Cyber Safety Tips During the Holidays

December 4, 2013

-Never share sensitive information with unfamiliar or unverified contacts
-If hacked, act quickly to change password, run anti-virus software, and alert contacts
-Learn how to recognize and avoid imposter apps and social media invitations

1) Not so merry apps
Malware exists within apps, mostly Android smartphone and tablet apps can infect a device. This is from downloading a spammy app that misrepresents itself as a free alternative, or otherwise fools the user into installing. This virus can access sensitive information or cause the device to not operate. The biggest warning sign is when an app logo or icon looks like a household brand (Facebook, Angry Birds, etc.) but is slightly off. In Android, they can have the same name, so pay attention to the logo, Developer name, rating/reviews and description.
How do you protect your phone or identify malware before you download?
One way of protecting, is to use services described below:

Norton's Security Score
Lookout Mobile Security app

2) Holiday mobile SMS scams
Be skeptical of anyone/entity that sends you a text message that is not a contact you already know.
This is especially true for any promotional message that invites you to tap a URL and enter a website.
One solution Brad suggests is going into settings- found either on the device or online - from your wireless company to prohibit certain numbers from sending you messages.

3) Deceptive online games
Most developers know how to prohibit their games from being accessed for free online. NEVER download anything from a site you have not previously bedded.

4) Fake social networking groups and individuals
More than 100 million fake accounts on Facebook alone. Any time you create an account for a social network (or any site or application that requires one) you are increasing the likelihood of being targeted. This shouldn't necessarily discourage you from participating in social networks, but make sure you have an extra level of caution. Social networks in particular can expose you to contacts that may or may not be legitimate (there are 100M+ fake Facebook accounts, and one in 10 Twitter followers is a bot). While it is not always easy/possible to instantly recognize a fake account, if there is any doubt just avoid connecting. Beyond that, NEVER share sensitive information with anyone via a social network. Even if the request comes from a trusted contact, that contact may have been hacked.

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