Is the convenience of open Wi-Fi worth the risk of identity theft? Most Americans think so.
In a recent survey, we found that only 6% of Americans protect their data by using a virtual private network (VPN) when using public Wi-Fi with their smartphone or tablet. That leaves a whopping 94% unprotected. Why is this?
Do people not know the risks of using unsecured public Wi-Fi?
Is avoiding data overages or the convenience of no password more important than the data on their devices?
Are they not aware that there is protection available?
Are they scared they won’t understand how to use VPN because of the technical sounding name?
The truth about open, public Wi-Fi
The truth is that using unprotected Wi-Fi networks could end up costing you your privacy and identity when you use them without protection like Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. This is because unsecured networks, those are the ones that do not require registration or a password, give cybercrooks easy access to sensitive personal information.
“As mobile cloud storage becomes more popular and the quest for free Wi-Fi continues to grow, open networks that require no passwords place unprotected consumers at great risk of compromising sensitive personal data,” said Jude McColgan, president of mobile at Avast.
“The majority of Americans don’t realize that all the personal information on their mobile devices becomes defenseless over public Wi-Fi if used without protection. These networks create an easy entry point for hackers to attack millions of American consumers on a daily basis.”
Avast can protect you and it’s not hard or expensive
“Unfortunately hacking isn’t a complicated process – there are tools available online that anyone can easily use to steal personal data,” says Ondrej Vlček, Chief Operating Officer at Avast. “Avast SecureLine VPN allows users to browse the web anonymously and safely, especially while using open Wi-Fi.”
Avast SecureLine VPN protects your Internet connections with military-grade encryption and hides your IP address. If that sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, what it means is that essentially our VPN protection makes your device invisible to cybercriminals. In addition to that, using the VPN hides your browsing history, so no one can monitor your behavior online. We assure you, it’s as easy as can be to use.
More easy things you can do to secure your smartphone and tablet.
On our blog last week, we shared the first 7 easy security measures to protect your Android devices and the data stored there. But we haven’t finished them. Let’s go a little further.
8. Keep an eye in your phone or, if you can, set Geofencing protection
Don’t put your phone down and go somewhere else. And if you’re having fun in a bar and drinking a beer with friends, have a lucid thought before starting: Turn the Avast Geofencing module on. It’s easy. Open Avast Premium Mobile Security > Anti-Theft > Advanced Settings > Geofencing.
9. Be aware of what permissions apps require
Why should a flashlight app need access to your contacts? Why would a calculator need access to your photos and videos? Shady apps will try to upload your address book and your location to advertising servers or could send premium SMS that will cost you money. You need to pay attention before installing or, at least, uninstall problematic apps. It’s not easy to find a way (if any) to manage permissions in a non-rooted Android phone.
We have written about this before as apps could abuse the permissions requests not only while installing but also on updating. Read more to learn and be cautious: Google Play Store changes opens door to cybercrooks.
10. Keep your device up-to-date
Google can release security updates using their services running in your devices. Developers can do the same via an app update. Allow updates to prevent vulnerabilities, the same as you do in your computer. But pay attention to any changes. See tip #9.
You can encrypt your account, settings, apps and their data, media and other files. Android allows this in its Security settings. Without your lockscreen PIN, password or gesture, nobody will be able to decrypt your data. So, don’t forget your PIN! Nevertheless, this won’t encrypt the data sent or received by your phone. Read the next tip for that.
12. In open/public Wi-Fi, use a VPN to protect your communication
Cybercrooks can have access to all your data in a public, open or free Wi-Fi hotspot at the airport or in a cafe. Avast gives you the ability to protect all inbound and outbound data of your devices with a secure, encrypted and easy-to-use VPN called Avast SecureLine. Learn more about it here.
13. Set the extra features of Lollipop (Android 5)
If you’re with Android Lollipop (v5), you can set a user profile to allow multiple users of the same device. You can create a restricted user profile that will keep your apps from being messed with by your kids or your spouse.
You can also pin the screen and allow other users to only see that particular screen and nothing more. It will prevent your friends and coworkers from accidentally (or on purpose) looking into your device.
14. Backup. Backup. Backup.
Well, our last tip is common digital sense. If everything fails, have a Plan B, and C and D… With Avast Mobile Backup you can protect all your data: contacts, call logs, messages, all your media files (photos, musics and videos) and your apps (with their data if you’re rooted) in safe servers. If your device gets broken, lost or stolen, everything will be there, encrypted and safe, for you to restore to your new device.
Have you followed all our tips? Are you feeling safe? Do you have an extra protection or privacy tip? Please, leave a comment below.
A few precautions can make a huge difference in the safety of your phone and the important things you saved on it.
We talk a lot about protection and privacy here in our blog. It’s a bit obvious as our “life” is in our devices nowadays: Photos of our last trip or our loved ones, videos of our children playing and growing up, contacts both professional and personal. All our precious and irreplaceable data is stored in these little machines. Take a minute of your time and follow us in this easy tour to protect them and save a lot of time and headaches.
1. Set your lockscreen
You wouldn’t leave your home door unlocked, would you? Same goes for your phone with all your private data. Set a password or PIN to prevent direct and easy access to your phone. Gestures and face recognition are less secure, but are better than nothing.
2. Hide your passwords from nosy people
You will argue that people around you can look over your shoulder and see what PIN or password you’re typing or gesture you make. Generally, we’re not worried about trustworthy people around us, but what about strangers in a public place like a bus or train? Open your phone settings and hide your passwords by unchecking the option: Settings > Security > Make passwords visible.
3. Protect your apps with a PIN
Not all apps are equal when it comes to security and privacy. Probably the weather app or calculator won’t keep your personal info. However, your messages and banking apps will thank you if you help them to keep their data private. You can imagine what might happen if your kids to open a specific app while they’re playing in your devices. Use Avast Mobile Security to set a PIN to block access to your apps. As an extra security measure, it will be good that your lockscreen and Avast PINs are different ones.
4. Disable installation of apps from unknown sources
If you do not use other app stores besides Google Play, then uncheck the option “Unknown sources” in your phone’s Security Settings page. Even the Google Play Store sometimes allows malware to get by. It’s well known that most Android malware are fake apps disguised as legitimate apps, so double check the publisher. Be cautious of downloading from fake sites disguised as official ones – check the URL. Avoid completely pirated and cracked sources.
5. Set Avast Mobile Security to scan any app before installing
If you really need to use legal third party stores, like Amazon or F-Droid, please be careful: Keep Avast Mobile Security always on. You know that Avast scans any installed and running app. But do you know that you can set it to scan any app that is about to be installed? After you’ve installed Avast, when you’re about to install a new app, the phone will ask you if you want Avast or the default installer to handle the installation by default. Use Avast, it will scan and then release the app to the default installation process.
6. Disable USB Debugging
This tip is for advanced users. If you have enabled Developer options into your device (and you will know exactly if you did as you’re an advanced user!), please, turn USB debugging off. You will protect your device from outside abuse (via adb connections) if you do so. You don’t need it to be on all the time.
7. Install and set Avast Anti-Theft
This is an old tip, but it’s so important that it should be on all smartphone safety tips lists. Just note that installing is not enough. You need to properly configure Avast Anti-Theft (don’t worry, there is an easy wizard for it) step-by-step. It’s good to check if your location services are properly set also, otherwise, it will be difficult to track it. In other words, go to Settings > Location Access and set High accuracy mode.
We’ll talk about the other 7 tips in next days, so come back to the Avast blog.
It’s European #DataProtection day! Every day we visit websites and willingly hand over our name, address, and credit card number. Have you ever thought about what happens to that data or what your rights are?
Members of the European Union (EU) enjoy a high standard of protection of their personal data. The Digital Agenda for Europe lays it all out for you on their website. Here’s a summary:
The burden to protect you is on organizations
The EU Data Protection Directive ensures that personal data can only be gathered under strict conditions and for legitimate purposes. Organizations that collect and manage your personal information must also protect it from misuse and respect certain rights. One of the objectives is that organizations notify their customers, in plain language, what information is collected and how it is used as well as get permission before using any personal information.
One of the stumbling blocks has been the so-called one-stop-shop for businesses and citizens in each member state in which authorities will handle citizens’ complaints about any breach of the rules. There are just as many ideas on how to run it as there are EU member states.
You must be notified of cookies and data breaches
The Directive on Privacy and Electronic communications (ePrivacy Directive) ensures that all communications over public networks maintain a high level of privacy. For example, this directive requires website owners marketing online to EU citizens to obtain consent from users, via some kind of opt-in, before implementing cookies or other technologies to capture online visitor information. (See below for information on managing your cookies.)
If your data is stolen, the ePrivacy Directive states that you should be notified. That’s good because data theft can result in identity theft or fraud, damage to your reputation, loss of control over your personal data or a loss of confidentiality.
However, this fall, the rules changed slightly and now businesses don’t have to notify consumers that their personal data has been lost or stolen if the data has been encrypted. The ministers figure that the business has “appropriate technological protection measures” to protect the data that has been lost or stolen from being accessed by people not authorized to see it.
Viewing and managing your cookies
For those of you not familiar with the term, cookies are small files stored in your browser that contain information about your visit to a web page. They help tailor your online shopping experiences by doing things such as recording items in your shopping cart, they also recommend products based on your interests, allow auto-log in and compile browsing histories.
In most modern browsers, you can control cookie settings. The options include viewing stored cookies, controlling which sites you accept cookies from, and setting how long they may be stored and used.
- 1. Open the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the Chrome browser, select Settings.
- 2. At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings.
- 3. In the Privacy section, open the button that says Content settings.
- 4. Under Cookies, you check or uncheck the options to manage the settings.
- 5. To see individual cookies, click All cookies and site data.
- 6. To remove cookies, hover the mouse over the entry. Click the X to delete.
- 7. To delete all cookies, click Remove all.
For instructions to clear cookies in Firefox, please visit Mozilla’s support page.
For instructions on clearing and managing cookies in Internet Explorer, please search Microsoft help for your version of IE. Here’s general information.
Privacy plays a growing part in customer buying decisions. With every data breach, trust is eroded further.
Privacy and security are intertwined when it comes to our individual information. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of their personal data, so that means that businesses have to step up and do a better job of securing that data. Identity theft is the #1 fear of consumers, but for your business the risk is loss of trust and brand damage.
Since trust is the core of any transaction it’s important to know how privacy factors into your customer’s buying decisions. Research shows that almost 40% of consumers made buying decisions based upon privacy. When looking at who these people are, it was found that these individuals are aged 46-65 and have the highest incomes. But don’t rely on the business of the younger generation to supplant that once trust is lost; 27% of millenials abandoned an online purchase in the past month due to privacy or security concerns.
To mark Data Privacy Day on January 28, the following Privacy is Good for Business tips were created by privacy experts in civil-society, non-profit, government and industry and aspire to help business address the public’s growing privacy concerns:
- If you collect it, protect it. Follow reasonable security measures to keep individuals’ personal information safe from inappropriate and unauthorized access.
- Be open and honest about how you collect, use and share consumers’ personal information. Think about how the consumer may expect their data to be used.
- Build trust by doing what you say you will do. Communicate clearly and concisely to the public about what privacy means to your organization and the steps you take to achieve and maintain privacy.
- Create a culture of privacy in your organization. Explain to and educate employees about the importance and impact of protecting consumer and employee information as well as the role they play in keeping it safe.
- Don’t count on your privacy notice as your only tool to educate consumers about your data practices.
- Conduct due diligence and maintain oversight of partners and vendors. You are also responsible for how they collect and use personal information.
Posting a privacy notice on your Facebook feed does nothing to keep your updates, photos, or videos private. You need to tweak the settings yourself.
You may have noticed a legal-sounding statement being shared on people’s Facebook News Feed lately. As we explained in the blog, Posting a privacy notice on Facebook is useless, this statement does nothing to protect users’ privacy. However, it’s great that Facebook users are concerned about these things – it demonstrates a leap forward in awareness and a desire to protect yourself. That’s why we are sharing the three major areas you need to be aware of when it comes to protecting your privacy:
- 1. Your posts
- 2. Your profile
- 3. Your apps
Your posts control who can see what you share when you post from the top of your News Feed or your profile. This tool remembers the audience you shared with the last time you posted something and uses the same audience when you share again unless you change it.
Your profile includes information about you like Work and Education, Places You’ve Lived, Family and Relationships, etc. To see how others view your profile, go to your profile and select View As… on the menu in the lower right corner of your cover photo. If there is information that you don’t want the world to see, then click Update Info at the bottom of the cover photo of your profile to make sure it’s up-to-date and shared with who you want.
Your apps are what you’ve logged into with your Facebook identity. More and more websites and applications, including Avast, are allowing you to do that, because it’s more convenient than creating a new username and password.
When you choose to use your Facebook information to log in, you are also sharing personal information from your Facebook account with the other website. Third party websites can also sometimes post updates to your wall on your behalf. You can edit who sees each app you use and any future posts the app makes for you, or delete the apps you no longer use. Edit your apps by going to your App Settings.
You can view other settings at any time in your Privacy Settings. Or click the padlock icon located in the top right corner.
Use Social Media Security in your Avast account
Every Avast customer has access to our Social Media Security check via your MyAvast account. You can secure your Facebook profile with:
- 24/7 check of all posts
- Protection from dangerous links and viruses
- Monitoring of all photos, friends, and activities
Here’s what you do:
- 1. Go to your my.avast.com account. Your Avast Account is created automatically from the email account entered for any Avast GrimeFighter purchase or Avast Free Antivirus registration. Here’s instructions on our FAQ if you don’t have an account.
- 2. On the bottom left side of the main screen, you will see Social Media Security. Click the blue button to begin a scan. (You may need to connect your Facebook account first.)
- 3. After the scan is complete, Social Media Security will show you all the issues that it found. You can choose to review each of those issues and disregard if it’s OK, or manage the settings within Facebook.
Other variations have come through in the past few days with legal-sounding statements, like this:
“In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention)….”
The good news is that Facebook users are becoming more aware of privacy issues, and they seek a way to control their own shared media. The bad news is that this notification has no legal standing at all, you are bound to the terms and conditions that you agreed to when you signed up with Facebook, and you are annoying your friends.
The truth is that YOU own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and YOU can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. If you neglect to look at those settings, you grant Facebook a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.
In tomorrow’s blog, we will share the top 3 areas in Facebook where you need to make sure the privacy is set to your liking.
In last night’s broadcast of the Sugar Bowl, a showdown of two power-house college football teams in the USA, Allstate Insurance, aired a series of brilliant commercials about the risk of over-sharing on social networks. The social media team at Avast has been preaching this message for a while now, so we were happy to see this clever series of advertisements.
The ads are about a couple who shared on social networks that they were away from their house, actually attending the game. Allstate’s “Mayhem” character took advantage of this knowledge and broke into their unoccupied house, and proceeded to have a “MayhemSale” of all their possessions. “Buy Matt & Shannon’s stuff now at MayhemSale.com,” he announced, then soon after took to Twitter to sell off items one-by-one. I immediately visited the website, but apparently there were so many other interested people, that it kept crashing.
— Mayhem (@Mayhem) January 2, 2015
Burglars can easily search Facebook or Twitter for targeted keywords or see who has checked into airport lounges on Foursquare. According to FBI statistics, summertime is the most active for burglaries and oversharing can tip off thieves to your absence. Homeowners should be extra vigilant about protecting their goods.
Our advice – be extremely cautious what you share on social media, and wait until after you are back to share your vacation pictures.
2015 is arriving and, as usual, tech companies start to launch their updates for the new year. However, it looks like someone is sparking some debate with its recent policies that are to be implemented in less than a month. That someone is… Facebook.
After all the controversy around the Facebook Messenger app last summer, the world’s largest social media company is under fire, again!
Recently, Facebook published their new terms, data policies, and cookies policies that the network will launch January 1st. Basically, the update says that every user of Facebook’s services agree, among other changes, with the utilization of tools that can help to aggregate data in order to create more customized ads – the company also introduces ways to guarantee basic data security.
I’ve noticed that the way I’ve received the ads in my profile is quite different to what it used to be. After simply browsing through a website related to a specific theme, let’s say, football or software, I immediately start to receive wall post offers related to that topic, company, or product that I researched online. Imagine how it’s going to be in 2015 after the new policy has been officially launched?
Is Facebook spying on you?
Would the world’s largest social media website be spying on us? They have admitted publicly that it’s quite easy to monitor online activities, and they do hold a lot of data on their members, which makes people feel a bit uncomfortable. Just search for articles about it, and you’ll see.
Some of the updates you can expect to see are:
Discover what’s going on around you: Facebook is working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to.
Make purchases more convenient: People in some regions will see a Buy button, making purchasing easy because you don’t have to leave Facebook. And you get targeted ads based on what you are interested in, like me seeing an increased number of football and software ads.
Make you part of the Facebook ecosystem: You will be even more invested in the “Facebook family” because they are making Instagram, WhatsApp, and the growing number of companies, apps and services that Facebook is acquiring work together more seamlessly.
Your data is still under your control
You should be concerned about the contents and data that you publish on Facebook, because sometimes they make you look like an idiot, but don’t go off the deep end thinking that your social network will steal your privacy! You are still under control of your data!
To help you maintain control, Facebook wants you to understand how they use your information and find information about privacy on Facebook at the moment you need it. Tips and suggestions can be found in Privacy Basics.
It’s also necessary for you to take some precautions, such as:
- Use strong passwords to access your profiles and accounts
- Don’t share sensitive information in social media channels
- Take double precaution with fake websites
- Only proceed with online payments when logged to https pages
And, obviously, use a good antivirus that will help you with all the above procedures! No matter what tools online companies and social media websites are using to better understand your behavior in the “Internet of Things”, you are still under control of your data. Do your part and live a health virtual life!
Losing contacts from your mobile phone is highly inconvenient. There’s seems to be a solution - You can find them online! The catch? Your contacts are in a publicly accessible place.
If you care for your privacy you should always be suspicious about “Cloud Backup” solutions you find in the Google Play Store. The solution that is being analyzed here backs up your personal contacts online. In public.
Upon starting the application, you will find a screen where you can put your mobile number and a password of your choice. Then you can upload your contacts in the cloud.
A brief analysis inside this application shows us how exactly it backs up your contacts in the cloud. The contacts are associated with the phone number that you have given in the previous step and they are sent through HTTP POST requests in a PHP page.
Further analysis through IP traffic capturing with Fiddler helped usdiscover the results in the pictures above; a page located online, for anyone to see, that contains thousands of un-encrypted entries of phone numbers and passwords. Using the info in the app you can retrieve personal private data (contacts) from another user.
We found log in data inside those entries from countries like Greece, Brazil, and others
The Play Store page says that this app has been installed 50.000-100.000 times. This is a big number of installations for an application that doesn’t deliver the basic secure Android coding practices. The developer must use technologies like HTTPS, SSL and encryption on the data that are transferred through the web and stored in the server. Nogotofail is a useful network security testing tool designed by Google to “to help developers and security researchers spot and fix weak TLS/SSL connections and sensitive cleartext traffic on devices and applications in a flexible, scalable, powerful way.“
Avast detects it as Android:DataExposed-B [PUP].