HO HO HO… or UH OH. It’s that time again for traveling and messing up your daily routines. So as you are focused on running around town or traveling home for the holidays, we’ve assembled ten top concerns you should keep close in your mind, about staying cyber safe with your electronic devices.
10. Mischievous Greetings
December often brings an influx of e-mail greetings from distant family and friends, inviting recipients to “click here” to view an e-card, watch a video, or see some funny cat animation. Unfortunately not all messages are honest. While some are harmless hoax emails, cyber-criminals have been known to disguise viruses, adware or spyware as phony holiday greetings. So be extra careful when opening all file attachments and URLs.
9. Phishing for new contacts
From LinkedIn or Instagram to Facebook and Twitter, many users will use this time of year to catch up on social networking. Regrettably, social networking websites have become an increasing pathway for phishing. Double chack to make sure that old high school buddy is really the one inviting you to friend. Always be suspicious before clicking any invite and make sure that you never send your personal information to new “friends” that may not be really be your friends.
8. Rebellious PDAs
You are running around and somewhere between your car, or office, or hotel, or cab, or airports, you may lose your laptop, PDA, or smartphone this holiday season. To prove this point, many airports around the nation have lost-and-found departments with thousands of unclaimed mobile devices. So don’t leave an airport gate, a personal or rented vehicle, or security checkpoint without taking a mental inventory of your electronics. Always make sure that you have your electronics in your possession. Considering the wealth of data and investment into your devices, you may wish to register all of your laptops and smartphones with services that can locate and recover or kill lost or stolen devices, such as Apple’s MobileMe, Lost Android, or Microsoft’s MyPhone.
7. Dangerous hotspots
You are at a coffee shop, an airport, or favorite retail store. Be very suspicious of Internet hotspots. Surveys show that viral SSIDs like “FreePublicWifi” are advertised by 5 to 10 percent of Wi-Fi clients used in highly-traveled public places. Many are fellow travelers that unquestioningly try to connect to similarly-named fake hotspots in the past. But a few might be criminals looking to steal your logins and passwords. So avoid free sounding Wi-Fi peers or networks that are probably too good to be true. Our engineers also recommend that you protect hotspot traffic using VPN tunnels or SSL/TLS sessions.
6. Risky public PCs
When you travel this Holiday season you may choose to leave your laptop at home. At your destination or when you are in transit you may be faced with using someone else’s computer to check e-mail or print a boarding pass. Whether that computer is a public PC at some kiosk or your brother-in-law’s laptop sitting in his kitchen, you’re about to enter some rather risky waters. Try to avoid typing in ordinary passwords that are easily captured by hidden keystroke loggers. If you can, protect public PC Internet access by using secure remote desktop or clientless VPN solutions that mitigate common public PC threats, such as such as LogMeIn or GoToMyPC. Some travelers may choose to change their passwords before their journey begins, and then again when safely back to home base.
5. Leaping logons
The Holidays are a great time to visit with friends and loved ones but this also is a great time to forget to protect your logons. Remember to log out of all authenticated browser and VPN sessions, clear the browser’s cache of saved pages and passwords, and exit all programs that you were using. Always avoid leaving your laptop unattended, but if you get up for a short time, make sure you password-lock the screen. Our security team recommends that you shut down and lock it away in a hotel room safe. Think ahead and be extra cautious, it can help you avoid wasting precious holiday time dealing with the consequences of unauthorized laptop use or theft.
4. Abandoned USB drives
Holiday time is a great time to put pictures and other valuable files on USB thumb drives. When traveling you may remember to protect your laptop and smartphone, but you can still leave USB thumb drives plugged into public PCs, in car coffee holders, stuck in between cushions, and bouncing out of your pocket. The files saved on those lost drives could haunt you for a very long time. Make sure you’ve protected that removable drive’s content with data encryption. The same goes for data on devices that double as USB storage, such as Pens, flashlights, MP3 players or iPods.
3. Internet tip-toeing
Yes, it is the gift giving time and many of us will be unwrapping a gorgeous new Laptop. Sure it may have some trial adware or anti-virus software installed, you really don’t have a good handle on how protected or up-to-date that preloaded software is. As soon as you get it booted up, you want to start surfing. But accessing the Internet without security upgrades complete is a very bad idea. Take the needed time to get the updates and the security software up-to-date. Then you can feel a bit better when downloading your favorite holiday goodies.
2. Insecure smartphones
Santa Claus has just delivered a smartphone to your stocking. You probably will immediately start configuring it with usernames and passwords for Gmail, Yahoo!, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, and perhaps a corporate Exchange server. Unfortunately, you will probably forget to protect that new phone with strong authentication—much less data encryption. By forgetting this it creates an opportunity for personal and business identity theft. Remember to always enable built-in smartphone security measures. There is also 3rd party security apps that will provided a higher level of protection, as well.
1. Hazardous downloads
Make sure you use common sense when you download apps, games, file sharing tools, music clients, and any other third-party apps this holiday season. Downloaded apps are a must to get added value out of your electronic devices. Many of the good ones are free or in-app purchased from marketplaces and app stores. Before downloading anything, make sure to read and understand what these apps will do before you install them. Be very suspicious of any unsigned apps from unknown developers. If possible, use anti-virus/spyware to detect any downloaded malware.
You may have some time off this holiday season, but remember that the Cyber Criminals are working full time!!
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