs, school, activities, play dates, and so forth all in the mix. Smartphones help us keep on top of it all. With texting, calls, calendars, and GPS, it seems to offer some easy answers when it comes to keeping organized and on schedule. Likewise, the reality is that we have households where parents work multiple jobs or keep hours that go outside the regular 9-to-5, which makes staying connected that much more important, to the degree that it’s a near necessity.

Another thought around the rise of young smartphone owners is around a desire to help our kids become more independent, or at least semi-independent with some supervision. Maybe that’s letting them walk to school or a friend’s house, all with the reassurance that you can track where they are with GPS and feel good knowing they can get in touch with you quickly if they need to (and vice-versa). 

Free-Range Parenting and Smartphone Technology

Taking that approach a step further is the re-invigorated notion of “free-range parenting,” which harkens back to the days of the 70’s, 80’s and even earlier when kids were simply sent out of the house to go roam around the neighborhood and playgrounds with friends until suppertime. The pros and cons of allowing your child to explore their world more freely and to do so with less direct supervision is a conversation unto itself. Local laws vary, as do family situations, not to mention a child’s age and overall level of preparedness. So while free-range parenting is a snappy phrase, it’s a rather complex topic. I don’t bring it up glibly. Yet, it’s a conversation that’s been making the rounds in parenting blogs in recent years. Now, with how pervasive smartphone ownership has become, the conversation gets that much more interesting. But is a smartphone really the best tool here?

The flipside is that a smartphone, for all its benefits, like instant messaging, texting, location tracking, family calendars, and good old phone calls, obviously has its drawbacks when they’re in the hands of young kids. A smartphone an open door to the broader internet—social media, games, endless hours of videos, not to mention content that you know is not appropriate for them. It’s a world that no child should be thrown into cold. Just like learning to walk, it should be entered gradually, in baby steps. 

Stay in Touch without the Smartphone

And thankfully there are devices that are built just for that, while still giving families the means “to stay in touch” without introducing the risks of the internet to young children at too soon an age. In short, you don’t need a smartphone to get all the benefits of a smartphone, at least when it comes to keeping tabs on your children. 

What follows are a few options you can check out and research for yourself. Know that I’m not personally endorsing or recommending any particular brand, device, or phone here. My aim is to give you a nudge into an initial direction with a quick overview of what’s out there so that you can make a choice that works great for your family. Let’s take a look:

Flip Phones

The trusty flip phone. Rugged. Low-cost. Long battery life. Together, that makes them a fine option for kids. The options for them are quite broad, where you can get phones that are essentially just phones and nothing else, to other models that include cameras, push-to-talk walkie-talkie communications, and slide-out keyboards for texting. Doing a little research online will turn up numerous lists of the “best” flip phones and give you a strong idea of which one has the features you want (and don’t want) for your child.

Cellular and Wi-Fi Walkie-Talkies

An interesting and relatively recent entry into the “just for kids” phone market is the relay phone. In actuality, the relay looks more like a small speaker that’s the size of a standard sticky note and the width of an ice cream sandwich, which is quite practical. Kids can clip it on to their backpack, pop it in their pocket, or wear it on an armband. With a big button in the center, it gives kids a screen-free, push-to-talk phone that works with cellular and Wi-Fi networks. The other great feature for parents and their free-ranging kids is the combination of GPS tracking and geofencing. This way, you can always know where your children are and get alerts if they stray from the geofenced area you prescribe (like a few blocks around your home or a route to and from school). Additionally, it includes SOS emergency alerts, where five quick taps of the button will send an instant notification.

Smart Watches for Kids

Similar to the above, the U.S. mobile carrier Verizon offers a smart watch for children called the GizmoWatch2. At first glance, it looks like many other smart watches on the market but with a twist: you can load it with up to 10 contacts that you approve, so your child can text or call them with the push of a button. And like the relay phone, it also has GPS technology that allows you to instantly locate your child and get alerts when they step outside of their geofenced area. Other features include a step counter, tasks and reminders, plus a calendar function for setting a schedule. And yes, it’s a watch too. Pretty convenient, as it’s simply something that your child can wear.

For families in the EU, XPLORA offers a range of smart watches for kids that are currently available for online shopping in UK, Germany, Spain, France and Poland, and in selected retail stores. Another option for UK families is the Vodaphone V-Kids Watch, which offers GPS tracking, voice messaging, and an SOS button as well.

First Phones for Kids

On the more fully featured side, Gabb Wireless offers a phone and network made for young users. The look and feel of this device is more like a smartphone, yet the functionality and apps are narrowed down to the basics. It includes messaging, a camera, and things like a calculator, voice recorder, and calendar. What’s missing are social media apps, games, and internet browsing (and everything that comes with that). It’s available in the lower 48 states of the U.S. (for now).

Giving Your Child an “Old” Smartphone

One option for parents is to give a child an old smartphone, say a phone that might be otherwise destined for a swap at the mobile phone shop, and to “dumb it down” by removing everything but the most essential of apps. However, as you are certainly aware, kids are smart. And curious. Count on them figuring out how to make that dumb phone smart again by reloading apps on their own. One more thing to keep in mind is that your old data and passwords may be on this phone, so you’d want to reset your phone completely, like back to the original factory settings, to avoid any access or data issues. You’d also want to pick up antivirus for your iOS or Android phone and apply some parental controls to it as well. 

So while this route may feel like you’re getting some extra mileage out of a phone and giving your child the means to stay in touch, know that it comes with those risks. With that, I don’t recommend this for the younger ones in your life.

Thinking Twice About Smartphones for Kids

Just as you want to monitor where your child is and what they’re doing out in the neighborhood, the same holds true for the internet. That’s a good a reason as any to put some serious thought before you put a smartphone in your child’s hands. As we’ve seen, the good news is that you don’t need a smartphone to keep in touch with your child. Yet more reassuring is that mobile carriers and technology companies are paying attention to the concerns that parents have and creating products that address them. Research your options and be sure to share what you find with other parents. You may start something special in your circle of friends.  

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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Security is a Feeling- With the McAfee #SecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes!

Security is a Feeling-  Share it with the McAfee #SecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes!

The word ‘security’ means something unique to everyone. Security is a feeling, an emotion, a sense of belonging and place: It could be the feeling of cuddling as a family in a pillow fort, making sure your house is locked at night, or always having a smartphone in your pocket for directions or an emergency.

Though our digital devices are convenient, they can also be cause for possible security concerns due to overlooked weaknesses. Check out the latest research from the McAfee team for more information.

While all this dazzling technology has its appeal, we here at McAfee understand the importance of creating new security solutions for those who want to live their connected lives with confidence.

In fact, to celebrate the latest innovations, we’re giving two [2] lucky people the chance to win an Amazon gift card. Not a customer? Not a problem!  Simply retweet one of our contest tweets with the required hashtag between August 3rd, 2020 – August 16th 2020 for your chance to win. Follow the instructions below to enter, and good luck!

#RT2Win Sweepstakes Official Rules

  • To enter, go to https://twitter.com/McAfee_Home, and find the #RT2Win sweepstakes tweet.
  • There will be four [4] sweepstakes tweets will be released at the following schedule including the hashtags: #RT2Win #Sweepstakes AND #SecureMyLife
    • Monday, August 3, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
    • Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
    • Monday, August 10, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
    • Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
  • Retweet the sweepstakes tweet released on the above date before 11:59PM PST, from your own handle. The #RT2Win, #Sweepstakes AND #SecureMyLife hashtags must be included to be entered.
  • Sweepstakes will end on Monday August16, 2020  at 11:59pm PT. All entries must be made before that date and time.
  • Winners will be notified on Wednesday August 19, 2020 via Twitter direct message.
  • Limit one entry per person.

     1. How to Win:

Retweet one of our contest tweets on @McAfee_Home that include ““#RT2Win, #Sweepstakes, and #SecureMyLife” for a chance at an Amazon Gift card. Two [2] winners will be selected by  10:00 AM PT August 19, 2020, for a total of two [2] winners. Winners will be notified by direct message on Twitter. For full Sweepstakes details, please see the Terms and Conditions, below.

McAfee #SecureMyLife    RT2Win   Sweepstakes Terms and Conditions

     2. How to Enter: 

No purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. McAfee’s #RT2Win  Sweepstakes will be conducted from August 3rd through August 16th. All entries for each day of the #SecureMyLife  RT2Win Sweepstakes must be received during the time allotted for the #RT2Win   Sweepstakes. Pacific Daylight Time shall control the McAfee RT2Win Sweepstakes. The #SecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes duration is as follows:

#RT2Win   Sweepstakes:

  • Begins: Monday, August 3rd, 2020 at 7:00am PST
  • Ends: Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 11:59 PST
    • Opportunity 1: Monday, August 3, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
    • Opportunity 2: Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
    • Opportunity 3: Monday, August 10, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
    • Opportunity 4: Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 9:05AM PST
  • Winners will be announced: by 10:00AM PST August 19, 2020

For the #SecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes, participants must complete the following steps during the time allotted for the #SecureMyLifeSecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes:

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

Two (2) winners will be chosen for the #McAfee #SecureMyLife Sweepstakes tweet from the viable pool of entries that retweeted and included #. McAfee and the McAfee social team will select winners at random from among the viable entries. The winners will be announced and privately messaged on August 19, 2020 on the @McAfee_Home Twitter handle. No other method of entry will be accepted besides Twitter. Only one entry per user is allowed, per Sweepstakes. SWEEPSTAKES IS IN NO WAY SPONSORED, ENDORSED, ADMINISTERED BY, OR ASSOCIATED WITH TWITTER, INC. 

     3. Eligibility: 

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

     4. Winner Selection:

Winners will be selected from the eligible entries received during the days of the #SecureMyLifeSecureMyLife RT2Win   Sweepstakes periods. Sponsor will select the names of two [2] potential winners of the prizes in a random drawing from among all eligible submissions at the address listed below. The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by the Official #SecureMyLifeSecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes Rules and the decisions of the coordinators, which shall be final and binding in all respects.

     5.Winner Notification: 

Each winner will be notified via direct message (“DM”) on Twitter.com by August 19, 2020. Prize winners may be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release (where permitted by law) to be returned within ten (10) days of written notification, or prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected. If a prize notification is returned as unclaimed or undeliverable to a potential winner, if potential winner cannot be reached within twenty four (24) hours from the first DM notification attempt, or if potential winner fails to return requisite document within the specified time period, or if a potential winner is not in compliance with these Official Rules, then such person shall be disqualified and, at Sponsor’s sole discretion, an alternate winner may be selected for the prize at issue based on the winner selection process described above.

     6. Prizes: 

The prizes for the #SecureMyLifeRT2Win Sweepstakes are two [2] $100 Amazon e-gift cards  (approximate retail value “ARV” of the prize is $100   USD; the total ARV of all gift cards is $200 USD). Entrants agree that Sponsor has the sole right to determine the winners of the #SecureMyLifeRT2Win   Sweepstakes and all matters or disputes arising from the #SecureMyLife RT2Win Sweepstakes and that its determination is final and binding. There are no prize substitutions, transfers or cash equivalents permitted except at the sole discretion of Sponsor. Sponsor will not replace any lost or stolen prizes. Sponsor is not responsible for delays in prize delivery beyond its control. All other expenses and items not specifically mentioned in these Official Rules are not included and are the prize winners’ sole responsibility.

      7. General Conditions: 

Entrants agree that by entering they agree to be bound by these rules. All federal, state, and local taxes, fees, and surcharges on prize packages are the sole responsibility of the prizewinner. Sponsor is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate entry information, whether caused by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the #SecureMyLifeRT2Win Sweepstakes, or by any technical or human error, which may occur in the processing of the #SecureMyLifeRT2Win Sweepstakes entries. By entering, participants release and hold harmless Sponsor and its respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives from any and all liability for any injuries, loss, claim, action, demand, or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with the #SecureMyLifeRT2Win   Sweepstakes, any prize won, any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, participation in any #SecureMyLifeRT2Win   Sweepstakes -related activity, or participation in the #SecureMyLifeRT2Win  Sweepstakes. Except for applicable manufacturer’s standard warranties, the prizes are awarded “AS IS” and WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, express or implied (including any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose).

If participating in this Sweepstakes via your mobile device (which service may only be available via select devices and participating wireless carriers and is not required to enter), you may be charged for standard data use from your mobile device according to the terms in your wireless service provider’s data plan.  Normal airtime and carrier charges and other charges may apply to data use and will be billed on your wireless device bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance.  Wireless carrier rates vary, so you should contact your wireless carrier for information on your specific data plan.

      8. Limitations of Liability; Releases:

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

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

  1. To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, in no event will the aggregate liability of the released parties (jointly) arising out of or relating to your participation in the sweepstakes or use of or inability to use any equipment provided for use in the sweepstakes or any prize exceed $10. The limitations set forth in this section will not exclude or limit liability for personal injury or property damage caused by products rented from the sponsor, or for the released parties’ gross negligence, intentional misconduct, or for fraud.

     2. Use of Use of Winner’s Name, Likeness, etc.: Except where prohibited by law, entry into the Sweepstakes constitutes permission to use           your name, hometown, aural and visual likeness and prize information for advertising, marketing, and promotional purposes without               further permission or compensation (including in a public-facing winner list).  As a condition of being awarded any prize, except where           prohibited by law, winner may be required to execute a consent to the use of their name, hometown, aural and visual likeness and prize           information for advertising, marketing, and promotional purposes without further permission or compensation.

         By entering this  sweepstakes, you consent to being contacted by Sponsor for any purpose in connection with this Sweepstakes.

      9. Prize Forfeiture:

If winner cannot be notified, does not respond to notification, does not meet eligibility requirements, or otherwise does not comply with these prize #SecureMyLifeRT2Win   Sweepstakes rules, then the winner will forfeit the prize and an alternate winner will be selected from remaining eligible entry forms for each #SecureMyLifeRT2Win  Sweepstakes.

     10.Dispute Resolution:

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  1. Winner List; Rules Request: For a copy of the winner list, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope for arrival after January 10th 2020 and before August 16th 2021 to the address listed below, Attn: #RT2Win Sweepstakes.  To obtain a copy of these Official Rules, visit this link or send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope to the address listed in below, Attn: Consumer Content Marketing. VT residents may omit return postage.
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Can Macs get Viruses?

Can Macs get viruses?

In addition to their ability to work seamlessly with Apple devices, many users prefer Mac computers because of their perceived “inherent” security features. Apple also notifies users of periodic updates to make sure that every generation of Apple product has the most secure software version. And while Apple does go to great lengths to keep its devices safe by making it difficult to download any/all software foreign to its official Apple application store, this does NOT mean your Mac is immune to all computer viruses.

What is a virus?

A virus is any piece of malicious software that invades your computer system, then copies itself. They can also then spread to other systems. This could result in stolen personal information or financial data, corrupted files, or crypto-hijacking. Here are some of the common viruses that infect Apple devices, and some of the best ways to protect your computer from them.

CookieMiner

CookieMiner is malware that captures Chrome browser authentication cookies primarily associated with cryptocurrency exchanges. The sophisticated CookieMiner code bypasses strict security protocols of both Apple and cryptocurrency exchanges by stealing information such as passwords, usernames, and other login credential data. It can even capture backed-up data from iTunes accounts that can be used to open cryptocurrency wallets and then steal cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP. Stealing valuable cryptocurrency isn’t enough for CookieMiner hackers, however, as they also use this malware to load cryptocurrency mining software onto MacBooks to mine Koto, a little-known Japanese cryptocurrency.

Besides a significantly lighter cyber wallet, there are some other clues that your Mac may be infected by the CookieMiner virus. As a cryptocurrency miner, CookieMiner uses a significant amount of a CPU’s processing power and therefore, infected Macs will be slow to complete even basic computing tasks. You may also notice that other software applications on your Mac don’t work as well as they should or stop working completely, or tour Mac could also overheat.

OSX/Dok… Next Generation

OSX/Dok is malware that commandeers data traffic entering and leaving a Mac computer without your knowledge. It reroutes this traffic through a bogus proxy server to then obtain access to all your communications. The malware is able to counter Apple’s security because it’s signed by a legitimate developer certificate that validates its authenticity. Through OSX/Dok, a hacker even has access to data that moves through SSL-TLS encrypted connections such as banking information. This is especially troubling since Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks are commonly synced to operate together.

While the original version of OSX/Dok was thwarted when Apple disabled its associated developer certificate, later versions have popped up using different developer certificates. Apple devices are vulnerable to this malware mainly when users are duped to download files through email phishing scams. Once the software is installed on your computer, it immediately takes over critical operations. Users then most often see a message that the system has detected a security issue. The malware prompts users to install an update, and it then locks up all operations until the user submits a password to install it. After obtaining the password, the malware then has full administrative privileges to take control of the device.

Crossrider

Crossrider is a variant on the OSX/Shlayer malware and uses a fake Adobe Flash player installer to dump other pieces of malicious code onto your Apple devices. Users mistakenly download the fake installer when they’re sent a message to update Adobe Flash player. If you follow the link, you’ll mistakenly download the fake installer instead of the real update from the Adobe website. The fake installer message will then prompt you to submit your password so that the software can make changes to your system and install the program.

Advanced Mac Cleaner, Chumsearch Safari Extension, and MyShopCoupon+ are some of the items that are installed through the fake Adobe Flash player installer. While MyShopCoupon+ and Chumsearch Safari Extension do cause minor annoyances to users, Advanced Mac Cleaner can cost you much more if you’re not careful. Advanced Mac Cleaner appears to run a security scan of your system and identifies several issues. It then asks the user to pay $107 to activate the program’s clean-up feature.

Macros Viruses… From Microsoft Word

Macro viruses used to be a problem that only PC users face. Macros are pieces of code that programmers embed within applications to automate routine tasks. The code, which is written in Visual Basic, can be used to hijack applications and do harm when users open popular Microsoft Office products such as Word, Excel, or Project. Visual Basic commands in macros can result in deleted or corrupted files. When you use Word to open an infected file, Word catches the virus and passes it on to every Word document that you subsequently create.

Apple disabled macro support in its early versions of Office for Mac, but it recently allowed macros to be supported in its later versions of both Word and Excel. But Mac users still have some protection against macros viruses since Apple doesn’t allow macros to be automatically enabled by default.

MShelper

MShelper is a cryptocurrency mining malware that allows a hacker to help himself to your computer’s processing capabilities in order to steal cryptocurrency. Hackers also develop this malware to display advertisements on the screens of popular browsers such as Mozilla, Chrome, and Firefox. Cybersecurity experts contend that MShelper infects computers when users download files of dubious origins. Some signs that your computer has been infected by MShelper include lowered battery life, fast-spinning fans, overheating, and increased noise.

Since crypto mining software takes a great deal of CPU power, it’s not hard to spot if MShelper is on your Mac. Click on the CPU tab under Activity Monitor on your computer. If MShelper has infected your MacBook, it’ll show up at the top of the list of applications with an extremely high CPU usage.

OSX/MaMi

OSX/MaMi is malware that allows hackers to capture sensitive information by redirecting data traffic through malicious servers. Through OSX/MaMi, hackers hijack Domain Name System (DNS) servers and change the DNS settings on your Mac. This malware allows attackers to perform many harmful tasks such as stealing login credentials, uploading and downloading files, and spying on your internet traffic.

While OSX/MaMi is nearly undetectable, experts say that it’s not yet been used to target Mac users on a widespread basis. Victims of this malware encounter it through targeted email phishing scams. A sign that your Mac has been infected by OSX/MaMi is a change in its DNS settings. A MacBook infected with this malware often shows these two addresses: 82.163.143.135 and 82.163.142.137.

Tips for Safeguarding Macs Against Malware

While Apple does an amazing job of guarding Macs against common security threats, it just can’t stop every determined hacker who looks at its devices as a challenge.

Here are some top tips for shoring up security for your Mac:

  • Avoid opening spam emails and attachments.
  • Don’t download questionable files.
  • Install ad-blocking applications.
  • Create frequent system backups (Time Machine).
  • Install the latest OS and application updates.
  • Manage data.
  • Install a security suite (Antivirus, firewall, browser destination monitoring).
  • User VPN software when connected to public or untrusted networks.

Stay protected

Subscribing to a comprehensive security suite service is one of the most effective steps that you can take to safeguard your Apple devices, financial information, and privacy while online. McAfee partners with industry, IT experts, and the user community to deliver the most powerful cybersecurity solutions on the market.

Check more information about our latest security products.

 

 

 

References

  • https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/mac-software/mac-viruses-list-3668354/
  • https://macpaw.com/how-to/known-mac-viruses-malware-security-flaws
  • http://factmyth.com/factoids/apple-macs-cant-get-viruses-or-malware/
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-mac-vs-windows-pc-why-i-chose-macbook-2018-3?op=1
  • https://www.iphonelife.com/content/can-iphones-get-viruses-how-to-detect-remove-malware-viruses-your-iphone
  • https://gigaom.com/2005/06/24/viruses-on-mac-os-x/
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-get-rid-of-virus-on-mac?op=1
  • https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000737.htm
  • https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/does-your-mac-need-antivirus/
  • https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/mac/security-firewall-3643100/
  • https://www.enigmasoftware.com/cookieminer-removal/
  • https://macdailynews.com/2019/01/31/new-cookieminer-macos-malware-swipes-your-cookies-to-steal-your-cryptocurrency/
  • https://9to5mac.com/2019/01/31/cookieminer/
  • https://www.pcrisk.com/removal-guides/14414-cookieminer-malware-mac
  • https://blog.checkpoint.com/2017/04/27/osx-malware-catching-wants-read-https-traffic/
  • https://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/new-osxshlayer-malware-variant-found-using-a-dirty-new-trick/
  • https://www.howtogeek.com/171993/macros-explained-why-microsoft-office-files-can-be-dangerous/
  • https://www.myantispyware.com/2018/05/18/how-to-remove-mshelper-malware-from-mac-virus-removal-guide/
  • https://lifehacker.com/how-to-deal-with-mshelper-the-latest-mac-malware-1826142837

The post Can Macs get Viruses? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Understanding Trojan Viruses and How to Get Rid of Them

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Understanding Trojan Viruses and How to Get Rid of Them

Basic online scenario—You log onto your computer and notice that something’s just not right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Something just seems…a bit off. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, or even thinking you are, there’s a real possibility you could have a Trojan virus on your computer.

Trojan viruses can not only steal your most personal information, they also put you at risk for identity theft and other serious cybercrimes. In this post, we’ll examine what Trojan viruses are, and where they come from. We’ll also cover how you can protect yourself and get rid of viruses so you can stay safe and maintain peace of mind online.

What Trojan Viruses Do

Trojan viruses are a type of malware that invade your computer disguised as a real, operational programs. Once a trojan is inside your system, it can perform destructive actions before you even know it’s there. Once inside, some trojans sit idly on your computer and wait for further instructions from its host hacker, but others begin their malicious activity right from the start.

Some trojans download additional malware onto your computer and then bypass your security settings while others try to actively disable your antivirus software. Some Trojans hijack your computer and make it part of a criminal DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) network.

How to Remove a Trojan Virus

Before you discover all the places a Trojan can invade your computer, let’s first learn how to get rid of them. You can remove some Trojans by disabling startup items on your computer which don’t come from trusted sources. For the best results, first reboot your device into safe mode so that the virus can’t stop you from removing it.

Please carefully ensure you know which specific programs you’re removing because you could slow, disable or cripple your system if you remove basic programs your computer needs to function. Installing and using a trusted antivirus solution is also one of the top ways to get rid of trojans. An effective antivirus program searches for valid trust and app behavior, as well as trojan signatures in files in order to detect, isolate and then promptly remove them. In addition to spotting known trojans, the McAfee antivirus program can identify new trojans by detecting suspicious activity inside any and all of your applications.

Where Trojan Viruses Come From

This section takes a closer look at the places you are the most vulnerable to a Trojan virus attack. While all trojans look like normal programs, they need a way to get your attention before you unknowingly install them on your system. Trojan viruses are different from other types of malware because they trick you into installing them yourself. You will think that the Trojan is a game or music file, and the file you download will likely work like normal so that you don’t know it’s a Trojan. But it will also install the harmful virus on your computer in the background. Be careful when you get files from the following sources. Many users install trojans from file-sharing websites and fake email attachments. You can also get attacked from spoofed chat messages, infected websites, hacked networks and more.

File-Sharing Sites

Almost everyone who is at least a little tech savvy occasionally uses file-sharing websites. File-sharing websites include torrent websites and other sites that allow users to share their files, and this concept is appealing for a variety of reasons. First, it allows people to get premium software without paying the retail price. The problem though, is that file-sharing sites are also extremely attractive to hackers who want to find an easy way inside your system.

For example, a hacker uploads a cracked copy of a popular software to a torrent website for free download, then waits for potential victims to instantly download it… but the cracked software has a hidden trojan virus that allows the hacker to control your computer.

Trojan viruses can also come in the popular forms of music files, games and numerous other  applications.

Email Attachments

Fake email attachments are another common way people find themselves infected with trojan viruses. For example, a hacker sends you an email with an attachment, hoping you’ll instantly click on it, so that you become infected instantly upon opening it. Many hackers send generic emails to as many people as possible. Others go after specific people or businesses which they’ve targeted.

In targeted cases, a hacker sends a fake email that looks as if it came from someone you know. The email could contain a Word document or something you consider “safe”, but the virus infects your computer the second you open the attachment. The easiest way to protect yourself from this targeted attack is by calling the sender—before opening the attachment—to make sure they’re the one who sent this specific attachment.

Spoofed Messages

A countless number of popular programs and useful applications allow you to chat with others from your desktop. Bur regardless of if you use such software for business or personal connections, you are at risk of trojan infection unless you know how to protect yourself.

Hackers “spoof” a message so that it looks like it came from someone you trust. In addition to spoofing, hackers also create similar usernames and hope you don’t notice, or aren’t paying attention to, the slight differences. Like with fake emails, the hacker is sending you a trojan-infected file or application.

Infected Websites

Many hackers target websites instead of individual users. They find weaknesses in unsecured websites which allow them to upload files or, in some cases, even take over the entire website. When this type of site hijacking happens, the hacker can then use the website to redirect you to other sites.

The hacker can compromise the entire website and redirect your downloads to a malicious server that contains the trojan. Using only trusted, well-known websites is one way to reduce your odds of falling into that trap, but a good antivirus program can also help detect infected and hacked sites.

Hacked Wi-Fi Networks

Hacked Wi-Fi networks are also a common source of trojans and other malware. A hacker can create a fake “hotspot” network that looks exactly like the one you’re trying to connect to. When you connect to this fake network by mistake, however, the hacker can then redirect you to fake websites that look so real that even experts have trouble spotting the difference. These fake websites contain browser exploits that redirect any file you try downloading.

Final Thoughts

Trojans can infect your computer and cause enormous problems before you even know what happened. Once a trojan gets onto your system, it can monitor your keyboard, install additional malware and cause a variety of other problems you simply don’t want to face. Luckily, most Trojans are generic and easy to handle if you follow this proven process.

Unverified startup items and suspicious programs can act as gateways for trojans to install harmful code in your computer and other devices. If you notice any new programs running on your system that you did not install, it could be a trojan. Try removing the program and restarting your computer to see if your computer’s performance improves.

Remove Trojans by taking the following steps:

Removing Trojans is a great way to safeguard your computer and privacy, but you must also take steps to avoid them in the future:

  • Setup cloud accounts using email addresses that offers account recovery support. Accounts from ISP’s or paid services.
  • In the case of Apple, you can request assistance to help recover an account (Gmail and/or yahoo accounts can’t be recovered as they can’t confirm ownership)
  • Use VPNs on Public Wi-Fi
  • Call the Sender Before Opening Email Attachments
  • Use an Antivirus Solution With Real-Time Protection

Stay protected

The cyberthreat landscape is always changing and evolving. Hackers are always looking for new ways to break into computers and servers, so you must stay updated on the latest threats, and using a proven antivirus solution is always a smart bet. These steps will not only safeguard your devices, they’ll also give you peace of mind while online.

The post Understanding Trojan Viruses and How to Get Rid of Them appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

How to Wipe Out a Computer Virus

How to Wipe Out a Computer Virus

In this article, you’ll learn some of the signs that you may have a computer virus, and you’ll learn tips for effectively removing them. While some of these malicious programs are little more than a nuisance, many others can effectively steal your most personal, private and sensitive  information. In this article, you’ll learn some of the signs that you may have a computer virus, and you’ll learn tips for effectively removing them.

What is a computer virus?

First off, computer viruses can take many different forms. In general terms, these viral programs are any unwanted bit of code designed for the purpose of invading and disrupting your computer. But much like a biological virus, computer viruses invade, replicate themselves, and then try to get into other systems. Some viruses may only affect your internet browser. Others  are even more harmful. The rootkit virus type, however, digs deep into the internal controls of your system. Trojan viruses sneak onto your device disguised as programs that seem legitimate.

Signs of a Virus

A sudden slowdown may be the first sign that you have a virus, and you may notice that programs which used to load quickly take longer and longer to load. You may also receive multiple error messages about programs becoming unresponsive. In this case, the virus is using the processing power of your own computer system, and consequently other programs are having trouble running at the same time.

Some viruses and malware only affect certain parts of your system. For example, you could discover that the home page of your browser has changed without your knowledge. You may also have trouble logging onto antivirus and antimalware sites, or if/when a virus gets into your email program, you may start to hear from your contacts about strange emails coming from your computer.

How does a virus get on your computer?

Computer viruses have been around for about as long as personal computers, and virus programmers understand that human error is always the easiest way to install a virus. Therefore, while strong antivirus programs can effectively prevent most computerized threats, they cannot stop a user from clicking the wrong link or installing compromised software on  their own system. When you download programs or data from an unfamiliar site, remember that you may also be unknowingly accepting a viral program onto your system. Links in malicious emails can also start an automatic download.

And new viruses come online all the time. The experts at McAfee are constantly learning about new malicious programs and then developing solutions. If however, you do not regularly update your virus definitions, a harmful program may still be able to sneak by your defensive software.

Removing a Computer Virus

Removing a computer virus manually is a complex process. Viruses may install themselves in several different parts of your system. If you do not completely eliminate the program, it may also reinstall itself at the next system reboot. In some cases, viruses play nasty tricks like invading the registry of a Windows system. Removing the wrong line in this database can then cause the entire system to fail. The easiest way to remove viruses is by using an antivirus program designed to clean your system safely. If a virus is already on your computer, however, you may need to run this program under very specific conditions.

Remove New Programs

If you’re lucky, the virus may just be sitting in a program you recently installed. On both Windows and Mac, you will want to uninstall recent apps and then remove new browser extensions. If you remove these programs and your computer promptly runs smoothly, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Of course you should still run a virus scan to make certain that your system is clean. You will also want to restart the computer to determine whether the malicious program reinstalls itself. If malicious messages pop up from the same program again, it points to a deeper infection.

Removing a Virus from a Windows Computer

In Windows computers, the virus removal process begins by booting up the computer in Safe mode. In this mode, your computer starts with only essential programs running. This prevents a viral program from starting up and blocking your antiviral scans. In older versions of Windows, you can access this mode by pressing the F8 button during the startup process.

In Windows 10, the process of opening in Safe mode is slightly more involved:

  1. Press the Windows button and click on Settings.
  2. Go to Update & Security and choose Recovery.
  3. Choose Restart Now under Advanced Startup.
    Your system will restart, but a new option screen will appear.
  4. Choose Troubleshoot.
  5. Go to Advanced Options and choose Startup Settings.
  6. Choose Enable Safe Mode.

Once your system restarts in safe mode, you will be able to run an on-demand viral scan. Because the number of viruses is always increasing, you may find it helpful to run several different scanning programs to catch any newer virus. It is important to use antiviral programs from reputable vendors so that you do not make the problem worse.

You should also follow these best practices:

• Backup your critical data
• Clean up temporary files and cached content
• Uninstall any/all applications no longer in use
• Update OS and remaining applications
• Check startup apps, disable unneeded apps
• Run the MMC (see above)
• Run a full Scan of the system

Removing a Virus from a Mac

For Mac computers, entering Safe mode is an even simpler process.

All you need to do is hold the shift button while the system boots up. If you’ve done this properly, you will see a “Safe Boot” message (Apple support content HT201262) on the login window. From there, you’ll run your virus removal programs and clean your system.  For both Windows computers and Macs, you will want to run your virus scan multiple times to assure that the system is clean.

Seek Professional Help

If you’ve gone through this process but are still struggling with a virus, you may need to call in a professional to clean your computer. For example, with McAfee Virus Removal Service, a security expert can remove stubborn viruses from your computer using a remote connection.

Avoiding Computer Viruses

The easiest way to remove computer viruses from your life is to avoid them in the first place.

It is vitally important to keep your system secure by following safe, Best Practices:

• Maintain backups of your data
• Clean up temporary files and cached content
• Uninstall application no longer used
• Update OS and remaining applications
• Check startup apps, disable unneeded apps
• Verify Security subscription status
• Confirm Security software is up to date.
• Use trusted sources: Do not download software from a source you do not recognize. Do not run unsolicited programs.

And always Surf Safely using these tips:

• Use the WebAdvisor browser extension.
• Use VPN software while using untrusted networks.
• Use a password manager.
• Refrain from using the same usernames and password for web pages especially financial or shopping sites.
• Setup cloud accounts using email addresses that offer account recovery support, accounts from ISP’s or paid services.
• With Apple, you can request account recovery assistance (Gmail or yahoo accounts can’t be recovered as they can’t confirm ownership).

Stay Protected

Professional security software is always a smart long-term investment in your computer system. You can keep both your data and identity safe while maintaining system performance. With the right program running in the background, your system will be ready to handle any and all of the threats inside your digital world.

The post How to Wipe Out a Computer Virus appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Is Your Smart Home Vulnerable to a Hack Attack?

Is Your Smart Home Vulnerable to a Hack Attack?

Your smart home device creates a computer network which can function as your incredibly convenient garage door opener, appliance manager, lighting designer, In-House DJ, and even security system supervisor, among many other selected duties. Yet cybersecurity experts frequently caution that this ultra-convenient home network provided through your smart devices may be vulnerable to malicious hackers looking to gain access to your home, and your most private information. In addition, the considers hacking of your smart devices as a backdoor to your most important information.

So while this is certainly an unfortunately real possibility, taking the time to use a few tips in this article can go a long way to stopping hackers before they start, and keeping your smart home devices safe and secure.

Can smart home devices be hacked?

The short answer is, unfortunately, yes. Along with the widespread popularity of smart home devices, a recent trend in hackers using IoT technology to spy on businesses, launch attacks, and deliver malware to your home network is a modern reality that users need to be fully aware of when setting up their smart home systems.

What can I expect if my smart devices get hacked?

With a physical home break-in, alert neighbors may notice and call the police, but a hacker has the advantage of working in secret. With access to your private information, savvy hackers may be able to steal sensitive information, or — in a worst case scenario — commit identity theft that can cause financial fallout. When you consider the array of smart toys and gadgets that provide electronic entertainment, education, communication and convenience for your family, you may also discover a number of vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to break-in to your home.

Where do the biggest home threats exist?

Because of their 24/7 potential access, smart devices which you run continuously—thermostat, lighting, security, et al. — may pose more risk than those which you only use on occasion. Hack attacks on your home office computer, or router are likely the most vulnerable, but your living and bedroom may also contain any number of smart gadgets that a sharp hacker may attempt to exploit as well. Your smart TV, tablet, cell phones, alarm clocks, watches, sleep monitors and streaming gadgets can also make your bedroom a relatively open opportunity for hackers.

Both your living room and kitchen—smart TV’s, tablets, refrigerators, coffee machines, ovens, etc. — also offer connections which are easy to ignore when it comes to cybersecurity. And when assessing potential threats, do not neglect your children’s playroom with its smart toys, tablets or baby monitors. Be sharp and consider that any smart device can offer an opening.

Does hacking pose a severe threat?

Short answer? It does. The potential risk should reasonably grab your attention when you understand that all your smart devices have a direct connection to your smartphone, or even the internet. Awareness of this situation should sharpen your understanding of exactly how much effort goes into hacking attempts to break into the interconnected network that links your smart devices.

Does a password protect my smart devices from hacking?

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offers specific guidelines on the best ways to protect your identity and possessions from the intrusive and persistent efforts of hackers. The guidelines apply to devices that connect to each other and to the internet, providing stringent guidance.

As a savvy computer user, you probably know that each device has a factory default password. What you may not know, however, is that you must change this default password. Always take the time to change default passwords, and make sure to create long, unique passwords that can best defeat any efforts to crack them.

What are some practical things I can do to secure my smart devices?

Remember that while it may take some extra effort to create a second Wi-Fi network dedicated to your smart devices, this effort will provide significant benefits. You can help confine any network intrusions to a separate network that does not have access to your bank, or private, sensitive financial information. And these simple steps can also make a significant difference in protecting your smart home systems:

  • Thoroughly research the device brand then choose one that has a proven security track record.
  • Keep the product software up-to-date. Always set your device to auto-update if possible so you always run the latest, safest software.
  • Most every device will come with a factory default password. Remember to take the time to go in and create a long and unique password for each device.
  • Choose the privacy settings that you’re comfortable with, instead of the blanket permissions that come with the devices.
  • Unplug any/every smart gadget when not in use.
  • Install cloud-integrated antivirus software for your router that protects every electronic device in your home.

Stay protected

When you actively participate in creating your home’s security profile, you take ownership that generates interest, knowledge, and ultimately, security. Stay a step ahead by staying informed, and your smart home can remain a smart choice!

The post Is Your Smart Home Vulnerable to a Hack Attack? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Speed or Security? We Say Speed AND Security

“Security software slows down my PC.”

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

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

*AV-Test Results

*AV-Comparatives Results

Testing the Relationship Between Security and Speed

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Else Helps with McAfee’s Performance Results?

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

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

Stay Updated

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

The post Speed or Security? We Say Speed AND Security appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Staying Home? McAfee Report Shows Malware May Come Knocking

It’s no secret that COVID-19 continues to reshape the way we live our everyday lives. With each passing day, we become more reliant on our devices to stay connected with friends and family, move our professional work forward, participate in distance learning, or keep ourselves entertained.

Unfortunately, hackers are all too aware of these habits. In fact, findings from “McAfee’s COVID-19 Threat Report: July 2020” have shown how criminals pair threats to whatever is present in consumers’ lives – specifically targeting pandemic-related industries, device habits, behaviors, and more with new malware strains.

A Day in the Life of Today’s Consumer

The day in the life of today’s consumer involves a lot of internet time.

Back in March, users first transitioned from in-office to work from home to promote social distancing. As a result, they conduct their 9-to-5 from their personal living space. But with such a rushed transition, some of these workers aren’t trained on how the change impacts their online security and could be potentially working on unsecured Wi-Fi.

Working professionals aren’t the only ones who have had to adapt to a new remote environment. Students have also made the transition to distance learning, moving from in-person course work to virtual classrooms. But as more students continue their curriculum from home and online activity increases, they become more reliant on digital platforms, such as video conferencing, that have now caught the eye of hackers.

When these professionals or students are done for the day, they then turn to some safe ways to unwind. To keep entertained, users have turned to online gaming, shopping, podcasts, social media, and TV streaming for fun – with the latter experiencing a 12% increase in viewing time in the third week of March alone.

More Online Activity, More Opportunities for Cyberattacks

As it turns out, this increase in online activity has given hackers plenty of new avenues to exploit, almost all of which are pandemic-related. First and foremost, hackers have targeted attacks at those that feel the impacts of COVID-19 most directly, AKA the public sector. As McAfee research discovered, incidents have increased during Q1 2020 within the public sector by 73%, individuals by 59%, education by 33%, and manufacturing by 44%.

Additionally, McAfee Labs saw an average of 375 new threats per minute and a surge of cybercriminal exploits through COVID-19 themed malicious apps, phishing campaigns, malware, and more during the first quarter of this year. Specifically, McAfee researchers discovered campaigns using pandemic-related subject lines – including testing, treatments, cures, and remote work topics. Criminals are using this sneaky tactic to lure targets into clicking on a malicious link, downloading a file, or viewing a PDF, resulting in the user’s device becoming infected with malware.

The Rise of Malware

Speaking of malware – according to the latest McAfee COVID-19 Threat Report, total malware increased by 27% over the past four quarters and new Mac OS malware samples increased by 51%. New mobile malware also increased by a whopping 71%, with total mobile malware increasing almost 12% over the past four quarters. As for IoT devices, new malware samples increased by nearly 58%, with total IoT malware growing 82% over the past few quarters.

Mask Your Digital Life

During this time of uncertainty, it can be difficult to decipher what is fact from fiction, to successfully identify a malicious scheme and stop it in its tracks. However, consumers can help protect their digital lives by following security best practices, now and in the future. Here’s what you can do to safeguard your security and remain worry-free:

Stay updated on 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.

Beware of messages from unknown users

If you receive a text, email, social media message, or phone call from an unknown user regarding the pandemic, it’s best to proceed with caution and avoid interacting with the message altogether.

Use a VPN

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.

Use a comprehensive security solution

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.

Stay updated

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

The post Staying Home? McAfee Report Shows Malware May Come Knocking appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Strong Password Ideas to Keep Your Information Safe

Strong Passwords

Strong Password Ideas to Keep Your Information Safe

Password protection is one of the most common security protocols available. By creating a unique password, you are both proving your identity and keeping your personal information safer. However, when every account you have requires a separate password, it can be an overwhelming task. While you should be concerned about the safety of your data, you also want to avoid the frustration of forgetting your password and being blocked from the information you need. However, the benefits of using strong, unique passwords outweigh the occasional inconvenience.

Benefits of Strong Passwords

The main benefit of a strong password is security. Hackers work quickly when they are trying to access accounts. They want to steal as much information as they can in as short a time as possible. This makes an account with a strong password less inviting because cracking the code is much more involved.

A strong password also limits the damage that hackers can do to your personal accounts. A common strategy involves cracking the passwords of less secure sites with limited personal information. The hackers hope that they can use the password from your gym membership app to access information in your online banking account. Strong password protection prevents this situation.

Common Poor Password Practices

When someone is registering an online account, it can be tempting to blaze through the password process. In order to move quickly, there are several poor password practices that people employ.

  • Simple passwords: Password-cracking programs start by entering obvious combinations. These are passwords where the user puts no thought into the code such as “password” or “1234567”.
  • Repeated passwords: You may think you have such an unbreakable password that you want to use it for all of your accounts. However, this means that if hackers compromise one of your accounts, all of your other accounts are vulnerable.
  • Personal information: The number combinations that you are apt to remember easily are the ones that hackers can find. You may have put your birthday or graduation year on public display in a social media account. Your dog’s name may be unusual, but if you share information about your canine friend with the world, its name is a weak password.

The Meaning of a Strong Password

A password is considered strong when it is difficult for a hacker to crack it quickly. Sophisticated algorithms can run through many password combinations in a short time. A password that is long, complex and unique will discourage attempts to break into your accounts.

  • Long: The combinations that protect your accounts should be long enough that it would be difficult for a computer program to run through all the possible configurations. The four-digit pin on a bank card has 10,000 possible combinations. This might take some time for a human being to crack, but a computer program with unlimited tries could break it in a few seconds. If you were only using numbers, every character in your password would raise the possible combinations by a power of 10. To stump the algorithms, you want a password that is a minimum of 12 characters long.
  • Complex: To increase the challenge of your password, it should have a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Hacking algorithms look for word and number patterns. By mixing the types of characters, you will break the pattern and keep your information safe.
  • Unique: If you have been reusing your passwords, it is time for you to start the work of changing them. Every one of your accounts should have its own password. At the very least, make certain that you have not reused passwords for your financial institutions, social media accounts and any work-related accounts.

Creating a Layered Password

If you want a password that is memorable but strong, you can easily turn a phrase into a layered, complex password. In this process, it is important to note that you should not use personal information that is available online as part of your phrase.

  • Pick a phrase that is memorable for you: It should not be a phrase you commonly use on social media accounts. If you are an avid runner you might choose a phrase like, “Running 26.2 Rocks!”
  • Replace letters with numbers and symbols: Remove the spaces. Then, you can put symbols and numbers in the place of some of the letters. Runn1ng26.2R0ck$!
  • Include a mix of letter cases: Finally, you want both lower and uppercase letters that are not in a clear pattern. Algorithms know how to look for common patterns like camelCase or PascalCase. Runn1NG26.2R0cK$!

Now, you have a password that you can remember while challenging the algorithms hackers use.

Employing a Password Manager

When you consider the number of accounts you need to protect, coming up with a properly layered password is a time-consuming task. Even if you are able to decide on a memorable phrase, there are just too many accounts that need passwords. A password manager is a helpful tool to keep you safe while you are online. It acts as a database for all of your passwords. Each time you create a new code, it stores it so that you can automatically enter it later. You only need to remember a single password to access the tools of your manager.

Most managers can also do the work of creating complex, layered passwords for your accounts. These will be a string of random numbers, letters and characters. They will not be memorable, but you are relying on the manager to do the memorizing. These machine-generated passwords are especially helpful for accounts you rarely access or that do not hold significant information.

Maintaining an Offline Password List

For critical accounts like your bank account or a work-related account, it can be helpful to keep an offline list of your passwords. Complex passwords are meant to be difficult to remember. You may recall the phrase but not all the detailed changes that make it layered. Keeping a document on a zip drive or even in a physical paper file or journal will allow you to access your information if your hardware fails or you are switching to a new system.

Keeping the Whole System Safe

Cracking passwords is just one of the strategies hackers use to steal information. In addition to using strong passwords, it is important to employ comprehensive security software. Strong passwords will help protect your online accounts. Strong overall security will keep your hardware and network safe from danger.

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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Create Strong Passwords with a Password Generator

Create Strong Passwords with a Password Generator

Whether you use the internet for several hours every day or only browse it on occasion, you have likely created numerous accounts on streaming services, financial services, and online storefronts like Amazon. Many of these accounts contain highly sensitive information. Hackers can get into online accounts and computers by guessing passwords, which means that your personal information would be available to them if you use a weak password.

To effectively protect your accounts from being hacked, it’s important that you have a strong password with each account that you create. However, it can be difficult to think of the perfect password that will keep your account safe from any hacker. To that end, there are many ways to create strong passwords, the primary of which is through a password generator. This article goes into detail about the importance of using good passwords and how to create them.

Importance of Having a Strong Password

Whenever you purchase an item online, you will be required to enter some financial information, which can include your bank account or credit card number. Many individuals may make the mistake of saving their financial information to the account because of how convenient it is. When you need to purchase an item in the future, you won’t need to go through the hassle of reentering your credit card information. The problem with saving your financial info to your account is that hackers who get into your account will have automatic access to the information at hand.

Website Security Measures Also Benefit from Strong Passwords

While website security has become increasingly strong over the past decade or so, the security measures that a site owner takes don’t matter if a hacker is able to get into your account by guessing your password, which is why it’s essential that you create a strong password that will hold up to hacking attempts.

Weak Passwords can Lead to Many Problems

Without a strong password, you run the risk of experiencing identity theft or financial fraud, both of which can significantly damage your finances and livelihood if the issue isn’t corrected immediately. Keep in mind that some of the more popular passwords in the country include 123456, password, 111111, qwerty, and abc123. Because of how popular these passwords are, they are some of the first that hackers will use to attempt to get into an account.

Hackers Can Control Your Entire Account

Once a hacker has breached your account, they can do a variety of things. The primary of which involves aquiring financial information that can be found in your account. These individuals can also choose to make purchases with this account or send in requests for new credit cards under your name. Along with stealing your own money, it’s possible for hackers to ruin your credit, which could take years to remedy.

Hackers Could Breach Your Computer

It’s important to understand that hackers can also get into your computer. Though more difficult, hackers can access documents and personal information on your computer if they are able to guess the password to your operating system. Many people store the passwords that they use in a document that’s stored on their computer, which is done with the belief that a hacker will never get into the computer itself. In the event that a hacker gains access to your device, they would be able to read the document where your passwords are stored. While having a strong password doesn’t eliminate the possibility of being hacked, it will make it much more difficult for someone to gain access to your computer or online accounts.

Using a Password Generator

If you need to store important personal or financial information online or on your computer, it’s essential that you pair your devices and accounts with strong passwords that will hold up to hacking attempts. Even though you can create lengthy and strong passwords without any assistance, keep in mind that the average U.S. citizen has around 25-30 accounts that passwords are needed for. Attempting to identify the perfect password on your own and for each account that you create can be a time-consuming and laborious process. Password generators are designed to instantly provide you with passwords that should be very difficult to guess.

How Password Generators Work

While every password generator is somewhat unique, the best generators are ones that provide you with options on what you would like to include in the password. The majority of password generators will automatically create passwords that are at least 15 characters long, consist of symbols and numbers, and include uppercase and lowercase letters. However, certain generators also provide users with the ability to exclude similar and ambiguous characters from the password that’s generated. Once you have generated a password, all that’s left is for you to input it into the account you’re currently creating. Password generators are simple to use and can make your life easier as you attempt to keep your personal information safe and secure.

Extra Features to Look For in Password Generator

Password generators can come with many extra features that could prove helpful in keeping your accounts and computer secure. For instance, some services provide users with a master password, which means that all of your passwords and secure information are kept under a single password that only you know. Some tools also allow users to set the exact length of the password, which could consist of anywhere from 8-100 characters. Additional features to be on the lookout for include unlimited password storage, 24/7 support, and custom security controls.

McAfee True Key Features

One potential password manager and generator you can use is McAfee True Key, which is designed to create very lengthy and strong passwords. Some of the core features of this particular tool include local data encryption, the support of numerous browsers, syncing across PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, and many different methods for signing in. For instance, you could pair the True Key app with the fingerprint reader on your device. You can also use the app to import any stored passwords from your browser.

How to Create a Strong Password

There are a myriad of things that you can do to create a strong password, the easiest of which is to use a password generator that will automatically provide you with a randomized password that will hold up well to hackers. While using a password generator is the most convenient option for creating a strong password, there are some additional tips and guidelines that you should keep in mind.

Primary Guidelines for Creating a Great Password

The main guidelines to keep in mind when creating a strong password include:

  • Make sure that your password is at least 7-8 characters long
  • Make sure that you never use a word or symbol for your password that can easily be found on any of your social media pages
  • Change each password you use at an interval or 90 days or less, which should also be done for any strong passwords you use
  • Use a combination of numbers, special characters, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters
  • Don’t use the same password for numerous accounts, which heightens the possibility that a breach into one of your accounts could lead to several accounts being compromised
  • Never write down your password on a piece of paper, which only serves to heighten the possibility of the password being seen by another individual and copied down
  • Consider using numbers and letters for your password that have no identifiable patterns within

Stay protected

Passwords are essential for security and can help you keep your computer and online accounts safe from hackers. While financial fraud and cases of stolen identity may be able to be corrected without any lasting damage to your bank account or credit score, the hassle that comes with contacting banking institutions and fixing any issues pertaining to the hack is more than it’s worth. Even though the aforementioned tips should assist you in creating a strong password, it’s highly recommended that you use a password generator instead, which ensures that mistakes are avoided completely and that the passwords you use are secure.

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Devices and Distancing: What Digital Data Says About Life From Home

Devices and Distancing: What Digital Data Says About Life From Home

With millions of us keeping life closer to home in these past months, what can our devices and apps tell us about how we’ve passed that time? Plenty.

Usage stats, location data, app downloads, and daily active users, all drawn from anonymized data, are all common statistics that get reported on a regular basis. What makes them particularly insightful this year is to see how they’ve increased, decreased, or remained steady as nations and communities have put distancing measures in place. How are we living differently and what role are our devices playing in them?

That’s a rather large question, and different data sets, measurements, and methodologies will point to different insights. However, looking at a few of them together can help us associate some figures with the way our day-to-day experience has changed and continues to evolve.

Our own data shows people are using their desktop and laptop computers more

Using the McAfee PC app, which is always running and protecting (our customers) people  in the background, we’re able to look at general PC use. The inference here is that increased use of a desktop or laptop PC (especially during weekdays) indicates an uptick in people engaging in remote work, learning, or play. Our figures are drawn from pseudonymized or anonymized device records aggregated to a country level, with at least 1,000 devices counted.

What did our numbers specifically show? You can visit our Safer Together page and take a country-by-country view of the data, which starts in February. (See our interactive heat map at the bottom of the page.) A quick capsule summary of select nations is below:

PC Usage by Month


Unsurprisingly, the most marked jump in home PC use occurs during the stretch that measures March to April, which marks the period when stay at home guidance rolled into place for many. From there, those increases held relatively steady. Looking at the change from April to May, it appears that people largely stayed at home as well.

Beyond that, June’s week-by-week trends saw usage in Australia and India both increase steadily. The U.S., UK, and Germany also trended upward overall, while France and Italy trended downward.

Other apps and technologies point to other trends

Dating apps saw a big spike in downloads and usage during the same stretch of time. According to dating app Bumble, the end of March saw an 84% increase in the number of its video calls and voice chats. On March 29th, the Tinder dating app reported the highest number of swipes ever in one day up to that point—some 3 billion. As we shared in an article earlier this year about safely dating from home, perhaps this shouldn’t come as any surprise because dating apps are designed to bring people together. In periods of isolation, it follows that people would use them to reach out and make connections where they can.

There’ve been plenty of similar stories (and some surprises) in the news in recent weeks, as various firms, publications, and service providers share the some of the digital trends they’ve spotted, such as:

  • In April, online analysis firm Apptopia reported a marked decrease in mobile phone screen time and an increase in time on desktop browsers as people switched to bigger screens. They also tracked a major spike in the download of home improvement retailer apps in the U.S., such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards—up 69% year-over-year.
  • PC Magazine reports that internet usage surged 47% in January-March of this year. One statistic that underscores this increase is the percentage of people who consume more than 1TB of data in a month. This went from 4.2% of subscribers in the start of 2019 to 10% in the first quarter of 2020. That’s a more than 2x increase in so-called power users.
  • The same report shared further insights, such as collaboration tool Microsoft Teams setting a record for 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day and collaboration platform Slack seeing an 80% increase in paid customers over the previous quarter. Likewise, video conferencing tool Zoom saw its daily participants increase by 2,900% in the quarter compared to December 2019.
  • OpenTable, which provides online restaurant reservations across nearly 60,000 restaurants globally and seats 134 million diners monthly, have put out their own data as well. Their “State of the Restaurant Industry” figures offer few surprises as to hard-hit restaurants around the world have been. By making week-to-week comparisons between 2019 and 2020, it shows that seatings in early June are down roughly 75% globally compared to last year. Later in the month, they are still down 63% compared to the time same last year as well.

 

Looking ahead: more working from home?

While these statistics each provide their own snapshot of life during lockdown in retrospective, what remains to be seen is how the time we’ve spent at home will shape the way we work, learn, socialize, and entertain ourselves in the months to come. At least right now, it seems that people are wanting or expecting to see change. A new study from McAfee surveyed 1,000 working adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 74 in May 2020 and found that nearly half (47%) of employees do not want to go back to working how they were before stay-at-home measures were put in place.

However that plays out in the future, it’s important to protect ourselves today while we continue to rely on our devices so heavily. Comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. Additionally, it includes McAfee WebAdvisor that can help identify malicious websites.

And one last stat: according to Nielsen, there was an 85% increase in American streaming rates in the first three weeks of March this year compared to March 2019 reports. Again, no surprise. Yet one thing to be on the lookout for are phishing and malware attacks associated with movies and shows that are offered for a “free” stream or download. It’s a common method of attack, and we’ve compiled our Top 10 U.S. List of TV and Movie Titles That Could Lead You to a Dangerous Download. Give the article a look. Not only does it name the titles, it offers you great advice for keeping 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.

 

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Online Banking—Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Bank Fraud

Online Banking—Simple Steps to Protect Yourself from Bank Fraud

Even if you’re not big on online banking, online banking is big on you. Online banking is well on its way to becoming a cornerstone of the banking experience overall. More and more transactions occur over the internet rather than at a teller’s window, and nearly every account has a username, password, and PIN associated with it. Whether you use online banking regularly or sparingly, you can protect yourself from being the victim of fraud by following a few straightforward steps.

Online banking is growing, and here to stay

First off, online banking is no longer a novelty. It hasn’t been for some time. In fact, it’s now an expectation. As recently as 2018, a global survey from Deloitte found that 73% of consumers use online banking at least once a month and 59% of respondents use mobile banking apps—a number which has only increased since then. Looking yet more broadly, the country of Sweden is on track to become the world’s first cashless society by 2023. While the rest of the world may not be scrambling to forgo cash altogether, we can look at point-of-sale data and see that more and more people are going cashless with even their smallest of transactions.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from online banking fraud

There’s no doubt about it. We live in a world where banking, shopping, and payments revolve around a username and password. That’s quite a bit to take in, particularly if your first experiences with banking involved walking into a branch, getting a paper passbook, and maybe even a free toaster for opening an account.

So, how do you protect yourself? Consider the following:

Use a strong password—and a password manager to keep them straight

Start here. Passwords are your first line of defense. However, one thing that can be a headache is the number of passwords we have to juggle—a number that seems like it’s growing every day. Look around online and you’ll see multiple studies and articles stating that the average person has upwards of 80 to manage. Even if you have just a small percentage of those, strongly consider using a password manager. A good choice will generate strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts and store them securely for you.

In general, don’t use simple passwords that people can guess or easily glean from other sources (like your birthday, your child’s birthday, the name of your pet, and so on). Additionally, make them unique. Don’t repeat their use from account to account. That’s a quick way to see one hack lead to many others.

Use two-factor authentication to protect your accounts

What exactly is two-factor authentication? It’s an extra layer of defense for your accounts. In practice, it means that in addition to providing a password, you also receive a special one-time-use code to access your account. That code may be sent to you via email or to your phone by text. In some cases, you can also receive that code by a call to your phone. Basically, two-factor authentication combines two things: something you know, like your password; and something you have, like your smartphone. Together, that makes it tougher for scammers to hack into your accounts.

Two-factor authentication is practically a standard, so much so that you already might be using it right now when you bank or use certain accounts. If not, you can see if your bank offers it as an option in your settings the next time you log in. Or, you can contact your bank for help to get it set up.

Avoid phishing attacks: Look at your email inbox with a skeptical eye

Phishing is a popular way for crooks to steal personal information by way of email, where a crook will look to phish (“fish”) personal and financial information out of you. No two phishing emails look alike. They can range from a request from a stranger posing as a lawyer who wants you to assist with a bank transfer—to an announcement about (phony) lottery winnings, “Just send us your bank information and we’ll send your prize to you!” Those are a couple of classics. However, phishing emails have become much more sophisticated in recent years. Now, slicker hackers will pose as banks, online stories, and credit card companies, often using well-designed emails that look almost the same as the genuine article.

Of course, those emails are fakes. The links they embed in those emails lead you to them—not the legitimate organization that they claim to be—for the purpose of stealing personal info or directing a payment their way. Telltale signs are if the phishing email is sent from an address that slightly alters the brand name or adds to it by simply tacking extra language at the end of it. If you get one of these emails, don’t click any of the links. Contact the institute in question yourself using a phone number or address posted on their official website. This is a good rule of thumb in general. The best avenue of communication is the one you’ve used and trusted before.

Be skeptical about calls as well. Fraudsters use the phone too.

It may seem a little traditional, yet criminals still like to use the phone. In fact, they rely on the fact that many still view the phone as a trusted line of communication. This is known as “vishing,” which is short for “voice phishing.” The aim is the same as it is with phishing. The fraudster is looking to lure you into a bogus financial transaction or attempting to steal information, whether that’s financial, personal, or both. They may call you directly, posing as your bank or even as Microsoft tech support, or they may send you a text or email that directs you to call their number.

For example, a crook may call and introduce themselves as being part of your bank or credit card company with the word that “there are questions about your account” or something similar. In these cases, politely hang up. Next, call your bank or credit card company to follow up on your own. If the initial call was legitimate, you’ll quickly find out and can handle the issue properly. If you get a call from a scammer, they can be very persuasive. Remember, though. You’re in charge. You can absolutely hang up and then follow up using a phone number you trust.

Steer clear of financial transactions on public Wi-Fi in cafes, hotels, and libraries

There’s a good reason not to use public Wi-Fi: it’s not private. They’re public networks, and that means they’re unsecured and shared by everyone who’s using it, which allows hackers to read any data passing along it like an open book. That includes your accounts and passwords if you’re doing any banking or shopping on it. The best advice here is to wait and handle those things at home if possible. (Or connect to the public Wi-Fi with a VPN service, which we’ll cover just below in a moment.)
If not, you can always use your smartphone’s data connection to create a personal hotspot for your laptop, which will be far more secure. Another option is to simply use your smartphone alone. With a combination of your phone’s data connection and an app from your bank, you can take care of business that way instead of using public Wi-Fi. That said, be aware of your physical surroundings too. Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder!

Protecting your banking and finances even further

Some basic digital hygiene will go a long way toward protecting you even more—not just your banking and finances, but all the things you do online as well. The following quick list can help:
Update your software – That includes the operating system of your computers, smartphones, and tablets, along with the apps that are on them. Many updates include security upgrades and fixes that make it tougher for hackers to launch an attack.
Lock up – Your computers, smartphones, and tablets will have a way of locking them with a PIN, a password, your fingerprint, or your face. Take advantage of that protection, which is particularly important if your device is lost or stolen.
Use security softwareProtecting your devices with comprehensive security software will defend you against the latest virus, malware, spyware and ransomware attacks plus further protect your privacy and identity.
Consider connecting with a VPN – also known as a “virtual private network,” a VPN helps you stay safer with bank-grade encryption and private browsing. It’s a particularly excellent option if you find yourself needing to use public Wi-Fi because a VPN effectively makes a public network private.
Check your credit report – this is an important thing to do in today’s password- and digital-driven world. Doing so will uncover any inconsistencies or outright instances of fraud and put you on the path to setting them straight. In the U.S., you can do this for free once a year. Just drop by the FTC website for details on your free credit report.

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 Keep Your Celebrations Happening – Virtually & Safely!

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

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

Graduating Virtually

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

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

Virtual Weddings

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

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

Celebrating the End Of A Life – Virtually

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

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

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

  1. Don’t Share Links to Video Calls

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

  1. Keep Your Personal Meeting ID Tight!

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

  1. Video Calls Can Be Recorded

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

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

Happy Virtual Celebrating!

Alex xx

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

How Entertaining Ourselves at Home Has Become a Risky Business

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

Aussies Love TV

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

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

What’s the Most Targeted Show to Search For?

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

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

Here are the top 10 riskiest shows in both categories:

Series – Australian Top 10 Most Targeted

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

Movies – Australian Top 10 Most Targeted

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

Horror and Thriller Films seem to be the trend!

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

How You Can Stay Safe While Binge-Watching At Home

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

Here are my top tips for staying safe:

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

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

Happy Watching!!

Alex xx

 

 

 

 

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Why Should You Pay for a Security Solution?

Online safety

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

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

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

The Limitations of Free Security Tools

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

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

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

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

Connected Consumers Need Comprehensive Solutions

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

Why McAfee Matters

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Updated

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

The post Why Should You Pay for a Security Solution? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Medical Care #FromHome: Telemedicine and Seniors

Telemedicine visit

Medical Care From Home: Telemedicine and Seniors

For weeks and even months now, millions of us have relied on the internet in ways we haven’t before. We’ve worked remotely on it, our children have schooled from home on it, and we’ve pushed the limits of our household bandwidth as families have streamed, gamed, and conferenced all at the same time. Something else is new—more and more of us have paid visits to our doctors and healthcare professionals  on the internet. Needless to say, this is an entirely new experience for many. And with that, I got to thinking about seniors. What’s been their experience with telemedicine? What concerns have they had? And how can we help?

For starters, an online doctor’s visit is known as telemedicine—a way of getting a medical issue diagnosed and treated remotely. With telemedicine, care comes by way of your smartphone or computer via a video conference or a healthcare provider’s portal.

Telemedicine is not new at all. It’s been in use for some time now, such as in rural communities that have little access to local healthcare professionals, in cases of ongoing treatment like heart health monitoring and diabetes care, and situations where a visit to the doctor’s office simply isn’t practical. What is new is this: the use of telemedicine has made a significant leap in recent months.

Telemedicine for seniors (and everyone else) is on the rise

A recent global consumer survey by Dynata  took a closer look at this trend. The research spanned age groups and nations across North America and Europe, which found that 39% of its respondents consulted a physician or healthcare professional online in the past few months. Of them, two-thirds said they used telemedicine as part of their care. Yet more telling, 84% of those who recently had a telemedicine appointment said this was the first time they used telemedicine.

The study also looked at their attitudes and experiences with telemedicine based on age and reported that members of the Baby Boomer generation found the experience to be satisfactory—just over 55%. Interestingly, this was quite consistent across other age groups as well, with all of them hovering just above or below that same level of satisfaction.

Have seniors changed their feelings about telemedicine?

One other study gives us some insight into how the opinions seniors hold about telemedicine may have changed in the past year. We can contrast the findings above with a University of Michigan study that polled American adults aged 50 to 80 in the middle of 2019. On the topic of telemedicine, the research found that:

  • 64% would consider using telemedicine if they had an unexpected illness while traveling
  • 58% saw it as an option for a return visit or follow-up
  • 34% would use it to address a new health concern

The study also asked how older Americans felt about telemedicine visits. At that time in 2019, only 14% said that their provider offered telemedicine visits, while 55% didn’t know if they had the option available to them at all. Just a small number, 4%, said they’d had a telemedicine visit within the year. Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see what 2020’s results would have to say should the university run this poll again.

In terms of their experience with telemedicine, those who had at least one telemedicine visit, 58% felt that in-person office visits provided an overall better level of care and about 55% felt that in-person visits were better for communicating with their health care professional and feeling better cared-for overall.

Older adults and seniors express concerns about telemedicine

Citing the same University of Michigan study from last year, some of the concerns older adults shared are what you might expect, even regardless of age. The lack of a physical exam (71%), worries that the care might not be as good as a face-to-face visit (68%), and losing the feeling of a personal connection with their health care professional (49%) all ranked high.

Of note, three other concerns around technology also topped the responses:

  • Privacy (49%)
  • Issues using the technology needed to connect (47%)
  • Difficulty seeing or hearing their care provider (39%)

Once again, you can make a strong case that plenty of people might share these same concerns—not just seniors.

Your first telemedicine visit

On the subject of the actual telemedicine visit, let’s turn to some expert advice on the topic. The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) offers a step-by-step guide on how to prepare for your first telemedicine visit. Their first piece of advice is “make sure you are tech-ready” for your appointment. And that’s one place I can help. Let’s take a look at some of those top concerns about technology.

Some of my advice here mirrors what I shared a few weeks ago about getting ready for and online job interview, and you can keep the following in mind:

Pick your device of choice and get it set up for telemedicine

You’ll need a device for your visit, so choose the one you know and that you’re comfortable with. That’s probably your computer or laptop. And just like with any video conferencing you do, spend some time getting familiar with how to set the microphone levels, speaker volume, and the camera. For audio, you can use a set of smartphone earbuds, which can help prevent audio feedback loops and simply make it easier to hear your caregiver.

As for cameras, many laptops have them built in as a standard feature. If that’s not the case for you, or if you have a desktop computer without a camera, there are several inexpensive options. If you’re shopping around, do a little research. There are plenty of reputable sites that provide mini-reviews, pricing overviews, and give you a sense for where you can make your purchase right now.  As with any connected device, be sure to change any default passwords to a strong, unique password.

And if you can, do a dry run before your appointment. Reach out to a friend or relative and set up a quick video call with your computer or laptop. That way, you can get a feel for the experience and fine tune your settings as you like.

In other instances, the care provider will have an app that you’ll need to download or an online portal that you’ll need to access. If this is the case, don’t worry. You can still practice using your camera and your audio ahead of time with a trusted video conferencing application like Apple’s FaceTime or Microsoft’s Skype.

Make sure your technology is secure

If you don’t already have a comprehensive security solution in place, get one. This will protect you against malware, viruses, and phishing attacks. You’ll also benefit from other features that help you manage your passwords, protect your identity, safeguard your privacy, and more.

As for privacy in general, medical information is among the most precious information you have. For example, here in the U.S., we have HIPPA privacy standards to protect our medical records and conversations. Yet there’s also the issue of eavesdropping , which is a risk in practically any online communication. Here, you’ll want to do some research. A reputable health care provider will have a comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) available as part of their telemedicine service, which should include a section on your personal privacy and the technology they use. (Here’s a good example of a telemedicine FAQ from University of Washington Medicine.) Consult that FAQ, and if you have further questions, feel free to call the healthcare provider and speak with them.

If you find yourself searching online for a telemedicine provider, look out for bad links and phishing scams. It’s a sad state of affairs, yet hackers are capitalizing on today’s healthcare climate just as they’ve taken advantage of innocent people in times of need before. Use a web advisor with your browser that will alert you of malicious links and never click any link or open any email that you’re unsure of. Again, your security software should help you steer clear of trouble.

The best telemedicine choice is the one that is right for you

We’ve welcomed the internet into so many aspects of our lives, right on down to purchasing connected refrigerators and washing machines. Yet inviting the internet into other aspects of our lives, like our health and that of our loved ones, may not come so quickly. To put it bluntly, getting comfortable with the idea of online doctor’s visits may take some time. However, with research and conversation with your healthcare provider, you may find that a telemedicine visit will work just as well, or well enough, as an in-person visit in some cases. As you make those very personal decisions for yourself, I hope this article and the resources cited within it helps you make a choice that’s absolutely right for you.

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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Read Before You Binge-Watch: Here are the TV Shows & Movies to Look Out For

If you’ve been following recent stay-at-home orders, it’s likely that you’ve been scavenging the internet for new content to help pass the time. 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.   

But having multiple streaming subscriptions can quickly add up. Consequentially, users who are hesitant to pay more for online streaming subscriptions often look for free options to stream their favorite TV show or movie.  

Criminals are often behind these websites, luring unsuspecting users into schemes via “free” downloads of movies and TV shows.   Some of these movies and shows are risker than others, however.  McAfee WebAdvisor data has revealed certain titles are tied to potential malware and phishing threats. 

Let’s take a look at the TV shows and movies that could lead you to a dangerous download instead of your next film spree, as well as discuss what users can do to stay secure. 

Top 10 U.S. TV and Movie Titles That Could Lead You to a Dangerous Download:

Top 10 U.S. TV Titles  Top 10 U.S. Movie Titles 
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”  “Warrior” 
“Elite”  “Zombieland” 
“Harlots”  “The Incredibles” 
Letterkenny”  Step Brothers”   
“Poldark”  “Bad Boys” 
“Lost”  “Aladdin” (2019) 
“You”  “The Lion King” (1994)
“Gentefied”  “Swingers” 
“PEN15”  “Frozen 2” 
“Skins  “The Invitation” 

Stay Protected While Streaming

While consumers search for new content from home, criminals are clearly searching for ways to trick eager TV and movie fans. However, there’s still way users can stay both entertained and secure during this time. Follow these tips to help ensure that your online entertainment experience is safe 

Watch what you click

Users looking to catch up on Season 2 of “You” or watch the “The Incredibles” on repeat 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 websitesinstead of downloading a “free” version from a website that could contain malware. 

Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated video files. Do your device a favor and stream the show from a reputable source. 

Use a comprehensive security Solution

Use a solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect your devices from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which helps alert users of malicious websites. Additionally, McAfee WebAdvisor can be accessed as a free download.  

Use parental control software

Kids are techsavvy and may search for movies by themselves. Ensure that limits are set on your child’s device and use software that can help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites. 

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.  

*Methodology: McAfee pulled the most popular TV and movie titles available on U.S. streaming sites according to “best of” articles by a range of U.S. publications. The web results for the searches of the entertainment titles with modifying terms, such as “TV show” and “torrent,” were then analyzed. Other popular modifying search terms include “free download,” “free login,” “free,” and “pirated download.” From there, the resulting URLs and domains were measured using McAfee WebAdvisor data and assigned a score of high, medium, or unverified risk. The results identified the top 10 TV shows and movie titles with the highest risk of being used by criminals to spread malware and phishing threats.  

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Internet Privacy: Tips & Tricks for Staying Secure Online

Working from home

How much value do you place on your personal privacy? You would never leave your wallet on a public park bench and expect it to be safe and untouched. It is possible that no one would take your valuable belongings, but you’d never intentionally take the risk – so why would you risk your personal data online?

The Power of Privacy

No matter who you are, you need to protect what’s yours. The fact is that your online data can’t be replaced the same way that your tangible possessions can be, and privacy has an intrinsic value that can be easily compromised on the web.

So how can you keep yourself and your sensitive information safe online? To learn more about safety while browsing the web, read on.

What is a Virtual Private Network?

A VPN, or virtual private network, routes your internet usage exclusively through private channels. Doing this effectively blocks your web activity from prying eyes and subsequently protects your sensitive data. When using public Wi-Fi hotspots, a VPN hides your identity and location, preserving your privacy and offering you peace of mind.

What Can A VPN Do For You?

In this fast-paced, high-tech world, a VPN is an invaluable asset. While your internet service provider (ISP) can’t read your online interactions, it’s nevertheless capable of identifying communication links. For example, it can trace the connections from your computer to sensitive web addresses like your bank or brokerage firm. Knowing that your vulnerable information is floating around on the internet might be enough to entice an unscrupulous ISP into finding and using it for their own benefit.

If you’re not using public internet services or doing your computing from home, you might be wondering if you need a VPN at all. Not necessarily, but at McAfee, we believe it always pays to take precautions.

Are Your Passwords Protecting You?

We often feel secure relying on passwords to protect our privacy. The unfortunate truth is that a password alone may not be enough to deter a hacker. If you notice unusual behavior on your computer, it could mean that a hacker already knows your password.

We need passwords to get almost anywhere on the internet, but the familiarity of this practice may result in complacency. After a while, a password may seem unimportant or even burdensome. Instead of trying to remember countless complicated passwords, you might feel overly comfortable in resorting to simpler passwords that are easily breakable with even the smallest effort.

How To Strengthen Your Passwords

A secure password requires at least 14 characters and should include both upper and lower case letters, capitals, numbers, and symbols.

If your password consists of readily available public knowledge like your birthdate, street address, or your dog’s name, chances are it’s not very strong. Likewise, predictable sequences of numbers or letters, like 123456789 or abcdefg, are risky.

Should You Protect Yourself From Viruses?

You wouldn’t cross the street without looking both ways. Installing antivirus software is the virtual equivalent of double-checking on a busy street. Protect your computer’s health and safety with antivirus software that prevents attacks from malicious programs that can infect your computer and the computers of others.

The Antivirus Safety Net

Every time you access the internet, you risk infection from a vast array of malware, including trojan horses, worms, and spyware, to name just a few. Luckily, antivirus software has a firewall that can detect these intruders, while a recovery tool helps eliminate these malicious programs from your computer.

Both a firewall and a VPN can prevent unauthorized web access to your computer systems. McAfee offers both antivirus software that removes malware, spyware, and adware through scheduled scans and protects your computer in real-time with its VPN, Safe Connect.

Should You Update Your Software?

You’re likely already familiar with many of the best privacy practices. These include using secure passwords, rejecting unknown emails, ignoring suspicious-looking links, and never distributing your personal information. When you pair these practices with free updates to your security software, you’re in an excellent position to preserve your privacy on the web.

Software updates can rectify security issues, replace outdated features, enhance compatibility with your apps, and even increase running speed. These patches can protect your computer from viruses, and prevent spread to other systems.

How To Update

Ready to update? Simply click ‘yes’ when you get a popup from your software developer asking if you’d like the latest features.

Most manufacturers offer free updates, while others require a technical support contract. Each software manufacturers’ website should provide specific details to help you download their security updates.

What are Cookies? Should I remove them?

Removing cookies is really up to preference. Cookies allow a website you’ve visited to retain your information—like your email address and password—for a more convenient user experience. However, tracking cookies do pose a risk to your security. By allowing cookies, you’re saying it’s okay for the information to be sent to an unknown location.

Many cookies are relatively harmless and do nothing more than use your IP address for marketing analysis. Others, however, may submit your name and address to a tracking host, allowing advertisers to target you with bullseye-like precision.

Every browser has an option that lets you delete your cookies from your computer. For example, Internet Explorer shows a gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser screen. You simply click on the gear, select “Internet Options” in the menu box, and then click “Delete browsing on exit.”

Connecting Securely Online

Yes, it is possible. When using an online browser, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) allows you to view webpages but doesn’t provide security. The lack of encryption enables third parties to easily intercept data that you may prefer to keep private. When you use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), you enjoy secure transmissions. Not all websites support this function, but it can provide more web privacy when you visit sites that do.

Steps To Protect

So how can you use this information to keep your sensitive data from becoming vulnerable? Here are the main takeaways:
• Get a VPN. Secure your home and travel networks with VPN software. It makes blocking suspicious activity easy and can protect your computer from becoming damaged.
• Use a password manager. This is a great tool for creating and storing hard-to-break passwords. You can find free password managers online, coupled with antivirus software.
• Install antivirus and firewall software that doesn’t flag false detections.
• Accept free security updates from your software manufacturer.
• Remove cookies from your browser.
• Use HTTPS for encrypted security on sites that support it.

With a little security know-how and the right tools for the job, you’ll be well-equipped to protect even your most sensitive and valuable data. Don’t live in fear of hackers and malware. Let your software manufacturer be your safety net, and browse with peace of mind!

The post Internet Privacy: Tips & Tricks for Staying Secure Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Beware When You Search for These TV Shows and Movies

Beware When You Search for These TV Shows and Movies

If you’ve been following recent stay-at-home orders, it’s likely that you’ve been scavenging the internet for new content to help pass the time.

But having multiple streaming subscriptions can quickly add up. Consequentially, users who are hesitant to pay more for online streaming subscriptions

Criminals are often behind these websites, luring unsuspecting users into schemes via “free” downloads of popular movies and TV shows. Some of these movies and shows are risker than others, however, as McAfee WebAdvisor data has revealed* certain titles are tied to potential malware and phishing threats.

Let’s take a look at the TV shows and movies that could lead you to a dangerous download instead of your next film spree, as well as discuss what users can do to stay secure.

 Top 10 Australian TV and Movie Titles

Top 10 Australian TV Titles With Risky Results With Risky Results
1.      Unorthadox Ace Ventura
2.      You Green Book
3.      Family Guy John Wick
4.      Big Mouth The Machinist
5.      Homeland Annihilation
6.      The Vampire Diaries Ex Machina
7.      Dynasty A Star Is Born
8.      Lost Fyre
9.      Brooklyn Nine-Nine Lady Macbeth
10.  Stranger Things Bird Box

 Stay Protected While Streaming

While consumers search for new content from home, criminals are clearly searching for ways to trick eager TV and movie fans. However, there’s still a way users can stay both entertained and secure during this time. Follow these tips to help ensure that your online entertainment experience is safe:

 Watch what you click

Users looking to catch up on Season 2 of “You” or watch the “The Incredibles” on repeat 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.

 Refrain from using illegal streaming sites

Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated video files. Do your device a favor and stream the show from a reputable source.

Use a comprehensive security Solution

Use a solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect your devices from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which helps alert users of malicious websites. Additionally, McAfee WebAdvisor can be accessed as a free download.

Use parental control software

Kids are tech-savvy and may search for movies by themselves. Ensure that limits are set on your child’s device and use software that can help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

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.

 

*Methodology: McAfee pulled the most popular TV and movie titles available on Australian streaming sites according to “best of” articles by a range of Australian publications. The web results for the searches of the entertainment titles with modifying terms, such as “TV show” and “torrent,” were then analyzed. Other popular modifying search terms include “free download,” “free login,” “free,” and “pirated download.” From there, the resulting URLs and domains were measured using McAfee WebAdvisor data and assigned a score of high, medium, or unverified risk. The results identified the top 10 TV shows and movie titles with the highest risk of being used by criminals to spread malware and phishing threats.

 

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New Insights From McAfee’s Survey Around Remote Work

The last few months have brought about a lot of change for all of us. Due to social distancing, companies across the world saw a huge increase in the number of people working remotely over the last few months. So as countries now start to relax social distancing and organizations consider shifting back to previous in-office work environments, McAfee took a look into how this change affects the number of remote workers. Will people return to work quickly, or will remote working continue on? Let’s take a look at how remote work trends have evolved in the U.S. over the past few months. 

The Evolution of Remote Work   

As lockdown began in March, the US saw a huge increase as people moved to work from home, with a 9% increase in the amount of remote connections to our apps compared to the previous month. Now, as parts of the U.S. starts to reopen, we’re tracking these remote connections to see if people are returning to work. So far, it looks like people aren’t rushing back to the office from home, with just a 0.3% decrease in remote connections this week compared to last week. What’s the big deal if more people work from home, anyways? 

One answer: many organizations see employees returning to corporate offices as a necessity, especially from a security standpoint. Nearly half of employees say that their company isn’t currently responsible for securing their devices while they’re at home. This is likely correlated to the increase in the number of online attacks employees have reported over the past three months. In fact, a recent McAfee report shows that threats to enterprises increased by 630% over the same period, with most attacks targeting collaboration services that enable remote work. 

Security Implications Around Remote Work

While many employers are anxious to have their team return to the officea new study from McAfee revealed that 47% of employees do not want to go back to working how they were previously. Additionally, 21% stated that they intend to remain at home for as long as possible 

While it’s clear that consumers are doing their best to embrace their current work environment, both the employee and employer must take the various security implications around remote work into account. Companies must ensure that tools are set up so that they can keep all employees’ applications and systems up to date, patched, and monitored for any issues that may arise. By doing more to protect their employees remotely, businesses will be able to reap the benefits of a happier workforce and greater business continuity.  

Although many users may be unsure of whether they will continue to commute to the kitchen table or their corporate office, there are several security tips to keep in mind in the interim to help enable remote work. Check out the following tips to safeguard your work from home environment: 

Be cautious of correspondence asking you to act

You must stay vigilant if you receive an email or text asking you to take a certain action or download software. Avoid clicking on anything within the message. Instead, go straight to the organization’s website to prevent malicious content from phishing links.  

 Keep infrastructure up to date

With an ongoing trend of vulnerabilities in consumer devices like home routers or smart home products, you should be regularly reminded to update such devices. 

Browse with security protection

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

Stay Updated

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

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The Future of Work: How Technology & the WFH Landscape Are Making an Impact

Over the past few months, the American job market has seen a lot of change. Employees made the transition from commuting into an office every day to working from home. Some people lost work or experienced reduced hours, and the unemployment rate in the U.S. has jumped to 13.3% as of May 2020. However, new challenges breed new opportunities, and there are some jobs that are flourishing amid these uncertain times. What’s more, these challenges are paving a new path for the future of work and how prospective employees look for new job opportunitiesLet’s take a look. 

Jobs on the Rise

While some industries have experienced a downturn due to the pandemicothers have experienced a huge increase in demand as a result. All of them have one thing in common: they directly impact consumers’ key needs during this time.  

Essential Industries

Of course, healthcare is top of mind for us all right now, so it’s not surprising that the demand for healthcare workers and pharmacy workers has steadily increased. For example, CVS is hiring 50,000 employees and Walgreens is looking to fill 25,000 permanent and temporary positions. 

To keep up with the increase in demand for home eatingmajor grocery chains are hiring in-store shelf stockers and delivery staffAdditionally, Instacart is looking to hire 300,000 contract workers over the next three months. 

Tech

Beyond physical needs, humanity’s need to remain connected – both socially and professionally  has driven demand within the tech industry. With more users working from home than ever before, the need for dependable telecommunications software has never been greater. While telecommunication has already experienced a 44% increase over the past 5 years, thcurrent need for video conferencing platforms, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration services will only further facilitate this growth. With the increase in remote work, many employees found themselves helplessly fumbling with laptops and other equipment. So, its unsurprising that tech support jobs are on the rise as well. With physical call centers and operation centers shut down, companies still need agents to take customer and technical support calls.  

Security

As more employees telecommute, unprecedented stress has been placed on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other systems securing remote work arrangements. As a result, some security jobs have seen a 20% surge in demand. As businesses begin to emerge from the global lockdown, it’s likely that the need for security talent will become even more apparent as businesses look for the safest way to resume business operations. 

As the demand for security jobs has recently increased, so has the security skills gap. To guarantee that an organization’s business can continue, organizations must ensure that VPNs, network devices, and other devices being used in the remote environment are updated with the latest software patches and security configurations. Additionally, networks must be constantly monitored to prevent hackers from accessing the organization’s VPN connection. To do this, however, requires a skilled security workforce that can be hard to come by due to the ever-increasing demand. If organizations wish to close the skills gap, they will need to look beyond the typical graduate talent pool and see the value in other forms of security education such as internships. 

 How to Stay Secure While Job Hunting

Hackers know that everyone is spending more time online. They also know that many Americans have recently been laid off and are looking for new jobs, leading to a surge of fake job scams. According to Forbes, the Better Business Bureau has reported more than 13,000 job listing scams in North America alone since December. Users searching for jobs online must proceed with caution and look out for suspicious job postings disguised as real businesses to protect their personal data. 

So, if you’re looking to change career paths during this time or are on the hunt for a new job, follow these tips to protect your security and personal data.  

Go directly to the source

If you come across a job posting that seems suspicious, go directly to the business’ career page to verify that the listing is real. Likewise, beware of any so-called recruiters who reach out offering you a job that seems too good to be true. Be skeptical of emails, phone calls, or text messages claiming to be from organizations with peculiar asks as well.  

Hover over links to see and verify the URL

If someone claiming to be from an organization sends you a message with a link, hover over the link without actually clicking on it. This will allow you to see a link preview. If the URL looks suspicious, don’t interact with it and delete the message altogether. 

Beware of what you share

If you get what appears to be a suspicious request from a recruiter, an HR representative, a 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. 

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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Entertainment #FromHome: How to start your own podcast

Making Media #FromHome

How to start your own podcast

Start your own podcast? Why not? Instead of streaming someone else’s show, maybe it’s time to create one of your own. And a fine time to start a podcast it is. Podcasting once took a bit of effort to get into. The recording software, the hosting, and the equipment could end up costing a reasonable amount of money and took a certain degree of technical savvy to use. Yet like so many things on today’s internet, those barriers have dropped, particularly for folks who simply want to dive in and give it a try. With a pair of headsets, a built-in microphone, and some free software, you can start podcasting now with your computer or even your phone. So, if you’re ready to give it shot, let’s take a look at some of the resources available to you.

Coming up with an idea for your podcast

More so than choosing this software or that, the process really starts with a basic concept for your podcast. You’ll have a topic that you want to cover, a format such as a one-person show or a talk format where you have multiple hosts or guests, and a target length for your show. 

For example, let’s assume that you’re trying out podcasting as part of a little family project. Maybe you and your daughter want to talk about going on adventures like hiking, canoeing on lakes, and fishing. A great concept for you could be a 20-minute show about adventures kids and parents can take together. You can talk about how you decide on your adventures, plan for them, and tell some stories about your triumphs and pitfalls along the way. What does it feel like to catch your first bass, or how does it feel to set up your tent in a sudden downpour? People love hearing stories that’ll inspire them or make them laugh or, better yet, both. 

Another idea is to approach it like as a learning opportunity for your kids. Recently, I posted an article on project-based learning for kids at home. One of the suggestions was for kids to make a short podcast of their own to show what they’ve learned about after researching a that they’re interested in. What you learn here in this article could point the way for them to create their own show, whether with your help or independently. 

That’s just a few examples. And really, coming up with an idea for a podcast is a topic in and of itself. For more on that, check out this article on creating a podcast from National Public Radio. While written for students, it’s packed with plenty of solid advice for anyone who wants to get started in podcasting, plus several pro tips for making your show sound great.

What about podcasting equipment?

Chances are you already have the basics. If you have a set of headphones with a built-in microphone and a computer or phone you can attach them to, that’s a great start. Of course, people who invest more time and money into their podcasting pursuit will have things like a podcasting microphone mounted on a miniature boom arm, a “pop filter” that prevents you from popping your “P’s” in the microphone, and maybe even a small mixing board. But, for just getting started or just having some fun as a family, you really don’t need those things. 

Free podcasting software and hosting

What you will need is some software that lets you record your show and even do some basic editing too. Here are a few free options that’ll cover your recording and editing while giving you a place to post your shows too:

Anchor FM

Anchor gives you standard recording features, plus extra bells and whistles like importing voice messages from your phone, group chat, and transitions. As Anchor is part of streaming music provider Spotify, you can also import music into your podcast from there. And when you’re done recording, Anchor offers free hosting for creators. If you’re creating a multiple-host podcast, your co-host or guests can use the Anchor app on their phone and join in.

Spreaker

It may look like a typo, yet Spreaker is the name for this offering. Much akin to Anchor, it offers a combination of recording software and hosting capabilities so that you can add things like music and sound effects to your podcast. The app also supports Google Hangouts and Skype so that you can bring on a co-host or guest.

Podbean

A third popular option is Podbean. It also allows you to record and publish your podcast for free as part of a basic plan that offers 500 MB of storage space and 100GB of bandwidth per month (meaning, a 500 MB could be downloaded 200 times at no cost—where 500 MB is approximately 5 hours of showtime).

Free options for editing your podcast

If you already have a way of recording your podcast, such as with a simple audio recorder on your phone, computer, or laptop, you can drop those audio files into free audio editing software to edit your show together. 

These are more formally known as Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). Depending on which one you select, these apps offer functionality similar to what the pros use to record and edit their audio. You’ll see things like multiple tracks where you can place people, music, and sound effects on their own timeline that you can mix together, different options for exporting your show to different file types, settings to sweeten sound quality, and much more. As you might imagine, audio editing and mixing is a pursuit unto itself, and you can really dive deep here if the podcasting bug bites you. Here’s a rundown of what’s out there:

GarageBand

Apple users will probably know this app. Garageband is available only on Mac and iOS devices (iPad and iPhone). It has all the watermarks of an Apple application, where it’s an app that looks good and simplifies an otherwise complicated process. Above, we mentioned multi-track recording. If you’re new to that, it can feel a little overwhelming at first, yet GarageBand color-codes its tracks and leans heavily on drag-and-drop editing. That lends itself to ease of use, exploration, and even a fair share of trial-and-error as you get comfortable with it. Plus, as its name would imply, GarageBand features a library of musical instruments. So when you get tired of podcasting, you can play around with it and drop some beats.

Audacity

Slightly further along the audio editing learning curve is Audacity, which is a free download for multiple platforms. Visually, it’s a contrast to GarageBand yet its functionality goes much deeper. One appealing aspect of Audacity is that it’s celebrating a 20-year run as open source software—meaning that it’s a community-supported effort. So if you’re dedicated to learning audio editing, there are numerous resources out there that can help you learn the Audacity interface and feel confident that you’re learning an audio app that’ll be around for some time.

Reaper Digital Audio Workstation

And of our three free options, Reaper is the most full-functioned editor, which you can download for a free 60-day trial. If you’re completely new to audio editing, you may want to start with one of the other options just to get familiar with the basics. Otherwise, if you’ve used some other simpler platforms before and feel ready to move up, Reaper is a fine choice. 

Your podcast and your privacy

Here’s the thing with dipping your toe into the world of podcasting: you don’t have to post your podcast for others to hear. As we talked about at the start of this article, this could just be an entertaining project or exploration for you and your family. You can hang on to your podcast and just share it with family at home, or you could send it to some friends and family for them to listen to it too. Regardless of what you decide to do with your podcast once you’ve recorded it, you’ll want to think about your privacy.

Online privacy isn’t a topic that’s discussed much in many “how-to start your own podcast” articles. Yet it’s a vital topic. (In fact, we discuss privacy all the time on our own Hackable? podcast.) Keep privacy in mind when you podcast. Just like anything else you post online, a picture, a status update, a blog, or what have you, you’re exposing yourself to the entire online world. When it comes to anything digital, what you say and what you share is forever. It can be copied, shared, disseminated, and even reconstructed in umpteen different ways. 

So the general rule with podcasting is much the same as everything else you do online: think before you post. 

Before you post, consider …

Just as you go back and look at what you’ve typed in that email or that status update, go back and review your show before you post or share it with others. Listen for things like:

  1. Have you overtly or inadvertently shared some information about yourself and your family—like birthdays, when you typically go on vacation, or other information that uniquely identifies you in a way? Hackers and crooks could find this useful when it comes to online identity theft or physical theft on your property.
  2. Are you keeping your family business and friendships private? “Sharenting” details about your children, good or bad, or talking about your relationships with others could lead to embarrassment or hurt feelings amongst family and friends.
  3. Can anything you’ve said be construed as hurtful, casting someone in a bad light, or simply mocking? Remove it from your podcast or simply don’t post it. You could be held legally responsible. Laws will vary across countries and locales, so make a point of understanding what they are with regards to defamation, libel, and slander in your area.

Again, stop and think before you post. Could this compromise you, your family, your friends, or someone else now or in the future? If so, and even if you’re uncertain of the answer, don’t post. 

Start your podcast!

These are just a few of the numerous, and often free, options that allow practically anyone to get started in podcasting, and there are plenty more. Just be sure as you’re surfing around for software, tutorials, and resources, use comprehensive security software to protect you from threats—particularly a browser advisor app that will steer you clear of malware, bad downloads, and suspicious links. Also, caveat emptor, buyer beware. When researching apps, always look at the reviews so that you can spot any issues before you download or use an app.

With that, I hope this inspires an interesting side project, or even a new pastime for you and your family. Get out there and have some fun!

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 Entertainment #FromHome: How to start your own podcast appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Entertainment #FromHome: Photo Backups, Digital Picture Frames, and More!

Creating digital photos

Entertainment From Home: Back up your photos, create digital picture frames, and more!

One thing many of us have is a bunch of photos on our phone. And something tells me that’s an understatement.

Estimates show that worldwide we took somewhere around 1.2 trillion photos in 2018. Chances are, you have your share of them sitting on your phone, which is great! All those memories, those people, those times, and those travels. But what to do with them? They may just be sitting there, taking up storage space on your phone, instead of becoming something special like an album, greeting cards, a wall hanging, or popping them into a digital picture frame for your kitchen or living room. Let’s take a look at how you can organize your photos, back up your photos, and so that you can create something with them too.

Back up your photos in the cloud

Backing up your photos in the cloud is an important first step for so many reasons. The first is that it ensures that you won’t lose any of your precious snapshots in the event of a device failure or in the really unfortunate event of your phone getting stolen or lost. Additionally, when it comes time to buy a new phone, storing your photos in the cloud means that your new phone can automatically access those photos once you log into your cloud account. Lastly, backing up your photos in the cloud puts them all in one place, where you can access them from other devices—like your computer or your laptop. Once there, you can use free apps like Photos for iOS or Photos for Windows to organize your pictures, create slideshows, videos, and more.

What cloud service should I use for backing up my photos?

That’s an excellent question. There are many available, and the answer most typically depends on which brand of device you own. iPhone owners have iCloud, Apple’s cloud service, available to them as part of their device. Android owners can back up their device (including photos) using Google Drive, and some brands have partnered with cloud providers like Dropbox. Using the service specific to your device is typically a quick route for backing up your photos—for example:

  • For Android owners, check out this excellent article from Androidcentral, which they keep updated to reflect the latest features and apps they recommend. They take you through the process step-by-step and give you a number of cloud storage options such as Google Photos, Google Drive and Google One, plus Dropbox.
  • For iPhone (and iPad) owners, give this article a click to see how you can transfer your photos using Apple’s iCloud. Likewise, Apple breaks it down into steps and shows how you can transfer photos to your PC or Mac and then make your photos available on all your devices with iCloud Photos.

The other consideration here is to make sure that the devices you use can all access the cloud service you select for your photos. The good news is that many services work across different platforms and brands, as you’ll see in our quick overview below. Thus, you can use iCloud on a PC, just as you can use Google Drive on a PC or Mac. If you’re relatively new to cloud services like these, know that many of them back up much more than just photos. They back up and store documents and other files too. Here are a few options:

iCloud: Provided by Apple, this offers 5GB of free storage, plus you can buy more storage as you need it, such as 50GB for $0.99 a month. iCloud has an app for Macs and PCs as well so that you can access the photos and files you store in it from those devices too.

Google Drive: This cloud storage service comes with every Google account. It offers 15 GB of space, which includes all of data you store in it, such as the email in your Gmail account, documents you create in Google Docs, and so forth. It’s available for Android and iOS devices, as well as Macs and PCs.

OneDrive: This is Microsoft’s cloud offering for documents, files, and photos, which has options for both iOS and Android users and works on both PCs and Macs alike. It starts with 5 GB of free cloud storage and 1 TB of storage if you have or sign up for a Microsoft 365 account.

Dropbox: Their free offering includes 2 GB of storage for accessing and sharing photos, documents, and other files from any device. You’ll find options for using it on Android, iOS, Mac, and PC devices.

If you’re looking for a cloud service that’s specific to photos, you have options there as well.

Google Photos: This is a cloud storage service that’s specifically designed for photos and videos. What’s nice is that it offers free unlimited storage for photos that are up to 16 megapixels in size and HD videos. Works on Android and iOS devices, plus Macs and PCs.

Amazon Photos: Among the many perks of an Amazon Prime membership, you get Amazon Photos, which provides unlimited photo storage across desktop computers plus Android and iOS devices. In addition to storing and sharing photos, you can also print photos into several formats, including prints on metal and acrylic, wall décor, and photo books.

Whichever cloud service you choose, you’ll want strong passwords and password protection as part of your overall digital security for any cloud account you keep. Go with a reputable cloud provider. Do your research. Make sure their track record is clean. Use strong passwords—always.

Transfer your photos to your computer to your computer without the cloud

This is another option as well, however, it’s still strongly suggested that you back up your photos in the cloud as well for all of the reasons we outlined about—most significantly, you wouldn’t want to lose them due to device damage or theft!

Back up your photos locally too

This advice may feel a little “old school” because there’s so much emphasis placed on the cloud and its benefits these days. Yet a local backup provides yet another layer of protection in the event of data loss, theft of your device, or even a ransomware attack where your data (which could include your photos) is held hostage. Put simply, it keeps your data in your hands. Also, by copying your photos and files onto an external hard drive you can access them if your internet is down or running a little spotty.

Delete some photos and save some space on your phone

Once you have your photos on your PC or Mac and backed up, now you can get to work. This is the point where you can delete photos from your phone with confidence. Photos take up plenty of storage space on your phone, so an occasional cleanout is a good thing. Depending on the method you used to transfer your photos, the transfer process may ask you whether you’d like to delete some or all of the photos on your phone. Likewise, you may just want to do that on a photo-by-photo basis yourself. Yes, this can be time-consuming, but the benefit is that you’ll free up space on your phone.

Start organizing your photos

Here’s the really fun part: both the Photos app on iOS and the Photos app on Windows come standard on Macs and PCs. You’ll see that they both have tools for creating albums, folders, and for searching. They each have a facial recognition feature as well, which will automatically tag photos based on the people who are in them so you can quickly create albums featuring a specific person or people. Likewise, these apps allow you to search based on keywords, like activities, places, and dates so that you can quickly gather related photos and make albums based upon them. Note that the search isn’t always perfect. Much depends on the metadata associated with your photos, which is information that your phone or camera attaches to your photo—such as when the picture was taken, where it was taken, and so forth.

The Photos app on iOS has an additional feature that to help you organize your photos. Select a picture and then hit the “i” icon at the top of the screen. A window will show you the metadata associated with that picture, which is information about your photo. You can add to this metadata with your own keywords and tags that help describe the picture, like “Mom on the Metro” or “Dad’s Birthday 2015.” This will aid in future searching and organizing as well. Unfortunately Photos on Windows doesn’t have a similar feature at this time, however, you can change metadata of a photo by right-clicking on the photo file in your file explorer and selecting “Properties” and then choosing the “Details” tab.

Another word about metadata: you’ll want to take a look at the metadata of the pictures you post online. Your photos can reveal details about you that you may not want to share or have up in the hands of hackers and crooks. Check out this episode from our Hackacble? Podcast to avoid some of the common risks associated with sharing photos.

Create!

Now that you have your photos backed up in the cloud and on your laptop or computer, it’s time to start making things. There are plenty of free, paid, and subscription services out there for making prints, posters, and albums. You can also look into well-reviewed digital picture frames that you can load up with hundreds of rotating photos via a USB connection, an app, or even email.

Another option is to start exploring the world of photo editing. If you don’t own or have a subscription to the popular Photoshop app, there’s an excellent free option for multiple operating systems (which includes Mac and PC). The long-form name is the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP for short. Don’t let the fact that it’s free fool you. It’s a powerful program with full functionality that’s been around for more than 20 years. You’ll find a built-in help system, full documentation, and tutorials, all free. Give it a look and see if it’s right for you.

How about my old prints and photo slides?

On a similar side note, my husband recently transferred my parents’ old photo slides (remember those?) into digital format. What a treasure trove from decades ago! If you have some old slides, you can do the same with a digital slide scanner (typically available around the $100 mark here in the U.S.), although that’s a manual process and can take some time. Likewise, you can scan old photo prints on your flatbed scanner to digitize them or use a phone app like Photomyne or Photoscan. Another option is to have a service do the work for you, which you can easily find online or available through a local retailer.

Worth the effort

Up until this point, I’ve resisted making a Marie Kondo reference, yet organizing your photos can spark oodles of joy. Along the way, you can count on rediscovering tucked-away memories that you’ll want to relive and share. I hope that’s your experience and that these feelings propel you along as you set out on this task. While organizing takes some effort, the rewards await. Have fun!

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

 

 

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Does PC Cleaning Improve Performance?

PC ,tablet and device performance

If you would like to maintain or restore the performance of your PC, cleaning it is a task you don’t want to overlook. In addition to boosting the speed of your PC, cleaning it on a regular basis also helps protect your personal information and identity from criminals.

Cleaning your PC frees up storage space so that you can install more programs or save pictures, sound files and movies. Clean your computer at least once per month for the best possible results. If you have not cleaned your PC in a while, you will be surprised to notice how much faster it runs. This guide explains the basics and points you in the right direction.

What Is PC cleaning?

Over time, the files you store on your computer begin taking up space. Especially your C drive might be gradually filling up due to backup files, hidden files and temporary files. You should even consider PC cleaning on a new computer because new PCs often come with pre-installed programs you don’t need. In simple terms, PC cleaning involves removing unneeded files from your computer when you want extra storage space and increased performance.

Are you using all programs on your PC?

Remove unwanted programs by going to the programs and features section of your control panel. Go through the list and make a note of the programs you don’t use. For the programs you don’t recognize, perform a quick search at the internet to get insights if you really want to delete these programs. After you finished the list, the window prompt will explain everything you need to do. It should not take too long to remove the programs depending on their size. In addition to removing unneeded programs, you can even use the disk cleanup utility to remove temporary files.

Cleaning up temporary files

Temporary files include internet cookies and partially downloaded programs that you never installed on your machine. Internet cookies contain information you enter on websites and images from sites you visit. The main purpose of these cookie is to identify users and possibly prepare customized pages or to save information. The benefit for you is that you don’t need to enter your login information each time you visit a website. Also, web pages and online media you have visited online are stored in the cache of your browser. Doing so speeds up the web browsing experience the next time you visit the same site again. Also, applications which consume large amounts of data as Microsoft Word are creating temporary files to store and save information as you go along.

The Importance of PC cleaning

Your PC saves files from the websites you visit and stores them on your hard drive. Unless you remove those files, they add up over time and begin taking a lot of space on your computer. Lots of people install programs on their PCs and never remove the programs after they stop using them, and they lose a lot more space than they might think. Cleaning your PC often is a good way to protect yourself from that pitfall.

Does Deleting Stuff From Your Computer Make It Faster?

Although many people assume deleting files from their hard drive is enough to increase the speed of their computers, it does not have the impact they expect. In fact, your temporary internet files can increase the speed at which websites load. Since temporary internet files contain images and other media files from the websites you visit, your computer won’t have to download them each time you visit the websites. You should still delete your temporary files on occasion to free disk space.

Remove Startup Items

Some programs you download onto your PC automatically start when you turn it on. Automatic startup processes work well for programs your computer needs to run at its best, but having too many startup items slows your computer down. To change which apps run automatically at the startup, select the Start button. From there, navigate via Task Manager to Startup. Select the app you want to change, then select Disable so it doesn’t run when restarting your computer.

Factors to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Your PC

While you don’t face much risk when you delete temporary internet files, deleting the wrong programs or removing certain startup items can harm your PC. Therefore, start by removing temporary files and reducing the amount of startup items to see if that improves the performance of the PC. If you are deleting programs, make sure you know what you are deleting so that you don’t run into problems along the way.

Clean up sensitive files

When you delete files from the recycle bin, they are not really deleted. The files on your computer point to the part of your hard drive that stores the file, and your hard drive retrieves the file when you open it.

Deleting files only removes the pointer, so the file itself remains on your system for a while. Use a file shredder to erase data by overwriting the space with pattern of 1’s and 0’s. This won’t improve performance, but file shredding does help to keep us in compliance with the law and to prevent identity theft. With a PC cleaner, these files are then removed from your hard drive.

Use a PC cleaner

You can save time and avoid problems by using a proven PC cleaner to remove unwanted and temporary files from your PC. With an effective PC cleaner, you can reach your goals in no time and never have to worry about deleting the wrong file. McAfee Total Protection is an antivirus software that comes with a PC cleaner and a file shredder. The PC cleaner deletes temporary internet files and broken shortcuts, and it removes unneeded registry keys that you don’t need.

Final Thoughts

Your computer’s performance depends on regular maintenance to stay at its best. Failing to maintain your PC results in slower performance and other issues you want to avoid. Use the steps from this guide to clean your computer and boost performance, or you can save time by using a PC cleaner to keep your PC safe and running well for as long as possible, and you will be thrilled with the results.

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Internet Safety Begins with All of Us

Internet Safety Begins with All of Us

Now’s the time to pause for a moment and consider just how important the internet is to us. Not just any internet. A safer internet.

June marks Internet Safety Month. Why June? The original thought was that the onset of summer sees more kids online, making it an ideal time for a fresh look at internet safety in our homes. Now, with millions of us worldwide finding ourselves online more than before due to stay-at-home guidance from our localities or employers, Internet Safety Month 2020 is much more important to observe. We’re working more online, playing more online, and schooling more online, and making all kinds of changes in our routines that make the internet the cornerstone of our day.

Indeed, we’re counting more and more on the internet, now more so than ever. A safer internet isn’t a nice thing to have. It’s a necessity. And there’s plenty we can do to make it happen.

Each of us has a hand in a safer internet

While a safer internet may seem like it’s somewhat out of our hands as individuals, the truth is that each of us play a major role in making it so. As members, contributors, and participants who hop on the internet daily, our actions can make the internet a safer place.

So, specifically what can we do? Take a few moments this month to ponder these three categories and the questions that follow. Using them can help frame your thinking about internet safety and how you can make yourself, and others, safer.

  1. Internet Security – How am I keeping my devices safe?
  2. Internet Safety – How am I keeping myself and my family safe?
  3. Internet Ethics – How am I treating other people online?

Internet Security

How am I keeping my devices safe? Device safety is relatively straightforward provided you take the steps to ensure it. You can protect your things with comprehensive security software, use an internet router that protects all the connected devices in your home -, you can update your software, and you can use strong passwords with the help of a password manager.

Put another way, internet security is another aspect of home maintenance. Just as you mow your lawn, swap out the batteries in your smoke alarm, or change the filters in your heating system, much goes the same for the way you should look after computers, tablets, phones, and connected devices in your home. They need your regular care and maintenance as well. Again, good security software can handle so much of this automatically or with relatively easy effort on your part.

If you’re wondering where to start with looking after the security of your devices, check out our article on how to become an IT pro in your home—it makes the process easy by breaking down the basics into steps that build your confidence along the way.

Internet Safety

How am I keeping myself and my family safe? This entails topics like identity theft, personal data privacy, cyberbullying, screen time, when to get a smartphone for your child, and learning how to spot scams online. Certainly you have tools to assist with these concerns, such as identity theft protection services and virtual private networks (VPNs) that encrypt your personal information, plus apps that make going online safer for kids like parental control software and built-in browser advisors that help you search and surf safely.

However, internet safety goes beyond devices. It’s a mindset. A savvy. As with driving a car, so much of our online safety relies on our behaviors and good judgment. For example, one piece of research found that ninety-one percent of all cyberattacks start with phishing email where people click on links that they could really think twice about and end up the victim of an attack. Research bears this out. Tomas Holt, professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, states, “An individual’s characteristics are critical in studying how cybercrime perseveres, particularly the person’s impulsiveness and the activities that they engage in while online that have the greatest impact on their risk.” Put another way, scammers bank on an itchy clicker-finger—where a quick click opens the door for an attack.

With that, here’s some general guidance on behaviors that can keep you safer:

  • Look out for phishing red flags. If you notice that the “from” address in an email looks like a slightly altered brand name or if it is an unknown source altogether, don’t interact with the message.
  • Be skeptical of emails claiming to come from legitimate companies. If you receive an email asking to confirm your login credentials, go directly to the company’s website or app. You should be able to check the status of your account there to determine the legitimacy of the request.
  • 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. Better yet, use a built-in browser advisor that helps you search and surf safely like we mentioned earlier. It’ll call out any known or suspected bad links clearly before you click.

These are just a few examples, yet hopefully it conveys the idea: we all need to be sharp when we’re online. That goes for our children and our parents who may be older too, as these behaviors may be new to them. Moreover, the reasons why these behaviors are so important may be new to them as well. They simply may not be aware of the risks and scams that are out there. In that case, the best protection starts with a conversation. Shine a light on the risks that are out there and help them develop a critical eye for the suspicious links and emails they’re bound to come across in their travels. That, in addition to comprehensive security software, will help keep them safe.

Internet Ethics

How am I treating other people online? A big part of a safer internet is us. Specifically, how we treat each other—and how we project ourselves to friends, family, and the wider internet. With so much of our communication happening online through the written word or posted pictures, together they create a climate around each of us, which can take on an uplifting air or mire you in a cloud of negativity. What’s more, it’s largely out there for all to see. Especially on social media.

Internet Safety Month is a fine time to pause and reflect on your climate. A good place to start is with basic etiquette. Verywell Family put together an article on internet etiquette for kids, yet when you give it a close read you’ll see that it provides good advice for everyone. In summary, their advice focuses on five key points:

  1. Treat others how you want to be treated – this is the “Golden Rule,” which applies online just as it does in every other aspect of our lives.
  2. Keep messages and posts positive and truthful – steering clear of rudeness, hurtful sarcasm, and rumor-mongering is the way to go here.
  3. Double-check messages before hitting send – ask yourself if what you’ve written can be misinterpreted, especially when people can’t see your facial expression or hear tone of voice.
  4. Don’t violate a friend’s confidence – think about that picture or post … will it embarrass someone you know or share something not meant to be shared?
  5. Avoid digital drama – learn when to respectfully exit a conversation that’s getting mean, rude, or otherwise hurtful.

Of course, the flip side to all of this is what to do when someone targets you with their bad behavior—such as an online troll who hurls hurtful or malicious comments your way. That’s a topic in of itself. Check out our article on internet trolls and how to handle them. Once again, the advice there is great for everyone in the family.

Being safer … take it in steps

We’ve shared quite a bit of information in this article and loaded it up with plenty of helpful links too. Don’t feel like you have to address everything at once in one sitting. See what you have in place and make notes about where you’d like to make improvements. Then, start working down the list. A few minutes each week dedicated to your security can greatly increase your security, safety, and savvy.

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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