(BPT) - Resourceful thieves and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to hack U.S. consumers’ sensitive personal information. Dumpster diving, stolen or lost wallets and mail fraud should still be concerns, but the digital age of tablets, smartphones, PCs and Wi-Fi networks leaves people more vulnerable than ever.
Have you ever stored credit card information on your phone for added convenience to make payments in a checkout lane? Do you ever store passwords in apps to transfer funds between accounts? And what’s to keep hackers from accessing a wireless network you check your email on while you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee?
”More than 15.4 million people a year will experience identity theft, with an average loss of more than $1,000,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “When one access point closes due to added levels of security, cyberattackers find another. Insurance companies like Mercury provide services that allow homeowners and renters to enjoy the convenience of accessing their connected devices at home and on the go, while also helping to protect customers from the potentially devastating effects of criminal infiltration, cyberextortion and identity theft.”
The following five do’s and don’ts can help stop criminals in their tracks and protect your connected devices, as well as your electronic identity.
Li recommends homeowners and renters speak with their local insurance agent to learn more about the endorsements they may be able to add to existing policies to help safeguard their finances if their identities are compromised or connected devices are attacked.
“It can be daunting to try to regain your financial footing if a criminal takes advantage of you,” said Li. “Insurance exists to help protect consumers from unexpected events and, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
(BPT) - Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
1. Be careful when using insecure Wi-Fi networks
If you’re traveling or out shopping, you may find yourself on an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network. Many stores, airports and rest stops offer free Wi-Fi as a convenience, but often those networks aren’t secured. That makes it especially risky to make online purchases because the traffic from your device can be easily monitored and stolen. If you are using public Wi-Fi networks, then browsing to any website, make sure your connection is encrypted and secure by looking for the lock icon in the top left of the address bar. Also, always double check that the address you are navigating to is what you expected. Many modern devices, like the ASUS NovaGo, now feature built-in LTE, which offers a more secure experience for your online shopping.
2. Don’t rely on passwords alone
Passwords and user IDs are a staple of cybersecurity, but they can only get you so far. To further ensure your data stays protected, consider using password management and verification apps. They let you use your face, fingerprint, eyes or other methods to access your data across devices. For example, the Microsoft Authenticator app adds an extra level of security with two-step verification that allows you to access your Microsoft account and apps quickly and securely without having to remember a password.
3. Avoid phishing scams
With so many companies emailing promotions, it can feel like your inbox is under assault. In fact, it very well could be. Some of those emails may be phishing scams designed to steal your private information. To protect your data, don’t click on any unfamiliar links and carefully review all notifications from your bank to catch any potentially fraudulent activity.
Remember, scammers can be sophisticated. They may use personalized emails to gain your confidence or replicate the style of a well-known financial services company. If an email or link looks the slightest bit suspicious, don’t click it. Go directly to your bank or other online account to confirm the information independently.
4. Back up your data
If all your data is stored in one place, it’s vulnerable. Bad actors can lock up your device and demand payment to release your files. That’s why backing your data up to the cloud is critical for protecting your files against ransomware attacks. The cloud allows you to safeguard your data and access it from multiple devices. Cloud storage services are secure and can also let you easily transfer your data if you’re upgrading to a new device.
5. Utilize privacy screens
Preventing people from looking over your shoulder and stealing your information is the simplest and easiest way to protect your personal data. When online shopping in public, use privacy screens to hide your information. Some devices, like the HP EliteBook x360 and HP Spectre x360, have integrated privacy screens that instantly shield your screen with the push of a button. If your device doesn’t come with one built in, you can purchase a privacy screen.
6. Keep software current
Using a modern operating system with the latest security updates and built-in anti-virus protection is the best way to ward off unwanted intrusions. Major tech companies continually upgrade software to account for the latest cybersecurity threats so you can be confident your data is protected. By keeping your software current, you can avoid many cyberattacks before they cause problems.
If you’re like most Americans, you probably own two or more computers and have three or more smartphones in your house. As you prepare for traveling during the busy holiday season, you’ll likely plan on taking some of those devices with you. Protect yourself and your devices from cyberattacks during the holidays with this guide.
Personal Device Protection During the Holidays
(Family Features) If you’re like most Americans, you probably own two or more computers and have three or more smartphones in your house. As you prepare for traveling during the busy holiday season, you’ll likely plan on taking some of those devices with you. Protect yourself and your devices from cyberattacks during the holidays with this guide from the experts at Trend Micro, and find more information at trendmicro.com.
In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family. While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about the potential risks and how to avoid them can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems. Open up a conversation with your children about cyber security with these tips.
5 Tips to Make Sense of Cyber Security
(Family Features) It’s no secret that kids have a sense of invincibility. While that trait can bring some endearing reminders of the innocence of childhood, it can also have some highly unfortunate consequences. In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family.
The majority of U.S. households are filled with devices that pose a potential threat to your personal security. In fact, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Security Survey by Trend Micro, nearly half of households have two or more computers and nearly a third have three or more smartphones. That means the opportunities are plentiful for missteps to occur.
Despite the many benefits of a highly connected world, the potential for danger is strong. The same study found that 65 percent of respondents’ computers had been infected with a virus or malware. Other concerns included damage or loss of files, children viewing inappropriate content, cyberbullying and ID or password theft.
While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about the potential risks and how to avoid them can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems.
Open up a conversation with your children about cyber security with these tips from the experts at Trend Micro:
Explore more ideas to keep your kids and family safe online at internetsafety.trendmicro.com.
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(BPT) - Your smartphone, your tablet, your computer - they are some of your most important and most used possessions. They are the daily tools you use for research, to connect with others and make purchases. You take them everywhere and fill them with your important, personal information.
And all of that makes them the perfect targets for a cyberattack.
The number of cybercrime incidents in the United States grows each year, and as Americans move into an increasingly digital society - thanks to smart phones, smart cars and smart in-home technologies - cybercrime is expected to grow in frequency again in 2017. Protecting yourself, your family and the vital information on your devices means increasing your focus on your own cybersecurity. That starts with these five tips.
* Recognize you're not immune. Cyberattacks increase in frequency and severity every year, so don't make the mistake of believing it can't happen to you. "It's important to protect yourself by taking personal responsibility for your data; we can't expect banks or other institutions to do it for us," said Jim Karagiannes, Ph.D., professor in DeVry University's College of Engineering & Information Services.
"We lock our doors and take other security measures to protect our home and car. We need to also take precautions with our personal security and information."
* Don't store your username, password or credit card information with a website. The convenience makes it tempting, but websites are a popular target for cybercriminals because a successful hack gives them access to hundreds or thousands of files, including yours. Even storing this information on your own computer can expose it in a cyberattack, and if your credit card information is captured, criminals can use it to gather your social security number. That exposes you to identify theft. Keep this information off your devices and, instead, create complex passwords and write down all of your usernames and passwords on a piece of paper that you keep in a safe place, such as a deposit box.
* Use only a credit card, not a debit card, when making online purchases. Using your credit card instead of your debit card allows you to keep better track of the purchases you have made. It also limits the effects of any possible theft to just the one card instead of several. If you have no choice but to use a debit card for an online purchase, do not use your pin number online.
* If it feels like a trick, it probably is. Cybercriminals often engage in "social engineering" or other non-electronic methods to try and trick you into surrendering your data. If you get a phone call about a banking or credit card issue or if your computer tells you to call a number because it just caught a virus, be cautious. Do not divulge any personal history or credit card details. Hang up or ignore the computer-generated notices and call the customer service number of the institution's website with any questions.
* Replace your existing credit cards with chip cards as soon as possible. Chip cards are becoming the new normal these days, and if your current credit card does not have a silver square chip on its front, consider replacing it quickly. Popularized in Europe, chip cards possess the necessary encrypted information to eliminate delays in the transaction process. Doing so closes the window criminals need to steal your personal information, thus protecting you from identity theft.
You have no intention of abandoning your devices, of course, so protect them. Following the tips above will help better secure your technology and personal information from the threats of cybercrime so you can enjoy your devices with greater peace of mind.
(BPT) - New vehicles are packed full of the latest and greatest technology. Among their many capabilities, today’s vehicles can automatically apply brakes to avoid collisions, maintain a designated following distance behind the car ahead of it and maneuver the vehicle back into its lane if the driver veers out of it. Some cars can even drive and park themselves!
Additionally, in-car Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots allow passengers to connect their computers, tablets and smartphones to the internet from the convenience of the vehicle cabin. Bluetooth allows hands-free use of phones, and infotainment systems let people enjoy their favorite tunes, access apps, navigate and more.
These technological advances provide tremendous benefits for drivers and passengers, but much of this technology can also be used to launch cyberattacks on your vehicle.
“Modern cars are essentially rolling computers and, just as your laptop, smartphone or tablet can be hacked, so can these driving machines,” says Craig Smith, author of The Car Hacker’s Handbook and founder of the Open Garages vehicle research lab.
Millions of today’s vehicles possess vulnerabilities that leave them open to new age methods of theft that don’t require a key or Slim Jim or, worse, situations where drivers no longer have control over their vehicles while driving. Mercury Insurance, one of the nation’s leading auto insurance providers, recently connected with Smith to help keep drivers safe and shed some light on this growing problem.
According to Smith, there are several key vulnerable areas consumers should be aware of, including:
* On-board diagnostics-II (OBD-II) ports;
* Key fobs;
* Infotainment systems (including audio files that owners may have synced for in-car entertainment);
* In-car Wi-Fi;
* Mobile hotspots;
* Navigation systems;
* Smartphones (connected to cars via Bluetooth); and
* Tire pressure monitoring systems.
“There are many factors that go into determining a vehicle’s risk of being hacked,” says Smith, who has worked in the security industry for more than 20 years and with the auto industry for five. “Newer vehicles have what we call a higher ‘attack surface,’ meaning there are more areas that are hackable."
“If you are specifically concerned about remote hackers, as opposed to those who have physical access to your car, then look at the wireless systems your vehicle supports. If your vehicle has telematics, satellite or digital radio, internet, Bluetooth, or wireless key fobs, these wireless services can provide entry points for an attacker over varied distances. This is also true for aftermarket components added to your vehicles, such as dongles plugged into your vehicle to monitor your driving for insurance reasons.”
Local hackers can gain access to a car to unlock it and steal its contents or even start the ignition to steal the vehicle.
To protect against vehicle hacking, Smith recommends disabling wireless services that aren’t being used. Consumers should refer to the information their auto manufacturer provides on vehicle features, decide which ones are important and only enable those options. Those who wish to use a dongle in their vehicle should try to use it sparingly and take it with them when they leave their car.
“The key to protecting your vehicle if it’s deemed at-risk for hacking is to disable the components that have the most risk. For instance, if the radio unit is the culprit you can disable it or replace it,” says Smith. “And while newer vehicles tend to have a larger attack surface, they also have more safety features that can help minimize or avoid injury in a collision, so you should consider that as well.”
Mercury Insurance is helping consumers answer the question “How Hackable is Your Car?” with an infographic that shows the areas of a consumer’s specific vehicle that may be vulnerable to a cyberattack. Visit https://blog.mercuryinsurance.com/how-hackable-is-your-car to learn more.
“We continuously review the automotive marketplace, so we can provide consumers with important information about how to protect themselves, families and property, whether it’s about the dangers of distracted driving, teen driving safety or, now, vehicle hacking,” says Tom Coyne, auto line lead for Mercury Insurance. “And Mercury doesn’t use dongle technology because we don’t want to increase our customers’ risk of a cyberattack, which we think they appreciate.”
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