Keeping Internet Connected Devices Protected
From the hottest new tablet to a sleek new laptop, a shiny new electronic device is likely at the top of many holiday wish lists this year. Many lucky recipients will immediately load personal data, contact information, photos, and entertainment files onto their new toy, eager to enjoy their new tech devices.
To keep personal information, identities, and money protected throughout the New Year, it’s important for consumers to secure their new devices the moment they begin to set them up. Most consumers now live a multi-device lifestyle, which presents a greater opportunity for cybercriminals to victimize people who leave their new devices such as tablets and smartphones under-protected and at risk.
Consumers now value their digital assets more highly than ever before. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of these new opportunities by widening their nets to target a variety of devices and platforms. In fact, there is are reported significant increases in Mac and mobile malware, while PC threats continue to escalate.
If you have a new smartphone or tablet, know that threats aimed at mobile devices are growing.
If you’re like me, you’re addicted to your smartphone, tablet, maybe even your laptop. What is your best tip for keeping all of your devices protected? Comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $400 Amazon gift card from Kaspersky Lab.
1/ — Mobile malware is on the rise.
Android is now the most targeted platform, attacks aimed at the Android platform have grown 76 percent in the second quarter of 2011 over the first quarter. Malicious applications are a main threat area, so be careful of third-party applications and only download from a reputable app store. Read other users’ reviews and make sure the app’s access permissions make sense.
Make sure you also protect against data loss, by backing up your mobile devices regularly. Consider mobile malware threat protection, not only to protect against viruses and for safe mobile surfing, but to also safeguard privacy in the event of loss or theft.
2/ — f you have a new Apple computer or device, including an iPad or iPhone.
Transfer your PC best practices to your new Apple product. Unfortunately, the popularity of Apple computers and devices has led to escalated threats and is increasing by 10% per month.
As a proactive measure, consider installing security software that’s been developed for the Mac since more threats are being aimed at this platform. Check out Apple’s new iCloud service, which provides tools for syncing, backing up and securing data.
If you have a new PC or netbook, make sure your computer has comprehensive security software – anti-virus software alone is not enough. Be sure to back up regularly.
3/ — 8,900 new malicious websites are found daily
Malware cost U.S. consumers $2.3 billion last year. (Source: Consumer Reports)
Your security software should include at a minimum: real-time anti-virus, a two-way firewall, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and safe search capabilities. Additional levels of protection include anti-spam, parental controls, wireless network protection, and anti-theft protection that encrypts sensitive financial documents.
4/ — Keep in mind that free security software can leave you unprotected.
Free security software typically provides only basic protection, and is often offered to get you to buy more comprehensive products. A September 2011 USA TODAY survey of 16 anti-virus companies shows that no-cost anti-virus programs generally lack important features such as a firewall, website health checks, and automatic updates.
To ensure the best protection against emerging threats, look for security software that provides real-time protection using data continuously updated in the cloud.
Don’t forget to check whether the security software installed on your new PC is only a trial version. If it is, remember to buy a subscription so that you have continuous protection against newly discovered threats.
5/ — Protect your data.
In a recent global survey, home Internet users estimated that their digital assets, such as photos, contacts, and entertainment, were worth approximately $37,000. In North America, people valued their assets at a higher figure than anywhere else, at nearly $55,000.
Consider a product that offers data backup and restore features as well as advanced security that allows you to remotely lock your device and wipe your data in case of a loss.
A Good Housekeeping survey from August 2011 found that 30 percent of people don’t back up their files, and worse, that every three seconds, a hard drive fails.
Don’t take a chance on losing important personal photos, creative works in progress, or financial information.
6/ — Search and shop safely.
To help you weed through malicious sites, be sure to use a website safety advisor that can tell you which sites are safe and which are risky.
Don’t forget to read the online store’s privacy and security policies before shopping.
7/ — Be aware of “scareware,” or fake antivirus software.
Scareware tricks users into believing that the computer is infected to get them to “buy” fake anti-virus software and hand over their personal and financial details, usually via pop-ups.
Scareware has grown by more than 600 percent from 2008 to 2010, and is estimated to victimize one million Internet users a day. (McAfee 2010 Report)
In 2011, for the first time ever, fake Mac anti-virus malware has become a tool for cybercriminals. (McAfee Q2 2011 Report)
Don’t buy anti-virus software through pop-up ads. Always purchase your security software from a reputable vendor.
8/ — Educate your family and pay attention to your children’s online activities.
Keep your computer in a common area and discuss which information is appropriate to share online and which is not, such as addresses, phone numbers, and other private information. Be aware that if your children are surfing the web, they may not be as prudent when clicking on unknown links and sites, potentially increasing the risk of threats.
If you have young kids or tweens, limit their online access and the content they can view. Use a web-filtering tool that protects kids from accessing inappropriate content such as pornography, nudity, online hate groups, school cheating sites, and profanity.
Assume your child knows how to turn off parental controls, so always keep a close eye on their activities.
If you or your child has a new gaming or entertainment device (Nintendo Wii or 3DS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), remember that these devices are now Internet-connected and vulnerable to many of the same threats as PCs.
Make reliable back-up copies of games to protect your investment. Take advantage of built-in parental controls that can help shield kids from violent games or limit when the device can be used.
Some multiplayer games allow kids to play with strangers over the Internet, so if you are a parent, consider activity-monitoring tools.
Only connect your device to a secure Wi-Fi network.
Don’t store personal information on your device.
If you have a removable storage device, such as a flash drive or portable hard drive, use technologies that will help protect your information.
Consider using a secure, encrypted USB stick, to scramble your information so it is unreadable if your device is lost or stolen.
Buy security software to protect your portable hard drive, and set a password.
Don’t leave your removable storage device unattended since they are small and easily stolen.
According to the report “Welcome To The Multi-Device, Multi-Connection World”, Forrester Research, Inc., January 25, 2012, far more than half of the 177 million US online adults — 105 million — have two or more different types of devices connected to the Net, and one-third have at least four different types online.
The number who have at least nine different types of gadgets connected to the Net is a sizable 4.5 million. Forrester also found that smartphone and tablet users tend to own twice as many devices as those without.