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The ultimate cheat sheet on multi-device security

Remember when we all just had a laptop and a flip phone? Well those days are long gone. By 2020, the average person will own more than four connected devices. And by then, it likely won't be just smartphones and tablets anymore – watches, cars and other smart devices will have found their way into the mix. 

"When you're looking to secure multiple devices, it's best to find a single solution."

The proliferation of connected gadgets is definitely exciting, but for the security-minded among us, it's also a bit overwhelming. After all, every smartphone and tablet that you take into your home is a device that needs protection. As the average person is becoming a multi-device individual, it's important that everybody knows the fundamentals about securing more than one gadget. Therefore, we've put together this handy cheat sheet to multi-device security:

Limit complexity by leveraging a single solution: When you're looking to secure multiple devices, it's important that you don't pursue a multiplicity of security methods. If you have one security package for your iPhone and a different one for your laptop, you're setting yourself up for needless confusion. The best way to tackle multi-device security is to invest in a software package that encompasses all of your devices. When your PC, smartphone and tablet are all consolidated under the same security platform, protection becomes easier to oversee and control.

Our multi-device world needs simple security solutions.
Our multi-device world needs simple security solutions.

Don't download that suspicious-looking app: As InformationWeek points out, if the app you're considering downloading looks suspect, odds are that it is. So why risk it? Avoiding dubious downloads is a good practice no matter how many devices you have, but it's particularly important for people with multiple devices. After all, most people have all of their devices interconnected, which means that something downloaded to your iPhone will immediately be on your tablet as well. With the number of malicious apps out there, it pays to be a discerning downloader.

Enable locking on all devices: If you power your computer on and it's goes straight to the desktop, that's a problem. And if you boot up your mobile device and get access without entering a passcode, that's even more problematic. A few years ago, a software authority conducted a test where they strategically "lost" 50 smartphones to see what would happen. In more than 95 percent of cases, the individuals who found the phones quickly tried to gain access to personal data on the device. The message from the study was clear: It's not only criminals who will try to access your personal data. Everyday people, when given the opportunity, will do so as well. Fortunately, there's a simple solution in the form of passcodes and passwords. When you're dealing with multiple personal devices, that automatically heightens your risk of outside intrusion. But having passcodes or passwords on all of your devices can significantly reduce this threat.

Follow these tips and you'll enjoy a high level of multi-device security. 

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3 safe online shopping tips for the holiday season

With the holiday season right around the corner, people are beginning to rediscover how much better it is to give than to receive. Sadly, there are some selfish individuals out there who think taking is better than both of these actions.

Hackers love this time of year, because people all over the world are using their computers to purchase gifts for their loved ones. This provides cyber criminals an easy access point to steal your personal information.

That being said, you don’t need to stop shopping online just because some Grinches out there want to take what’s yours. Purchasing gifts through the Internet can be just as safe as doing so in the store, as long as you follow some safety best practices. To that end, we’ve used our experience developing the best cyber security software available to put together this list of three safe online shopping tips for this holiday season:

HolildayHacker
Don’t let hackers ruin your Christmas!

1. Only give your payment information to secure websites

When the Internet began to become a viable means for purchasing and selling items, cyber security experts had to figure out how to protect your computer from cyber criminals. What they eventually came up with was the Secure Sockets Layer protocol. SSL works by creating a secure connection between the buyer and the seller that is much safer from hacking attempts.

Think of it like this: When your computer sends a request on a non-SSL site, it’s like sending a letter in an envelope. Anyone with a letter opener (hacking skills) and the gumption to open it can view your message if they so choose. Putting out a request on a site with SSL is like sending out a package with a padlock on it. Only the recipient can open it because they’re the only one with a key. But rather than a locked package, your request is an encrypted piece of data that can only be opened by the person on the other end with a specific encryption key.

If you’re still confused by all of this cyber security lingo, don’t fret: There are a few incredibly easy ways to tell if a website is working on an SSL connection. Demand Media has a step-by-step guide to figure out whether or not a site is using SSL. The most important step in this has to do with the URL of the site.

When looking at your address bar at the vendor’s website, the URL should start with “https://” before launching into the rest of the address. If you only see “http://” or something else, be extremely hesitant about putting in your debit or credit card information. That site is not guaranteed to be as secure and should be avoided at all costs.

2. Be mindful of emails

Another way hackers try to steal your information is through email phishing scams. These scams are where a cyber criminal sends out a massive number of emails with a link that contains malware meant to take control of your computer. Basically, these nefarious individuals are using a shotgun technique, sending out a large quantity of links in the hopes that at least a small percentage of people will click on them. A lot of the time around the holidays hackers will pose these emails as amazing deals, hiding their malware as links to websites containing incredible savings.

“156 million phishing emails are sent out every single day.”

The Get Cyber Safe campaign, initiated by the Canadian government, has a pretty interesting infographic on its website about how phishing works. According to the site’s stats, around 156 million phishing emails are sent out every single day. Of these 156 million, about 80,000 people click on the link and get their information stolen.

While 80,000 may seem like a small percentage of the original number, hackers couldn’t care less. They fully expect most people to not click on their links, and are counting on only a tiny portion of the population actually falling for their scheme. Although a proper spam filter should be able to help keep you safe, if you ever see a message from a person you don’t recognize that contains a link, don’t even think about clicking it.

3. Have solid cyber security software

Even though there are a lot of things you can do to make your online shopping habits safer, some hackers will still find a way to navigate around your best practices. This shouldn’t stop you from purchasing items online. Rather, it should serve as a reminder that everyone needs cyber security software to keep them safe.

Cyber criminals are working tirelessly to steal your information and even your identity. Cyber security software is one of the best ways to prevent identity theft and it can save you the headache of having to dispute charges you never incurred. Hackers are certainly something to be worried about, but don’t let them dampen your holiday spirit.

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3 reasons why you should be backing up your files

If there is one thing IT professionals can all agree on, it’s that every single person should be backing up their important data. With so much of modern life contained within a digital environment, not backing up your files is just asking for trouble.

Sadly, quite a lot of people simply forgo this advice. They think nothing bad will ever happen to them, or that their data just isn’t important enough to worry about, and many end up paying the price.

Creating a solid backup routine is incredibly important in this day and age. To help convince you how vital this service is, here are the top three reasons why you need to back up your data:

“Bad things can happen to good people.”

1. Accidents happen

The problem with life is that it very rarely follows your plans. Bad things can happen to good people, and simply ignoring this possibility doesn’t make it go away. What’s more, not being prepared to lose your primary data to an accident can make for a very stressful situation. Do you want to have to worry about your latest project at work if faced with an earthquake, tornado or other natural disaster?

Natural disasters such as this aren’t even your biggest worries, either. A study conducted by IT Policy Compliance Group found that in events involving the loss of sensitive information, around three-quarters occurred due to human error. While that number may seem shockingly high, it makes sense when you think about it. Humans are constantly interacting with computers, while natural disasters are generally few and far between.

While a tornado destroying house – and therefore all the data on your computer – is certainly a possibility for some of us, it’s much more likely that you’ll lose your information due to a clumsy friend or careless toddler knocking a drink onto your machine. Having backed up your information allows you the comfort of knowing that whatever happens, you’ll always have your most important files.

2.  Physical theft is always a threat

Even though life’s little mishaps may not be ideal, at least they aren’t malicious. A earthquake doesn’t gain anything from wreaking havok. Criminals, on the other hand, definitely do benefit from your misfortune.

To begin, the loss of a device with work-related or personal files due to theft is going to be a huge headache for you if you don’t utilize a backup service. Not only will you have to worry about the criminal gaining access to your device – and therefore your or your company’s private data – but you’ll also have to start from scratch on whatever projects you were working on.

And while recreating the work lost on your stolen device may be annoying, the worst part of a theft is the fact that you’ll never be able to get back the memories contained on that machine. Your first born will never take her first steps again, and if the only place you had video of her doing that was on now stolen device, then you’ll never get to experience that joy again. Not only does backup save your critical work and personal files, it also preserves the most precious memories of your life.

3. It protects you from ransomware attacks

While on the subject of criminals, backing up your important information has the benefit of protecting you from one of the newest forms of cyber crime: ransomware. As the name would suggest, this form of malware infects your machine and blocks you from gaining access to your files. In effect, it holds your computer ransom until you pay the hacker a fee to remove the malware.

While this new form of extortion used to only infect your computer through an email containing a specific piece of malware, the FBI has stated that hackers are rapidly advancing in their abilities. Apparently, now all you need to do is visit a compromised website in order for the malware to take control of your machine.

Although a backup routine in and of itself won’t get the ransomware off your computer, it will allow you to access your important data without having to pay the hacker. Having your information in multiple places takes a lot of the sting out of a ransomware attack, allowing you to go about your business as you normally would.

The number of problems backups can solve far outnumbers the items on this list. Every person, regardless of their online presence, should absolutely look into this incredible service.

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Is all that tech you got for Christmas protected?

Yet another year has come and gone, and with Christmas in the rearview mirror, it’s time to stop and reflect on the joy brought by those wrapped boxes under the tree. There really isn’t anything like the happiness brought on by a good present, and in this day and age, tech like laptops and smartphones are quickly becoming the go-to gifts for everyone on your shopping list.

While fun gadgets are a great way to impress your loved ones, there are people out there that want to turn this gesture of goodwill into a profit. Hackers love this time of year because it allows them to easily exploit devices that haven’t been protected yet. The tech you just purchased for your family could be a liability if don’t take precautions to prevent it.

Hackers are trying to take what’s yours…

Although this time of year is meant to inspire goodness and caring, cyber criminals see it as another way to take advantage of helpless victims. Hackers work around the clock to try to access your private information, and they’re frighteningly efficient at it. In 2014, about 47 percent of American adults had their private information stolen by cyber criminals.

“There are 138 successful cyber attacks every single week.”

With about half of all U.S. adults having their data stolen, you’d think that hackers would have gotten their fill of private information by now. Sadly, this simply isn’t the case.

The Better Business Bureau has found that there are around 138 successful cyber attacks every single week, showing that cyber criminals have no intention of stopping their malicious acts. In fact, the BBB’s finding that this has been a 176 percent increase in the last five years means that cyber attacks are probably only going to get worse and more frequent.

The sad fact of the matter is that hackers won’t ever stop attempting to take what’s yours. As long as there’s a chance they might make a profit, they’re going to keep trying until they get caught, especially around this time of year. The holidays are a boon for cyber criminals because there are so many new devices circulating around for them to exploit.

When the average person purchases something like a laptop, they generally don’t immediately think about making it safe to use. Although practical thoughts like this can understandably be lost in the joy of giving such an amazing gift, laptop security is extremely important in stopping a cyber criminal from owning your machine. This is one of the reasons hackers relish the holiday season. A nefarious individual knows that people receiving devices as gifts generally don’t secure them right away, and will use this knowledge to access your loved one’s information.

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Are your new devices ready for a cyber attack?

…but you can stop them

You might be terrified of hackers at this point, and to be honest you kind of should be. But that doesn’t mean you should let your fear paralyze you. The first step in solving a problem is becoming knowledgeable in it, and knowing about the security holes in your new devices gives you a leg up over the many naive individuals that think they’ll never become the victim of a cyber attack.

Learning how to protect your computer starts with investing in proper cyber security software. Having some sort of identity theft protection system set up on the devices you’ve just purchased puts a barrier between cyber criminals and your loved ones, and is one of the best ways to protect your online safety.

Hackers are out there, and they want to exploit the good cheer of this season to their benefit. Make sure you’re prepared for them by investing in solid cyber security software to help keep your loved ones safe from identity theft.

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Are your young children playing it safe online?

With the Pew Research Center finding that 84 percent of adults in the U.S. have Internet access, cyber security in areas like identity theft protection is becoming more necessary for everyone. The more people go online, the more targets nefarious individuals have.

Hackers are always looking for a quick buck, and they often try to do this by stealing your personal information. While you might be a savvy Internet user, navigating your way around malicious links and risky websites, there’s a good chance your kids don’t know as much as you do.

Teaching your children about online safety should absolutely begin by telling them to avoid talking to strangers and to install child locks that prevent them from going to certain sites. But, do your kids know how to avoid viruses and malware?

Childsafe
Take some time and explain online safety to your kids.

Explaining online safety to kids is hard

If you have young children, you’ve definitely gotten yourself stuck in the “why loop” before. Why can’t they just have one more cookie? Why are cookies bad for them? Why is sugar not good for kids? It’s a maddening back and forth that can only be stopped by the famous “because I said so!”

This is one of the main reasons why it’s so hard to explain to your young children the dangers of the Internet. If you thought describing why cookies are bad was hard, try letting the kids wrap their minds around the fact that 317 million new pieces of malware were made in 2014 alone, and that they should vet links before clicking them. Kids often simply can’t grasp the complexity of cyber security, and as such, they can be an easily exploitable hole in your device’s defenses.

“Kids simply can’t grasp the complexity of cyber security.”

This is why you should do your best to always monitor your child’s online habits, but any parent knows how difficult this can be. With the use of smartphones becoming more widespread than ever before, and with child-friendly gadgets like tablets becoming more popular, always watching what your kid does on the Internet simply isn’t possible.

Cyber security software can help

That being said, you need to keep your information safe from hackers in some way. You could ban your kids from using devices with Internet capabilities, but that’s obviously a lot easier said than done. Besides, the Internet is a wonderful resource and allowing your children to learn how to utilize it will be a handy skill for the future.

This is why it’s absolutely vital for you as a parent to learn how to protect your computer. Specifically, tell them how to safeguard your private data using cyber security software designed to sniff out malware and viruses. You can’t trust your kids to never click on something they shouldn’t, and to be honest, you can’t always trust yourself.

The Internet is an amazing tool, especially for developing young minds. But when it’s used incorrectly it can throw some serious consequences your way. Make sure you have solid cyber security software and keep your children safe from those that would exploit them online.

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How to find out if you’ve been hacked and what to do next

There are few events as unnerving as having been hacked. The invasion of privacy, coupled with having to make the proper arrangements in its aftermath, can be extremely unsettling. Some cyber criminal carelessly chose you as a victim, and now you’re left to pick up the pieces. While it would be a misstep to blame the person that’s been hacked, the reality of the situation is that these victims will have to jump through some hoops before they can finally put this incident to rest.

What’s more, getting hacked in America is incredibly common. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services that’s been analyzed by the Washington Post, roughly 120 million Americans had their health care information hacked between 2009 and 2015. That’s quite a lot of people having their information stolen through only a single portal, showing just how widespread this epidemic is today.

That being said, your life isn’t over after you’ve been hacked. As such we’d like to take some time and discuss how to discover when a data breach of your information has occurred and what to do directly following the incident.

Look out for suspicious activity

Although this is obviously easier said than done, the only surefire way to discover you’ve been attacked – outside of running a systems scan with cyber security software – is to keep a watchful eye on the activity of both your machine and online accounts. For example, say you’re using an online food delivery service that you haven’t logged into for quite some time. When you attempt to log on with the username and password you know are correct, you’re given an error message saying you’ve entered the wrong information.

This happens, as people use different passwords and forget about it all the time. You instruct the delivery service to reset your password and send the new phrase to the email address you’re absolutely sure you tied to this account. Even though the delivery website stated the password has been sent, 20 minutes go by and you don’t receive the email. This is the point where a huge red flag should be raised in your mind.

This is an old trick hackers like to use in order to get away with their schemes. Once they have access to an online service like this – i.e. one that has your credit or debit card information – the cyber criminals often change the account information so you can’t see what they’re doing with your account. This is the kind of weird minutia that you need to be looking for if you suspect you’ve been hacked. Everything from unwanted toolbars showing up on your computer to incredibly slow load times should tip you off that something isn’t right.

You can even check to see if your machine is working harder than it’s supposed to, a sign that a hacker might have installed malware on the computer. For PC users, simply go to the Task Manager and click on Processes. Then look at the bottom of the window to see CPU Usage. Mac users can do the same by going to the Activity Monitor and clicking the CPU tab.

For a healthy computer that isn’t doing anything, the CPU Usage percentage should be low. However, if you go there and see your idle computer showing a high CPU Usage, there’s a good chance you’ve been infected.

hack

Staying mindful while online can help you discover hacking attempts.

Reset account information

So you’ve determined that your machine is infected, and you’re ready to take action. Quite literally the first thing you need to do is change all of the login information for every one of your accounts that might have been infected. The reason you want to do this for all of your accounts, rather than just the ones that were hit by the hackers, has to do with how easy it can be to access other profiles if you already own one.

If you use the same password and login information for multiple accounts, you’re simply asking for trouble and are just making it easier for hackers to access all of your information. However, using different passwords sometimes can’t save you if one of your accounts has already been compromised. A hacker with access to your Facebook can use your account to log into other apps you’ve connected with it.

“600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked every day.”

Considering the Better Business Bureau has found that 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked every day, this is a very real situation for many people. What’s more, you may think the hacker only controls a single account, when in fact he’s gained access to multiple without you knowing. The safe bet is to change all of your accounts and hope to knock the cyber criminal off for good.

Invest in cyber security software

Finally, and most importantly, you absolutely need to invest in cyber security software following a cyber attack. Entirely too much of modern life is contained online for you to take cyber security into your own hands; as such, you’re going to need a little help staying safe in the future. These services take a lot of work out of sniffing out hacking attempts on your machine, as well as provide a protective shield for your private information.

Having your private information fall into the hands of a cyber criminal is obviously an uncomfortable thought, and if you’ve had it happen to you then you know how helpless you feel in this kind of situation. That being said, you don’t need to handle the situation empty handed. Cyber security software gives you the tools to prevent and fight back against a cyber attack.

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Are your teens playing it safe online?

It’s no secret that teens love using the Internet. With 92 percent of American teens going online every day – according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center – it’s pretty clear that the younger generation just can’t seem to get enough of this amazing technology.

However, with the ever-increasing threat of cyber criminals, the Internet has become a dangerous place in some areas. Knowing what to avoid and how teens can be victimized online can not only protect your child’s safety, it can help keep your private information safe.

Social networking sites are a weak point

Although there are an uncountable number of activities you can do on the Internet, most teens use it to post on social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram. PRC found that the most popular of these websites for teens is still Facebook, with 71 percent of teens within the study stating they use it.

“600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked every day.”

Facebook is certainly a great place for younger generations to stay connected with their friends, but some information coming out of the Better Business Bureau is showing that your teen’s profile might be at risk. The BBB found that more than 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked every day.

The fact that hackers are gaining access to personal information like private messages is bad enough, but the real problem with a hacked account stems from what a cyber criminal can do to your teen’s Facebook friends. Even if the hacker only has access to your teens account, and not your actual computer, this nefarious individual has methods for compromising your machine’s security.

It’s called phishing, and it’s been such a serious problem on Facebook that the site’s administrators created an entire page devoted to it. Basically, a phishing scheme works by sending out a huge number of messages to your teen’s Facebook friends, with each one containing a link. The description of this link could be anything from a funny video to an amazing deal on some sort of product, but the point is that it’s supposed to look like something your teen would send out to friends.

In reality, this link’s purpose is to trick you into giving up control of your account – or even the information contained on your computer – to the hacker. The reason these kinds of scams are so scary is that it’s very hard to see them coming if you aren’t paying attention.

If your computer doesn’t have any sort of identity theft protection software set up, you could very easily glaze over a piece of malware linked in a message from your teen’s account. When that happens, all it takes is you clicking the link for your personal information to become compromised.

Teensafe
Spotting malware on Facebook is getting harder than ever.

Cyber security software is a must these days

Although sitting down with your teen and talking about the dangers of a life lived online will certainly help them avoid hackers, the only way to truly protect yourself is by investing in cyber security software with protection from malware.

You simply cannot be with your teen every time they log on, and sniffing out bad links is becoming harder as cyber criminals get more sophisticated in their attempts. Cyber security software, coupled with a serious discussion about hackers, is the best way to keep your family’s information safe.

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