Category Archives: social media

How to Stay Secure from the Latest Volkswagen Giveaway Scam

You’re scrolling through Facebook and receive a message notification. You open it and see it’s from Volkswagen, claiming that the company will be giving away 20 free vehicles before the end of the year. If you think you’re about to win a new car, think again. This is likely a fake Volkswagen phishing scam, which has been circulating social media channels like WhatsApp and Facebook, enticing hopeful users looking to acquire a new ride.

This fake Volkswagen campaign works differently than your typical phishing scam. The targeted user receives the message via WhatsApp or Facebook and is prompted to click on the link to participate in the contest. But instead of attempting to collect personal or financial information, the link simply redirects the victim to what appears to be a standard campaign site in Portuguese. When the victim clicks the buttons on the website, they are redirected to a third-party advertising site asking them to share the contest link with 20 of their friends. The scam authors, under the guise of being associated with Volkswagen, promise to contact the victims via Facebook once this task is completed.

As of now, we haven’t seen indicators that participants have been infected by malicious software or had any personal information stolen as a result of this scam. But because the campaign link redirects users to ad servers, the scam authors are able to maximize revenue for the advertising network. This encourages malicious third-party advertisers to continue these schemes in order to make a profit.

The holidays in particular are a convenient time for cybercriminals to create more scams like this one, as users look to social media for online shopping inspiration. Because schemes such as this could potentially be profitable for cybercriminals, it is unlikely that phishing scams spread via social media will let up. Luckily, we’ve outlined the following tips to help dodge fake online giveaways:

  • Avoid interacting with suspicious messages. If you receive a message from a company asking you to enter a contest or share a certain link, it is safe to assume that the sender is not from the actual company. Err on the side of caution and don’t respond to the message. If you want to see if a company is actually having a sale, it is best to just go directly to their official site to get more information.
  • Be careful what you click on. If you receive a message in an unfamiliar language, one that contains typos, or one that makes claims that seem too good to be true, avoid clicking on any attached links.
  • Stay secure while you browse online. Security solutions like McAfee WebAdvisor can help safeguard you from malware and warn you of phishing attempts so you can connect with confidence.

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

The post How to Stay Secure from the Latest Volkswagen Giveaway Scam appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

McAfee Blogs: How to Stay Secure from the Latest Volkswagen Giveaway Scam

You’re scrolling through Facebook and receive a message notification. You open it and see it’s from Volkswagen, claiming that the company will be giving away 20 free vehicles before the end of the year. If you think you’re about to win a new car, think again. This is likely a fake Volkswagen phishing scam, which has been circulating social media channels like WhatsApp and Facebook, enticing hopeful users looking to acquire a new ride.

This fake Volkswagen campaign works differently than your typical phishing scam. The targeted user receives the message via WhatsApp or Facebook and is prompted to click on the link to participate in the contest. But instead of attempting to collect personal or financial information, the link simply redirects the victim to what appears to be a standard campaign site in Portuguese. When the victim clicks the buttons on the website, they are redirected to a third-party advertising site asking them to share the contest link with 20 of their friends. The scam authors, under the guise of being associated with Volkswagen, promise to contact the victims via Facebook once this task is completed.

As of now, we haven’t seen indicators that participants have been infected by malicious software or had any personal information stolen as a result of this scam. But because the campaign link redirects users to ad servers, the scam authors are able to maximize revenue for the advertising network. This encourages malicious third-party advertisers to continue these schemes in order to make a profit.

The holidays in particular are a convenient time for cybercriminals to create more scams like this one, as users look to social media for online shopping inspiration. Because schemes such as this could potentially be profitable for cybercriminals, it is unlikely that phishing scams spread via social media will let up. Luckily, we’ve outlined the following tips to help dodge fake online giveaways:

  • Avoid interacting with suspicious messages. If you receive a message from a company asking you to enter a contest or share a certain link, it is safe to assume that the sender is not from the actual company. Err on the side of caution and don’t respond to the message. If you want to see if a company is actually having a sale, it is best to just go directly to their official site to get more information.
  • Be careful what you click on. If you receive a message in an unfamiliar language, one that contains typos, or one that makes claims that seem too good to be true, avoid clicking on any attached links.
  • Stay secure while you browse online. Security solutions like McAfee WebAdvisor can help safeguard you from malware and warn you of phishing attempts so you can connect with confidence.

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

The post How to Stay Secure from the Latest Volkswagen Giveaway Scam appeared first on McAfee Blogs.



McAfee Blogs

Google Plus bug exposed personal details of 52.5 million people

Yesterday Google+ announced in a blog post that a security flaw in the application program interface of the already troubled social network, has exposed the details of more than 50 million Google users. The statement released by Google confirms that consumers are not the only ones affected by the flaw, the details of enterprise customers might have been exposed too. Even though that this only reflects approximately 5% of the total Google+ users, it is confirmed that last month the details of millions of US citizens have been exposed for almost a whole week.

The exposed information included personal details such as names, email addresses, occupation, usernames, display names, gender, relationship status, and date of birth. Similar to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, other apps with access to a user’s profile data ended up being able to read the profile data that had been shared with the consenting user by another social network user. According to Google spokespeople, the bug did not leak sensitive information such as banking details, SSN, passwords, drivers licenses, and passport information and currently there is no evidence of criminal misuse of the data. Google is notifying the affected parties.

As we previously reported, Google+ was a victim of another cyber incident back in March. The exploit was considered as one of the many reasons Google decided to shut down its social network for consumer usage. The social media network was supposed to close doors at some point in August 2019 and remain active as an enterprise solution. However, Google’s inability to maintain the system secure and compliant has shortened the remaining life of the Facebook rival – the Google Plus for consumers will officially shut down within the next 90 days.

Google engineers found the bug as a part of a standard and ongoing testing procedures. Google claims that they fixed the issue within a week of discovering it. However, their investigation will continue as there might be a potential impact on other Google APIs. Even though Google has not reported any problems with the rest of their G-Suite services, the security flaw was announced by David Thacker, a VP Product Management of Google’s G Suite. Time will show if there are additional possible issues with other Google services such as Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, etc.

Even though that this year has been a rough one for Google, the tech conglomerate has confirmed that Google+ for enterprises will continue to be supported and they will continue to invest in this side of the business.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Apart of hoping that the developers who had access to your details decided not to auction your personal information to the highest bidder on the dark web, now is the time to install anti-virus software and say goodbye to the hibernating social network by deleting your Google Plus profile. To remove your account, go to your Gmail account and click on your profile picture in the upper right-hand corner. Then click on ‘Google+ Profile,’ and then drag the cursor to your left and click on ‘Settings,’ and then hit that ‘Delete your Google+ profile’ button. There is no shame in abandoning a sinking ship.

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The post Google Plus bug exposed personal details of 52.5 million people appeared first on Panda Security Mediacenter.

Helping Kids Deal with the Digital Rejection of ‘Ghosting’

digital rejection of ghosting

digital rejection of ghostingRejection is the unspoken risk that is present when we enter into any relationship be it a friendship or a love relationship. It’s a painful, inescapable part of life that most of us go to great lengths to avoid. That said, there’s a social media phenomenon called “ghosting” that can take the pain of rejection to surprising depths — especially among teens.

Ghosting is when a person (or friend group) you’ve been talking to online suddenly stops all communication without any explanation.

Digital Dismissal

If you’re on the receiving end of the ghosting, consider yourself ghosted. Text conversations abruptly stop. You get blocked on all social media accounts. The ghost untags him or herself in all past photos on your profiles and deletes all past comments; theirs and yours. Direct messages (if not blocked) are marked as “seen” but never get a response.

Ghosting makes it feel as if a relationship never existed, which can leave anyone — child, teen, or adult — feeling hurt, frustrated, betrayed and even traumatized.

A teen named Jess* shared her ghosting experience and described feeling “helpless, confused, and worthless,” when a person she considered a boyfriend suddenly disappeared from her life after five months and started talking to another girl online. “One minute we were close and sharing all kinds of deep stuff and then, ‘poof’! He blocked me from his social media, stopped answering my texts, and started ignoring me at school. It’s as if I never existed to him.”

Rejection = Pain

In one study, MRI images showed that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience a social rejection as when we experience physical pain, which is why rejection can hurt so much. According to Dr. Guy Winch, rejection destabilizes our need to belong and causes us to question our self-worth. “We often respond to romantic rejections by finding fault in ourselves, bemoaning all our inadequacies, kicking ourselves when we’re already down, and smacking our self-esteem into a pulp.” Rather, he clarifies, rejection is often just a matter of being mismatched in several areas such as chemistry, goals, and commitment level.

Micro-rejection 24/7

Thanks to social media, ghosting is not only a term but a common (albeit cruel) way to end an online relationship. Because it’s digital it’s easier for some people to view others as avatars; and easier to block rather than confront. It doesn’t help that the online culture fosters micro-rejections at every turn especially for tweens and teens. With every photo that is uploaded, so too, is a young person’s bid for approval. It’s not uncommon that a child’s happiness (or lack of) is influenced by the number of likes and comments a photo racks up.

While it may be impossible to protect our kids from painful digital rejections, we can equip them to handle it when and if it comes their way. Here are a few ideas that may help ease the pain of being ghosted.

Acknowledge the hurt

digital rejection of ghostingNo doubt, being ghosted hurts and can be embarrassing for your child (or anyone for that matter) to even talk about so tread lightly if you suspect it. Listen more than you speak and empathize more than advise if you learn this is a situation your child is experiencing. Acknowledge the real pain of being cut off, dismissed, blocked, and ignored. Ghosting can happen between two people or even with a friend group. If you have a similar situation and can relate, share that experience with your child.

Help frame the situation

Tweens and teens often do not have the tools they need in their emotional toolbox to deal with confrontation. Nor are they pros at communicating. So, rather than exit a relationship properly, some kids will find it easier to disappear with a simple click or two. Help your child understand the bigger picture that not all people will act with integrity or kindness. And, not all people are meant to be your friend or romantic match, and that’s okay. There are plenty of people who will value, love, and treat them with respect.

Help set healthy standards

Being ghosted, while painful, is also an opportunity to help your son or daughter define or re-define his or her standards. Ask: What qualities and characteristics you value in a friend or love interest? What values do you need to share with another person before trusting them? What warning signs should you look for next time that a person isn’t friend material? Advise: Don’t always be the person initiating every conversation, pay attention to the quality of interactions, don’t pursue people who are unresponsive or constantly “busy.”

Discourage retribution

digital rejection of ghostingWhile some ghosting situations are mild and dismissed quickly, others can cause the person ghosted to feel humiliated, angry, and vengeful. Lashing out at or trolling a ghost online as payback isn’t the answer and will only prolong the pain of being ghosted. Encourage your child that discovering the person’s character now is a gift and that moving on with wisdom and integrity (minus conflict) is the fastest way to heal.

Help them move on

One huge pain point for people who have been ghosted is that he or she did not get any closure or insight as to why the relationship ended. To help with this, you might suggest your son or daughter write a letter to get all the feelings out — but never mail it. Need the satisfaction of posting that letter online (minus names)? There’s a site for that (warning: language).

Beware of haunting

Haunting is when a ghost tries to reconnect in small ways over time. He or she may resurface to leave a comment or periodic likes to test the re-entry climate. Some may even send a direct message trying to explain the poor behavior. While every situation is different, warn your kids against reconnecting with anyone who would ghost a relationship. Encourage your child to invest time in friends who value friendships and honor the feelings of others.

*Name changed

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Consumers believe social media sites pose greatest risk to data

A majority of consumers are willing to walk away from businesses entirely if they suffer a data breach, with retailers most at risk, according to Gemalto. Two-thirds (66%) are unlikely to shop or do business with an organisation that experiences a breach where their financial and sensitive information is stolen. Retailers (62%), banks (59%), and social media sites (58%) are the most at risk of suffering consequences with consumers prepared to use their feet. Surveying … More

The post Consumers believe social media sites pose greatest risk to data appeared first on Help Net Security.

What To Do When Your Social Media Account Gets Hacked

You log in to your favorite social media site and notice a string of posts or messages definitely not posted by you. Or, you get a message that your account password has been changed, without your knowledge. It hits you that your account has been hacked. What do you do?

This is a timely question considering that social media breaches have been on the rise. A recent survey revealed that 22%of internet users said that their online accounts have been hacked at least once, while 14% reported they were hacked more than once. And, earlier this year Facebook itself got hacked, exposing the identity information of 50 million users.

Your first move—and a crucial one—is to change your password right away, and notify your connections that your account has been hacked. This way your friends know not to click on any suspicious posts or messages that appear to be coming from you because they might contain malware or phishing attempts. But that’s not all. There may be other, hidden threats to having your social media account hacked.

The risks associated with a hacker poking around your social media have a lot to do with how much personal information you share. Does your account include personal information that could be used to steal your identity, or guess your security questions on other accounts?

These could include your date of birth, address, hometown, or names of family members and pets. Just remember, even if you keep your profile locked down with strong privacy settings, once the hacker logs in as you, everything you have posted is up for grabs.

You should also consider whether the password for the compromised account is being used on any of your other accounts, because if so, you should change those as well. A clever hacker could easily try your email address and known password on a variety of sites to see if they can log in as you, including on banking sites.

Next, you have to address the fact that your account could have been used to spread scams or malware. Hackers often infect accounts so they can profit off clicks using adware, or steal even more valuable information from you and your contacts.

You may have already seen the scam for “discount Ray-Ban” sunglasses that plagued Facebook a couple of years ago, and recently took over Instagram. This piece of malware posts phony ads to the infected user’s account, and then tags their friends in the post. Because the posts appear in a trusted friend’s feed, users are often tricked into clicking on it, which in turn compromises their own account.

So, in addition to warning your contacts not to click on suspicious messages that may have been sent using your account, you should flag the messages as scams to the social media site, and delete them from your profile page.

Finally, you’ll want to check to see if there are any new apps or games installed to your account that you didn’t download. If so, delete them since they may be another attempt to compromise your account.

Now that you know what do to after a social media account is hacked, here’s how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

How To Keep Your Social Accounts Secure

  • Don’t click on suspicious messages or links, even if they appear to be posted by someone you know.
  • Flag any scam posts or messages you encounter on social media to the website, so they can help stop the threat from spreading.
  • Use unique, complicated passwords for all your accounts.
  • If the site offers multi-factor authentication, use it, and choose the highest privacy setting available.
  • Avoid posting any identity information or personal details that might allow a hacker to guess your security questions.
  • Don’t log in to your social accounts while using public Wi-Fi, since these networks are often unsecured and your information could be stolen.
  • Always use comprehensive security software that can keep you protected from the latest threats.
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest scams and malware threats

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

The post What To Do When Your Social Media Account Gets Hacked appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Online Shopping Safety Tips For The Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and the rush to purchase gifts online is well under way. While retailers scramble to create eye-catching promotions, deep in the underground, the

The post Online Shopping Safety Tips For The Holidays appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

Black Friday Scams: Shop Safely with These Tips

By Carolina

Black Friday is just around the corner and here’s how you can protect yourself from Black Friday Scams. All the shopaholics around the globe are gearing up for availing the best deal for their bucks. People wait for Black Friday the entire year because, on this day, all the retail outlets offer exclusive discount deals, […]

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Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp Suffer a Major Outage

Days before Thanksgiving, three of the most popular social networking tools in the United States suffered a major outage. The blackout began being noticeable on Tuesday morning as hundreds of users reported that they are unable to access Facebook and Instagram. Many users shared that they are experiencing difficulties with other Facebook-owned apps such as the instant messaging service WhatsApp. The hashtag #FacebookDown immediately became a trending topic on the rival social network Twitter. Most of the affected users received the following error messages when they tried to access some of the Facebook services: “service unavailable” and “sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it, and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.”

Almost immediately, Facebook acknowledged the issue through the company’s Twitter profile. A tweet sent from Facebook’s official Twitter account said that they are aware that there are some people experiencing difficulties accessing the Facebook family of apps. Facebook confirmed that they are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Mark Zuckerberg’s communications team gave the same statement to ABC News a few hours after the outage was acknowledged on Twitter confirming the issue hasn’t been resolved yet. It is currently unknown if hackers are behind the outage, or it is an internal issue.

Who was affected by the Facebook outage?

The outage affected users living on the East Coast of the United States as well as people residing in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Portugal and the majority of Eastern Europe. South America’s Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia were also affected by the outage.

What caused the Facebook outage?

Facebook has not yet identified the source of the problem. Currently, no evidence confirms the outage is a result of a data breach or a cyber-attack.

How many people were affected?

There isn’t an official number of people who have been affected. However, Facebook apps are used by billions of people from all over the world, and even small glitches could impact hundreds of millions of people.

Facebook is going through tough times, and this is starting to be noticeable on the stock market – Facebook stock is continuing to dip. The outage won’t help Facebook get out of its track to post a three-month losing streak. This outage is also the company’s second for this month. According to Mark Zuckerberg’s communications team, the blackout that happened a couple of weeks ago was a result of a routine test that went bad. Facebook is currently unable to confirm if the incidents are related.

If you are reading this article and you are still unable to access Facebook or Instagram, it is very likely that Facebook is still investigating the issue and working on a resolution. You can see the status of this issue on Facebook for Developers here.

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Is your Facebook and Instagram down? Well, you are not alone

By Waqas

Another day, another service outage at social media giant Facebook and its subsidiary company Instagram. Yes, Facebook and Instagram have been hit by a worldwide service outage forcing both platforms to go offline. According to the outage map displayed on DownDetecter, the scale of this outage can be seen affecting users in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Italy, […]

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iKeyMonitor Spy App for iPhone and Android: Best Remote Monitoring Tool

By Carolina

Nowadays, it has become a social rule to own a smartphone, and humanity has become more dependent on social networks than ever before. We need to be connected to the Internet at all times and we publish our most private and personal thoughts there. Even in social events people spend their time constantly checking their […]

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Instagram’s download your data tool exposed users’ passwords to public view

By Waqas

Facebook somehow manages to make headlines one way or the other. Last week we were all praises for the social network for introducing the Unsend feature in the Messenger app and this week we are despising the company’s lack of interest in offering fool-proof security to its users after bug in Instagram’s download your data tool. […]

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Has Your Phone Become Your Third Child? Ways to Get Screen Time Anxiety Under Control

smartphone screen timeYou aren’t going to like this post. However, you will, hopefully, find yourself nodding and perhaps, even making some changes because of it. Here it friends: That love-hate relationship you have with your smartphone may need some serious attention — not tomorrow or next week — but now.

I’m lecturing myself first by the way. Thanks to the June iOS update that tracks and breaks down phone usage, I’m ready — eager in fact — to make some concrete changes to my digital habits. Why? Because the relationship with my phone – which by the way has become more like a third child — is costing me in time (75 days a year to be exact), stress, and personal goals.

I say this with much conviction because the numbers don’t lie. It’s official: I’m spending more time on my phone than I am with my kids. Likewise, the attention I give and the stress caused by my phone is equivalent to parenting another human. Sad, but true. Here’s the breakdown.

Screen time stats for the past seven days:

  • 5 hours per day on my device
  • 19 hours on social networks
  • 2 hours on productivity
  • 1 hour on creativity
  • 18 phone pickups a day; 2 pickups per hour

Do the math:

  • 35 hours a week on my device
  • 1,820 hours a year on my device
  • 75 days a year on my device

Those numbers are both accurate and disturbing. I’m not proud. Something’s gotta give and, as Michael Jackson once said, change needs to start with the man (woman) in the mirror.

A 2015 study by Pew Research Center found that 24% of Americans can’t stop checking their feeds constantly. No surprise, a handful of other studies confirm excessive phone use is linked to anxiety, depression, and a social phenomenon called FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out.

Efficiency vs. Anxiety

There’s no argument around the benefits of technology. As parents, we can keep track of our kids’ whereabouts, filter their content, live in smart houses that are efficient and secure, and advance our skills and knowledge at lightning speeds.

That’s a lot of conveniences wrapped in even more pings, alerts, and notifications that can cause anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress.  In our hyper-connected culture, it’s not surprising to see this behavior in yourself or the people in your social circles.

  • Nervousness or anxiety when you are not able to check your notifications.
  • An overwhelming need to share things — photos, personal thoughts, stresses — with others on social media.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you are not able to access social media.
  • Interrupting conversations to check social media accounts.
  • Lying (downplaying) to others about how much time you spend on social media sites.

We often promote balance in technology use, but this post will go one step further. This post will get uncomfortably specific in suggesting things to do to put a dent in your screentime. (Again, these suggested changes are aimed at this mom first.)

Get Intentional

  • Look at your stats. A lot of people don’t go to the doctor or dentist because they claim “not knowing” about an ailment is less stressful than smartphone screen timeknowing. Don’t take that approach to your screen time. Make today the day you take a hard look at reality. Both iOS and Android now have screen time tracking.
  • Get reinforcements.  There are a lot of apps out there like Your Hour, AppBlock, Stay Focused, Flipd, and App Off Timer designed to help curb your smartphone usage. Check out the one/s that fits your needs and best helps you control your screen time.
  • Plan your week. If you have activities planned ahead of time for the week — like a hike, reading, a movie, or spending time with friends — you are less likely to fritter away hours on your phone.
  • Leave your phone at home. Just a decade ago we spent full days away from home running errands, visiting friends, and exploring the outdoors — all without our phones. The world kept turning. Nothing fell to pieces. So start small. Go to the grocery store without your phone. Next, have dinner with friends. Then, go on a full day excursion. Wean yourself off your device and reclaim your days and strengthen your relationships.
  • Establish/enforce free family zones. Modeling control in your phone use helps your kids to do the same. Establish phone free zones such as homework time, the dinner table, family activities, and bedtime. The key here is that once you establish the phone free zones, be sure to enforce them. A lot of parents (me included) get lax after a while in this area. Research products that allow you to set rules and time limits for apps and websites. McAfee Safe Family helps you establish limits with pre-defined age-based rules that you can be customized based on your family’s needs.
  • Delete unused apps. Give this a try: Delete one social app at a time, for just a day or a week, to see if you need it. If you end up keeping even one time-wasting app off your phone, the change will be well worth it.
  • Engage with people over your phone. If you are in the line at the grocery store, waiting for a show to begin, or hanging out at your child’s school/ sports events, seek to connect with people rather than pull out your phone. Do this intentionally for a week, and it may become a habit!
  • Do one thing at a time. A lot of wasted device time happens because we are multi-tasking — and that time adds up. So if you are watching a movie, reading, or even doing housework put your phone in another room — in a drawer. Try training yourself to focus on doing one thing at a time.smartphone screen time
  • Give yourself a phone curfew. We’ve talked about phone curfews for kids to help them get enough sleep but how about one for parents? Pick a time that works for you and stick to it. (I’m choosing to put my phone away at 8 p.m. every night.)
  • Use voice recorder, notes app, or text. Spending too much time uploading random content? Curb your urge to check or post on social media by using your voice recorder app to speak your thoughts into. Likewise, pin that article or post that photo to your notes to catalog it in a meaningful way or text/share it with a small group of people. These few changes could result in big hours saved on social sites.
  • Turn off notifications. You can’t help but look at those notifications so change your habitual response by turning off all notifications.
  • Limit, don’t quit. Moderation is key to making changes stick. Try limiting your social media time to 10 minutes a day. Choose a time that works and set a timer if you need to. There’s no need to sever all ties with social media just keep it in its proper place.

Slow but Specific Changes

Lastly, go at change slowly (but specifically) and give yourself some grace. Change isn’t easy. You didn’t rack up those screen time stats overnight. You’ve come to rely on your phone for a lot of tasks as well as entertainment. So, there’s no need to approach this as a life overhaul, a digital detox, or take an everything or nothing approach. Nor is there a need to trumpet your social departure to your online communities. Just take a look at your reality and do what you need to do to take back your time and control that unruly third child once and for all. You’ve got this!

The post Has Your Phone Become Your Third Child? Ways to Get Screen Time Anxiety Under Control appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

Facebook Messenger to offer Unsend feature to delete sent messages

By Waqas

Facebook has made many efforts so far to refine its Messenger app. This year in May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg along with other executives of the social network admitted that the Facebook Messenger has to be refined since the current app contained many useless features while lacked critically important ones. Such as, its UI could […]

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Patched Facebook Vulnerability Could Have Exposed Private Information About You and Your Friends

In a previous blog we highlighted a vulnerability in Chrome that allowed bad actors to steal Facebook users’ personal information; and, while digging around for bugs, thought it prudent to see if there were any more loopholes that bad actors might be able to exploit.

What popped up was a bug that could have allowed other websites to extract private information about you and your contacts.

Having reported the vulnerability to Facebook under their responsible disclosure program in May 2018, we worked with the Facebook Security Team to mitigate regressions and ensure that the issue was thoroughly resolved.

Identifying the Threat

Throughout the research process for the Chrome piece, I browsed Facebook’s online search results, and in their HTML noticed that each result contained an iframe element — probably used for Facebook’s own internal tracking. Being pretty familiar with the unique cross-origin behavior of iframes, I came up with the following technique:

To start, let’s take a look at the Facebook search page, we have an endpoint that expects a GET request with a number of search parameters. The endpoint, like most search endpoints, is not cross-site request forgery (CSRF) protected, which normally allows users to share the search results page via a URL.

This is fine in most cases since no action is being made by the user, making this CSRF attack meaningless by itself. The thing is, iFrames, unlike most web elements, are exposed in part to cross-origin documents; combine that with the search CSRF issue and you have a real problem on your hands.

Check out the proof of concept here:

Attack Flow

For this attack to work we need to trick a Facebook user to open our malicious site and click anywhere on the site, (this can be any site we can run JavaScript on) allowing us to open a popup or a new tab to the Facebook search page, forcing the user to execute any search query we want.

Since the number of iframe elements on the page reflects the number of search results, we can simply count them by accessing the fb.frames.length property.

By manipulating Facebook’s graph search, it’s possible to craft search queries that reflect personal information about the user.

For example, by searching: “pages I like named `Imperva`” we force Facebook to return one result if the user liked the Imperva page or zero results if not:

Similar queries can be composed to extract data about the user’s friends. For example, by searching “my friends who like Imperva” I can check if the current user has any friends who like the Imperva Facebook page.

Other interesting examples of the kind of data it was possible to extract:

  • Check if the current Facebook users have friends from Israel: https://www.facebook.com/search/me/friends/108099562543414/home-residents/intersect
  • Check if the user has friends named “Ron”: https://www.facebook.com/search/str/ron/users-named/me/friends/intersect
  • Check if the user has taken photos in certain locations/countries: https://www.facebook.com/search/me/photos/108099562543414/photos-in/intersect
  • Check if the current user has Islamic friends: https://www.facebook.com/search/me/friends/109523995740640/users-religious-view/intersect
  • Check if the current user has Islamic friends who live in the UK: https://www.facebook.com/search/me/friends/109523995740640/users-religious-view/106078429431815/residents/present/intersect
  • Check if the current user wrote a post that contains a specific text: https://www.facebook.com/search/posts/?filters_rp_author=%7B%22name%22%3A%22author_me%22%2C%22args%22%3A%22%22%7D&q=cute%20puppies
  • Check if the current user’s friends wrote a post that contains a specific text: https://www.facebook.com/search/posts/?filters_rp_author=%7B%22name%22%3A%22author_friends%22%2C%22args%22%3A%22%22%7D&q=cute%20puppies

This process can be repeated without the need for new popups or tabs to be open since the attacker can control the location property of the Facebook window by running the following code:

This is especially dangerous for mobile users, since the open tab can easily get lost in the background, allowing the attacker to extract the results for multiple queries, while the user is watching a video or reading an article on the attacker’s site.

As a researcher, it was a privilege to have contributed to protecting the privacy of the Facebook user community, as we continuously do for our own Imperva community.

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You are not alone; social media giant Facebook is down

By Carolina

You are not alone; the social media giant Facebook is down in many countries around the world for almost a half an hour starting from 6 pm (UK time). In some cases, Facebook’s site and application both are suffering an outage. The reason for this outage is currently unknown and there has been no statement […]

This is a post from HackRead.com Read the original post: You are not alone; social media giant Facebook is down

What Parents Need to Know About Live-Stream Gaming Sites Like Twitch

Live-Stream GamingClash of Clans, Runescape, Fortnite, Counter Strike, Battlefield V, and Dota 2. While these titles may not mean much to those outside of the video gaming world, they are just a few of the wildly popular games thousands of players are live streaming to viewers worldwide this very minute. However, with all the endless hours of entertainment this cultural phenomenon offers tweens, teens, and even adults, it also comes with some risks attached.

The What

Each month more than 100,000 people log onto sites like Twitch and YouTube to watch gamers play. Streamers, also called twitchers, broadcast their gameplay live online while others watch and participate through a chat feature. Each gamer attracts an audience (a few dozen to hundreds of thousands daily) based on his or her skill level and the kind of commentary, and interaction with viewers they offer.

Reports state that video game streaming can attract more viewers than some of cable’s most popular televisions shows.

The Why

Ask any streamer (or viewer) why they do it, and many will tell you it’s to showcase and improve their skills and to be part of a community of people who are equally as passionate about gaming.

Live-Stream Gaming

Live streaming is also free and global so gamers from any country can connect in any language. You’ll find streamers playing games in Turkish, Russian, Spanish, and the list goes on. Many streamers have gone from amateurs to gaming celebrities with elaborate production and marketing of their Twitch or YouTube feeds.

Some streamers hold marathon streaming sessions, and multi-player competitions designed to benefit charities. Twitch is also appealing because it allows users to watch popular gaming conventions such as TwitchCon, E3, and Comic-Con. There are also live gaming talk shows and podcasts and a channel where users can watch people do everyday things like cook, create pieces or art or play music.

The Risks

Although Twitch’s community guidelines prohibit violent behavior, sexual content, bullying and harassment, after browsing through some of the  live games, many users don’t seem to take the guidelines seriously.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind if your kids frequent live streaming communities like Twitch.

  1. Bullying. Bullying happens on every social network in some form. Twitch is no different. In one study, over 13% of respondents said they felt personally attacked on Twitch, and more than 27% have witnessed racial or gender-based bullying in live streaming.Live-Stream Gaming
  2. Crude language. While there are streamers who put a big emphasis on keeping things clean, most Twitch streamers do not. Some streamers will put up a “mature content” warning before you click on their site. Both streamers and viewers can get harsh with language, conversations, and points of view.
  3. Violent games. Many of the games on Twitch are violent and intended for mature viewers. However, you can also find some more mild games such as Minecraft and Mario Brothers if your kids are younger. The best way to access a game’s violence is to sit and watch it with your child.
  4. Health risks. Sitting and playing video games for extended periods of time can affect players and viewers physical and emotional well-being. In the most extreme cases, gamers have died due to excessive gaming.
  5. Costs. Twitch is free to sign-up and watch games, but if you want the extras (no ads), it’s $8.99 a month. Viewers can also subscribe to individual gamers’ feed. Viewers can also purchase “bits” to cheer on their favorite players (kind of like badges), which can add up quickly.
  6. Stalking. Viewers have been known to stalk, harass, rob, and try to meet celebrity streamers. Recently, Twitch announced both private and public chat rooms to try to boost privacy among users.
  7. Live-Stream GamingSwatting. An increasingly popular practice called “swatting” involves reporting a fake emergency at the home of the victim in order to send a SWAT team to barge in on them. In some cases, swatter cases connected to Twitch have ended tragically.
  8. Wasted time. Marathon gaming sessions, skipping school to play or view games, and gaming through the night are common in Twitch communities. Twitch, like any other social network, needs parental attention and ground rules.
  9. Privacy. Spending a lot of time with people in an online “community” can result in a false sense of trust. Often kids will answer an innocent question in a live chat such as where they live or what school they go to. Leaking little bits of information over time allows a corrupt person to piece together a picture of your data.

An endnote: If your kids love Twitch or live stream gaming on YouTube or other sites, spend some time on those sites. Listen to the conversations your kids are having with others online. What’s the tone? Is there too much sarcasm or cruel “joking” going on? Put time limits on screen time and remember balance and monitoring is key to guiding healthy online habits.

 

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

 

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#CyberAware: Teaching Kids to Get Fierce About Protecting Their Identity

Identity ProtectionIt wasn’t Kiley’s fault, but that didn’t change the facts: The lending group denied her college loan due to poor credit, and she didn’t have a plan B. Shocked and numb, she began to dig a little deeper. She discovered that someone had racked up three hefty credit card bills using her Social Security Number (SSN) a few years earlier.

Her parents had a medical crisis and were unable to help with tuition, and Kiley’s scholarships didn’t cover the full tuition. With just months left before leaving to begin her freshman year at school, Kiley was forced to radically adjusted her plans. She enrolled in the community college near home and spent her freshman year learning more than she ever imagined about identity protection and theft.

The Toll: Financial & Emotional

Unfortunately, these horror stories of childhood identity theft are all too real. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, more than 1 million children were the victim of identity fraud in 2017, resulting in losses of $2.6 billion and more than $540 million in out-of-pocket costs to the families.

The financial numbers don’t begin to reflect the emotional cost victims of identity theft often feel. According to the 2017 Identity Theft Aftermath report released by the Identity Theft Resource Center, victims report feeling rage, severe distress, angry, frustrated, paranoid, vulnerable, fearful, and — in 7% of the cases — even suicidal.

Wanted: Your Child’s SSNIdentity Protection

Sadly, because of their clean credit history, cyber crooks love to target kids. Also, identity theft among kids often goes undiscovered for more extended periods of time. Thieves have been known to use a child’s identity to apply for government benefits, open bank or credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. Often, until the child grows up and applies for a car or student loan, the theft goes undetected.

Where do hackers get the SSN’s? Data breaches can occur at schools, pediatrician offices, banks, and home robberies. A growing area of concern involves medical identity theft, which gives thieves the ability to access prescription drugs and even expensive medical treatments using someone else’s identity.

6 Ways to Build #CyberAware Kids

  1. Talk, act, repeat. Identity theft isn’t a big deal until it personally affects you or your family only, then, it’s too late. Discuss identity theft with your kids and the fallout. But don’t just talk — put protections in place. Remind your child (again) to keep personal information private. (Yes, this habit includes keeping passwords and personal data private even from BFFs!)
  2.  Encourage kids to be digitally savvy. Help your child understand the tricks hackers play to steal the identities of innocent people. Identity thieves will befriend children online and with the goal of gathering personal that information to steal their identity. Thieves are skilled at trolling social networks looking at user profiles for birth dates, addresses, and names of family members to piece together the identity puzzle. Challenge your kids to be on the hunt for imposters and catfishes. Teach them to be suspicious about links, emails, texts, pop up screens, and direct messages from “cute” but unknown peers on their social media accounts. Teach them to go with their instincts and examine websites, social accounts, and special shopping offers.Identity Protection
  3. Get fierce about data protection. Don’t be quick to share your child’s SSN or secondary information such as date of birth, address, and mothers’ maiden name and teach your kids to do the same. Also, never carry your child’s (or your) physical Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a safe place, preferably under lock and key. Only share your child’s data when necessary (school registration, passport application, education savings plan, etc.) and only with trusted individuals.
  4. File a proactive fraud alert. By submitting a fraud alert in your child’s name with the credit bureaus several times a year, you will be able to catch any credit fraud early. Since your child hasn’t built any credit, anything that comes back will be illegal activity. The fraud alert will remain in place for only 90 days. When the time runs out, you’ll need to reactivate the alert. You can achieve the same thing by filing an earnings report from the Social Security Administration. The report will reveal any earnings acquired under your child’s social security number.
  5. Know the warning signs. If a someone is using your child’s data, you may notice: 1) Pre-approved credit card offers addressed to them arriving via mail 2) Collection agencies calling and asking to speak to your child 3) Court notices regarding delinquent bills. If any of these things happen your first step is to call and freeze their credit with the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  6. Report theft. If you find a violation of your child’s credit of any kind go to  IdentityTheft.gov to report the crime and begin the restoring your child’s credit. This site is easy to navigate and takes you step-by-step down the path of restoring stolen credit.

Building digitally resilient kids is one of the primary tasks of parents today. Part of that resilience is taking the time to talk about this new, digital frontier that is powerful but has a lot of security cracks in it that can negatively impact your family. Getting fierce about identity protection can save your child (and you) hours and even years of heartache and financial loss.

 

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

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5 Reasons Why Strong Digital Parenting Matters More than Ever

digital parentingAs a parent raising kids in a digital culture, it’s easy to feel at times as if you have a tiger by the tail and that technology is leading your family rather than the other way around.

But that familiar feeling — the feeling of being overwhelmed, outsmarted, and always a step or two behind the tech curve — is just a feeling, it’s not a fact.

Digital Parenting Matters

The fact is, you are the parent. That is a position of authority, honor, and privilege in your child’s life. No other person (device, app, or friend group) can take your place. No other voice is more influential or audible in your child’s mind and heart than yours.

It’s true that technology has added several critical skills to our parenting job description. It’s true that screens have become an integral part of daily life and that digital conversation can now shape our child’s self-image and perspective of his or her place in the world. All of this digital dominance has made issues such as mental health, anxiety, and cyberbullying significant concerns for parents.digital parenting

What’s also true is that we still have a lot of control over our kids’ screen time and the role technology plays in our families. Whether we choose to exercise that influence, is up to us but the choice remains ours.

Here are just a few reasons why strong digital parenting matters more than ever. And, some practical tools to help you take back any of the influence you feel you may have lost in your child’s life.

5 Digital Skills to Teach to Your Kids

Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience building is the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress. Resilience isn’t something you are born with. Kids become resilient over time and more so with an intentional parent. Being subject to the digital spotlight each day is a road no child should have to walk alone. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids about resilience building. Digital Parenting Skills: Helping kids understand concepts like conflict-management, self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making, is one of the most critical areas of parenting today. Start the conversations, highlight examples of resilience in everyday life, model resilence, and keep this critical conversation going.

Empathy

digital parentingEmpathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Unfortunately, in the online space, empathy isn’t always abundant, so it’s up to parents to introduce, model, and teach this character trait. Digital Parenting Skills: According to Dr. Michele Borba, author of #UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, there are 9 empathy-building habits parents can nurture in their kids including Emotional Literacy, Moral Identity, Perspective Taking, Moral Imagination, Self Regulation, Practicing Kindness, Collaboration, Moral Courage, and Altruistic Leadership Abilities.

Life Balance

Screentime is on the rise, and there’s no indication that trend is going to change. If we want kids that know the value of building an emotionally and physically healthy life, then teaching (and modeling) balance is imperative today. Digital Parenting Skills: Model screentime balance in your life. Be proactive in planning device-free activities for the whole family, and use software that will help you establish time limits on all devices. You might be surprised how just a few small shifts in your family’s tech balance can influence the entire vibe of your home.

Reputation Management

digital parenting

Most kids work reasonably hard to curate and present a specific image on their social profiles to impress their peers. Few recognize that within just a few years, colleges and employers will also be paying attention to those profiles. One study shows that 70% of employers use search engines and social media to screen candidates. Your child’s digital footprint includes everything he or she says or does online. A digital footprint includes everything from posts to casual “likes,” silly photos, and comments. Digital Parenting Skills: Know where your kids go online. Monitor their online conversations (without commenting publically). Don’t apologize for demanding they take down inappropriate or insensitive photos, comments, or retweets. The most important part of monitoring is explaining why the post has to come down. Simply saying “because I said so,” or “that’s crude,” isn’t enough. Take the time to discuss the reasons behind the rules.

Security and Safetydigital parenting

It’s human nature: Most us aren’t proactive. We don’t get security systems for our homes or cars until a break-in occurs to us or a close friend. Often, we don’t act until it gets personal. The same is true for taking specific steps to guard our digital lives. Digital Parenting Skills: Talk to your kids about online risks including scams, viruses and malware, identity fraud, predators, and catfishing. Go one step further and teach them about specific tools that will help keep them safe online. The fundamentals of digital safety are similar to teaching kids habits such as locking the doors, wearing a seatbelt or avoiding dangerous neighborhoods.

Your kids may be getting older and may even shrug off your advice and guidance more than they used to but don’t be fooled, parents. Kids need aware, digitally savvy parents more than ever to navigate and stay safe — both emotionally and physically — in the online arena. Press into those hard conversations and be consistent in your digital parenting to protect the things that truly matter.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

 

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

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Fortnite: Why Kids Love It and What Parents Need to Know

Fortnite: Battle Royale

 

Fortnite: Battle Royale is the hottest video game for kids right now. More than 125 million people have downloaded the game and it’s estimated that 3.4 million play it monthly. But while the last-man-standing battle game is a blast to play, it also has parents asking a lot of questions as their kids spend more and more time immersed in the Fortnite realm.

Why kids love it

A few hours on Fortnite and you can easily see why kids (and adults) love it. The game drops up to 100 players onto an island, where they try to find weapons to defend themselves and try to eliminate other players. The battlefield gradually shrinks, forcing players into encounters with each other until just one player remains and becomes the winner.

Even though it’s a battle, the Fortnite characters and interface are colorful and cartoon-like and there’s no blood or gore. The game itself possesses an inherent sense of humor and personality that’s lighthearted yet still competitive. The app is free to download, but players can outfit their characters (for purchase) in an array of battle fashions and any number of fun dances.

Ultimate gaming mash-up

Fortnite: Battle Royale

One reason kids love Fortnite: Battle Royale is that it’s the perfect survival mash-up of several popular media titles: The Hunger Games movie, Call of Duty video game, the first Fortnite (Fortnite: Save the World) video game, and the game PUBG (PlayerUnknownBattlegrounds). Fortnite: Battle Royale takes elements from all of these favorite storylines and game interfaces.

The game has a lot of fun attached for sure. Fortnite’s interface and hilarious character moves can be just as much fun to watch as it is to play. However, as with any other wildly popular, multi-player video game, there are some red flags families need to be aware of.

Fortnite: What to look out for

Excessive screen time. Because of the way Fortnite is structured, kids can easily burn through hours a day if left unmonitored. Some parents have reported their kids becoming Fortnite obsessed, even addictedSuggestion: Pay attention to the amount of time your kids spend playing. If your child is playing on Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch, you can turn on parental controls to limit gaming sessions. Another option, for PC, tablets, and mobile devices, is monitoring software that allows parents to set time limits for apps and websites.Fortnite: Battle Royale

Chat feature. Fortnite is a multi-player game, which means kids play against other gamers they may not know. So, Fortnite’s chat feature carries some potential safety issues such as foul language, potentially befriending an imposter, and cyberbullying. Suggestion: Talk to your child about this aspect of the game and the dangers. Spend time and sit in on a few games and listen to the banter. Then, make the best decision for your family. To turn chat off, open the Settings Menu in the top right of the main Fortnite page, go to the Audio Tab and turn it off.

In-app purchases. Fortnite is free to download but can get expensive quickly. Kids can use virtual currency (purchased via credit card) to access animations, weapons, and outfits for their characters. These items aren’t needed to win the game, but they allow a player to express his or her personality within the game, which is especially important to kids. Some parents have reported finding hundreds of dollars in unauthorized purchases on their credit cards due to Fortnite’s array of in-app purchases. Suggestion: If you know your child is passionate about Fortnite, take away the spending temptation by blocking his or her ability to make in-app purchases. Or, set a weekly limit on purchases.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Increased anxiety/stress levels. Fortnite’s game structure is a highly-competitive, fast-moving game that renders only one winner. This means, as a solo player, the odds are stacked against you. Play Fortnite enough, and lose enough, and rage can surface. If your child is prone to anxiety or stress, Fortnite may not be the best environment. Suggestion: Monitor your child’s mood. Discuss the emotional highs and lows potentially associated with Fortnite and put some healthy parameters — that address both the types of content and time limits — around gaming habits.

Unsure about allowing your kids to play (or continue playing) Fortnite? Talk to them about it. Join in or watch your child play. Find out what your child loves about the game and if his or her demeanor changes during or after playing. Monitor the amount of time as well. Once you’ve gathered the facts as they pertain to your child, decide how much (or how little) of the Fortnite world is best for your family.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

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

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Could the Photos You’re Sharing Online Be Putting Your Child at Risk?

sharing photos risksConfession time. I’m a mom that is part of the problem. The problem of posting photos of my kids online without asking for their permission and knowing deep down that I’m so excited about sharing, I’m not paying much attention at all to the risks.

Why do I do it? Because I’m madly in love with my two wee ones (who aren’t so wee anymore). Because I’m a proud parent who wants to celebrate their milestones in a way that feels meaningful in our digital world. And, if I’m honest, I think posting pictures of my kids publically helps fill up their love tank and remind them they are cherished and that they matter. . . even if the way I’m communicating happens to be very public.

Am I that different than most parents? According to a recent McAfee survey, I’m in the majority.

Theoretically, I represent one of the 1,000 interviewed for McAfee’s recent Age of Consent survey* that rendered some interesting results.

Can you relate?

  • 30% of parents post a photo of their child to social media daily.
  • 58% of parents do not ask for permission from their children before posting images of them on social media.
  • 22% think that their child is too young to provide permission; 19% claim that it’s their own choice, not their child’s choice.

The surprising part:

  • 71% of parents who share images of their kids online agree that the images could end up in the wrong hands.
  • Parents’ biggest concerns with sharing photos online include pedophilia (49%), stalking (48%), and kidnapping (45%).
  • Other risks of sharing photos online may also be other children seeing the image and engaging in cyberbullying (31%), their child feeling embarrassed (30%), and their child feeling worried or anxious (23%).

If this mere sampling of 1,000 parents (myself included) represents the sharing attitudes of even a fraction of the people who use Facebook (estimated to be one billion globally), then rethinking the way in which we share photos isn’t a bad idea.

We know that asking parents, grandparents, friends, and kids themselves to stop uploading photos altogether would be about as practical as asking the entire state of Texas to line up and do the hokey pokey. It’s not going to happen, nor does it have to.

But we can dilute the risks of photo sharing. Together, we can agree to post smarter, to pause a little longer. We can look out for one another’s privacy, and share in ways that keep us all safe.

Ways to help minimize photo sharing risks:

  • Pause before uploading. That photo of your child is awesome but have you stopped to analyze it? Ask yourself: Is there anything in this photo that could be used as an identifier? Have I inadvertently given away personal information such as a birthdate, a visible home addresses, a school uniform, financial details, or potential passwords? Is the photo I’m about to upload something I’d be okay with a stranger seeing? sharing photos risks
  • Review your privacy settings. It’s easy to forget that when we upload a photo, we lose complete control over who will see, modify, and share that photo again (anywhere they choose and in any way they choose). You can minimize the scope of your audience to only trusted friends and family by customizing your privacy settings within each social network.  Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have privacy settings that allow you to share posts (and account access) with select people. Use the controls available to boost your family privacy.
  • Voice your sharing preferences with others. While it may be awkward, it’s okay (even admirable) to request friends and family to reign in or refrain from posting photos of your children online. This rule also applies to other people’s public comments about your vacation plans, new house, children’s names or birthdates, or any other content that gives away too much data. Don’t hesitate to promptly delete those comments by others and explain yourself in a private message if necessary.
  • Turn off geotagging on photos. Did you know that the photo you upload has metadata assigned to it that can tell others your exact location? That’s right. Many social networks will tag a user’s location when that user uploads a photo. To make sure this doesn’t happen, simply turn off geotagging abilities on your phone. This precaution is particularly important when posting photos away from home.
  • Be mindful of identity theft. Identity theft is no joke. Photos can reveal a lot about your lifestyle, your habits, and they can unintentionally give away your data. Consider using an identity theft protection solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection that can help protect your identity and safeguard your personal information.

* McAfee commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 1,000 parents of children ages one month to 16 years old in the U.S.

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Family Tech: How Safe is Your Child’s Personal Data at School?

Kids and Personal DataRight about now, most kids are thinking about their chemistry homework, the next pep rally, or chiming in on their group text. The last thing on their minds as they head back to school is cybersecurity. But, it’s the one thing — if ignored — that can wreck the excitement of a brand new school year.

You’ve done a great job, parent. You’ve equipped their phones, tablets, and laptops with security software. And, you’ve beefed up safeguards on devices throughout your home. These efforts go a long way in protecting your child’s (and family’s) privacy from prying eyes. Unfortunately, when your child walks out your front door and into his or her school, new risks await.

No one knows this season better than a cybercriminal. Crooks know there are loopholes in just about every school’s network and that kids can be easy targets online. These security gaps can open kids up to phishing scams, privacy breaches, malware attacks, and device theft.

The school security conversation

Be that parent. Inquire about your school’s security protocols.  The K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center reports that 358 school breaches have taken place since January of 2016.  Other reports point to an increase in hackers targeting school staff with phishing emails and seeking student social security numbers to sell on the dark web.

A few questions to consider:Kids and Personal Data

  • Who has physical and remote access to your student’s digital records and what are the school’s protection practices and procedures?
  • How are staff members trained and are strong password protocols in place?
  • What security exists on school-issued devices? What apps/software is are being used and how will those apps collect and use student data?
  • What are the school’s data collection practices? Do data collection practices include encryption, secure data retention, and lawful data sharing policies?
  • What is the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy?

The data debate

As K-12 administrators strive to maintain secure data collection practices for students, those same principles may be dubious as kids move on to college. As reported by Digiday, one retailer may be quietly disassembling privacy best practices with a bold “pay with data” business model. The Japanese coffee chain Shiru Café offers students and faculty members of Brown University free coffee in exchange for entering personal data into an online registry. Surprisingly, the café attracts some 800 customers a day and is planning on expanding its business model to more college campuses.

The family conversation

Keep devices close. Kids break, lose, lend, and leave their tech unattended and open to theft. Discuss responsible tech ownership with your kids. Stolen devices are privacy gold mines.

Never share passwords. Kids express their loyalty to one another in different ways. One way that’s proving popular but especially unsafe nowadays is password sharing. Remind kids: It’s never okay to share passwords to devices, social networks, or school platforms. Never. Password sharing opens up your child to a number of digital risks.

Safe clicking, browsing practices. Remind kids when browsing online to watch out for phishing emails, fake news stories, streaming media sites, and pop-ups offering free downloads. A bad link can infect a computer with a virus, malware, spyware, or ransomware. Safe browsing also includes checking for “https” in the URL of websites. If the website only loads with an “http,” the website may not be enforcing encryption.Kids and Personal Data

Be more of a mystery. Here is a concept your kids may or may not latch on to but challenge them to keep more of their everyday life a mystery by posting less. This includes turning off location services and trying to keep your whereabouts private when sharing online. This challenge may be fun for your child or downright impossible, but every step toward boosting privacy is progress!

Discuss the risk of public Wi-Fi. Kids are quick to jump on Wi-Fi wherever they go so they can use apps without depleting the family data plan. That habit poses a big problem. Public Wi-Fi is a magnet for hackers trying to get into your device and steal personal information. Make sure every network your child logs on to requires a password to connect. Go a step further and consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security for your whole family.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online, and follow @McAfee_Family on Twitter. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

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

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Snapstreaks: Why Kids Keep them Going and What Parents Need to Know

People who use the popular social networking app Snapchat, understand what happens after three consecutive days of messaging the same person. A little flame automatically shows up next to that person’s name signaling that a Snapstreak is officially on. And, keeping that streak alive, is a bigger deal than you might guess.

From that day forward, the Snapstreak continues unless one person fails to respond within the allotted 24-hour window. Slowly but surely, Snapstreaks have become a way of measuring the quality of a friendship for teens.

Streak = Commitment

The longer two users go without breaking the streak — and some streaks can go on for years — the stronger the relationship is perceived to be. Since other users can see how many streaks you have going, displaying Snapstreaks has also become a popularity metric. And, if the streak is broken (either intentionally or unintentionally) well, that speaks volumes as well.

One 18-year-old recently shared with me, “I broke up with my boyfriend but we kept up our streak for a few more weeks. But, once he broke the streak, I knew it was officially over. That day was so sad.” Their streak lasted 457 days. She added: “It can really hurt when a streak ends. Some of my friends get offended if I break a streak and others don’t care as much. It all depends on the person.”

To keep a streak going, a user simply sends or returns a photo (also called a snap). Sometimes it has a short message typed across it, other times, it’s just a picture of the ceiling, a plant, or a light — a random snap to ensure the streak isn’t broken that day.

This particular teen admits that she gets up early or stays up late to make sure she doesn’t break her streaks. “My parents took my phone away one time, and I gave my friend my login to my Snapchat so she could keep up my streaks,” she says. “I was panicked about losing them all because I couldn’t get to my phone for two days while I was grounded.”

Time Investment

So how much time does Snapstreaking take? “I have to spend at least 10 minutes a day keeping up about 45 streaks,” the teen said. “It can be a hassle.”

When I told her that amounted to 70 minutes a week and nearly 2.5 days a year spent maintaining her Snapstreaks, she paused. “Wow. That’s crazy. But I seriously don’t think I can give up my streaks.”

The flip side of Snapstreaks is this: Starting a streak with someone can result in a new friendship. Snapstreaks can give kids a way to keep in touch with multiple people and strengthen their social connections.

The Snapstreak feature, designed to keep people in the app for more extended periods of time, runs contrary to recent app changes by Facebook and Instagram focused on time management. Both apps recently introduced time tracking features to help users be mindful of how much time they spend on the apps.

If your child loves Snapchat, you can assume, he or she has several if not dozens of Snapstreaks going. To make sure steaks don’t get out of control, here are a few family talking points.

Family Talking Points

Respect their culture. While streaks may seem like a silly use of time to an adult, Snapstreaks are a social dynamic many teens value. Streaks may help kids feel included, accepted, and connected to their peers. So if you suspect your child’s Snapchat use is unbalanced, bring up the topic with understanding and respect for the way their digital communities work. Listen to their reasoning before you hand out new rules.

Privacy reminder. Kids may share login information with friends to maintain their Snapstreaks. Remind your kids not to share their passwords with anyone — even best friends. It’s a bad habit to start and can put your child’s privacy at risk.

Discuss the ROI of streaks. Ask questions to spark a conversation regarding streaks. Ask questions about the importance of face-to-face time with friends and what makes a quality relationship. Do the Snapstreak math so your child can see how much time he or she is investing in maintaining their streaks versus the return they get on that time investment (ROI).

Consider a device curfew. Kids are increasingly losing sleep because they take their devices to bed with them. Setting a device curfew will take effort and consistency on your part because kids will rarely hand over their device each night. This rule may not reduce Snapstreaks, but it will immediately allow your child to start banking more sleep and help limit their screen time.

toni page birdsong

 

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

 

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College Bound? 7 Important Technology Habits for Students

You’ve loved, shaped, and equipped your child to succeed in college and move in day is finally here.  But there’s still one variable that can turn your child’s freshman year upside down, and that’s technology.

That’s right, that essential laptop and indispensable smartphone your child owns could also prove to be his or her biggest headache if not secured and used responsibly. College students can be targets of identity theft, malware, online scams, credit card fraud, property theft, and internet addiction.

The other part of this new equation? You, parent, are no longer in the picture. Your child is now 100% on his or her own. Equipping time is over. Weekly tech monitoring and family chats are in the rearview mirror. Will they succeed? Of course, they will. But one last parenting chat on safety sure can’t hurt. Here are a couple of reminders to share with your college-bound kids.

7  Technology Habits for Students

1. Minimize use of public computers. Campuses rely on shared computers. Because campus networks aren’t always secure, this can open you up to identity theft. If you have to log on to a public computer be it a cafe, library, or lab, be sure to change any passwords each time you return. If you are working with a study group, don’t share passwords. Public devices can be prone to hackers seeking to steal login credentials and credit card numbers. If you do use public devices, get in the habit of browsing in the privacy mode. Clear browser history, cookies, and quit all applications before logging off.

2. Beware when shopping online. Online shopping is often the easiest way for students to purchase essentials. Be sure to use a secure internet connection when hitting that “purchase” button. Reputable sites encrypt data during transactions by using SSL technologies. Look for the tiny padlock icon in the address bar or a URL that begins with “https” (the “s” stands for secure) instead of “http.” Examine the site and look for misspellings, inconsistencies. Go with your instincts if you think a website is bogus, don’t risk the purchase. Online credit card fraud is on the rise, so beware.

3. Guard your privacy. College is a tough place to learn that not all people are trustworthy — even those who appear to be friends. Sadly, many kids learn about online theft the hard way. Never share passwords, credit card numbers, or student ID numbers. Be aware of shoulder surfing which is when someone peers over your shoulder to see what’s on your computer screen. Avoid leaving computer screens open in dorm rooms or libraries where anyone can check your browsing history, use an open screen, or access financial information. Also, never lend your laptop or tablet to someone else since it houses personal information and make sure that all of your screens are password protected.

4.  Beware of campus crooks. Thieves troll college campuses looking for opportunities to steal smartphones, laptops, wearables, and tablets for personal use or resale. Don’t carry your tech around uncased or leave it unguarded. Conceal it in a backpack. Even if you feel comfortable in your new community, don’t leave your phone even for a few seconds to pick up your food or coffee at a nearby counter. If you are in the library or study lab and need a bathroom break, take your laptop with you. Thieves are swift, and you don’t want to lose a semester’s worth of work in a matter of seconds.

5. Use public Wi-Fi with caution. Everyone loves to meet at the coffee shop for study sessions — and that includes hackers. Yes, it’s convenient, but use public Wi-Fi with care. Consider using VPN software, which creates a secure private network and blocks people from accessing your laptop or activity. To protect yourself, be sure to change your passwords often. This is easy if you use a free password manager like True Key.

6. Social media = productivity killer. Be aware of your online time. Mindless surfing, internet games, and excessive video gaming with roommates can have an adverse effect on your grades as well as your mental health.  Use online website blockers to help protect your study time.

7. Social media = career killer. We can all agree: College is a blast. However, keep the party photos and inappropriate captions offline. Your career will thank you. Remember: Most everything you do today is being captured or recorded – even if you’re not the one with the camera. The internet is forever, and a long-forgotten photo can make it’s way back around when you least expect it.

8. Don’t get too comfortable too fast. Until you understand who you can trust in your new community, consider locking your social media accounts. Disable GPS on mobile apps for security, don’t share home and dorm addresses, email, or phone numbers. While it may be the farthest thing from your mind right now — campus stalking case are real.

toni page birdsong

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

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Access Denied! New Instagram Hack Kicks Users Out of Their Accounts

Instagram is undoubtedly one of, if not the most popular social media platform among users today. Everyone from celebrities to young teens use it to post images of their day-to-day lives. And now, according to Mashable, hundreds of these users have reported having their Instagram accounts hacked. The attack logs them out of their account and changes their personal details on the platform.

This hack started popping up in early August when users began to report all the same issues with their account — they’re suddenly logged out, their handles and profile pictures are changed (usually to a Disney or Pixar character), and their bios are deleted. When these social media fans try to reset their password, they find that the account has been linked to a new email address with a Russian domain and a random phone number has been associated with the account.

This makes it particularly difficult for users to gain control over their accounts, as Instagram’s support messages now go to the new email address. However, beyond locking these people out of their accounts, the hackers haven’t done any other damage, such as deleting old photos or posting any new ones.

From tweeting at Instagram’s official Twitter account to just starting a brand-new account – these unlucky Instagram users are now taking whatever next steps they can to get back on their favorite social media platform. However, there’s still more to be done. To ensure both their online social media activity and personal information remain secure from this attack, these users should follow these security tips:

  • Enable two-factor authentication. Though it’s not known yet how these hackers were able to get inside of these accounts, make note you can always add some extra armor on your online accounts by enabling two-factor authentication. Now, two-factor authentication cannot be treated as the be-all and end-all when it comes to your online security, but it does help. Just by adding the extra layer of security, you’ll put yourself in a better position to avoid attacks such as this one.
  • Change up your login information to other accounts. Some people have a bad habit of using the same password and email combination across multiple accounts. If this is the case for the account login information you use for Instagram, it’s best to go ahead and mix up the login information on any other account that uses either the same email or password.
  • Make your passwords strong. When you’re making your new passwords, make sure they’re strong and difficult to guess in the chance cybercriminals try to come after additional accounts. Include numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and symbols. The more complex your password is, the more difficult it will be to crack. Finally, avoid common and easy to crack passwords like “12345” or “password.”

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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Tech Talk: Ways to Help Your Child Conquer Back-To-School Fears

Tech and back-to-school fears

The first-day-of-school jitters nearly did me in as a kid. Our military family moved ten times, so I got used to the stomach aches and stares that came with every new school.

I can’t imagine making those big moves as a kid in today’s digital culture.  The cliques are far more visible. The fails are far more public and weaknesses, far more exploited.

This digital layer of scrutiny and exposure sends my admiration and respect for kids today to heroic levels.

Tech and Anxiety

Reports of tech-related anxiety* and depression in kids on the rise, which can put a whole layer of angst on first-day jitters. And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to ease that stress, helping your child manage his or her technology can help diminish it.

Tips to Help Ease Stress

1. Unplug more. Discuss the power and emotional pull of the smartphone and how it can escalate the stress of starting school. Remind kids that the edited, seemingly perfect version of life people post on social media doesn’t represent reality and that constant comparison can be harmful.

While we recommend families establish a phone curfew every night for health reasons, it’s especially crucial in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Other simple ways to ease stress this school year: Turn off all push notifications during school hours and use parental control apps to help with time limits and safety. Tech and back-to-school fears

2. Make time to talk. Ask your child what concerns him or her most about starting school. Then, just listen. Acknowledge your child’s fears and try to relate or find common ground. Let your child know that worry is normal, it can help protect us, and everyone experiences it from time to time. Some of the stresses they might share: Finding friends and fitting in, who they will sit with at lunchtime, having the right clothes or fashion sense, being able to find their classes, opening the combinations on their lockers, sports or music auditions, body image and appearance, school work challenges, and more.

3. Visualize the first day. Help your child map out his or her classes. Based on your child’s feedback, talk through possible awkward or stressful situations that might come up to help build his or her confidence and reduce worry. Often just getting a fear from your brain to your lips can strip power from fear. Brainstorm one-liners your kids might use to introduce themselves to new people or positive responses that might deflect a negative comment.

4. Practice the present. Anxiety* can be triggered when we live more of life in the future — imagining the what-ifs — than living in the right now. Who hasn’t imagined tripping in the lunchroom or falling down the stairs? A few simple tips: Teach kids to practice deep breathing, to challenge their negative thoughts, and to talk/think about life in the present tense.Tech and back-to-school fears

5. Encourage. Without going over the top (because kids can smell inflated praise), remind your child of his or her strengths. Fear creates a wall that blocks our view of past accomplishments. Provide that recollection for your child. Give truthful reminders of your child’s strengths, talents, and unique qualities.

6. Help kids with balance on and offline. A new school year represents a clean slate. There’s no need to bring bad habits along. So make the changes you’ve always intended to make. Set time limits on technology and stick to them. Help your kids prioritize face-to-face time with peers. Know what’s going on in your child’s online life and make sure his or her digital community isn’t unraveling your parenting goals. Pay close attention to new friends and your child’s demeanor on a daily basis.

* It’s important to note that while the word “anxiety” is commonly used, the American Acadamy of Pediatrics says that 8% of kids are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. If your child’s stress level becomes serious, please seek professional help.

 

toni page birdsongToni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Too Much Tech: 4 Steps to Get Your Child to Chill on Excessive Snapchatting

We were in the midst of what I believed to be an important conversation.

“Just a sec mom,” she said promptly after a Snapchat notification popped up on her iPhone.

She stopped me mid-sentence, puckered her lips, rolled her eyes, typed a few lines of copy, and within three seconds, my teenage daughter Snapchatted a few dozen friends.

“Sorry, mom, what were you saying?” she turned back toward me her face void of any trace of remorse.

It was clear: Snapchat had far more influence than I, the parent, and it was time to make some serious changes.

Imbalance of Power

It’s obvious the power apps hold over our lives. In fact, in an attempt to encourage responsible app use, Facebook and Instagram recently announced it would implement tools allowing users to track how much time they spend on the apps. This mom is hoping Snapchat will follow suit.

Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has become one of the most popular apps with an estimated 187 daily active users. A 2017 study released by Science Daily found that 75% of teens use Snapchat. But it’s not the only app winning our kids affections:

  • 76 percent of American teens age 13-17 use Instagram.
  • 75 percent of teens use Snapchat.
  • 66 percent of teens use Facebook.
  • 47 percent of teens use Twitter.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of American teens use Tumblr, Twitch, or LinkedIn.

If you have a teen, you understand the dilemma. We know that social ties are essential to a teen’s psychological well-being. We also know that excessive time online can erode self-esteem and cause depression. We can’t just yank our child’s favorite app, but we also can’t let it run in the background of our lives 24/7, right?

What we can do is take some intentional steps to help kids understand their responsibility to use apps in healthy, resilient ways. In our house, taking that step meant addressing — and taming — the elephant in the room: Snapchat. Here are a few things that worked for us you may find helpful.

4 Steps to Help Curb Excessive Snapchatting

  1. Strive for quality relationships. With so much more information available on the downside of excessive social media use, it’s time to be candid with our kids. Excessive “liking,” carefully-curated photos, and disingenuous interactions online are not meaningful interactions. Stress to kids that nothing compares to genuine, face-to-face relationships with others.
  2. Zero phone zones. This is a rule we established after one too many snaps hijacked our family time. We agreed that when in the company of others — be it at home, in the car, in a restaurant, at church, at a relative’s house — all digital devices get turned facedown or put in a pocket. By doing this, we immediately increased opportunities for personal connection and decreased opportunities for distraction. This simple but proven strategy has cut my daughter’s Snapchat time considerably.
  3. Establish a Snapchat curfew. Given the opportunity, teens will Snapchat until the sun comes up. Don’t believe me? Ask them. If not for the body’s physical need for sleep, they’d happily Snapchat through the night. Consider a curfew for devices. This rule will immediately begin to wean your child’s need to Snapchat around the clock.
  4. Track Snapchat time. Investing in software such as McAfee® Safe Family is an option when trying to strike a healthy tech balance. The software will help with time limits, website filtering, and app blocking. There is also helpful time tracking apps. For the iPhone, there’s Moment, and for Android, there’s Breakfree. Both apps will track how much time you spend on your phone. Seeing this number — in hours — can be a real eye-opener for both adults and kids.

    toni page birdsongToni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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5 Tips for Managing Your Digital Footprint and Online Reputation

Did you know that what you do online could determine your future? That’s because employers and universities often look at your “digital footprint” when deciding whether to give you an opportunity, or not.

Your digital footprint includes everything you say and do online, including casual “likes”, fun photos, and comments, as well as the information you intentionally post to promote yourself, such as online resumes and professional profiles. This is why you should take some time to manage your online reputation.

A recent study by CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers use search engines and social media to screen candidates. What’s more, 54% of employers surveyed said that they reconsidered candidates after getting a bad impression of them online.

This situation should be especially concerning for younger adults who are entering the job market for the first time, after years of carefree posting.

And if you think that once you have a job you can forget about looking after your digital footprint, think again. Employers also said that they check employees’ online presence when considering promotions.

Even colleges and universities rely on social media checks to get a better sense of applicants, according to a recent survey of admissions officers.

Of course, having a negative online presence is one problem, but having no presence at all is an even bigger red flag, so don’t start deleting profiles and accounts, or making everything “private”.

Over half of employers surveyed said that they are less likely to interview a candidate with no visible presence online. In this age, everyone is expected to have a digital footprint—it’s what that footprint says about you that matters the most.

So, how do you make sure that your digital footprint gives a good impression of you?

Here are some important tips:

  • Start Online Awareness Early—It’s easier to build a positive digital footprint from a young age, than to clean up a questionable presence later on. (When you consider that many kids get a smartphone at the age of 10, editing 8 years of online activity before college could be a real chore!) Talk to your kids about the importance of giving a positive impression online before they engage. When you do decide to let your kids connect, make sure to use parental controls that limit the kinds of content they can access, and protects them from online threats.
  • Be cautious about over-sharing—Yes, social media was made for sharing, but try to avoid venting online or engaging in heated arguments. If you have a problem with someone, talk it out offline.
  • Turn off tagging—Just because you’re paying attention to your online reputation, doesn’t mean your friends are. Being “tagged” in photos or videos you didn’t post could leave you open to the wrong impressions. That’s why it’s best to turn off tagging in your social media settings.
  • Keep positive content public—If you have a great online presence, sharing your accomplishments and skills, make sure to make the posts public. This goes for your social channels, as well as your professional profiles.
  • Be yourself, but speak clearly and respectfully—Show your unique personality and creativity, since people respond to genuineness But remember to be articulate in the process. Check posts for spelling or grammar errors before you hit “send”, and avoid offensive language. When commenting on other people’s posts, do it respectfully.

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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Family Matters: How to Help Kids Avoid Cyberbullies this Summer

The summer months can be tough on kids. There’s more time during the day and much of that extra time gets spent online scrolling, surfing, liking, and snap chatting with peers. Unfortunately, with more time, comes more opportunity for interactions between peers to become strained even to the point of bullying.

Can parents stop their kids from being cyberbullying completely? Not likely. However, if our sensors are up, we may be able to help our kids minimize both conflicts online and instances of cyberbullying should they arise.

Be Aware

Summer can be a time when a child’s more prone to feelings of exclusion and depression relative to the amount of time he or she spends online. Watching friends take trips together, go to parties, hang out at the pool, can be a lot on a child’s emotions. As much as you can, try to stay aware of your child’s demeanor and attitude over the summer months. If you need help balancing their online time, you’ve come to the right place.

Steer Clear of Summer Cyberbullies 

  1. Avoid risky apps. Apps like ask.fm that allow outsiders to ask a user any question anonymously should be off limits to kids. Kik Messenger and Yik Yak are also risky apps. Users have a degree of anonymity with these kinds of apps because they have usernames instead of real names and they can easily connect with profiles that could be (and often are) fake. Officials have linked all of these apps to multiple cyberbullying and even suicide cases.
  2. Monitor gaming communities. Gaming time can skyrocket during the summer and in a competitive environment, so can cyberbullying. Listen in on the tone of the conversations, the language, and keep tabs on your child’s demeanor. For your child’s physical and emotional health, make every effort to help him or her balance summer gaming time.
  3. Make profiles and photos private. By refusing to use privacy settings (and some kids do resist), a child’s profile is open to anyone and everyone, which increases the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated. Require kids under 18 to make all social profiles private. By doing this, you limit online circles to known friends and reduces the possibility of cyberbullying.
  4. Don’t ask peers for a “rank” or a “like.” The online culture for teens is very different than that of adults. Kids will be straightforward in asking people to “like” or “rank” a photo of them and attach the hashtag #TBH (to be honest) in hopes of affirmation. Talk to your kids about the risk in doing this and the negative comments that may follow. Remind them often of how much they mean to you and the people who truly know them and love them.
  5. Balance = health. Summer means getting intentional about balance with devices. Stepping away from devices for a set time can help that goal. Establish ground rules for the summer months, which might include additional monitoring and a device curfew.

Know the signs of cyberbullying. And, if your child is being bullied, remember these things:

1) Never tell a child to ignore the bullying. 2) Never blame a child for being bullied. Even if he or she made poor decisions or aggravated the bullying, no one ever deserves to be bullied. 3) As angry as you may be that someone is bullying your child, do not encourage your child to physically fight back. 4) If you can identify the bully, consider talking with the child’s parents.

Technology has catapulted parents into arenas — like cyberbullying — few of us could have anticipated. So, the challenge remains: Stay informed and keep talking to your kids, parents, because they need you more than ever as their digital landscape evolves.

toni page birdsong

 

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

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A Few Thoughts on Privacy in the Age of Social Media

Everyone already knows there are privacy issues related to social media and new technologies. Non-tech-oriented friends and family members often ask me questions about whether they should avoid Facebook messenger or flashlight apps. Or whether it's OK to use credit cards online in spite of recent breach headlines. The mainstream media writes articles about leaked personal photos and the Snappening. So, it's out there. We all know. We know there are bad people out there who will attempt to hack their way into our personal data. But, that's only a small part of the story.

For those who haven't quite realized it, there's no such thing as a free service. Businesses exist to generate returns on investment capital. Some have said about Social Media, "if you can't tell what the product is, it's probably you." To be fair, most of us are aware that Facebook and Twitter will monetize via advertising of some kind. And yes, it may be personalized based on what we like or retweet. But, I'm not sure we fully understand the extent to which this personal, potentially sensitive, information is being productized.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

Advanced Profiling

I recently viewed a product marketing video targeted to communications service providers. It describes that massive adoption of mobile devices and broadband connections suggesting that by next year there will be 7.7 billion mobile phones in use with 15 billion connections globally. And that "All of these systems produce an amazing amount of customer data" to the tune of 40TB per day; only 3% of which is transformed into revenue. The rest isn't monetized. (Gasp!) The pitch is that by better profiling customers, telcos can improve their ability to monetize that data. The thing that struck me was the extent of the profiling.



As seen in the screen capture, the user profile presented extends beyond the telco services acquired or service usage patterns into the detailed information that flows through the system. The telco builds a very personal profile using information such as favorite sports teams, life events, contacts, location, favorite apps, etc. And we should assume that favorite sports team could easily be religious beliefs, political affiliations, or sexual interests.

IBM and Twitter

On October 29, IBM and Twitter announced a new relationship that enables enterprises to "incorporate Twitter data into their decision-making." In the announcement, Twitter describes itself as "an enormous public archive of human thought that captures the ideas, opinions and debates taking place around the world on almost any topic at any moment in time." And now all of those thoughts, ideas, and opinions are available for purchase through a partnership with IBM.

I'm not knocking Twitter or IBM. The technology behind these capabilities is fascinating and impressive. And perhaps Twitter users allow their data to be used in these ways by accepting the Terms of Use. But, it feels a lot more invasive to essentially provide any third party with a siphon into the massive data that is our Twitter accounts than it would be to, for example, insert a sponsored tweet into my feed that may be selected based on which accounts I follow or keywords I've tweeted.

Instagram Users and Facebook

I recently opened Facebook to see an updated list of People I may know. Most Facebook users are familiar with the feature. It can be an easy way to locate old friends or people who recently joined the network. But something was different. The list was heavily comprised of people who I sort of recognize but have never known personally.

I realized that Facebook was trying to connect me with many of the people behind the accounts I follow on Instagram. Many of these people don't use their real names, talk about their work, or discuss personal family matters on Instagram. They're photographers sharing photos. Essentially, they're artists sharing their art with anyone who wants to take a look. And it feels like a safe way to share.

But now I'm looking at a profile of someone I knew previously only as "Ty_Chi the landscape photographer" and I can now see that he is actually Tyson Kendrick, retail manager from Chicago, father of three girls and a boy. Facebook is telling me more than Mr. Kendrick wanted to share. And I'm looking at Richard Thompson, who's a marketing specialist for one of the brands I follow. I guess Facebook knows the real people behind brand accounts too. It started feeling pretty creepy.

What does it all mean?

Monetization of social media goes way beyond targeted advertising. Businesses are reaching deep into any available data to make connections or discover insights that produce better returns. Service providers and social media platforms may share customer details with each other or with third parties to improve their own bottom lines. And the more creative they get, the more our sense of privacy erodes.

What I've outlined here extends only slightly beyond what I think most people expect. But, we should collectively consider how far this will all go. If companies will make major financial decisions based on Twitter user activity, will there be well-funded campaigns to change user behavior on Social Media platforms? Will the free-flow exchange of ideas and opinions become more heavily and intentionally influenced?

The sharing/exchanging of users' personal data is becoming institutionalized. It's not a corner case of hackers breaking in. It's a systemic business practice that will grow, evolve, and expand.

I have no recipe to avoid what's coming. I have no suggestions for users looking to hold onto to the last threads of their privacy. I just think it's worth thinking critically about how our data may be used and what that may mean for us in years to come.