Category Archives: Mobile News

Cryptocurrency fraud is the exception, not the rule

In recent months, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have begun to develop a bad name. The fact that ransomware typically demands payment in Bitcoin has helped to create negative associations for the brand.

Then there are the rapidly fluctuating exchange rates that look like deliberate attempts to manipulate the market. “Pump and dump” is a known tactic used by unscrupulous investors to temporarily increase the value of their holdings before selling them off for maximum value.

And the reality is that scammers and hackers are working the system to perpetuate fraud.

The headlines are only part of the story

Much of the problem with cryptocurrencies is that regulation still lags behind traditional currencies. National banks, like the Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank, have not yet decided how best to deal with cryptocurrency – or how to protect people using them.

This lack of consistency, and the perceived privacy offered by cryptocurrencies is the reason that criminals are so attracted to the system. So much so that cryptocurrency scams are now the second most common investment scam in Australia for instance.

Crime sells newspapers, so it is little surprise that the media is quick to publicise instances of fraud. But in the same way that most online transactions made using traditional currencies are perfectly legitimate, so too are cryptocurrency transactions. Fraud remains a small part of the bigger cryptocurrency picture, even if the media headlines suggest otherwise.

Digging into the statistics proves this to be the case. Take the Australian example. In 2017, there was a total of 200,000 scam reports submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – the government body that enforces consumer protection law. The accumulated losses from these scams was AUD $340 million – a fairly large number for a country of 25 million people.

But when you drill down into those figures, just AUD $2.1 million of those losses were attributed to cryptocurrency fraud. Less than 1% of all reported fraud in Australia was cryptocurrency related.

On a worldwide scale however, Bitcoin estimate that $3.25 billion will be lost to fraud.

A serious problem for the unprepared

Like any other currency, cryptocurrencies can be risky for the unprepared. Before jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon, you must understand what it is for, how it is used, and the common scams you need to avoid.

At the front end, always be suspicious of “get rich quick” schemes. These systems can be very profitable – for the scammer running them. You should always check anything that sounds too good to be true. Similarly, check that websites maintain the same level of security as any other online store before making a cryptocurrency payment.

One other thing to bear in mind – virtual wallets. Virtual wallets are used to securely store your cryptocurrency on your computer. If the wallet is compromised or stolen, your cryptocurrency goes with it.

Hackers will try and steal digital wallets, so it is vital that your computer is properly secured. You must install robust anti-malware, like Panda Dome, on your computer to identify and block unauthorised attempts to access your wallet and its contents.

Bitcoin is one of the biggest scams in centuries, like the one the world has never seen and we are only at the beginning of this history. Bitcoin scams have been famously criminal and public in nature. The bottom line is scammers also want to profit somehow from Bitcoin, but through nefarious means. This typically involves targeting unprepared victims, who end up losing their Bitcoin as a result, we need to know and make sure we don’t become the next victim“, explains Herve Lambert, Global Consumer Operations Manager at Panda Security.

For most people, cryptocurrency is not yet an issue. But when you do decide to start using one, make sure that you are properly protected and you can avoid becoming one of the minority of people who become victims of scams.

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How to safely shop Black Friday deals online?

Do you remember those good old days when Black Friday was simply the fourth Thursday of November?

Not anymore, retailers have officially created a monster – Black Friday is no longer a one-day shopping bonanza on the day after Thanksgiving, it now is a newly formed shopping season that starts right after Halloween and can continue for weeks after Thanksgiving, paving the way for the Christmas shopping season.
Every year retailers are determined to get the most out of the shopping mood that engulfs deal-seekers around Thanksgiving.

It is not uncommon for major retailers to voluntarily “leak” Black Friday deals ahead of the special day. This year Kohl’s and Target “incidentally” ended up disclosing their Black Friday deals nearly four weeks before the holiday. However, while the leaks from Target and Kohl’s are legitimate, cybercriminals also start being active during shopping seasons – they want a piece of the pie. This is why we’ve created a list with tips that give you an idea how to take advantage of those early deals safely so you can enjoy Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

HTTPS

One of the most common mistakes that online shoppers do is to perform transactions on websites that do not support the secure version of HTTP. If the site you are entering lacks a little padlock next to the URL, it may be time to move on to the next website that offers the same product but has a secure connection. Information transmitted over HTTP can be easily recorded. Sometimes even the website owners do not know that the data of their clients is being stolen by a third party. Always make sure that the URL of the store you are visiting starts with HTTPS.

Antivirus software

Having antivirus software installed on the devices you use to make online purchases is as essential as having insurance on your car. Quality antivirus software will prevent you from even entering shady websites; it will keep you safe while you browse by stopping malicious processes overtake your device, it will filter your emails and will always notify you if something does not look quite right. Antivirus software companies spend millions of dollars on research and development and have dedicated teams who make sure you are not an easy target. Take advantage!

Password hygiene

Registering on random websites here and there might be tempting while you look for the next Cyber Monday deal but some of the sites that you visit may not be as secure and may try to steal your login details and use them elsewhere. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is not to use the same password on different websites. Instead, write down your password on a physical paper and store it safely, or use a password manager. Nearly half of the people living in the western world admit that they reuse their password on multiple websites. This means that if one of these websites gets hacked, hackers will be able to gain access to your other legitimate accounts.

Update your OS and also your software

Do you remember that we mentioned that IT security experts are always updating different aspects of the products they develop? It is an ongoing process. Updates not only make your products better but also patch vulnerabilities. So if you decide not to update your software or operating system, the work of the IT security experts is useless as the vulnerabilities that they’ve managed to patch remain unfixed on your device. This is one of the reasons, so many hospitals get hacked, they simply do not have the time to reboot and update.

Phishing emails

If you receive a Black Friday deal in an email that rushes you to buy something at a fantastic price, and you do not recognize the email or the outlet that is approaching you, just ignore it. Do not click on any of the links inside and if possible, do not even open the email. Just move it to your junk folder and move on with your life. The time around Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the best times for hackers wanting to steal your hard earned cash – they know that you are in a shopping mood.

Self-behavior

You have to be cautious and avoid deals that are too good to be true. If you receive a text message giving you a 95% off Ray Ban sunglasses, or the latest iPhone XR for a couple of hundred dollars, you are most likely being scammed. What makes things worse is that your email or phone number has been sourced by criminals who openly believe that you aren’t sharp enough and you may fall for such a trick. Don’t meet their expectations. Last but not least, getting scammed does not mean that you are only losing your money. By being scammed, your hard-earned cash ends up in the hands of people who may be supporting causes that actively work against your beliefs and culture.

Public Wi-Fi networks

Yes we get it, data is expensive, and your monthly wireless bill is getting higher and higher. Next time you are on lunch break enjoying a meal away from the office you may feel tempted to join those free Wi-Fi networks you see. However, don’t do it, especially when you are shopping. When you join an unsecured Wi-Fi network every person with average IT knowledge will be able to see your online activity, and possibly even record everything that you type. This includes card details, SSN, passwords, etc. If you want to use Wi-Fi and you want to have a secure connection, you have to connect to a VPN. When your traffic goes through a VPN, hackers or the administrator of the network, won’t find it as easy to trace your online activities.

Credit Card

If you are not a big fan of credit cards, we still advise you to use one for the online purchases. This does not mean that you have to carry your balance, you can pay it right off. If somehow hackers manage to steal money from your checking account it won’t be easy to claim it back. However, most credit cards come with insurance so even if you end up being a victim of a cybercrime, your credit card company may reimburse you. However, it is always best to be cautious and simply avoid becoming a victim.

It is Black Friday season – looking for sweet deals and buying presents for your loved ones must be a fun experience. If you stay vigilant and you protect your devices, you will end up enjoying the online shopping.

We all deserve a little shopping therapy and the Black Friday season is the perfect time to do it!

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The post How to safely shop Black Friday deals online? appeared first on Panda Security Mediacenter.

New York City to battle cybercrime with an app

New York City launched its first-of-its-kind mobile threats detection app – it is called NYC Secure.

The app is free, and it is currently available for both Android and iOS. It comes as a result of a cybersecurity initiative that was started earlier this year by New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio. The city-funded mobile application is meant to provide cybersecurity and privacy protections for the people of the most populous city in the US. Our research shows the app is not restricted only for residents of the Big Apple and is freely available on the Apple Store and Google Play.

The new app is a solution for the New Yorkers who are not able to afford high-quality cyber security tools and resources. The new smartphone-protection app is supposed to be able to identify and defend against mobile threats, stop you from connecting to malicious Wi-Fi networks, prevent you from installing malicious software on your smartphone, and send you notifications should you try to access malicious websites. The city says the app even works when the user is offline. The app helps the government increase the cybersecurity awareness among the residents of the Big Apple.

PRIVACY CONCERNS

NYC press office confirmed that the app does not collect or transmit any sensitive data and they believe people should be able to protect themselves without sacrificing their private information to do so. Developers are only able to see a randomly generated device ID, the OS, and the version of the app. However, the app is managed by NYC Cyber Command (NYC3) – Business Insider calls it one of the most important government agencies in America’s biggest city.

The agency is currently leading the city’s cyber defense efforts and is collaborating with more than 100 agencies that aim to prevent, detect, respond, and recover from cyber threats. Even though that the city claims the app does not collect information that can be used to trace your identity, it still gathers data about your device and the information might one day be shared with third parties.

Government surveillance tool or not, the new app is made by the city to protect New Yorkers from cyber threats. Even though the app lacks the sophisticated capabilities of modern antivirus apps and comes with a plain interface, it is a layer of security that every low-income resident of the Big Apple should have on their smartphone. And for the rest, there are other more effective ways to protect your connected devices.

Panda Mobile Security

Whether you live outside or inside the Big Apple, we remind you that with Panda Mobile Security you can protect all your mobile devices and locate them in case of loss or theft.

In addition, the integrated VPN network adds a further layer of security so that your privacy is not at risk.

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How is the U.S. going to combat foreign influence in the upcoming midterm elections?

The U.S. midterm elections are approaching and one of the highest priorities for the federal government at the moment is to prevent foreign interference. On Friday, some of the biggest security agencies set on the alarm by confirming that Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign states are actively trying to hack and meddle with the upcoming elections. They are trying to hack the networks and databases of state and local governments and are executing misleading campaigns on various digital platforms. The news came as a joint statement released by a few government agencies including the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The authorities highlighted that foreign states might seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making not only in the upcoming 2018 midterms, but their actions might also be preparing the ground for interference in the 2020 U.S. elections.

Facebook is making efforts to combat foreign states from interfering. The company’s headquarters in Menlo Park has a new department known as the ‘war room.’ Mark Zuckerberg’s new task force predominantly consists of data engineers, developers, data scientists, and policymakers. They are in place to help the tech giant battle misinformation and decrease foreign influence. While Facebook’s actions are certainly a move in the right direction for the social network, government agencies are not leaving the faith of the 2018 midterm elections in the hands of Mark Zuckerberg’s new team.

The authorities are actively trying to take matters into their own hands. Last week we saw the first charge for meddling in the midterm elections. Elena Khusyaynova, a Russian citizen, was charged over alleged intentions to interfere in this year’s elections. The Russia-based accountant is allegedly associated with an organization that actively interfered with the presidential elections in 2016. Back in 2016, the organization participated in purchasing political advertisements on various social networks in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Members of the same Russia-based company were posing as Americans and were failing to disclose their Russian identities while soliciting and compensating real U.S. citizens to promote or disparage candidates. According to the criminal complaint against the Russian charged with electoral interference, over the last ten months, Elena has been participating in a scheme to spend more than $10 million on targeted social media campaigns aiming “to sow division and discord in the U.S. political system.”

What are the elements of these misleading campaigns and how to stay away from them?

According to the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the content of these campaigns might reach you in many forms, including using social media to amplify divisive issues, sponsored specific content in the English-language press like RT and Sputnik, or through sympathetic spokespersons discussing political candidates. One of the best ways to prevent foreign states from using you as a tool that causes harm to the U.S. democracy is to avoid sketchy websites and always get your information from trusted media outlets. Gathering information from unknown sources might not only lead to misinformation but may also hurt your personal life – malicious websites can steal sensitive data from your connected devices. It is always a good idea to have antivirus software that can stop you and your loved ones from accessing websites known to cause harm.

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