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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Shopping: Secure Your Online Purchases

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Shopping: Secure Your Online Purchases

As we gear up to feast with family and friends this Thanksgiving, we also get our wallets ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have practically become holidays themselves, as each year they immediately shift our attention from turkey and pumpkin pie to holiday shopping. Let’s take a look at these two holidays, and how their popularity can impact users’ online security.

The Origins of the Holiday Shopping Phenomenon

You might be surprised to find out that the term “Black Friday” was first associated with a financial crisis, not sales shopping. According to The Telegraph, the U.S. gold market crashed on Friday, September 24, 1869, leaving Wall Street bankrupt. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Black Friday was used in association with holiday shopping when large crowds of tourists and shoppers flocked to Philadelphia for a big football game. Because of all the chaos, traffic jams, and shoplifting opportunities that arose, police officers were unable to take the day off, coining it Black Friday. It wasn’t until over 50 years later that Cyber Monday came to fruition when Shop.org coined the term as a way for online retailers to participate in the Black Friday shopping frenzy.

Growth Over the Years

Since the origination of these two massive shopping holidays, both have seen incredible growth. Global interest in Black Friday has risen year-over-year, with 117% average growth across the last five years. According to Forbes, last year’s Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion in online sales alone, while Cyber Monday brought in a record $7.9 billion.

While foot traffic seemed to decrease at brick-and-mortar stores during Cyber Week 2018, more shoppers turned their attention to the internet to participate in holiday bargain hunting. Throughout this week, sales derived from desktop devices came in at 47%, while mobile purchases made up 45% of revenue and tablet purchases made up 8% of revenue.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Shopping: Secure Your Online Purchases

So, what does this mean for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping this holiday season? Adobe Analytics projects that Thanksgiving and Black Friday will bring in $12.3 billion in online sales and Cyber Monday will bring in $9.48 billion. If one thing’s for sure, this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are shaping up to be the biggest ones yet for shoppers looking to snag some seasonal bargains. However, the uptick in online shopping activity provides cybercriminals with the perfect opportunity to wreak havoc on users’ holiday fun.

Holiday Bargain or Shopping Scam?

Inherently, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are pretty similar, with the main difference being where users choose to shop. While Black Friday sees a mix of online and in-store shoppers, most consumers will participate in Cyber Monday sales from their mobile phones or desktops at work. Plus, with mobile Cyber Week sales increasing year over year, it’s clear that users are gravitating towards the convenience of shopping on the go. However, the increase in mobile online shopping also creates an opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit. The latest McAfee Mobile Threat Report revealed a huge increase in device backdoors, fake apps, and banking trojans. With more and more users turning to their smartphones this holiday shopping season, they are in turn potentially subject to a wide variety of mobile cyberattacks.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Shopping: Secure Your Online Purchases

Another threat to users’ holiday shopping sprees? Rushed purchases. Thanks to a later Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday falls on December 2nd, leaving users with one less shopping week between Turkey Day and Christmas. Because of this time crunch, many users are feeling pressured to get their holiday shopping done in time and might forego some basic cybersecurity practices to speed up the online shopping process. This includes not checking online retailer authenticity, falling for fake Black Friday deals, and hastily giving up more personal information than necessary, all in the interest of jumping on a sale before it’s too late.

How to Stay Secure This Holiday Season

In the blur of the holiday shopping frenzy, how can you help protect your personal information online? Before whipping out your credit card this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, check out these cybersecurity tips to ensure your holiday shopping spree goes off without a hitch:

  • Look for the lock icon. Secure websites will start with “https,” not just “http.” Double-check that you see the padlock icon right next to the web address in your browser. If you don’t, it’s best to avoid making purchases on that website.
  • If you can help it, shop on your desktop. Although shopping on a smartphone allows you to make purchases on the go, this opens you up to threats like mobile malware and fake shopping apps. Additionally, URLs are often shortened on mobile devices, making it easier for scammers to trick you with clone websites.
  • Ask the critics. Cybercriminals will often create fake websites to try and exploit users looking to get in on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday action. If you’re unsure about a product or retailer, read lots of reviews from trusted websites to help see if it’s legitimate.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious websites. Misspellings, grammatical errors, and poor website design are often a sign that it’s a rip off of a legitimate site. If the site looks a little rough around the edges, this is probably a sign that it was created by a cybercriminal.
  • Don’t be too optimistic. Beware of bogus Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals with fake “free” offers. If you spot an ad online that seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is.
  • Use a comprehensive security solution. Using a solution like McAfee Total Protection can help your holiday shopping spree go smoothly by providing safe web browsing, virus protection, and more. Click here for 50% off so you can shop knowing your devices and data are secured.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Shopping: Secure Your Online Purchases

Looking for more security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

The post It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Shopping: Secure Your Online Purchases appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

Did you know that searching for your favourite celebrities online may very well increase your chance of running into trouble?

For the thirteenth year running, McAfee has put together its Most Dangerous Celebrities List which includes the celebrities who generate the riskiest search results that could potentially expose their fans to malicious websites and viruses. And, as usual, Aussies feature!!

Who Are the Riskiest Aussie Celebrities?

After a tumultuous year in and out of love, Liam Hemsworth – Aussie actor and ex-husband of popstar Miley Cyrus – has taken out top honours as the most dangerous Australian born celebrity coming in at 19th place on the list. Rose Byrne, Cate Blanchett and Kylie Minogue also feature on the list coming in at 37th, 41st and 52nd place respectively.

Talk Show Hosts Top the List

While previous years have seen Reality TV stars, such as The Kardashians, top of the list, in 2019 – it’s all about talk show hosts. In fact, there are 4 talk show hosts in the top 10. John Oliver takes out 1st place, followed by James Corden in 4th place, Jimmy Kimmel in 6th place and Jimmy Fallon in 10thplace.

Whether it’s their karaoke singing or their viral views on politics, our fascination with charismatic talk show hosts is clearly very strong. McAfee’s research also shows that the names of these 4 hosts are strongly associated with the search term ‘torrent’. This indicates people may be trying to avoid paying expensive subscriptions to view these cult shows and are pursuing free yet riskier alternatives.

Singers Are Also Proving Risky!

English singer Dua Lipa came in at no 2 on the list, followed by Scottish singer/DJ Calvin Harris in 5th place and teen favourite Billie Eilish at no 7. Our quest for immediate or free content about our favourite singers could mean that we visit sites purposefully designed by cybercriminals to extract our personal information or even better, our credit card details!

And then there’s Game of Thrones

The world’s love affair with Game of Thrones saw Emilia Clarke take out the 9th spot in this year’s list of risky celebs to search for online. Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy series, was joined by Hollywood royalty Morgan Freeman in the top 10 list.

Cybercriminals Capitalise on Our Love for Celebrities

Our love of ‘all things celebrity’ has clearly not escaped the attention of cybercriminals with many spending a lot of time

How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

and energy creating malicious websites designed to trick consumers into visiting. Whether it’s the promise of a ‘sneak-peak’ of the latest Star Wars movie, or free access to full episodes of a favourite American talk show, consumers will often drop their guard in favour of speed or convenience and quickly enter their personal details to gain access to a site without thinking about the consequences.

How to Avoid Getting Stung!

The good news is that you don’t need to give up your obsession with your favourite celebrity to stay safe online. Instead, develop some patience and trust your gut. Here are my top tips to help you stay ahead of the cybercriminals:

  1. Be Careful What You Click

Only stream and download movies and TV shows from reliable sources. While it may feel boring, the safest thing to do is wait for the official release of a movie instead of visiting a 3rd party site that could contain malware.

  1. Avoid Using Illegal Streaming Sites – No Exceptions!

Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated videos. Do yourself a favour and stream the show from a reputable source.

  1. Use a Web Reputation Tool

A web reputation tool such as McAfee’s freely available WebAdvisor will alert users if they are about to visit a malicious website. Very handy!

  1. Consider Parental Control Software

Kids love celebrities too! Ensure you set limits on device usage with your kids and use parental control software to help minimise exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

But if you aren’t convinced your kids are going to take your advice on board then why not invest in some comprehensive security software like McAfee’s Total Protection for the whole family? This Rolls Royce cybersecurity software will protect you (and your kids) against malware and phishing attacks. A complete no-brainer!!

Alex xx

 

The post How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Stay Smart Online Week 2019

Stay Smart Online Week 2019

Let’s Reverse the Threat of Identity Theft!!

Our online identities are critical. In fact, you could argue that they are our single most unique asset. Whether we are applying for a job, a mortgage or even starting a new relationship, keeping our online identity protected, secure and authentic is essential.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week in Australia – an initiative by the Australian Government to encourage us all to all take a moment and rethink our online safety practices. This year the theme is ‘Reverse the Threat’ which is all about encouraging Aussies to take proactive steps to control their online identity and stop the threat of cybercrime.

What Actually Is My Online Identity?

On a simple level, your online identity is the reputation you have generated for yourself online – both intentionally or unintentionally. So, an accumulation of the pics you have posted, the pages you have liked and the comments you have shared. Some will often refer to this as your personal brand. Proactively managing this is critical for employments prospects and possibly even potential relationship opportunities.

However, there is another layer to your online identity that affects more than just your job or potential career opportunities. And that’s the transactional component. Your online identity also encompasses all your online movements since the day you ‘joined’ the internet. So, every time you have registered for an online account; given your email address to gain access or log in; joined a social media platform; undertaken a web search; or made a transaction, you have contributed to your digital identity.

What Are Aussies Doing to Protect Their Online Identities?

New research from McAfee shows Aussies have quite a relaxed attitude to managing their online identities. In fact, a whopping two thirds (67%) of Aussies admit to being embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.

Why Does My Online Identity Really Matter?

As well as the potential to hurt career or future relationship prospects, a relaxed attitude to managing our online identities could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercrims on a platter!!

Is Identity Theft Really Big Problem?

As at the end of June, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claims that Aussies have lost at least $16 million so far this year through banking scams and identity theft. And many experts believe that this statistic could represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as it often takes victims some time to realise that their details are being used by someone else.

Whether it’s phishing scams; texts impersonating banks; fake online quizzes; phoney job ads, or information skimmed from social media, cybercriminals have become very savvy at developing novel ways of stealing online identities.

What Can You Do to ‘Reverse the Threat’ and Protect Your Online Identity?

With so much at stake, securing your online identity is more important than ever. Here are my top tips on what you can do to give yourself every chance of securing your digital credentials:

  1. Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected.

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

  1. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication Wherever Possible!

Enabling two-factor authentication for your accounts will add an extra layer of defence against cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication is simply a security process in which the user provides 2 different authentication factors to verify themselves before gaining access to an online account. As one of the verification methods is usually an extra password or one-off code delivered through a separate personal device like a smartphone, it makes it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to a person’s device or online accounts.

  1. Lock Down Privacy and Security Settings

Leaving your social media profiles on ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat everything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.

  1. Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution

If you are serious about managing your online identity, then you need to use public Wi-Fi sparingly. Unsecured public Wi-Fi is a very risky business. Anything you share could easily find its way into the hands of cybercriminals. So, avoid sharing any sensitive or personal information while using public Wi-Fi. If you travel regularly or spend the bulk of your time on the road then consider investing in a VPN such as McAfee Safe Connect. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your activity which means your login details and other sensitive information is protected. A great insurance policy!

Thinking it all sounds a little too hard? Don’t! Identity theft happens to Aussies every day with those affected experiencing real distress and financial damage. So, do your homework and take every step possible to protect yourself, for as Benjamin Franklin said: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

Alex xx

The post Stay Smart Online Week 2019 appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Aussies Fear Snakes, Spiders and Getting Hacked

Aussies Fear Snakes, Spiders and Getting Hacked

Fears and phobias. We all have them. But what are your biggest ones? I absolutely detest snakes but spiders don’t worry me at all. Well, new research by McAfee shows that cybercriminals and the fear of being hacked are now the 5th greatest fear among Aussies.

With news of data breaches and hacking crusades filling our news feed on a regular basis, many of us are becoming more aware and concerned about the threats we face in our increasingly digital world. And McAfee’s latest confirms this with hackers making their way into Australia’s Top 10 Fears.

According to research conducted by McAfee, snakes are the top phobia for Aussies followed by spiders, heights and sharks. Cybercriminals and the fear of being hacked come in in 5th place beating the dentist, bees, ghosts, aeroplane travel and clowns!

Aussie Top 10 Fears and Phobias

  1. Snakes
  2. SpidersAussies Fear Snakes, Spiders and Getting Hacked
  3. Heights
  4. Sharks
  5. Hackers/Cybercriminals
  6. The dentist
  7. Bees or wasps
  8. Ghosts
  9. Aeroplane travel
  10. Clowns

Why Do We Have Phobias?

Fears and phobias develop when we perceive that we are at risk of pain, or worse, still, death. And while almost a third of respondents nominated snakes as their number one fear, there is less than one-in-fifty thousand chance of being bitten badly enough by a snake to warrant going to hospital in Australia, according to research from the Internal Medicine Journal.

In contrast, McAfee’s analysis of more than 108 billion potential online threats between October and December 2018, identified 202 million of these threats as genuine risks. With a global population of 7.5 billion, that means there is approximately a one in 37 chance of being targeted by cybercrime. Now while this is not a life-threatening situation, these statistics show that chance of us being affected by an online threat is very real.

What Are Our Biggest Cyber Fears?

According to the research, 82% of Aussies believe that being hacked is a growing or high concern. And when you look at the sheer number of reported data breaches so far this year, these statistics make complete sense. Data breaches have affected Bunnings staff, Federal Parliament staff, Marriott guests, Victorian Government staff, QLD Fisheries members, Skoolbag app users and Big W customers plus many more.

Almost 1 in 5 (19%) of those interviewed said their top fear at work is doing something that will result in a data security breach, they will leak sensitive information or infect their corporate IT systems.

The fear that we are in the midst of a cyberwar is another big concern for many Aussies. Cyberwar can be explained as a computer or network-based conflict where parties try to disrupt or take ownership of the activities of other parties, often for strategic, military or cyberespionage purposes. 55% of Aussies believe that a cyberwar is happening right now but we just don’t know about it. And a fifth believe cyber warfare is the biggest threat to our nation.

What Can We Do to Address Our Fear of Being Hacked?

Being proactive about protecting your online life is the absolute best way of reducing the chances of being hacked or being affected by a data breach. Here are my top tips on what you can now to protect yourself:

  1. Be Savvy with Your Passwords

Using a password manager to create unique and complex passwords for each of your online accounts will definitely improve your online safety. If each on your online accounts has a unique password and you are involved in a breach, the hacker won’t be able to use the stolen password details to log into any of your other accounts.

  1. Stop AutoFill on Chrome

Storing your financial data within your browser and being able to populate online forms quickly within seconds makes the autofill function very attractive however it is risky. Autofill will automatically fill out all forms on a page regardless of whether you can see all the boxes. You may just think you are automatically entering your email address into an online form however a savvy hacker could easily design an online form with hidden boxes designed to capture your financial information. So remove all your financial information from Autofill. I know this means you will have to manually enter information each time you purchase but your personal data will be better protected.

  1. Think Before You Click

One of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to compromise their victim is by using phishing emails to lure consumers into clicking links for products or services that could lead to malware, or a phoney website designed to steal personal information. If the deal seems too good to be true, or the email was not expected, always check directly with the source.

  1. Stay Protected While You Browse

It’s important to put the right security solutions in place in order to surf the web safely. Add an extra layer of security to your browser with McAfee WebAdvisor.

  1. Always Connect with Caution

I know public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea, but if consumers are not careful, they could be unknowingly exposing personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals who are snooping on the network. If you are a regular Wi-Fi user, I recommend investing in a virtual private network or (VPN) such as McAfee’s Safe Connect which will ensure your connection is completely secure and that your data remains safe.

While it is tempting, putting our head in the sand and pretending hackers and cybercrime don’t exist puts ourselves and our families at even more risk! Facing our fears and making an action plan is the best way of reducing our worry and stress. So, please commit to being proactive about your family’s online security. Draw up a list of what you can do today to protect your tribe. And if you want to receive regular updates about additional ways you can keep your family safe online, check out my blog.

‘till next time.

Alex x

 

 

 

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McAfee Receives the 2019 Security Excellence Award From IoT Evolution

McAfee Receives the 2019 Security Excellence Award From IoT Evolution

If you’re like most users, you’ve probably adopted several smart devices into your home over the last few years. Whether it be voice assistants, smart TVs, thermostats, or gaming systems, IoT devices help make our lives easier. But with greater connectivity also comes greater exposure to online threats. However, that doesn’t mean users should avoid using IoT technology altogether. With the help of smart security, users can feel safe and protected as they bring new gadgets into their lives. Solutions like McAfee Secure Home Platform, which is now the winner of the IoT Security Excellence Award, can help users connect with confidence.

Here at McAfee, we know smart security is more important now than ever before. That’s why we work tirelessly to ensure that our solutions provide consumers with the best protection possible. For example, McAfee Secure Home Platform provides automatic protection for the entire home network by automatically securing connected devices through a router with McAfee protection. It’s through the proactive evolution of our products that McAfee Secure Home Platform has received this 2019 IoT Security Excellence Award from IoT Evolution World, the leading publication covering IoT technologies.

McAfee Receives the 2019 Security Excellence Award From IoT Evolution

The IoT Security Excellence Award celebrates the most innovative products and solutions in the world of IoT. It honors technology empowered by the new availability of information being deduced, inferred, and directly gathered from sensors, systems, and anything else that is supporting better business and personal decisions. Winners of this award are recognized for their innovation in gathering and managing information from connected devices that often are not associated with IoT.

“We are thrilled that McAfee Secure Home Platform has been recognized by IoT Evolution World as a recipient of the 2019 IoT Evolution Security Excellence Award. We continue to prioritize creating solutions that lead with ease of use and first-class protection, in order for consumers to best protect every connected device in their homes.” – Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist at McAfee.

As long as technology continues to evolve, so will the threat landscape. This is what drives us to keep developing leading solutions that help you and your loved ones connect with confidence. Solutions like McAfee Secure Home Platform are leading the charge in providing top home network security while still empowering users to enjoy their smart devices.

To stay updated on the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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The Seven Main Phishing Lures of Cybercriminals

The Seven Main Phishing Lures of Cybercriminals

One of the oldest tricks in the cybercrime playbook is phishing. It first hit the digital scene in 1995, at a time when millions flocked to America Online (AOL) every day. And if we know one thing about cybercriminals, it’s that they tend to follow the masses. In earlier iterations, phishing attempts were easy to spot due to link misspellings, odd link redirects, and other giveaways. However, today’s phishing tricks have become personalized, advanced, and shrouded in new disguises. So, let’s take a look at some of the different types, real-world examples and how you can recognize a phishing lure.

Be Wary of Suspicious Emails

Every day, users get sent thousands of emails. Some are important, but most are just plain junk. These emails often get filtered to a spam folder, where phishing emails are often trapped. But sometimes they slip through the digital cracks, into a main inbox. These messages typically have urgent requests that require the user to input sensitive information or fill out a form through an external link. These phishing emails can take on many personas, such as banking institutions, popular services, and universities. As such, always remember to stay vigilant and double-check the source before giving away any information.

Link Look-A-Likes

A sort of sibling to email phishing, link manipulation is when a cybercriminal sends users a link to malicious website under the ruse of an urgent request or deadline. After clicking on the deceptive link, the user is brought to the cybercriminal’s fake website rather than a real or verified link and asked to input or verify personal details. This exact scenario happened last year when several universities and businesses fell for a campaign disguised as a package delivery issue from FedEx. This scheme is a reminder that anyone can fall for a cybercriminals trap, which is why users always have to careful when clicking, as well as ensure the validity of the claim and source of the link. To check the validity, it’s always a good idea to contact the source directly to see if the notice or request is legitimate.

Gone Whaling

Corporate executives have always been high-level targets for cybercriminals. That’s why C-suite members have a special name for when cybercriminals try to phish them – whaling. What sounds like a silly name is anything but. In this sophisticated, as well as personalized attack, a cybercriminal attempts to manipulate the target to obtain money, trade secrets, or employee information. In recent years, organizations have become smarter and in turn, whaling has slowed down. Before the slowdown, however, many companies were hit with data breaches due to cybercriminals impersonating C-suite members and asking lower-level employees for company information. To avoid this pesky phishing attempt, train C-suite members to be able to identify phishing, as well as encourage unique, strong passwords on all devices and accounts.

Spear Target Acquired

 Just as email spam and link manipulation are phishing siblings, so too are whaling and spear-phishing. While whaling attacks target the C-suite of a specific organization, spear-phishing rather targets lower-level employees of a specific organization. Just as selective and sophisticated as whaling, spear-phishing targets members of a specific organization to gain access to critical information, like staff credentials, intellectual property, customer data, and more. Spear-phishing attacks tend to be more lucrative than a run-of-the-mill phishing attack, which is why cybercriminals will often spend more time crafting and obtaining personal information from these specific targets. To avoid falling for this phishing scheme, employees must have proper security training so they know how to spot a phishing lure when they see one.

Spoofed Content

With so many things to click on a website, it’s easy to see why cybercriminals would take advantage of that fact. Content spoofing is based on exactly that notion – a cybercriminal alters a section of content on a page of a reliable website to redirect an unsuspecting user to an illegitimate website where they are then asked to enter personal details. The best way to steer clear of this phishing scheme is to check that the URL matches the primary domain name.

Phishing in a Search Engine Pond

 When users search for something online, they expect reliable resources. But sometimes, phishing sites can sneak their way into legitimate results. This tactic is called search engine phishing and involves search engines being manipulated into showing malicious results. Users are attracted to these sites by discount offers for products or services. However, when the user goes to buy said product or service, their personal details are collected by the deceptive site. To stay secure, watch out for potentially sketchy ads in particular and when in doubt always navigate to the official site first.

Who’s That Caller?

With new technologies come new avenues for cybercriminals to try and obtain personal data. Vishing, or voice phishing, is one of those new avenues. In a vishing attempt, cybercriminals contact users by phone and ask the user to dial a number to receive identifiable bank account or personal information through the phone by using a fake caller ID. For example, just last year, a security researcher received a call from their financial institution saying that their card had been compromised. Instead of offering a replacement card, the bank suggested simply blocking any future geographic-specific transactions. Sensing something was up, the researcher hung up and dialed his bank – they had no record of the call or the fraudulent card transactions. This scenario, as sophisticated as it sounds, reminds users to always double-check directly with businesses before sharing any personal information.

As you can see, phishing comes in all shapes and sizes. This blog only scratches the surface of all the ways cybercriminals lure unsuspecting users into phishing traps. The best way to stay protected is to invest in comprehensive security and stay updated on new phishing scams.

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

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Solving the Gamer’s Dilemma: Security vs. Performance

Solving the Gamer’s Dilemma: Security vs. Performance

As of last year, 2.2 billion1 people consider themselves gamers across the globe. Of that 2.2 billion, over 50% – 1.22 billion2 – play their game of choice on a PC. The sheer number of PC gamers throughout the world, however, has sparked the interest of cybercriminals and cyberthreats targeting gamers have spiked. Threats including malware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), phishing, account takeovers (ATO), and more have slowly started to permeate gamers’ domains at an alarming level.

PC gamers often adopt lesser security protocols, as they’re concerned about the potential negative impact on in-game performance. At the same time, they are the most connected, online users, meaning their exposure to threats is generally higher. While they recognize and understand the importance of having cybersecurity, they do not want to sacrifice performance for security. The gamer’s dilemma – security versus performance – is the crux as to why gamers put security second, even though the average gamer has experienced almost five cyberattacks.

There’s good news though – McAfee Gamer Security is here to counter the notion that antivirus slows gamers down. This brand-new security solution from McAfee provides gamers with the security they need without sacrificing performance or creating in-game slowdowns, such as drops in frames per second (FPS) and lag. Built from the ground up, this solution delivers performance optimization by monitoring key system metrics coupled with the ability to manually kill resource hogs on-the-fly, while automatically prioritizing resources and pausing background services. McAfee Gamer Security also features cloud-based MicroAV, which offloads detection from the system to the cloud for all the protection gamers could want or need, without the “bloat” that usually accompanies security software.

While McAfee Gamer Security is now available for purchase, in spring 2019 McAfee surveyed users that participated in beta testing. Here’s how they responded to a few questions we asked:

Overall, what impact, if any, did you feel in your gaming experience?

“I believe I had [experienced] a positive impact of the software during my overall use of the program because it increased the speed of my game as well as gave me peace of mind that I…[stayed] protected during my gameplay.”

What one benefit would make you talk about McAfee Gamer Security to your friends? What is the primary reason for your choice? 

“Good security which doesn’t slow down my system; Normally, antiviruses…hog background resources [and] you trade performance for security. McAfee Gamer Security offers the best of both worlds, without contradicting each other.”

Overall, how useful or not useful has Gamer Security been?                      

“Every couple [of] hours or so while gaming, I…used the software to check up on my RAM/GPU/CPU performance and make sure my system isn’t bottlenecking, there aren’t any irregularities, etc. I also really like that I can experience a boost in my gameplay without having to take the risk of overclocking my components.”

In addition to using a security solution like McAfee Gamer Security, here are some other general tips to help you stay secure while playing your favorite video game:

  1. Ensure all applications, hardware and software are up-to-date. Cybercriminals can take advantage of software, hardware, and application vulnerabilities to spread cyberthreats, such as malware. Keep your devices and applications updated with the latest security patches and fixes to help combat this threat.
  2. Periodically visit your device to add/remove programs. Some apps on your device may be vampirically siphoning in-game performance. Remove apps that you do not need or no longer use.
  3. Create strong, unique passwords. Over 55% of gamers re-use the same password across accounts for online gaming services. And while it might be easier to remember the same password, reusing credentials across multiple accounts could put the hundreds, or even thousands, of invested hours in leveling up characters and gathering rare items at risk in the event one account is breached. Be sure to construct a complex password that is difficult to guess.

And, as always, stay on top of the latest consumer and gaming security threats with @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Footnotes

  1. Number of active video gamers worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in millions), Statista, 2019
  2. Number of active PC gamers worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in millions), Statista, 2019

The post Solving the Gamer’s Dilemma: Security vs. Performance appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene

How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene

Fact – your social media posts may affect your career, or worse case, your identity!

New research from the world’s largest dedicated cybersecurity firm, McAfee, has revealed that two thirds (67%) of Aussies are embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. Yikes! And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.

So, next time these Aussies apply for a job and the Human Resources Manager decides to ‘check them out online’, you can guess what the likely outcome will be…

Proactively Managing Social Media Accounts Is Critical For Professional Reputation

For many Aussies, social media accounts operate as a memory timeline of their social lives. Whether they are celebrating a birthday, attending a party or just ‘letting their hair down’ – many people will document their activities for all to see through a collection of sometimes ‘colourful’ photos and videos. But sharing ‘good times’ can become a very big problem when social media accounts are not proactively managed. Ensuring your accounts are set to the tightest privacy settings possible and curating them regularly for relevance and suitability is essential if you want to keep your digital reputation in-tact. However, it appears that a large proportion of Aussies are not taking these simple steps.

McAfee’s research shows that 28% of Aussies admit to either never or not being able to recall the last time they checked their social media timeline. 66% acknowledge that they have at least one inactive social media account. 40% admit that they’ve not even thought about deleting inactive accounts or giving them a clear-out and concerningly, 11% don’t know how to adjust their privacy settings! So, I have no doubt that some of the Aussies that fall into these groups would have NOT come up trumps when they were ‘checked out online’ by either their current or future Human Resources Managers!!

What Social Media Posts Are Aussies Most Embarrassed By?

As part of the research study, Aussies were asked to nominate the social media posts that they have been most embarrassed by. Here are the top 10:

  1. Drunken behaviour
  2. Comment that can be perceived as offensive
  3. Wearing an embarrassing outfit
  4. Wardrobe malfunction
  5. In their underwear
  6. Throwing up
  7. Swearing
  8. Kissing someone they shouldn’t have been
  9. Sleeping somewhere they shouldn’t
  10. Exposing themselves on purpose

Cybercriminals Love Online Sharers

As well as the potential to hurt career prospects, relaxed attitudes to social media could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercriminals on a platter!!

Considering how much personal information and images most social media accounts hold, it’s concerning that 16 per cent of Aussies interviewed admitted that they don’t know how to close down their inactive social media accounts and a third (34%) don’t know the passwords or no longer have access to the email addresses they used to set them up – effectively locking them out!

What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?

The good news is that there are things we can do TODAY to improve our social media hygiene and reduce the risk of our online information getting into the wrong hands. Here are my top tips:

  1. Clean-up your digital past. Sift through your old and neglected social media accounts. If you are not using them – delete the account. Then take some time to audit your active accounts. Delete any unwanted tags, photos, comments and posts so they don’t come back to haunt your personal or professional life.

How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene

  1. Lockdown privacy and security settings. Leaving your social media profiles on the ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat anything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.

 

  1. Never reuse passwords. Use unique passwords with a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols for each one of your accounts, even if you don’t think the account holds a lot of personal information. If managing all your passwords seems like a daunting task, look for security software that includes a password manager.

 

  1. Avoid Sharing VERY Personal Information Online. The ever-growing body of information you share online could possibly be used by cybercriminals to steal your identity. The more you share, the greater the risk. Avoid using your full name, date of birth, current employer, names of your family members, your home address even the names of your pets online – as you could be playing straight into the hands of identity thieves and hackers.
  1. Think before you post. Think twice about each post you make. Will it have a negative impact on you or someone you know now or possibly in the future? Does it give away personal information that someone could use against you? Taking a moment to think through the potential consequences BEFORE you post is the best way to avoid serious regrets in the future.

 

  1. Employ extra protection across all your devices. Threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware can all reach you through your social media. Install comprehensive security software to protect you from these nasties.

 

If you think you (or one of your kids) might just identify with the above ‘relaxed yet risky’ approach to managing your social media, then it’s time to act. Finding a job is hard enough in our crowded job market without being limited by photos of your latest social gathering! And no-one wants to be the victim of identity theft which could possibly affect your financial reputation for the rest of your life! So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work cleaning up your digital life! It’s so worth it!!

Alex xx

 

 

The post How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Cybercrime’s Most Wanted: Four Mobile Threats that Might Surprise You

Cybercrime’s Most Wanted: Four Mobile Threats that Might Surprise You

It’s hard to imagine a world without cellphones. Whether it be a smartphone or a flip phone, these devices have truly shaped the late 20th century and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But while users have become accustomed to having almost everything they could ever want at fingertips length, cybercriminals were busy setting up shop. To trick unsuspecting users, cybercriminals have set up crafty mobile threats – some that users may not even be fully aware of. These sneaky cyberthreats include SMSishing, fake networks, malicious apps, and grayware, which have all grown in sophistication over time. This means users need to be equipped with the know-how to navigate the choppy waters that come with these smartphone-related cyberthreats. Let’s get started.

Watch out for SMSishing Hooks

If you use email, then you are probably familiar with what phishing is. And while phishing is commonly executed through email and malicious links, there is a form of phishing that specifically targets mobile devices called SMSishing. This growing threat allows cybercriminals to utilize messaging apps to send unsuspecting users a SMSishing message. These messages serve one purpose – to obtain personal information, such as logins and financial information. With that information, cybercriminals could impersonate the user to access banking records or steal their identity.

While this threat was once a rarity, it’s rise in popularity is two-fold. The first aspect being that users have been educated to distrust email messages and the second being the rise in mobile phone usage throughout the world. Although this threat shows no sign of slowing down, there are ways to avoid a cybercriminal’s SMSishing hooks. Get started with these tips:

  1. Always double-check the message’s source. If you receive a text from your bank or credit card company, call the organization directly to ensure the message is legit.
  2. Delete potential SMSishing Do not reply to or click on any links within a suspected malicious text, as that could lead to more SMSishing attempts bombarding your phone.
  3. Invest in comprehensive mobile security. Adding an extra level of security can not only help protect your device but can also notify you when a threat arises.

Public Wi-Fi Woes  

Public and free Wi-Fi is practically everywhere nowadays, with some destinations even having city-wide Wi-Fi set up. But that Wi-Fi users are connecting their mobile device to may not be the most secure, given cybercriminals can exploit weaknesses in these networks to intercept messages, login credentials, or other personal information. Beyond exploiting weaknesses, some cybercriminals take it a step further and create fake networks with generic names that trick unsuspecting users into connecting their devices. These networks are called “evil-twin” networks. For help in spotting these imposters, there are few tricks the savvy user can deploy to prevent an evil twin network from wreaking havoc on their mobile device:

  1. Look for password-protected networks. As strange as it sounds, if you purposely enter the incorrect password but are still allowed access, the network is most likely a fraud.
  2. Pay attention to page load times. If the network you are using is very slow, it is more likely a cybercriminal is using an unreliable mobile hotspot to connect your mobile device to the web.
  3. Use a virtual private network or VPN. While you’re on-the-go and using public Wi-Fi, add an extra layer of security in the event you accidentally connect to a malicious network. VPNs can encrypt your online activity and keep it away from prying eyes. 

Malicious Apps: Fake It till They Make It

Fake apps have become a rampant problem for Android and iPhone users alike. This is mainly in part due to malicious apps hiding in plain sight on legitimate sources, such as the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. After users download a faulty app, cybercriminals deploy malware that operates in the background of mobile devices which makes it difficult for users to realize anything is wrong. And while users think they’ve just downloaded another run-of-the-mill app, the malware is hard at work obtaining personal data.

In order to keep sensitive information out of the hands of cybercriminals, here are a few things users can look for when they need to determine whether an app is fact or fiction:

  1. Check for typos and poor grammar. Always check the app developer name, product title, and description for typos and grammatical errors. Often, malicious developers will spoof real developer IDs, even just by a single letter or number, to seem legitimate.
  2. Examine the download statistics. If you’re attempting to download a popular app, but it has a surprisingly low number of downloads, that is a good indicator that an app is most likely fake.
  3. Read the reviews. With malicious apps, user reviews are your friend. By reading a few, you can receive vital information that can help you determine whether the app is fake or not.

The Sly Operation of Grayware

With so many types of malware out in the world, it’s hard to keep track of them all. But there is one in particular that mobile device users need to be keenly aware of called grayware. As a coverall term for software or code that sits between normal and malicious, grayware comes in many forms, such as adware, spyware or madware. While adware and spyware can sometimes operate simultaneously on infected computers, madware — or adware on mobile devices — infiltrates smartphones by hiding within rogue apps. Once a mobile device is infected with madware from a malicious app, ads can infiltrate almost every aspect on a user’s phone. Madware isn’t just annoying; it also is a security and privacy risk, as some threats will try to obtain users’ data. To avoid the annoyance, as well as the cybersecurity risks of grayware, users can prepare their devices with these cautionary steps:

  1. Be sure to update your device. Grayware looks for vulnerabilities that can be exploited, so be sure to always keep your device’s software up-to-date.
  2. Beware of rogue apps. As mentioned in the previous section, fake apps are now a part of owning a smartphone. Use the tips in the above section to ensure you keep malicious apps off of your device that may contain grayware.
  3. Consider a comprehensive mobile security system. By adding an extra level of security, you can help protect your devices from threats, both old and new.

Can’t get enough mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

The post Cybercrime’s Most Wanted: Four Mobile Threats that Might Surprise You appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

With winter almost gone, now is the perfect time to start planning your annual spring clean. When we think about our yearly sort out, most of us think about decluttering our chaotic linen cupboards or the wardrobes that we can’t close. But if you want to minimise the opportunities for a hacker to get their hands on your private online information then a clean-up of your digital house (aka your online life) is absolutely essential.

How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

Not Glamourous but Necessary

I totally accept that cleaning up your online life isn’t exciting but let me assure you it is a must if you want to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Think about how much digital clutter we have accumulated over the years? Many of us have multiple social media, messaging and email accounts. And don’t forget about all the online newsletters and ‘accounts’ we have signed up for with stores and online sites? Then there are the apps and programs we no longer use.

Well, all of this can be a liability. Holding onto accounts and files you don’t need exposes you to all sorts of risks. Your devices could be stolen or hacked or, a data breach could mean that your private details are exposed quite possibly on the Dark Web. In short, the less information that there is about you online, the better off you are.

Digital clutter can be distracting, exhausting to manage and most importantly, detrimental to your online safety. A thorough digital spring clean will help to protect your important, online personal information from cybercriminals.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for its victims. It occurs when a person’s personal information is stolen to be used primarily for financial gain. A detailed set of personal details is often all a hacker needs to access bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards and basically destroy your credit rating and reputation.

How To Do a Digital Spring Clean

The good news is that digital spring cleaning doesn’t require nearly as much elbow grease as scrubbing down the microwave! Here are my top tips to add to your spring-cleaning list this year:

  1. Weed Out Your Old Devices

Gather together every laptop, desktop computer, tablet and smartphone that lives in your house. Now, you need to be strong – work out which devices are past their use-by date and which need to be spring cleaned.

If it is finally time to part ways with your first iPad or the old family desktop, make sure any important documents or holiday photos are backed up in a few places (on another computer, an external hard drive AND in cloud storage program such as Dropbox and or iCloud) so you can erase all remaining data and recycle the device with peace of mind. Careful not to get ‘deleting’ confused with ‘erasing,’ which means permanently clearing data from a device. Deleted files can often linger in a device’s recycling folder.

  1. Ensure Your Machines Are Clean!

It is not uncommon for viruses or malware to find their way onto your devices through outdated software so ensure all your internet-connected devices have the latest software updates including operating systems and browsers. Ideally, you should ensure that you are running the latest version of apps too. Most software packages do auto-update but please take the time to ensure this is happening on all your devices.

  1. Review and Consolidate Files, Applications and Services

Our devices play such a huge part in our day to day lives so it is inevitable that they become very cluttered. Your kids’ old school assignments, outdated apps and programs, online subscriptions and unused accounts are likely lingering on your devices.

The big problem with old accounts is that they get hacked! And they can often lead hackers to your current accounts so it’s a no-brainer to ensure the number of accounts you are using is kept to a minimum.

Once you have decided which apps and accounts you are keeping, take some time to review the latest privacy agreements and settings so you understand what data they are collecting and when they are collecting it. You might also discover that some of your apps are using far more of your data than you realised! Might be time to opt-out!

  1. Update Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected. Why not use your digital spring cleaning as an excuse to update and strengthen your credentials?

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

Finally, wherever possible, you should enable two-factor authentication for your accounts to add an extra layer of defense against cyber criminals. Two-factor authentication is where a user is verified by opt-out password or one-off code through a separate personal device like a smart phone.

Still not convinced? If you use social media, shop online, subscribe to specialist newsletters then your existence is scattered across the internet. By failing to clean up your ‘digital junk’ you are effectively giving a set of front door keys to hackers and risking having your identity stolen. Not a great scenario at all. So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work!

Til Next Time

Alex xx

 

 

 

 

The post How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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