No matter how much effort you make to protect your online privacy and security, it can easily be compromised by the well-intentioned but misguided efforts of others. People are still the weakest link in security and it’s sometimes your family members or co-workers who can get you into trouble. In order to better protect yourself, it’s important to educate your family and friends about potential dangers and audit any devices you share to make sure they are secure.
When you get the family together this holiday season, be sure to share these helpful tips:
- Keep a clean machine. Running the most recent versions of your mobile operating system, security software, apps and Web browsers is the best defense against malware, viruses and other online threats. NQ Mobile Security can provide an added layer of protection for your mobile devices.
- Secure your device. Activate key-lock features and/or use a passcode. If your device allows for a complex password, take advantage of the feature.
- Think before you app. Only download apps from reputable sources, like verified app stores. Read the permissions and understand what information (i.e., location, social networking profiles, etc.) the app would access and share before you download.
- Activate locator apps. Locator apps help you locate your device in the event it gets lost or stolen—NQ Easy Finder is one such app. These apps often allow you to remotely lock the device or delete all the data from it so that your personal information won’t get into the wrong hands.
- Connect with care. Switch off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections when not in use to help prevent malicious parties from connecting to your device without your knowledge. For an added bonus, this will also increase your battery life.
- 4G > Wi-Fi. If you’re banking or shopping, remember, a 3G or 4G connection is safer than an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.
The story of investigative journalist Adam Peneberg perfectly demonstrates how our online security is often reliant on the actions of others. He recently challenged a group of ethical hackers to investigate him to see where he was vulnerable and the results were eye opening. It took a team of four just one week to hack into Peneberg’s accounts—they were able to gain access to his checking and savings accounts, a corporate bond account, his credit card statements, online bills, and his Apple devices.
It turns out that Peneberg’s wife was the weak link. The hackers impersonated a real yoga instructor and tried to apply for a job at the studio owned by Mrs. Peneberg. The hackers sent an email with a malicious zip file that was disguised as a resume, which took over Peneberg’s computer when it was opened. Once the hackers gained control of her computer they found a document that contained several passwords used by Mr. Peneberg, which allowed them to crack into other accounts by helping them to learn the system he had used to generate passwords.
Allowing your children or friends to use your personal computer can also be dangerous. A couple of clicks might be all it takes for them to install a malicious app or visit a scam site that allows a hacker to obtain your passwords or take over your device. This is why it’s always important to keep your operating system and web browser updated with the latest security patches, and use an extra layer of protection like NQ Mobile Security.
When it comes to your online security, it’s important to remember how others can affect it. If you are going to let family or friends use your computer, tablet or smartphone, make sure to turn on guest mode, if it’s available, or limit their ability to install apps by implementing restricted profiles. Let others know how important security is to you, and be the example for others to follow when it comes to best practices.