Category Archives: Internet of Things

Celebrating the Next Generation of Technology Innovators

At Trend Micro, it’s our mission to secure the connected world. However, we want to go beyond the boundaries of the cybersecurity industry to support and learn from the technology innovators of tomorrow. That’s what our venture arm, Trend Forward Capital, is all about.

As part of these efforts, we held a pitch-off competition this week for ambitious start-ups at our North American headquarters in Dallas. We’d like to congratulate all those who took part, and particularly Roby on winning the $10,000 Forward Thinker Award.

Five minutes to shine

Trend Micro has run highly successful pitch-off competitions at the past two CES shows. This was the first time we’ve brought the idea back home to our headquarters. We certainly weren’t disappointed with the quality of applicants – around 50 submissions were whittled down to the final five participants. Each was given five minutes to present to a formidable line-up of judges, including Trend Micro co-founder and CEO, Eva Chen; Marwan Forzley, CEO of one of our start-up success stories, Veem; and Tom Whittaker of IBM ventures.

The quality of presentations was high, as was the energy in the room. From credit scoring for farms to parenting management, and hybrid cloud connectivity to AI and African healthcare — the sheer range of innovative ideas on show was fantastic to see. We were also pleased to see shortlisted a local Dallas-based business and two from Austin, testament to the burgeoning start-up scene in Texas.

Competing presenters were judged on five key criteria: leadership, product, addressable market, customer validation and business model.

Backing local businesses

In the end, the judges thought Roby – an office automation company – had the edge on the competition. As well as the cash prize, the company will now be considered for pre-selection for our 2020 CES pitch-off, and receive two passes to the show. However, we’d like to thank all those who took part. Even for those that didn’t quite make it, competitions like this are a valuable opportunity to practice their pitches and set themselves up for success next time. There were also plenty of local investors and other industry influencers in the room to impress.

There’s a wealth of great ideas out there, and Trend Micro remains committed to finding them and giving ambitious entrepreneurs the opportunity to shine. In so doing, we hope to help create a smarter, more connected world while learning a little ourselves from the disrupters of tomorrow.

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Dozens of Linksys router models leak data useful for hackers

Dozens of Linksys router models are affected by a flaw that causes the leak of data that can be used by attackers …. and the company won’t fix it.

Security researcher Troy Mursch, Chief Research Officer of Bad Packets, discovered that over 20,000 Linksys wireless routers are leaking full historical records of every device ever connected to them.

The leaked information includes devices’ unique identifiers, names, and operating systems, clearly, these data could be abused by hackers for attacks.

According to Mursch, the root cause of the data leak is a persistent vulnerability that resides in dozens of models of Linksys routers. Unfortunately, the flaw is very easy to exploit, and it is possible.

The devices continue to leak the information even when their firewall is turned on.

The expert used the Binary Edge IoT search engine to find vulnerable devices, earlier this week he discovered 25,617 routers that were leaking a total of 756,565 unique MAC addresses.

The disclosure of the historical records of devices that have connected to a specific router exposes the users to attacks, the knowledge of MAC addresses could be abuse by APT groups in targeted attacks, like the recent supply chain attack against ASUS.

The situation could be worse if owners of the routers were using default admin credentials. The issue discovered by the expert, in fact, could be used by attackers to discover if the vulnerable routers are still using default administrative passwords.

Mursch discovered that about 4,000 of the vulnerable devices were still using the default admin credentials. The vulnerable routers have remote access enabled by default, a gift for hackers that can perform a broad range of malicious activities, such as change DNS settings and deliver malware.

Mursch reported the flaw to Linksys, but unfortunately, the company closed the issue as “Not applicable / Won’t fix.”

Mursch published the list of vulnerable devices released on Pastebin.

Linksys flaw

If you are using one of the vulnerable devices you would replace it.

If you manage a MongoDB instance follow the guidelines on “how to secure a MongoDB database” 

If you appreciate my effort in spreading cybersecurity awareness, please vote for Security Affairs in the section “Your Vote for the Best EU Security Tweeter”

Thank you

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – LinkSys, Data leak)

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Analysis of device data shines a light on cybersecurity risks in healthcare

The convergence of IT, IoT and OT makes it more difficult for the healthcare industry to manage a wide array of hard-to-control network security risks. IoT and OT devices are rapidly increasing in numbers, but traditional IT still represents the most vulnerable attack surface, according to the Forescout Technologies report. Forescout Technologies announced insights from 75 real healthcare deployments with more than 10,000 virtual local area networks (VLANs) and 1.5 million devices contained within the … More

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Data will be processed by edge computing in 59% of IoT deployments by 2025

Edge computing is on the rise in IoT deployments and is expected to show solid growth over the coming years, according to Strategy Analytics most recent report. Strategy Analytics believes that data will be processed (in some form) by edge computing in 59% of IoT deployments by 2025. The driving forces in this assumption are the key benefits derived from edge computing, namely more efficient use of the network, security and response time. Currently, Strategy … More

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Cybersecurity Leaders Are Talking A Lot About Counterfeit Devices

Malice Vs Greed

Most discussion about security in the supply chain has been focused on detecting tampering, or preventing backdoors or sneaky things being inserted into components and software. There’s another aspect emerging and will dwarf the tampering: devices that are counterfeited for profit indirectly causing security problems. Counterfeit devices are ones that either by design not what you think you are buying, or are mislabeled intentionally to make an older or different model appear to be a more desirable one. Like money, if it is printed by the forger or has a zero added to the number on a legitimate note neither is what you expected or paid for. The motivation is greed but there is a significant impact on security.

Counterfeit Devices Already A Big Issue in Healthcare and Hurt Security

Last year we studied the security of medical devices market. There’s a healthy and legitimate market for used medical devices. Not surprisingly newer devices command a higher price than older ones. The medical community wisely pushed for a universal barcode that formed a Unique Device Identifier (UDI), so devices can be inventoried, their ownership lineage known, and information about them collected (e.g. location). UDI should be a useful tool for security operations, such as patching. If the UDI tells me that this device is an XYZ version 2014 monitoring device, then I can make sure it is patched using the most recent accepted update.

So here is where greed, safety and security collide. Unscrupulous resellers can have counterfeit UDIs applied, making the older medical devices appear to be a newer vintage. Making that XYZ v2014 appear to be a more valuable v2018 can be big money with clear problems related to product recalls and paying too much. But applying a v2018 patch to a v2014 device can have unintended consequences such as bricking the device, leaving vulnerabilities open, or causing the device to malfunction. Desktop operation systems are robust, with dialogues and checks to minimize and usually avoid the misapplication of patches and updates. But almost all of IoT and a lot of medical devices don’t have that robustness. If you’ve ever ‘flashed the CMOS’ of a device, such as a router or camera you know it generally to be a black box process with little if no feedback. Swapped UDIs are part of the problem, with the other part being outright counterfeit devices that may or not have the same software.

This sounds kind of like a rare issue? Nuh uh. The World Health Organization estimates that about 8% of medical devices are counterfeit.

The Trends Making Counterfeiting A Bigger Temptation in Enterprise IT

Several forces are colliding and making this a concern. IoT growth is the big one. The proliferation of more devices joining enterprise networks and at a continually increasing rate means more new devices are being added, and more ‘dumb’ devices that are already on premises are becoming connected or ‘smart.’. Scale is an issue because the growth of IoT challenges traditional network inventory, SIEM, and patch management tools. So inventory and patch management is being strained and a lot slips through the cracks in most companies, and that aids the counterfeiters’ jobs.

The second change is Increased reliance on the ‘smartness’ IoT means that the IT aspects of Things are becoming a core capability: for example, the flow reporting via wireless of a pump is as valued as the function of the pump itself, and the electronic displays in cars are no longer only for entertainment but are now required for critical function such as speedometer and vehicle controls.

The third change is heterogeneity. There’s more brands of products and a faster rate of change in networks. Most enterprises have a multi-vendor network for their switches and routers already. Opening up branch offices to local internet has meant more brands and models. And there’s always more security appliances in the racks, especially in enterprises. Supply chain change means decreasing traditional procurement for enterprises, and the increased complexity of components sourcing for IT appliances and devices.

Why Is This A Bigger Security Concern Now?

All this scale, smartness and complexity means that there is an increased temptation and security impact for counterfeiting. Scale means falsely satisfying demand with older devices can be profitable but those devices may not operate correctly when patched, or cannot be patched at all. Counterfeit devices that are not patched or are designed less securely than the intended mean that smarter devices have a greater impact than when less interaction was the norm. Heterogeneity of components and supply chain means that there is a greater opportunity for counterfeiting, with it being harder to detect counterfeit components and there are more links in the supply chain involving more people with more potential for tampering.

Network and Security Devices Are the Next Wave of Counterfeiting

Counterfeit It and IoT components are bad enough, but there is an emerging greater threat. There have been recent cases seen where counterfeit security and networking devices have been sold: the very things that are the best line of defense against counterfeit devices and the security impact they can have are themselves being counterfeited. Using the counterfeit currency analogy, this is the equivalent of having counterfeits of the devices that scan currency to detect forgeries.

What Enterprises Need to Do

The best change that can be made is to make supply chain integrity includes counterfeit detection. In other words, whereas most supply chain integrity is not losing links in the chain, making sure those are valid links needs to be re-emphasized or added. High capability organizations are likely already doing this, but this is frankly rare. Changes in procurement can be a big part of this, including asking vendors what supply chain integrity steps they themselves take. It may mean “lowest cost” has to be amended to ‘lowest cost authentic.”

Most vulnerability management includes the inventory step (find what we have), and patch management. Increasing validation of inventory results can be a great first step. When the inventory is assumed, or based upon procurement it needs to have a validation step, i.e. we have 20 type Xv2 routers in the inventory let’s make sure those are really type X and v2.

Although the impacts of counterfeiting-for-greed won’t be only security related (e.g. malfunctioning medical devices), security organizations are the best positioned to lead these efforts.

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Digital Parenting: ‘Eat Your Veggies, Brush Your Teeth, Strengthen Your Passwords’

strong password

strong passwordAs adults, we know the importance of strong passwords, and we’ve likely preached the message to our kids. But let’s rewind for a minute. Do our kids understand why strong passwords are important and why it needs to become a habit much like personal health and hygiene?

If we want the habit to stick, the reason why can’t be simply because we told them so. We’ve got to make it personal and logical.

Think about the habits you’ve already successfully instilled and the reasoning you’ve attached to them.

Brush your teeth to prevent disease and so they don’t fall out.
Eat a balanced diet so you have fuel for the day and to protect yourself from illness and disease.
Get enough sleep to restore your body and keep your mind sharp for learning.
Bathe and groom to wash away germs (and to keep people from falling over when you walk by). 

The same reasoning applies to online hygiene: We change our passwords (about every three months) to stay as safe as possible online and protect what matters. When talking to kids, the things that matter include our home address, our school name, our personal information (such as a parent’s credit card information, our social security number, or other account access).

Kids Targeted

We falsely believe that an adult’s information is more valuable than a child’s. On the contrary, given a choice, 10 out of 10 hackers would mine a child’s information over an adult’s because it’s unblemished. Determined identity thieves will use a child’s Social Security number to apply for government benefits, open bank, and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service or rent an apartment. Also, once a child’s information is hacked, a thief can usually get to a parent’s information.

How to Stay Safe

It’s a tall task to prevent some of the massive data breaches in the news that target kids’ information. However, what is in our control, the ability to practice and teach healthy password habits in our home.

Tips for Families

strong passwordShake it up. According to McAfee Chief Consumer Security Evangelist Gary Davis, to bulletproof your passwords, make sure they are at least 12 characters long and include numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. Consider substituting numbers and symbols for letters, such as zero for “O” or @ for “A”.

Encourage kids to get creative and create passwords or phrases that mean something to them. For instance, advises Gary, “If you love crime novels you might pick the phrase: ILoveBooksOnCrime
Then you would substitute some letters for numbers and characters, and put a portion in all caps to make it even stronger, such as 1L0VEBook$oNcRIM3!”

Three random words. Password wisdom has morphed over the years as we learn more and more about hacking practices. According to the National Cyber Security Centre, another way to create a strong password is by using three random words (not birthdates, addresses, or sports numbers) that mean something to you. For instance: ‘lovepuppypaws’ or ‘drakegagacardib’ or ‘eatsleeprepeat’ or ‘tacospizzanutella’.

More than one password. Creating a new password for each account will head off cybercriminals if any of your other passwords are cracked. Consider a password manager to help you keep track of your passwords.

Change product default passwords immediately. If you purchase products for kids such as internet-connected gaming devices, routers, or speakers, make sure to change the default passwords to something unique, since hackers often know the manufacturer’s default settings.

When shopping online, don’t save info. Teach kids that when shopping on their favorite retail or gaming sites, not to save credit card information. Saving personal information to different accounts may speed up the checkout process. However, it also compromises data.

Employ extra protection. Comprehensive security software can protect you from several threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware designed to grab your data. Security software can cover your whole family as well as multiple devices.

Web Advisor. Keep your software up-to-date with a free web advisor that helps protect you from accidentally typing passwords into phishing sites.

strong password

Use unique passwords and MFA. This is also called “layering up.” 1) Use unique passwords for each of your accounts. By using different passwords, you avoid having all of your accounts become vulnerable if you are hacked (think domino effect). 2) MFA is Multi-Factor Authentication (also called two-step verification or authentication ). MFA confirms a user’s identity only after presenting two or more pieces of evidence. Though not 100% secure, this practice adds a layer of security to an account.

Keep it private. Kids love to show one another loyalty by sharing passwords and giving one another access to their social network accounts. DO NOT encourage this behavior. It’s reckless and could carry some serious privacy consequences. (Of course, sharing with parents, is recommended).

Credential Cracking

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC), the reported number of consumer records exposed containing sensitive personally identifiable information jumped 126 percent in 2018. The report explicitly stated password cracking as an issue: “The exploitation of usernames and passwords by nefarious actors continues to be a ripe target due to the increase in credential cracking activities – not to mention the amount of data that can be gleaned by accessing accounts that reuse the same credentials.”

May 2 is World Password Day and the perfect time to consider going over these password basics with your family.

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McAfee ATR Team Discovers New IoT Vulnerability in Wemo Insight Smart Plugs

*This blog is originally from August 2018 and was updated April 2019*

From connected baby monitors to smart speakers — IoT devices are becoming commonplace in modern homes. Their convenience and ease of use make them seem like the perfect gadgets for the whole family. However, users can be prone to putting basic security hygiene on the backburner when they get a shiny new IoT toy, such as applying security updates, using complex passwords for home networks and devices, and isolating critical devices or networks from IoT. Additionally, IoT devices’ poor security standards make them conveniently flawed for someone else: cybercriminals, as hackers are constantly tracking flaws which they can weaponize. When a new IoT device is put on the market, these criminals have a new opportunity to expose the device’s weaknesses and access user networks. As a matter of fact, our McAfee Labs Advanced Threat Research team uncovered a flaw in one of these IoT devices: the Wemo Insight Smart Plug, which is a Wi-Fi–connected electric outlet.

Once our research team figured out how exactly the device was vulnerable, they leveraged the flaw to test out a few types of cyberattacks. The team soon discovered an attacker could leverage this vulnerability to turn off or overload the switch, which could overheat circuits or turn a home’s power off. What’s more – this smart plug, like many vulnerable IoT devices, creates a gateway for potential hackers to compromise an entire home Wi-Fi network. In fact, using the Wemo as a sort of “middleman,” our team leveraged this open hole in the network to power a smart TV on and off, which was just one of the many things that could’ve been possibly done.

And as of April 2019, the potential of a threat born from this vulnerability seems as possible as ever. Our ATR team even has reason to believe that cybercriminals already have or are currently working on incorporating the unpatched Wemo Insight vulnerability into IoT malware. IoT malware is enticing for cybercriminals, as these devices are often lacking in their security features. With companies competing to get their versions of the latest IoT device on the market, important cybersecurity features tend to fall by the wayside. This leaves cybercriminals with plenty of opportunities to expose device flaws right off the bat, creating more sophisticated cyberattacks that evolve with the latest IoT trends.

Now, our researchers have reported this vulnerability to Belkin, and, almost a year after initial disclosure, are awaiting a follow-up. However, regardless if you’re a Wemo user or not, it’s still important you take proactive security steps to safeguard all your IoT devices. Start by following these tips:

  • Keep security top of mind when buying an IoT device. When you’re thinking of making your next IoT purchase, make sure to do your research first. Start by looking up the device in question’s security standards. A simple Google search on the product, as well as the manufacturer, will often do the trick.
  • Change default passwords and do an update right away. If you purchase a connected device, be sure to first and foremost change the default password. Default manufacturer passwords are rather easy for criminals to crack. Also, your device’s software will need to be updated at some point. In a lot of cases, devices will have updates waiting from them as soon as they’re taken out of the box. The first time you power up your device, you should check to see if there are any updates or patches from the manufacturer.
  • Keep your firmware up-to-date. Manufacturers often release software updates to protect against these potential vulnerabilities. Set your device to auto-update, if you can, so you always have the latest software. Otherwise, just remember to consistently update your firmware whenever an update is available.
  • Secure your home’s internet at the source. These smart home devices must connect to a home Wi-Fi network in order to run. If they’re vulnerable, they could expose your network as a result. Since it can be challenging to lock down all the IoT devices in a home, utilize a solution like McAfee Secure Home Platform to provide protection at the router-level.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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From Internet to Internet of Things

Thirty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee set out to accomplish an ambitious idea – the World Wide Web. While most of us take this invention for granted, we have the internet to thank for the technological advances that make up today’s smart home. From smart plugs to voice assistants – these connected devices have changed the modern consumer digital lifestyle dramatically. In 2019, the Internet of Things dominates the technological realm we have grown accustomed to – which makes us wonder, where do we go from here? Below, we take a closer look at where IoT began and where it is headed.

A Connected Evolution

Our connected world started to blossom with our first form of digital communication in the late 1800s –– Morse code. From there, technological advancements like the telephone, radio, and satellites made the world a smaller place. By the time the 1970s came about, email became possible through the creation of the internet. Soon enough the internet spread like wildfire, and in the 1990s we got the invention of the World Wide Web, which revolutionized the way people lived around the world. Little did Berners-Lee know that his invention would be used decades, probably even centuries, later to enable the devices that contribute to our connected lives.

Just ten years ago, there were less than one billion IoT devices in use around the world. In the year 2019, that number has been projected to skyrocket to over eight billion throughout the course of this year. In fact, it is predicted that by 2025, there will be almost twenty-two billion IoT devices in use throughout the world. Locks, doorbells, thermostats and other everyday items are becoming “smart,” while security for these devices is lacking quite significantly. With these devices creating more access points throughout our smart homes, it is comparable to leaving a backdoor unlocked for intruders. Without proper security in place, these devices, and by extension our smart homes, are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Moving Forward with Security Top of Mind

If we’ve learned one thing from this technological evolution, it’s that we aren’t moving backward anytime soon. Society will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible – like taking the first a picture of a black hole. However, in conjunction with these advancements, to steer in the right direction, we have to prioritize security, as well as ease of use. For these reasons, it’s vital to have a security partner that you can trust, that will continue to grow to not only fit evolving needs, but evolving technologies, too. At McAfee, we make IoT device security a priority. We believe that when security is built in from the start, user data is more secure. Therefore, we call on manufacturers, users, and organizations to all equally do their part to safeguard connected devices and protect precious data. From there, we can all enjoy these technological advancements in a secure and stress-free way.

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

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What’s in Your IoT Cybersecurity Kit?

Did you know the average internet-enabled household contains more than ten connected devices? With IoT devices proliferating almost every aspect of our everyday lives, it’s no wonder IoT-based attacks are becoming smarter and more widespread than ever before. From DDoS to home network exposures, it appears cybercriminals have set their sights on the digital dependence inside the smart home — and users must be prepared.

A smart home in today’s world is no longer a wave of the future, but rather just a sign of the times we live in. You would be hard pressed to find a home that didn’t contain some form of smart device. From digital assistants to smart plugs, with more endpoints comes more avenues bad actors can use to access home networks. As recently as 2018, users saw virtual assistants, smart TVs, and even smart plugs appear secure, but under the surface have security flaws that could facilitate home network exposures by bad actors in the future. Whereas some IoT devices were actually used to conduct botnet attacks, like an IoT thermometer and home Wi-Fi routers.

While federal agencies, like the FBI, and IoT device manufacturers are stepping up to do their part to combat IoT-based cyberattacks, there are still precautions users should take to ensure their smart home and family remain secure. Consider this your IoT cybersecurity kit to keep unwelcome visitors out of your home network.

  • When purchasing an IoT device, make security priority #1. Before your next purchase, conduct due diligence. Prioritize devices that have been on the market for an extended period of time, have a trusted name brand, and/or have a lot of online reviews. By following this vetting protocol, the chances are that the device’s security standards will be higher.
  • Keep your software up-to-date on all devices. To protect against potential vulnerabilities, manufacturers release software updates often. Set your device to auto-update, if possible, so you always have the latest software. This includes the apps you use to control the device.
  • Change factory settings immediately. Once you bring a new device into your home, change the default password to something difficult to guess. Cybercriminals often can find the default settings online and can use them to access your devices. If the device has advanced capabilities, use them.
  • Secure your home network. It’s important to think about security as integrated, not disconnected. Not all IoT devices stay in the home. Many are mobile but reconnect to home networks once they are back in the vicinity of the router. Protect your network of connected devices no matter where they go. Consider investing in advanced internet router that has built-in protection that can secure and monitor any device that connects to your home network.
  • Use comprehensive security software. Vulnerabilities and threats emerge and evolve every day. Protect your network of connected devices no matter where you are with a tool like McAfee Total Protection.

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

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The GPS Rollover Bug: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid Phishing Scams

Today, users are extremely reliant on our GPS devices. In fact, we’re so reliant on these devices that map features are programmed into almost every IoT device we use as well as inside of our vehicles. However, the Department of Homeland Security has issued an alert to make users aware of a GPS receiver issue called the GPS Week Number Rollover that is expected to occur on or around April 6, 2019. While this bug is only expected to affect a small number of older GPS devices, users who are impacted could face troubling results.

You may be wondering, what will cause this rollover issue? GPS systems count weeks using a ten-bit parameter, meaning that they start counting at week zero and then reset when they hit week 1,024, or 19.5 years. Because the last reset took place on August 21, 1999, it appears that the next reset will occur on April 6, 2019. This could result in devices resetting their dates and potentially corrupting navigation data, which would throw off location estimates. That means your GPS device could misrepresent your location drastically, as each nanosecond the clock is out translates into a foot of location error.

So, how does this rollover issue translate into a potential cyberthreat? It turns out that the main fix for this problem is to ensure that your GPS device’s software is up-to-date. However, due to the media attention that this bug is receiving, it’s not far-fetched to speculate that cybercriminals will leverage the issue to target users with phishing attacks. These attacks could come in the form of email notifications referencing the rollover notice and suggesting that users install a fraudulent software patch to fix the issue. The emails could contain a malicious payload that leaves the victim with a nasty malware on their device.

While it’s difficult to speculate how exactly cybercriminals will use various events to prey on innocent users, it’s important to be aware of potential threats to help protect your data and safeguard your devices. Check out the following tips to help you spot potential phishing attacks:

  • Validate the email address is from a recognized sender. Always check the validity of signature lines, including the information on the sender’s name, address, and telephone number. If you receive an email from an address that you don’t recognize, it’s best to just delete the email entirely.
  • Hover over links to see and verify the URL. If someone sends you a link to “update your software,” 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 email altogether.
  • Be cautious of emails asking you to take action. If you receive a message asking you to update your software, don’t click on anything within the message. Instead, go straight to your software provider’s website. This will prevent you from downloading malicious content from phishing links.

And, as always, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Hidden & Fake Apps: How Hackers Could Be Targeting Your Connected Home

Like most parents, before you go to sleep each night, you take extra care to lock doors and windows to keep your family safe from any outside threats. The only thing you may have overlooked is the smartphone illuminated on your nightstand. And if you were to add up the smartphones humming all over your house, suddenly you’d have a number of unlocked doors that a determined criminal could enter through. Maybe not tonight — but eventually.

Digital Ecosystem

Over time you’ve purchased and plugged in devices throughout your home. You might have a voice assistant, a baby monitor, a thermostat, a treadmill, a gaming system, a fitness watch, smart TVs, a refrigerator, and many other fun, useful gadgets. Each purchase likely connects to your smartphone. Take stock: You now have a digital ecosystem growing all around you. And while you rarely stop to take notice of this invisible power grid around you, hackers can’t stop thinking about it.

This digital framework that pulsates within your home gives cybercriminals potential new entryways into your life and your data. Depending on your devices, by accessing your smartphone, outsiders may be able to unlock your literal doors while you are away (via your home security system), eavesdrop on your family conversations and collect important information (via your voice assistant), access financial information (via your gaming system, tablet, or laptop).

What you can do:

  • Change factory security settings. Before you fire up that smart TV, drone, or sound system, be sure to change each product’s factory settings and replace it with a bulletproof password to put a layer of protection between you and would-be hackers.
  • Protect your home network. We are connected people living in connected homes. So, part of the wired lifestyle is taking the lead on doing all we can to protect it. One way to do that is at the router level with built-in network security, which can help secure your connected devices.
  • Stay on top of software updates. Cybercrooks rely on consumers to ignore software updates; it makes their job so much easier. So be sure to install updates to your devices, security software, and IoT products when alerted to do so.

Smartphone = Front Gate

The most common entry point to all of these connected things is your smartphone. While you’ve done a lot of things to protect your phone — a lock screen, secure passwords on accounts, and system updates — there are hacking tactics you likely know nothing about. According to McAfee’s recent  Mobile Threat Report, you don’t know because the scope and complexity of mobile hacks are increasing at alarming rates.

Hidden Apps

The latest statistics report that the average person has between 60-90 apps installed on their phones. Multiply that between all the users in your home, and you are looking at anywhere from 200-500 apps living under your digital roof. Hackers gravitate toward digital trends. They go where the most people congregate because that’s where they can grab the most money. Many of us control everything in our homes from our apps, so app downloads are off the charts, which is why crooks have engineered some of their most sophisticated schemes specifically around app users.

Hidden apps are a way that crooks trick users into letting them inside their phones. Typically, hidden apps (such as TimpDoor) get to users via Google Play when they download games or customized tools. TimpDoor will then directly communicate with users via a text with a link to a voice message that gives detailed instructions to enable apps from unknown sources. That link downloads malware which will run in the background after the app closes. Users often forget they’ve downloaded this and go on with life while the malware runs in the background and can access other internal networks on the smartphone.

What you can do:

  • Stay alert. Don’t fall for the traps or click links to other apps sent via text message.
  • Stay legit. Only download apps hosted by the original trusted stores and verified partner sites.
  • Avoid spam. Don’t click on any email links, pop-ups, or direct messages that include suspicious links, password prompts, or fake attachments. Delete and block spam emails and texts.
  • Disable and delete. If you are not using an app, disable it. And, as a safety habit, remove apps from your phone, tablet, or laptop you no longer use.

Fake Apps

Again, crooks go where the most people congregate, and this year it is the 60 million+ downloaded game Fortnite. The Fortnite craze has lead hackers to design fake Fortnite apps masquerading as the real thing. The fraudulent app designers go to great lengths to make the download look legitimate. They offer enticing downloads and promise users a ton of free perks and add ons. Once users download the fake app, crooks can collect money through ads, send text messages with more bad app links, crypto jack users, or install malware or spyware.

What you can do:

  • Don’t install apps from unknown sources. Not all gaming companies distribute via Google Play or the App Store. This makes it even harder for users to know that the app they are downloading is legit. Do all you can to verify the legitimacy of the site you are downloading from.
  • Delete suspicious acting apps. If you download an app and it begins to request access to anything outside of its service, delete it immediately from your device.
  • Update devices regularly. Keep new bugs and threats at bay by updating your devices automatically.
  • Monitor bank statements. Check statements regularly to monitor the activity of the card linked to your Fortnite account. If you notice repeat or multiple transactions from your account or see charges that you don’t recognize, alert your bank immediately.
  • Be a savvy app user. Verify an app’s legitimacy. Read other user reviews and be discerning before you download anything. This practice also applies to partner sites that sell game hacks, credits, patches, or virtual assets players use to gain rank within a game. Beware of “free” downloads and avoid illegal file-sharing sites. Free downloads can be hotbeds for malware. Stick with the safer, paid options from a reputable source.

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How to Safeguard Your Family Against A Medical Data Breach

Medical Data BreachThe risk to your family’s healthcare data often begins with that piece of paper on a clipboard your physician or hospital asks you to fill out or in the online application for healthcare you completed.

That data gets transferred into a computer where a patient Electronic Health Record (EHR) is created or added to. From there, depending on the security measures your physician, healthcare facility, or healthcare provider has put in place, your data is either safely stored or up for grabs.

It’s a double-edged sword: We all need healthcare but to access it we have to hand over our most sensitive data armed only with the hope that the people on the other side of the glass window will do their part to protect it.

Breaches on the Rise

Feeling a tad vulnerable? You aren’t alone. The stats on medical breaches don’t do much to assuage consumer fears.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that the number of annual health data breaches increased 70% over the past seven years, with 75% of the breached, lost, or stolen records being breached by a hacking or IT incident at a cost close to consumers at nearly $6 billion.

The IoT Factor

Medical Data Breach

Not only are medical facilities vulnerable to hackers, but with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) consumer products — which, in short, means everything is digitally connected to everything else — also provide entry points for hackers. Wireless devices at risk include insulin pumps and monitors, Fitbits, scales, thermometers, heart and blood pressure monitors.

To protect yourself when using these devices, experts recommend staying on top of device updates and inputting as little personal information as possible when launching and maintaining the app or device.

The Dark Web

The engine driving healthcare attacks of all kinds is the Dark Web where criminals can buy, sell, and trade stolen consumer data without detection. Healthcare data is precious because it often includes a much more complete picture of a person including social security number, credit card/banking information, birthdate, address, health care card information, and patient history.

With this kind of data, many corrupt acts are possible including identity theft, fraudulent medical claims, tax fraud, credit card fraud, and the list goes on. Complete medical profiles garner higher prices on the Dark Web.

Some of the most valuable data to criminals are children’s health information (stolen from pediatrician offices) since a child’s credit records are clean and more useful tools in credit card fraud.

According to Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow, Advanced Threat Research, predictions for 2019 include criminals working even more diligently in the Dark Web marketplace to devise and launch more significant threats.

“The game of cat and mouse the security industry plays with ransomware developers will escalate, and the industry will need to respond more quickly and effectively than ever before,” Says Samani.

Medical Data Breach

Healthcare professionals, hospitals, and health insurance companies, while giving criminals an entry point, though responsible, aren’t the bad guys. They are being fined by the government for breaches and lack of proper security, and targeted and extorted by cyber crooks, while simultaneously focusing on patient care and outcomes. Another factor working against them is the lack of qualified cybersecurity professionals equipped to protect healthcare practices and facilities.

Protecting ourselves and our families in the face of this kind of threat can feel overwhelming and even futile. It’s not. Every layer of protection you build between you and a hacker, matters. There are some things you can do to strengthen your family’s healthcare data practices.

Ways to Safeguard Medical Data

Don’t be quick to share your SSN. Your family’s patient information needs to be treated like financial data because it has that same power. For that reason, don’t give away your Social Security Number — even if a medical provider asks for it. The American Medical Association (AMA) discourages medical professionals from collecting patient SSNs nowadays in light of all the security breaches.

Keep your healthcare card close. Treat your healthcare card like a banking card. Know where it is, only offer it to physicians when checking in for an appointment, and report it immediately if it’s missing.

Monitor statements. The Federal Trade Commission recommends consumers keep a close eye on medical bills. If someone has compromised your data, you will notice bogus charges right away. Pay close attention to your “explanation of benefits,” and immediately contact your healthcare provider if anything appears suspicious.

Ask about security. While it’s not likely you can change your healthcare provider’s security practices on the spot, the more consumers inquire about security standards, the more accountable healthcare providers are to following strong data protection practices.

Pay attention to apps, wearables. Understand how app owners are using your data. Where is the data stored? Who is it shared with? If the app seems sketchy on privacy, find a better one.

How to Protect IoT Devices

Medical Data Breach

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), IoT devices, while improving medical care and outcomes, have their own set of safety precautions consumers need to follow.

  • Change default usernames and passwords
  • Isolate IoT devices on their protected networks
  • Configure network firewalls to inhibit traffic from unauthorized IP addresses
  • Implement security recommendations from the device manufacturer and, if appropriate, turn off devices when not in use
  • Visit reputable websites that specialize in cybersecurity analysis when purchasing an IoT device
  • Ensure devices and their associated security patches are up-to-date
  • Apply cybersecurity best practices when connecting devices to a wireless network
  • Invest in a secure router with appropriate security and authentication practices

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How To Secure Your Smart Home

Do you live in a “smart” home? If you look around and see interactive speakers, IP cameras, and other internet-connected devices like thermostats and appliances, you are now one of the millions of people who live with so-called “smart” devices. They bring convenience and comfort into our lives, but they also bring greater risks, by giving cybercrooks new opportunities to access our information, and even launch attacks.

You may remember a couple of years ago when thousands of infected devices were used to take down the websites of internet giants like Twitter and Netflix by overwhelming them with traffic. The owners of those devices were regular consumers, who had no idea that their IP cameras and DVRs had been compromised. You may also have heard stories of people who were eavesdropped on via their baby monitors, digital assistants, and webcams when their private networks were breached.

Unfortunately, these are not rare cases. In recent months, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) has been used repeatedly to spy on businesses, launch attacks, or even deliver cryptojacking malware or ransomware.

Still, given the benefits we get from these devices, they are probably here to stay.  We just need to acknowledge that today’s “smart” devices can be a little “dumb” when it comes to security. Many lack built-in security protections, and consumers are still learning about the risks they can pose. This is particularly concerning since the market for smart devices is large and growing. There are currently 7 billion IoT devices being used worldwide, and that number is expected to grow to 22 billion by 2025.

Cybercrooks have already taken note of these opportunities since malware attacks on smart devices have escalated rapidly. In fact, McAfee reported that malware directed at IoT devices was up 73%in the third quarter of 2018 alone.

So, whether you have one IoT device, or many, it’s worth learning how to use them safely.

Follow these smart home safety tips:

  • Research before you buy—Although most IoT devices don’t have built-in protection, some are safer than others. Look for devices that make it easy to disable unnecessary features, update software, or change default passwords. If you already have an older device that lacks many of these features, consider upgrading it.
  • Safeguard your devices—Before you connect a new IoT device to your home network — allowing it to potentially connect with other data-rich devices, like smartphones and computers— change the default username and password to something strong, and unique. Hackers often know the default settings and share them online.Then, turn off any manufacturer settings that do not benefit you, like remote access. This is a feature some manufacturers use to monitor their products, but it could also be used by cybercrooks to access your system. Finally, make sure that your device software is up-to-date by checking the manufacturer’s website. This ensures that you are protected from any known vulnerabilities.
  • Secure your network—Your router is the central hub that connects all of the devices in your home, so you need to make sure that it’s secure. If you haven’t already, change the default password and name of your router. Make sure your network name does not give away your address, so hackers can’t locate it. Then check that your router is using an encryption method, like WPA2, which will keep your communications secure. Consider setting up a “guest network” for your IoT devices. This is a second network on your router that allows you to keep your computers and smartphones separate from IoT devices. So, if a device is compromised, a hacker still cannot get to all the valuable information that is saved on your computers. Check your router’s manual for instructions on how to set up a guest network. 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.
  • Install comprehensive security software –Finally, use comprehensive security software that can safeguard all your devices and data from known vulnerabilities and emerging threats.

Looking for more mobile security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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What MWC 2019 Shows Us About the Future of Connectivity

The time has come to say goodbye to Barcelona as we wrap up our time here at Mobile World Congress (MWC). Although it’s hard to believe that the show is already over, MWC 2019 managed to deliver a slew of showstoppers that captured our attention. Here are some of my main takeaways from the event:

Foldable Phones Are the Future

 MWC is an opportunity for telecommunications companies, chipmakers, and smartphone firms to show off their latest and greatest innovations, and they sure delivered this year. One particular device that had the show floor buzzing was the Huawei Mate X, a 5G-enabled smartphone that folds out to become an 8-inch tablet. Additionally, Samsung revealed its plans to hold a press event in early April for its foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. Unlike Huawei’s Mate X, the Galaxy Fold bends so that it encloses like a book. Although neither of these devices are available at to the public yet, they’ve definitely made a bold statement when it comes to smartphone design.

Smart Home Technology Goes Mobile

 Google is one company taking advantage of smartphone enhancements by putting its Google Assistant into the Android texting app. Assistant for Android Messages allows slices of Google search results to be laid out for users based on their text messages. For example, if one user texted another asking to grab some lunch, a bubble would pop up authorizing Assistant to share suggestions for nearby restaurant locations. While Assistant for Android currently only works for movies and restaurants, we can imagine how this technology could expand to other facets of consumer lives. This addition also demonstrates how AI is slowly but surely making its way onto almost every high-end phone through its apps and other tools.

Enhancing the Gaming Experience with 5G, VR, and AR

Not to be shown up, gaming developers also made a statement by using 5G technology to bring gamers into a more immersed gaming environment. Mobile game developer Niantic, creator of Pokémon Go and the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Uniteapp, is already working on games that will require a 5G upgrade. One such prototype the company showcased, codenamed Neon, allows multiple people in the same place to play an augmented reality (AR) game at the same time. Each players’ phone shows them the game’s graphics superimposed on the real world and allows the players to shoot each other, duck and dodge, and pick up virtual items, all in real-time.

Niantic wasn’t the only one looking to expand the gaming experience with the help of 5G. At the Intel and Nokia booths, Sony set up an Oculus Rift VR game inspired by Marvel and Sony’s upcoming film Spider-Man: Far From Home. Thanks to the low latency and real-time responsiveness of 5G, one player in the Nokia booth was able to race the other player in the Intel booth as if they were swinging through spiderwebs in Manhattan. Players were able to experience how the next-generation of wireless technology will allow them to participate in a highly immersive gaming experience.

Bringing 4G and 5G to the Automotive Industry

Gaming isn’t the only industry that’s getting a facelift from 5G. At the show, Qualcomm announced two new additions to their automotive platform: the Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive 4G and 5G Platforms. One of the main features of these platforms is vehicle-to-everything communication, or C-V2X, which allows a car to communicate with other vehicles on the road, roadside infrastructure, and more. In addition, the platforms offer a high-precision, multi-frequency global navigation satellite system, which will help enable self-driving implementations. The platforms also include features like multi-gigabit cloud connectivity, high bandwidth low latency teleoperations support, and precise positioning for lane-level navigation accuracy. These advancements in connectivity will potentially help future vehicles to improve safety, communications, and overall in-car experience for consumers.

Securing Consumers On-the-Go

The advancements in mobile connectivity have already made a huge impact on consumer lifestyles, especially given the widespread adoption of IoT devices and smart gadgets. But the rise in popularity of these devices has also caught the interest of malicious actors looking to access users’ networks. According to our latest Mobile Threat Report, cybercriminals look to trusted devices to gain access to other devices on the user’s home network. For example, McAfee researchers recently discovered a vulnerability within a Mr. Coffee brand coffee maker that could allow a malicious actor to access the user’s home network. In addition, they also uncovered a new vulnerability within BoxLock smart padlocks that could enable cybercriminals to unlock the devices within a matter of seconds.

And while consumers must take necessary security steps to combat vulnerabilities such as these, we at McAfee are also doing our part of help users everywhere remain secure. For instance, we’ve recently extended our partnerships with both Samsung and Türk Telekom in order to overcome some of these cybersecurity challenges. Together, we’re working to secure consumers from cyberthreats on Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones and provide McAfee Safe Family protection for Türk Telekom’s fixed and mobile broadband customers.

While the likes of 5G, bendable smartphones, and VR took this year’s tradeshow by storm, it’s important for consumers to keep the cybersecurity implications of these advancements in mind. As the sun sets on our time here in Barcelona, we will keep working to safeguard every aspect of the consumer lifestyle so they can embrace improvements in mobile connectivity with confidence.

To stay on top of McAfee’s MWC news and the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Kicking Off MWC 2019 with Insights on Mobile Security and Growing Partnerships

We’ve touched down in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2019 (MWC), which is looking to stretch the limits of mobile technology with new advancements made possible by the likes of IoT and 5G. This year, we are excited to announce the unveiling of our 2019 Mobile Threat Report, our extended partnership with Samsung to protect Galaxy S10 smartphones, and our strengthened partnership with Türk Telekom to provide a security solution to protect families online.

Mobile Connectivity and the Evolving Threat Landscape

These days, it’s a rare occurrence to enter a home that isn’t utilizing smart technology. Devices like smart TVs, voice assistants, and security cameras make our lives more convenient and connected. However, as consumers adopt this technology into their everyday lives, cybercriminals find new ways to exploit these devices for malicious activity. With an evolving threat landscape, cybercriminals are shifting their tactics in response to changes in the market. As we revealed in our latest Mobile Threat Report, malicious actors look for ways to maximize their profit, primarily through gaining control of trusted IoT devices like voice assistants. There are over 25 million voice assistants in use across the globe and many of these devices are connected to other things like thermostats, door locks, and smart plugs. With this increase in connectivity, cybercriminals have more opportunities to exploit users’ devices for malicious purposes. Additionally, cybercriminals are leveraging users’ reliance on their mobile phones to mine for cryptocurrency without the device owner’s knowledge. According to our Mobile Threat Report, cybersecurity researchers found more than 600 malicious cryptocurrency apps spread across 20 different app stores. In order to protect users during this time of rapid IoT and mobile growth, we here at McAfee are pushing to deliver solutions for relevant, real-world security challenges with the help of our partners.

Growing Partnerships to Protect What Matters

Some cybersecurity challenges we are working to overcome include threats like mobile malware and unsecured Wi-Fi. This year, we’ve extended our long-standing partnership with Samsung to help secure consumers from cyberthreats on Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones. McAfee is also supporting Samsung Secure Wi-Fi service by providing backend infrastructure to protect consumers from risky Wi-Fi. In addition to mobile, this partnership also expands to help protect Samsung smart TVs, PCs, and laptops.

We’ve also strengthened our partnership with Türk Telekom, Turkey’s largest fixed broadband ISP. Last year, we announced this partnership to deliver cross-device security protection. This year, we’re providing a security solution to help parents protect their family’s digital lives. Powered by McAfee Safe Family, Türk Telekom’s fixed and mobile broadband customers will have the option to benefit from robust parental controls. These controls will allow parents to better manage their children’s online experience and give them greater peace of mind.

We’re excited to see what’s to come for the rest of MWC, and how these announcements will help improve consumers’ digital experiences. It is our hope that by continuing to extend our relationships with technology innovators, we can help champion built-in security across devices and networks.

To stay on top of McAfee’s MWC news and the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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MWC 2019: The Key to Establishing Digital Trust with Intelligent Connectivity

These days, it’s rare to walk into a home that doesn’t have a smart device in use. From voice assistants, smart TVs, tablets, and more, these devices have greatly enhanced our way of life through intelligent connectivity. Intelligent connectivity is defined by the highly contextualized and personal experiences offered by the smart devices we utilize on a daily basis. However, as manufacturers continue to push out the latest technology to stay ahead of their competitors, device security isn’t always top-of-mind. As a result, the level of confidence consumers have in their devices is reduced. At McAfee, we understand that the notion of digital trust is imperative to the future of security as we adopt technologies shaped by the likes of 5G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. And as we head into Mobile World Congress 2019 (MWC), one can’t help but wonder, how will these advancements shape the future of mobile connectivity?

Almost every new device is built to connect, and as our 2019 Threats Predictions Report showed us, our dependence on technology is ubiquitous. Take your smartphone, for example. Everywhere you go, this minicomputer allows you to chat with your friends online, send emails, and look up new information with just the press of a button. Only upping the ante, 5G is set to roll out across the nation, bringing greater speed to handheld devices with more data and lower latency. These benefits will set the stage for more IoT devices, such as your smart refrigerator or smart plug, to connect to the network as well. The ability to control the temperature of your refrigerator from your smartphone is a pretty cool capability. But what happens if your smartphone gets hacked and a cybercriminal remotely disables your refrigerator? You may be left with a bigger problem than some spoiled food.

With all of your smart devices on the same 5G network, malicious actors can gain full access to the data that lives in your smart home technology through just your mobile phone. The increase in devices on the 5G network also increases the risk of Distributed Denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks. These attacks are caused by cybercriminals flooding a network with so much traffic that it can’t operate or communicate as it normally would. And with more IoT devices operating on the 5G network, the consequences of such a cyberattack could be truly crippling. So, how can we continue to trust the devices we use on a daily basis despite the cybersecurity risks caused by greater connectivity?

Digital trust, or the level of confidence consumers have in their technology and mobile devices, is extremely delicate. And as our experiences with our devices become more and more personalized thanks to intelligent connectivity, it’s important to realize that it can’t be intelligent if there is no trust. That’s why consumers should embrace advancements in mobile technology but remember to keep cybersecurity practices at the forefront.

Whether you’re headed out to Barcelona for MWC 2019 or watching from afar, we here at McAfee are committed to helping you take the necessary precautions required in order to connect with confidence in a world where everything is built to connect.

Stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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The Risks of Public Wi-Fi and How to Close the Security Gap

public wi-fi risksAs I write this blog post, I’m digitally exposed, and I know it. For the past week, I’ve had to log on to a hospital’s public Wi-Fi each day to work while a loved one recuperates.

What seems like a routine, casual connection to the hospital’s Wi-Fi isn’t. Using public Wi-Fi is a daily choice loaded with risk. Sure, I’m conducting business and knocking out my to-do list like a rock star but at what cost to my security?

The Risks

By using public Wi-Fi, I’ve opened my online activity and personal data (via my laptop) up to a variety of threats including eavesdropping, malware distribution, and bitcoin mining. There’s even a chance I could have logged on to a malicious hotspot that looked like the hospital network.

Like many public Wi-Fi spots, the hospital’s network could lack encryption, which is a security measure that scrambles the information sent from my computer to the hospital’s router so other people can’t read it. Minus encryption, whatever I send over the hospital’s network could potentially be intercepted and used maliciously by cybercriminals.

Because logging on to public Wi-Fi is often a necessity — like my situation this week — security isn’t always the first thing on our minds. But over the past year, a new normal is emerging. A lot of us are thinking twice. With data breaches, privacy concerns, the increase in the market for stolen credentials, and increasingly sophisticated online scams making the headlines every day, the risks of using public Wi-Fi are front and center.

Rising Star: VPNpublic wi-fi risks

The solution to risky public Wi-Fi? A Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN allows users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks. Much like a firewall protects the data on your computer, a VPN protects your online activity by encrypting your data when you connect to the internet from a remote or public location. A VPN also conceals your location, IP address, and online activity.

Using a VPN helps protect you from potential hackers using public Wi-Fi, which is one of their favorite easy-to-access security loopholes.

Who Needs a VPN?

If you (or your family members) travel and love to shop online, access your bank account, watch movies, and do everyday business via your phone or laptop, a VPN would allow you to connect safely and encrypt your data no matter where you are.

A VPN can mask, or scramble, your physical location, banking account credentials, and credit card information.

Also, if you have a family data plan you’ve likely encouraged your kids to save data by connecting to public Wi-Fi whenever possible. Using a VPN, this habit would be secured from criminal sniffers and snoopers.

A VPN allows you to connect to a proxy server that will access online sites on your behalf and enables a secure connection most anywhere you go. A VPN also allows hides your IP address and allows you to browse anonymously from any location.

How VPNs work

To use a VPN you subscribe to VPN service, download the app onto your desktop or phone, set up your account, and then log onto a VPN server to conduct your online activity privately.

If you are still logging on to public Wi-Fi, here are a few tips to keep you safe until VPNs become as popular as Wi-Fi.

Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi 

Verify your connection. Fake networks that mine your data abound. If you are logging on to Wi-Fi in a coffee shop, hotel, airport, or library, verify the exact name of the network with an employee. Also, only use Wi-Fi that requires a password to log on.public wi-fi risks

Don’t get distracted. For adults, as well as kids, it’s easy to get distracted and absorbed with our screens — this is risky when on public Wi-Fi, according to Diana Graber, author of Raising Humans in a Digital World. “Knowing how to guard their personal information online is one of the most important skills parents need to equip their young kids with today,” says Graber. “Lots of young people visit public spaces, like a local coffee shop or library, and use public Wi-Fi to do homework, for example. It’s not uncommon for them to get distracted by something else online or even tempted to buy something, without realizing their personal information (or yours!) might be at risk.”

Disable auto Wi-Fi connect. If your phone automatically joins surrounding networks, you can disable this function in your settings. Avoid linking to unknown or unrecognized networks.

Turn off Wi-Fi when done. Your computer or phone can still transmit data even when you are not using it. Be sure to disable your Wi-Fi from the network when you are finished using it.

Avoid financial transactions. If you must use public Wi-Fi, don’t conduct a sensitive transaction such as banking, shopping, or any kind of activity that requires your social security or credit card numbers or password use. Wait until you get to a secured home network to conduct personal business.

Look for the HTTPS. Fake or unsecured websites will not have the HTTPS in their address. Also, look for the little lock icon in the address bar to confirm a secure connection.

Secure your devices. Use a personal VPN as an extra layer of security against hackers and malware.

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5G Is Coming: Security Risks You Need to Know About

The future of connectivity is here ­– 5G. This new network is set to roll out across the nation this coming year and bring greater speed to our handheld devices, which means more data and lower latency. But perhaps one of the most anticipated and popular benefits is it will allow even more IoT devices to come online and encourage more connection between said devices. This would enable users to remotely connect to or monitor their IoT devices like kitchen or security gadgets. The promise of more connectivity, smoother IoT user experience, and even more devices online, means there are likely more opportunities and avenues for cyberattacks. 5G will no doubt shape the foreseeable future, let’s see how.

Today, interconnected devices operate on low-powered, low-data-rate networks, such as Cat-M and NB-IoT. With the introduction of 5G networks across the world, the capabilities of VR and AR, AI and ML, and automation and robotics will enhance immensely. Take self-driving cars, for example. These machines require close proximity to their computing to reduce the latency of decision making. The capabilities of 5G don’t end there either. From manufacturing, transportation and logistics, to public safety and the establishment of smart cities, industries are at the ready to take their business to the next level with 5G. With this newfound growing anticipation for the future of 5G, the question has to be asked, what are the security implications for smaller IoT devices?

From an innovation standpoint, 5G is a beacon of light, but from a cybersecurity standpoint, 5G is a “hotbed for a new era of intensified cyberwar.” Denial-of-service attacks, or DDoS, are particular causes of concern for cybersecurity researchers. Devices like refrigerators, thermometers, even light bulbs, will be able to come online because of 5G. Users will be able to remotely check on these appliances through a simple app, but these devices can also be usurped by malicious characters. This increased connectivity and power could see big name sites down for days, or even affect city utility capabilities. Government agencies and private entities are not immune either, but they do have plans in place in the event a DDoS attack occurs.

While consumers can only wait and see what happens with the rollout, industries across the board will want to harness the benefits of 5G. However, consumers and organizations alike need to be cautious in terms of how 5G could be used to help, or hinder, us in the future. Rest assured, even if malicious actors utilize this technology, McAfee’s security strategy will continue to keep pace with the ever-changing threat landscape.

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

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That’s a Wrap! Read the Top Technology Takeaways From CES 2019

The sun has finally set on The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Every year, practically everyone in the consumer electronics industry comes from all over to show off the latest and greatest cutting-edge innovations in technology. From flying taxis, self-driving suitcases, and robots that will fold your laundry, CES 2019 did not disappoint. Here are some of my main takeaways from the event:

5G is the future

It seems that anyone and everyone who attended the event was talking about 5G. However, there wasn’t exactly a definitive answer to when the service would be available to consumers. According to Forbes, 5G is an abbreviation that stands for the fifth generation of the cellular wireless transmission. And while many companies at CES discussed 5G, the number of products that are actually capable of tapping into the network is minimal. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get excited about 5G. The faster connection, speed, and responsiveness of the 5G network will help enable IoT, autonomous driving, and technology that hasn’t even been invented yet.

Gaming gets an upgrade

Gamers everywhere are sure to enjoy the exciting new gadgets that launched this year. From wireless charging grips for the Nintendo Switch to curved monitors for better peripheral vision, tech companies across the board seemed to be creating products to better the gaming experience. In addition to products that are enhancing gamer’s capabilities, we also saw gaming products that are bringing the digital world closer to reality. For example, Holoride partnered with Disney and Audi to create a Guardians of the Galaxy virtual reality (VR) experience for car passengers that mimics the movements of the vehicle.

Optimized IoT devices, AI-driven assistants

This year’s event was colored with tons of new smart home and health IoT technology. Although smart home technology made a big splash at last year’s show, CES 2019 focused on bringing more integrated smart home products to consumers. For example, the AtmosControl touch panel acts as a simplified universal remote so consumers can control all of their gadgets from a single interface. We also saw the Bowflex Intelligent Max, a platform that allows consumers to download an app to complete Bowflex’s fitness assessment and adjust their workout plan based on the results.

Voice assistants seemed to dominate this year’s show, as well. Google and Amazon upped the ante with their use of improved AI technology for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Not only has Google brought Google Assistant to Google Maps, but they’ve also created a Google Assistant Interpreter Mode that works in more than 20 languages. Not to be shown up, Amazon announced some pretty intriguing Alexa-enabled products as well, including the Ring Door View Cam, a smart shower system called U by Moen, and the Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet.

The takeoff of autonomous vehicles

Not only did AI guide new innovations in IoT device technology, but it also paved the way for some futuristic upgrades to vehicles. Mercedes showcased their self-driving car called the Vision Urbanetic, an AI-powered concept vehicle that can hold up to 12 people. BMW created a rider-less motorcycle designed to gather data on how to make motorcycles safer on the road. And we can’t forget about Uber’s futuristic flying taxi, created in partnership with Bell Nexus, and expected to take flight in 2020.

Cybersecurity’s role in the evolving technological landscape

At McAfee, we understand the importance of securing all of these newfangled IoT gadgets that make their way into consumers’ homes. To do this, we announced the launch of Secure Home Platform voice commands for the Google Assistant, allowing users to keep track of their entire network through one interface.

To reflect the upgrades in gaming technology, we also launched the beta mode of McAfee Gamer Security. Many antivirus solutions are notorious for slowing down PCs, which can really hinder the gaming experience. This security solution, designed for PC gamers, provides a light but mighty layer of protection that optimizes users’ computing resources.

If there’s one thing we took away from this year’s event, it’s that technological innovations won’t be slowing down any time soon. With all of these new advancements and greater connectivity comes the need for increased cybersecurity protection. All in all, CES 2019 showed us that as software and hardware continues to improve and develop, cybersecurity will also adapt to the needs of everyday consumers.

Stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post That’s a Wrap! Read the Top Technology Takeaways From CES 2019 appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Verizon Teams Up with McAfee to Secure Today’s Connected Home

Few fields and industries change as rapidly as those in the technology sector. This fast-moving, adaptable and growing sector creates new applications, new devices, and new efficiencies designed to make our everyday lives easier — sometimes in ways we’ve never imagined. But more devices and applications, from a security standpoint, means cybercriminals could have more opportunities to take advantage of flaws to conduct attacks. Additionally, the rapid growth in both software and hardware means today’s consumers are tasked with securing a plethora of personal devices.

This is not a sustainable path to a secure today’s technology landscape, one that’s continually growing and changing with each new addition. If we are going to continue to build a robust future, one including the rich potential inherent in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, we need a dynamic security solution that scales to meet the needs of modern-day society.

And that need is growing. According to a study from Market Research Future, the IoT market is set to potentially reach $124 billion in value by 2023 — only five years from now. Plus, Gartner predicts that there will be over 20 billion smart devices by 2020. That number is likely to grow, too.

That’s why we’ve worked with Verizon to launch Home Network Protection (HNP), a comprehensive security platform powered by McAfee Secure Home Platform, which has been designed to help safeguard consumers’ home networks. It does so through a robust, secure router designed to shield both traditional and newer IoT devices from malicious websites. It’s a proactive approach designed to keep consumer devices as safe as possible.

Customers using Fios by Verizon, a 100 percent fiber-optic network, and the Fios Quantum Gateway router can use HNP to secure their internet-connected devices, including smart cameras, baby monitors, television sets, and thermostats.

This is a massive milestone for consumer security in today’s digital age. Through a single provider, millions of consumers can access seamless protection from the latest threats — making modern conveniences easier to secure.

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How to Protect Three Common IoT Devices in 2019

It’s no secret – IoT devices are creeping into every facet of our daily lives. In fact, Gartner estimates there will be 20.4 Billion IoT devices by the year 2020. More devices mean greater connectivity and ease of use for their owners, but connectivity also means more opportunities for hacks. With CES 2019 kicking off this week, we turn our focus toward the year ahead, and take a look at some of the IoT devices that are particularly high-profile targets for cybercriminals: gaming systems, voice tech, routers, and smart cars.

Routers

Routers are very susceptible to attacks as they often come with factory-set passwords that many owners are unaware of or don’t know how to change, making these devices easy targets for hackers. That’s bad news, since a router is the central hub in a connected home. If a router is compromised and all of the devices share the same Wi-Fi network, then they could potentially all be exposed to an attack. How? When an IoT device talks to its connected router, the device could expose many of its internal mechanisms to the internet. If the device does not require re-authentication, hackers can easily scan for devices that have poorly implemented protocols. Then with that information, cybercriminals can exploit manufacturer missteps to execute their attacks. To help protect your router (and thus all your other devices), a best practice is to consider one with a layer of protection built-in, and be sure to use a long and complex password for your Wi-Fi network.

Gaming Systems

Over ten years ago, researchers found that many video gaming consoles were being distributed with major security issues involved with the Universal Plug and Play protocol (UPnP), a feature that allows IoT devices on a network to see each other and interact with one another. However, not much has been done to solve the problem. Through exploiting the UPnP weaknesses in gaming systems to reroute traffic over and over again, cybercriminals have been able to create “multi-purpose proxy botnets,” which they can use for a variety of purposes.  This is just the jumping-off point for malicious behavior by bad actors. With this sort of access into a gaming system, they can execute DDoS attacks, malware distribution, spamming, phishing, account takeovers, click fraud, and credit card theft. Our recent gaming survey found that 64% of respondents either have or know someone who has been directly affected by a cyberattack, which is an astonishing uptick in attacks on gamers. Considering this shift, follow our tips in the section above for routers and Wi-Fi, never use the same password twice, and be weary of what you click on.

Voice Tech

In 2018, 47.3 million adults had access to smart speakers or voice assistants, making them one of the most popular connected devices for the home. Voice-first devices can be vulnerable largely due to what we enable them to be connected with for convenience; delivery, shopping, and transportation services that leverage our credit cards. While it’s important to note that voice-first devices are most often compromised within the home by people who have regular access to your devices (such as kids) when voice recognition is not properly configured, any digital device can be vulnerable to outside attacks too if proper security is not set up. For example, these always-on, always-listening devices could be infiltrated by cybercriminals through a technique called “voice squatting.” By creating “malicious skills,” hackers have been able to trick voice assistants into continuing to listen after a user finishes speaking. In this scenario an unsuspecting person might think they’re connecting to their bank through their voice device, when unbeknownst to them, they’re giving away their personal information.  Because voice-controlled devices are frequently distributed without proper security protocol in place, they are the perfect vehicle in terms of executing a cyberattack on an unsuspecting consumer. To protect your voice assistants, make sure your Wi-Fi password is strong, and be on the lookout for suspicious activity on linked accounts.

While you can’t predict the future of IoT attacks, here are some additional tips and best practices on how to stay ahead of hackers trying to ruin your year:

  • Keep your security software up-to-date. Software and firmware patches are always being released by companies and are made to combat newly discovered vulnerabilities, so be sure to update every time you’re prompted to.
  • Pay attention to the news. With more and more information coming out around vulnerabilities and flaws, companies are more frequently sending out updates for smart cars and other IoT devices. While these should come to you automatically, be sure to pay attention to what is going on in the space of IoT security.
  • Change your device’s factory security settings. This is the single most important step to take to protect all devices. When it comes to products, many manufacturers aren’t thinking “security first.” A device may be vulnerable as soon as opening the box. By changing the factory settings you’re instantly upgrading your device’s security.
  • Use best practices for linked accounts.  For gaming systems and voice-first devices in particular, if you connect a service that leverages a credit card, protect that linked service account with strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible. In addition, pay attention to notification emails, especially those regarding new orders for goods or services. If you notice suspicious activity, act accordingly.
  • Setup a separate IoT network. Consider setting up a second network for your IoT devices that don’t share access to your other devices and data. Check your router manufacturer’s website to learn how. You might also consider adding in another network for guests and unsecured devices from others. Lastly, consider getting a router with built-in security features to make it easier to protect all the devices in your home from one place.
  • Use a firewall. A firewall is a tool that monitors traffic between an Internet connection and devices to detect unusual or suspicious behavior. Even if a device is infected, a firewall can keep a potential attacker from accessing all the other devices on the same network. When looking for a comprehensive security solution, see if a Firewall is included to ensure that your devices are protected.
  • Up your gaming security. Just announced at CES 2019, we’re bringing a sense of security to the virtual world of video games. Get in on the action with McAfee Gamer Security, Beta, it’s free!

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

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Kicking off CES 2019 with New Security Solutions and Collaborations

Today, we at McAfee are announcing some exciting new security solutions and integrations at CES in Las Vegas. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CES, it is the global stage for innovators to showcase the next generation of consumer technologies. McAfee now delivers protection to more than 500 million customers worldwide, and we understand the importance of creating new solutions for those who want to live their connected lives with confidence. To help empower our customers to do this, we’ve added to our security lineup and are working with other tech innovators who understand the importance of protecting users’ online safety.

One addition to our lineup of security solutions is McAfee Gamer Security. In a recent gaming survey, we discovered that 75% of gamers are worried about the security of gaming as online threats continue to rise. To help combat these threats, we developed McAfee Gamer Security, which protects gamers while optimizing their gaming experience. Some of the product’s key features include Game Mode, a gamer-centric interface, and minimal security resource consumption. These features help optimize gamers’ computing resources, provide system status updates, and equip users with lightweight security protection.

In addition to our latest product advancements, we’ve also teamed up with other companies looking to better the cybersecurity landscape for consumers. The first is Google. In order to further simplify the process of securing today’s connected home, McAfee will provide McAfee Secure Home Platform voice commands for the Google Assistant. McAfee Secure Home Platform provides an extra layer of security to help automatically protect all of the connected devices on the user’s home network. Soon, Google Assistant users can easily manage their connected home security by just using their voice.

While it’s important to secure the connected home, it is also important to protect your mobile and IoT devices as well. According to McAfee Labs 2019 predictions, cybercriminals will leverage trusted devices like smartphones and tablets to try and access users’ IoT devices in the upcoming year. To help customers stay safeguarded from this threat, we’ve teamed up with Verizon to protect their home networks through Verizon Home Network Protection. This McAfee-powered solution helps Verizon Fios customers stay secured against malicious websites, provide parental controls, and protect all devices connected to their home network.

Furthermore, we at McAfee and Dell have teamed up to protect consumers and small businesses as they enjoy the benefits of today’s technology. To do this, we’ve expanded our collaboration to provide pre-installed McAfee software on PCs and laptops globally to both consumer and small business customers. Customers who purchase a new laptop or PC will also have the option to extend McAfee protection beyond their Dell device to their smartphones and tablets. This allows users to have a more robust security shield around all of their connected devices, creating a safer overall online experience. Dell consumer and small business customers who purchase Dell Inspiron, XPS, Vostro, and G-Series laptops will receive a 30-day or 1-year subscription. Customers who purchase Alienware, OptiPlex, Latitude, and Precision will have the option of adding a 30-day free subscription or purchasing a 1-year subscription.

Another one of our latest innovations is the addition of Cryptojacking Blocker to McAfee WebAdvisor. As we observed in our latest McAfee Labs report, coin mining malware is on the rise, growing more than  4000% in the last year. Cryptojacking Blocker helps protect users from having their devices hijacked without their knowledge or permission. The tool helps prevents websites from mining for cryptocurrency and is included in all McAfee suites that include McAfee WebAdvisor. Users can update their existing WebAdvisor software to get Cryptojacking Blocker or download WebAdvisor for free.

So far, CES 2019 has proven that innovation will continue to evolve, just as the cybersecurity landscape will continue to mature. By working together to improve the technology that protects connected devices, we can help users optimize their digital life without compromising their online safety.

To stay on top of McAfee’s CES news and the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Rogue Drones Cause Gatwick Airport to Close for Over 30 Hours: More on This Threat

As the Internet of Things works its way into almost every facet of our daily lives, it becomes more important to safeguard the IoT devices we bring into our homes. One device that has become increasingly popular among consumers is the drone. These remote-controlled quadcopters have enhanced the work of photographers and given technology buffs a new hobby, but what happens when these flying robots cause a safety hazard for others? That’s exactly what happened at the Gatwick airport on Wednesday night and again today when two drones were spotted flying over the airfield, causing all departing flights to remain grounded and all arriving flights to be diverted to other airports.

The drones were spotted flying over the Gatwick airport’s perimeter fence into the area where the runway operates from. This disruption affected 10,000 passengers on Wednesday night, 110,000 passengers on Thursday, and 760 flights expected to arrive and depart on Thursday. More than 20 police units were recruited to find the drone’s operator so the device could be disabled. The airport closure resulted in 31.9 hours with no planes taking off or landing between Wednesday and Thursday.

You might be wondering, how could two drones cause an entire airport to shut down for so long? It turns out that drones can cause serious damage to an aircraft. Evidence suggests that drones could inflict more damage than a bird collision and that the lithium-ion batteries that power drones could become lodged in airframes, potentially starting a fire. And while the probability of a collision is small, a drone could still be drawn into an aircraft turbine, putting everyone on board at risk. This is why it’s illegal to fly a drone within one kilometer of an airport or airfield boundary. What’s more, endangering the safety of an aircraft is a criminal offense that could result in a five-year prison sentence.

Now, this is a lesson for all drone owners everywhere to be cognizant of where they fly their devices. But beyond the physical implications that are associated with these devices, there are digital ones too — given they’re internet-connected. In fact, to learn about how vulnerable these devices can be, you can give our latest episode of “Hackable?” a listen, which explores the physical and digital implications of compromised drones,

Therefore, if you get a drone for Christmas this year, remember to follow these cybersecurity tips to ensure you protect them on the digital front.

  • Do your research. There are multiple online communities that disclose bugs and potential vulnerabilities as well as new security patches for different types of drones. Make sure you stay informed to help you avoid potential hacks.
  • Update, update, update! Just as it’s important to update your apps and mobile devices, it’s also important to update the firmware and software for your drone. Always verify the latest updates with your drone manufacturer’s website to make sure it is legitimate.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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Shut Down Unlikely Attack Vectors in Your Organization

As a security professional, I probably take security more seriously than most. But when we start talking about the Internet of Things (IoT), the science fiction buff in me comes to the forefront a little bit. While we don’t want any kind of attacks to happen to our organizations, it can be a little fun to imagine the crazy ways hackers can use mundane appliances to hack into a network.

For example, earlier this year, a North American casino was hacked through a smart fish tank. Since the equipment in the tank was connected to the Internet, attackers were able to use that as their vector for network access. Fortunately, the breach was discovered quickly afterward—and you never want to hear about security breaches like this, but it certainly does make for a unique story.

That highlights the risks that are out there today. If you’re connected to the Internet, you are vulnerable to attacks. With IoT and the proliferation of smart devices, we’re starting to see some creativity from hackers that is not necessarily being counteracted with the appropriate level of security controls. That fancy fish tank certainly didn’t have the appropriate level of security controls. Having “regular” devices connect to the Internet can bring flexibility and manageability, but it also opens up more vulnerabilities.

That risk is something that everybody needs to understand. Basically, like any good risk owner, you need to think about what device you have, how it’s connecting, where it’s connecting to, and whether or not that connection has a level of security that meets your policy and control expectations. Honestly, what I’ve seen is that because of the easy and seamless connectivity of these smart devices, a lot of organizations are not thinking about necessary security measures. They aren’t quite seeing that a fish tank or a biomedical device or even an HVAC system can be just as vulnerable to attack as a server or application.

So how do you keep your network and data safe and still take advantage of the benefits of the IoT? Employ the same techniques I spoke of last week: protect, detect, and react. Assess, document, and validate risks. Make sure that you have a complete and total information security risk management or risk governance program. Apply these techniques and programs to every single device on your network, no matter how low-level it may seem. Something as normal as a thermostat or refrigerator could be a gateway for a hacker.

Our experts can help you assess your environment for risks and vulnerable points in your network, and help you put together a comprehensive security program that doesn’t leave out anything—even your lobby fish tank or break room fridge.

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