Category Archives: social media

Social media causes polarization – so where do we go from here?

The social dilemma described in the recent movie with the same title exists because technology groups think that they are not responsible for the content and data that people put in their applications. We think we can build the technology and let people decide how they will use it.  The truth is we have always…

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Answer these questions to find out how safe your social media profiles are

Unless you’re a hermit who lives under a rock, you probably use social media in some form or the other. You’re not alone; recent statistics reveal that you’re among 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. And it’s a rapidly increasing number that already constitutes half the world’s population. Social media…

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

Social Media Habits

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

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

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

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

Sketchy Links Get Social

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

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

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

Scan Social Safely with McAfee® WebAdvisor

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

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

Stay Updated

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

The post Stay Connected & Protected: Weaving Security Into Our Social Media Habits appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

How social media is used to commit financial fraud

Social media is a fraudster’s heaven. There are billions of targets – Facebook itself had over 2.6 billion monthly active users in the first quarter of 2020. Because of the very nature of these platforms, users can be quite careless about the amount of personal information they post. For cybercriminals,…

Can You Decode Your Teen’s Texting Language?

texting slang

It’s hard to believe, right, parents? In just a blink or two, you went from being the teenager dropping cool phrases like “rad” and “gnarly” to monitoring a teenager texting words like “lowkey,” “IRL” and “CD9” into her smartphone non-stop.*

For generations, teens have been crafting terms to differentiate themselves from other age groups. The difference today is that smartphone texting has multiplied the scope of that code to include words, emojis, numbers, and hashtags.

The times have changed, fo’ sho.’

Digital Deciphering

You don’t have to speak your child’s language (please don’t). However, with new terms and risks emerging online each day, it’s a good idea to at least understand what they are saying.

Since kids have been spending more time online due to the pandemic, we thought we might discover a few new and interesting terms. We were right. We found stories of teens referring to the Coronavirus as “Miss Rona” and “Rona,” and abbreviating quarantine to “Quar.” A “Corona Bae” is the person you would only plan to date during a lockdown.

Much of the coded language kids use is meant to be funny, sarcastic, or a quick abbreviation. However, there are times when a text exchange can slip into risky territory. Seemingly harmless, text exchanges can spark consequences such as bullying, sextortion, privacy violations, and emotional or physical harm.

Stay Connected

To help kids avoid dangerous digital situations, we recommend three things: 1) Talk early and often with your kids about digital risk and behavior expectations, 2) Explore and use parental monitoring software, and 3) Know your child’s friends and communities online and in real life.

Note: Context is everything. Many of these terms are used in jest or as casual banter. Be sure to understand the context in which a word is used.

A Few Terms You May See **

Flex. This term means showing off. For example, “Look at her trying to flex with her new car.”

Crashy. Description of a person who is thought to be both crazy and trashy.

Clap back. A comeback filled with attitude.

Cringey. Another word for embarrassing.

Hop off. Mind your own business.

Spill tea or Kiki. Dishing gossip.

Sip tea. Listening to gossip.

Salty. Mad, angry, jealous, bitter, upset, or irritated.

“She gave me a salty look in class.”

Extra. Over the top or unnecessarily dramatic.

Left on read. Not replying to someone’s message.

Ghosting. Ending a friendship or relationship online with no explanation.

Neglext. Abandon someone in the middle of a text conversation.

Ok, Boomer. Dismissing someone who is not up to date enough.

(Throw) shade. Insult or trash talk discreetly.

Receipts. Getting digital proof, usually in the form of screenshots.

THOT. Acronym for That H__ Over There.

Thirsty. A term describing a person as desperate or needy. “Look at her staring at him — she’s so thirsty.”

Thirst trap. A sexy photograph or message posted on social media.

Dis. Short for showing blatant disrespect.

Preeing. A word that describes stalking or being stalked on Facebook.

Basic. Referring to a person as mainstream, nothing special. Usually used in a negative connotation.

Chasing Clout. A negative term describing someone trying too hard to get followers on social media.

9, CD9, or Code9, PAW, POS. Parents are around, over the shoulder.

99. All clear, the parents are gone. Safe to resume texting or planning.

KPC. Keeping parents clueless.

Cheddar, Cheese, or Bread. These are all terms that mean money.

Cap. Means to lie as in “she’s capping.” Sending the baseball cap emoji expresses the same feeling. No capping means “I’m not lying.”

Hundo P. Term that is short for “hundred percent;” absolutely, for sure.

Woke. Aware of and outspoken on current on political and social issues.

And I oop. Lighthearted term to describe a silly mistake.

Big oof. A slightly bigger mistake.

Yeet. An expression of excitement. For example, “He kissed me. Yeeeet!”

Retweet. Instead of saying, “yes, I agree,” you say, “retweet.”

Canceled. Absurd or foolish behavior is “canceled.” For example, “He was too negative on our date, so I canceled him.”

Slap or Snatched. Terms that mean fashionable or on point. For instance, “Those shoes are slap” or “You look snatched.”

And just for fun, here’s a laugh out loud video from comedian Seth Meyer’s on teen Coronavirus slang you’ll enjoy on YouTube.

* lowkey (a feeling you want to keep secret), IRL (In Real Life), CD9 also Code9 (Adult Alert used to hide secretive activity). ** Terms collected from various sources, including NetLingo.com, UrbanDictionary.com, webopedia.com, and from tweets and posts from teens online.

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Your data is not destined for China, assures TikTok’s UK boss

The controversial app’s users are ignoring geopolitical battle over its digital security, says Richard Waterworth

TikTok’s UK chief has strenuously denied the video-sharing app, which Donald Trump has threatened to ban, shares data with China.

Richard Waterworth told the Observer that the UK and European arm of TikTok was growing quickly, despite the “turbulent” geopolitical battle in which the Chinese-born app has found itself.

Continue reading...

How to Keep Remote Learning Pod Students Safe Online 

learning pods

The upheaval of 2020 has forced us all to reimagine familiar pathways, and parents are no exception. Cautious about sending their kids back into the classroom, families across the country are banding together to form remote “learning pods.”

pod learning

Learning pods are small groups of families with like-aged children that agree to educate their kids together. Parents also refer to learning pods as micro-schools, pandemic pods, and bubbles. According to parents, a pod environment will allow students to learn in a structured setting and safely connect with peers, which will also be a boost to their mental health following months of isolation.

According to media reports, each pod’s structure is different and designed to echo the unique distance learning challenges of each family. In some pods, parents will determine the curriculum. In others, a teacher or tutor will. As well, parents have set some pods up so they can take turns teaching and working. Some will have a cost attached to cover teacher fees and materials. Working parents are also creating “nanny share” pods for pre-school aged children.

Social Networking

Facebook is the place to connect for families seeking pod learning options. There are now dozens of private Facebook “pod” groups that enable parents to connect with one another and with teachers who have also opted out of returning to the classroom.

While parents may structure pods differently, each will need to adopt standard digital security practices to protect students and teachers who may share online resources. If pod learning is in your family’s future, here are a few safeguards to discuss before the pod-based school year begins.

To keep the family discussion about online safety fun, here are 6 Flashcard Tips from MBot to print out and discuss with your kids.

Digital Safety & Learning Pods

Be on the lookout for malware. Malware attempts, since COVID, continue to rise. Pod learners may use email, web-based collaboration tools, and outside home networks more, which can expose them to malware risks. Advise kids never to click unsolicited links contained in emails, texts, direct messages, or pop-up screens. Even if they know the sender, coach them to scrutinize the email or text. To help protect your child’s devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats while pod learning, consider updating your security solutions across all devices.

Use strong passwords. Back-to-school is a great time to review what makes a strong password. Opt for two-factor authentication to add another layer of protection between you and a potential attacker.

learning pods

Consider a VPN. Your home network may be safe, but you can’t assume other families follow the same protocols. Cover your bases with a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) is a private network your child can log onto safely from any location.

Filter and track digital activity. One digital safeguard schools usually have that a home environment may not, are firewalls. Schools erect firewalls to keep kids from accessing social networks and gaming sites during school hours. For this reason, families opting for pod learning might consider parental controls. Parental controls allow families to filter or block web content, log daily web activity, set time limits, and track location.

Learning pods are still taking shape at the grassroots level, and there are still a lot of unknowns. Still, one thing is clear: Remote education options also carry an inherent responsibility to keep students safe and secure while learning online.

(Download some fun, free content for kids. Here are 6 online safety flashcard tips from MBot. Just print out and discuss with your kids).

The post How to Keep Remote Learning Pod Students Safe Online  appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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 may have 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. 

So, how should you respond if you find yourself in a social media predicament such as this? Your first move—and a crucial one—is to change your password right away and notify your connections that your account may have been compromised. 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  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 respective platform, so they can help stop the threat from spreading. 
  • Use unique, complex passwords for all your accounts. Use a password generator to help you create strong passwords and a password manager can help store them.  
  • 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.

Messenger Rooms: New Video Chat Option is Fun But Has Risks

Messenger Rooms

Messenger RoomsOne of the many things we’ve learned during this season of being homebound is that video chats with friends can save the day. One of the newest channels for video chatting is Messenger Rooms. While the new Facebook feature isn’t groundbreaking in terms of how it works, it’s the ability to pull together a big group of friends spontaneously that may make this a popular digital hangout for kids.

The Basics

Messenger Rooms functions similarly to the popular video conferencing app Zoom. The exception: There’s no need for users (or guests) to download a new app, create an account, or send out pre-planned meeting invites.

Messenger Rooms is simple. One person sets up a Messenger Room, that Room is assigned a URL, the organizer sends his or her friends that link, and those friends can instantly click it and be in the room. With so many families still opting to avoid large gatherings, Rooms may be the next best way to socialize in the most organic, pre-pandemic way.

The app makes it easy to watch movies together since one user screen can be pinned to the top of the chat for shared viewing. Kids can also have game nights, birthday parties, organize workout and study groups, or have a “squad hangout” as the Room title options call out (see graphic, below).

The Fun 

A few specific features may make Messenger Rooms appealing to kids. First, it’s easy to drop friends a link and be together almost instantly in a private room. Messenger Rooms is free, doesn’t have time limits, and up to 50 friends can get together in one room — from anywhere in the world. Kids joining a Room from their mobile app can apply quirky filters to their backgrounds or faces, which brings in the creativity element they get from Instagram Stories and Snapchat.

The Risks

Privacy. So far, privacy seems to be the biggest concern being raised and here’s why. Messenger Rooms, like Facebook, collects metadata from users — including guests without Facebook accounts. Metadata may include the people you talk with, at what times, and how often, all of which can be shared with a third party. Also, Messenger Rooms, while it does not record calls (like Zoom), lacks end-to-end encryption, which makes the channel vulnerable to hackers and compromises private conversations.

Troublemakers. Live chat rooms are not password-protected, so if a Room organizer decides to make a Room public or fails to lock a room they intended to be private, anyone can pop in and do anything. Much like the Zoom bombers emerging, anyone could crash a meeting with racial rants or graphic content. A link to a room can also be shared with others by anyone who has the link.

Cyberbullying. As with any app, conflicts can arise as can cyberbullying or harassment.

The Conversation

If you notice your kids using Messenger Rooms, you may consider having a few conversations that highlight the risks.

  • Privacy settings. If you organize a Room, lock it to keep unwanted people from crashing your meet up.
  • Nothing is private. Messenger Rooms isn’t encrypted, so it’s not the place to have private conversations or share sensitive content. Note: The internet in any form isn’t the place to share any personal content. Anything exchanged online — even a “private” text between two people — is vulnerable to hackers, device theft, or the possibility of a relationship falling out.
  • Nothing is free. Remind your children that services online are free for a reason. There is always an exchange: Free use for data. Be aware that profile information and bits of a conversation could be mined and used by a third party. To understand better how data is collected, Facebook’s help center or data policy.
  • Lock your room. Unless your child adjusts his or her preferences, it will be open to anyone that person is friends with on Facebook who will see the public Room at the top of their newsfeed. That means lovable Uncle Pete may mistakenly stumble into your daughter’s “squad” rant unless the Room is locked.
  • Report and block. If an unwanted person disrupts a Room kids can block the user and report it to Facebook.
  • Age-appropriate options. For kids under 13 (Facebook age requirement), there’s Messenger Kids, a Facebook feature that allows younger kids to video call with friends in a parentally-supervised room. It’s a great tool for teaching kids safe, online practices before they use the real thing.

To stay ahead of the digital hangouts available to kids, visit McAfee Consumer Family Safety blogs each week. You may also consider monitoring your child’s devices with parental controls designed to filter content, monitor screen time, and track new apps.

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Reports of Online Predators on the Rise. How to Keep Your Kids Safe. 

online predators

June is Internet Safety Month. And, with kids spending more time online, stepping up the public conversation about digital risks couldn’t come at a better time.

The past few months have created what some experts call the perfect storm for online predators. Schools are closed, kids are on devices more, and social distancing is creating new levels of isolation and boredom.

Guards are down, and predators know it. In fact, according to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), reports to their CyberTipline spiked 106% during the first months of the pandemic. A recent CNN story, claims the dark web has seen a similar increase in activity within predator communities that has spilled over to the mainstream web since the pandemic began.

While specific data doesn’t exist (yet) to connect increased complaints directly to the ongoing health crisis, NCMEC, the FBI, and UNICEF continue to issue strong warnings to parents to step up digital safety as predators step up their efforts to connect with kids online.

What You Should Know

online predators

Predators reach out to minors through social networks, gaming platforms, or apps. They often pose as a peer, use fake photos, and create fake profiles to lure minors to chat. Predators build trust with children through devious tactics such as grooming, mirroring, and fishing, which you can read more about in our post specific to predator behavior.

Predators have been known to (although not exclusively) target socially awkward or shy kids and convince them to keep the online relationship secret. The predator may ask for a risqué or explicit photo that they may later use to bully or manipulate the child or share within predator circles on the dark web. If the child refuses to send more photos when asked, a predator may threaten to share photos they already have with the child’s family and friends. Often the predator may ask the child to meet in person. These relationships can be brief or go on. Regardless of duration, each encounter can have a harmful psychological impact on a child. Of course, the worst-case predator situations can result in trafficking or death.

What You Can Do

No parent wants to think about their child in this chilling situation. However, a quick Google search regarding actual predator cases may likely inspire you to adopt targeted safety practices. Here are some focused things you can do to minimize your child’s exposure to predators.

  • Have frequent and honest conversations with your child about the specific ways predators may try to befriend them online.
  • Be a safe haven. Discuss with your kids why it’s important for them to tell you right away if they feel uncomfortable with a conversation or if they are asked to engage in any inappropriate activity online.
  • Review your child’s online profiles often. This includes the content they post, who they follow, and the “friends” who comment or message them.
  • Inventory social networks and apps to ensure privacy settings are set to the most restrictive levels possible.
  • Discuss the consequences of sharing inappropriate photos with anyone online.
  • Check-in with your child frequently throughout the day. If you work at home and get easily engrossed with work, consider setting a timer to remind you to monitor your child’s digital activity.
  • Ask simple, critical questions: What apps do your use? What are you watching? Who are you talking to?
  • Teach kids how to safely search the web using tools such as McAfee Web Advisor. Consider parental controls designed to block risky sites, filter inappropriate content, and help parents set screen limits. And, don’t be shy about physically checking your child home screen or PC several times a week.
  • Create screen limits and a phone curfew to prevent late-night online conversations.
  • Be aware of your isolating more or insisting on more privacy to talk with friends.
  • If your child is attending class online, don’t assume they are safe. Monitor their web surfing activity through browser history and monitoring. Connect with teachers to inquire about safety protocols.
  • Seek out help and report it if your child encounters a threatening situation online. You can also contact your local FBI field office.

There’s no way to avoid online risk 100%. Darker elements will always infiltrate the endless opportunity and good stuff the internet offers. As parents, rather than live in fear, we can be proactive. We can understand the risks, take action to minimize them, and make every effort to equip our kids to deal with any threats they encounter online.

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