The security stakes only seem to be rising when it comes to the threats that affect us as modern-day consumers.
Over the past year, we have seen a list of notable mobile threats that put people’s privacy at risk. Previously unseen vulnerabilities surfaced, such as Certifi-gate and Stagefright, both of which can be exploited to spy on users. Certifi-gate put approximately 50 percent of Android users at risk, and Stagefright made nearly 1 billion Android devices vulnerable to spyware. In 2015, for the first time, cybercriminals were able to attack users on a vast level.
Another mobile threat on the rise in 2015 was mobile ransomware, using asymmetric cryptography, making it nearly impossible to recover the encrypted data on a smartphone. The most common mobile threats in 2015 were adware — often apps disguised as fun gaming apps that provide little value and spam users with ads. We believe that 2016 will be the year in which we see threats moving from smartphones to smart homes — and beyond.
Every year we celebrate Data Privacy Day by thinking about what we post online, what methods we use to connect, and the security of the devices we use.
Data Privacy Day (DPD) is an international effort held annually on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information. Avast knows that security these days means more than protection against viruses. Online threats put your security and personal data at risk. You not only have to protect your desktop PC, but also your mobile devices. Your privacy can be violated by the apps you use, and bad guys can even invade your home through your home router.
Fortunately, these threats can be managed when you take the advice of Data Privacy Day:
STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
Here’s some tips and solutions from Avast to help you manage all the privacy needs on your devices.
Share with care
Think about the consequences of what you post online, especially in social networks. Think about what others could learn about you and who might see your posts in the future ‒ teachers, parents, colleges, and potential employers.
This is a reprint of The elusive “P” which appeared in the January 2016 issue of Indian Management.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, truly.
As we increasingly traverse the virtual realm, we are putting at stake a crucial aspect—our much-treasured privacy.
There is not a lot of privacy on the Internet today. Every place you go – websites, social networks, apps – all know your IP address and where you are located, which they can correlate with your demographics, age, gender, and the websites that you visit. Social networks can even tell advertisers what your political leanings are and which religion you practice, and the Internet knows which books you read, which cosmetics you use, and whether or not you are pregnant, getting married or divorced. At the end of the day, search engine companies and Internet Service Providers know everything about you. With the up-rise of the Internet of Things, Internet-connected devices can dig even deeper into our lives. Our cars remember when we drove where, how fast we went, and what music we were listening to, while our smart watch can tell us more about our health than our doctors can. Privacy is a thing of the past.
A trade-off between convenience and privacy
In our day-to-day usage of the Internet, each of us are either making a conscious or unconscious trade-off between convenience and privacy.
One example of this can be seen in Gmail, the hugely popular email service used by nearly one billion people around the world. Most people will, but others might not recognize that they receive advertisements which are somewhat related to the subject of their emails. This is due to the fact that the subjects of a user’s emails are sent to various advertising engines to come up with relevant content to serve back to the Gmail user. For someone who sent an email with ‘vacation’ in the subject line, this may result in the user receiving ads with flight offers during the following days.
The Internet of Things (IoT) join together physical devices that we use every day with information technology.
Using internet-connected devices expands our ability to control and monitor in the real world. The IoT is literally changing our lives.
The Internet of Things has the potential to fundamentally shift the way we interact with our surroundings. The ability to monitor and manage objects in the physical world electronically makes it possible to bring data-driven decision making to new realms of human activity – to optimize the performance of systems and processes, save time for people and businesses, and improve quality of life.” ~ McKinsey Global Institute study
The potential economic impact of the IoT is astounding – as much as $11.1 trillion per year by 2025 for IoT applications, projected by the same study.
But is there a downside?
By using some retailer’s apps to make your holiday wish list, more people than just Santa Claus can see your list. In fact, it may be accessible to anyone over the Internet!
America’s most popular retailers collect more information about you via apps than you may be comfortable with.
Recently, the Avast Security Warriors began looking into shopping apps to see what your favorite retailers know about you. They found that these apps, like many other apps out there, collect data and request permissions that are unnecessary for their app to function properly.
Initially, we were curious to see what retailers wanted to know about their customers based on the data they collect. We randomly chose apps from the following retailers: Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Target, Macy’s, Safeway, Walgreens and Walmart. In this blog post, we focus on Target and Walgreens.
You’re making your list and Target is checking it twice!
If you created a Christmas wish list using the Target app, it might be accessible to more people than you want to actually receive gifts from. The Target app keeps a database of users’ wish lists, names, addresses, and email addresses. But your closest family and friends may not be the only ones who know you want a new suitcase for your upcoming cruise!
Internet-connected toys gather data on the user and have weak security compared to other computer products.
Digital devices and toys like cameras, smartwatches, and tablets may be on your child’s Christmas wish list. But more parents are having second thoughts about placing these items under the tree, because Internet-connected toys gather data on the user and have weak security compared to other computer products.
6 million children’s accounts taken by a hacker
This weakness was made very public during the Black Friday shopping bonanza, when a Hong Kong-based digital toy company called VTech lost databases of more than 6 million children and almost 5 million connected parental accounts to a hacker.
By putting the databases together the hacker was able to retrieve personally identifiable information like children’s names, ages, and genders, and even pictures and chat logs were found. Parents’ names, email addresses, secret questions and answers, IP addresses, encrypted passwords, and mailing addresses were also accessed. Supposedly the breach did not include credit card or financial account information exposure.
The “Most used words” app became a Facebook hit within days of its launch. At the moment of writing this article, it has been used by nearly 18 million users globally. There are many controversies about user privacy in relation to data that is collected by the app.
Earlier this week, the British company Comparitech published a blog post about the privacy nightmare caused by this innocent-looking Facebook app. “Most used words” is presented as a simple, playful quiz in which Facebook scans through and analyzes users‘ posts in order to generate a collection of words they use most frequently on Facebook. Sounds like fun, right? Before you try it yourself, take a closer look at this data-hungry wolf in sheep’s clothing – after some analysis of the app, it has turned out to be a privacy thief. When using the app, users give away following details:
SafePrice protects your privacy while finding the best online prices.
The holiday shopping season is upon us and shoppers are flocking to the Web to find online deals and coupons. Shopping extensions for your web browser can help you find the best prices, but how do you know you are finding a great deal from a SAFE and trusted retailer?
There are several shopping tools that can help you find the lowest price from around the web, but I’ll start with the one that finds low prices and guarantees the safety and integrity of the online shop – Avast’s very own SafePrice.
SafePrice find the best deals from TRUSTED online shops
Instead of visiting price comparison sites first, all you do is go to your favorite online store and pick out what you want to buy. SafePrice checks the price against thousands of verified stores, then displays the best deals and coupons at the very top of your browser. The bar is invisible when you’re not shopping.
Avast users already have SafePrice installed. If you are not an Avast user, but wnat to use it to find trusted stores, then add the extension to Chrome from the Chrome Web Store.
Facebook has become more concerned about its users’ security. The social giant understands that education is the key to providing users with a secure experience. We have already seen the Facebook “dinosaur” guiding us via privacy settings. Now Facebook pops out a short guide to improve the security of our profiles. We strongly recommend not to ignore it and take those steps to ensure that your profile is properly protected.
Step 1. Take control over your login
Avast simplifies how you protect your privacy with new products for 2016.
Count the number of devices you own. If you are like most modern digital-age people, you have a smartphone, half of you own a tablet, and most all of us have a desktop or laptop computer connected through a home router.
Now think about all the private information that you have on those devices. Bank account numbers, passwords, photos, messages and emails – all of them needing some form of protection to stay out of the wrong hands.
In a survey we did this year, 69% of you told us that your biggest fear is that the wrong person would see your personal information. In fact, Americans are so scared of having their financial information get into a bad guy’s possession, that 74% said they’d rather have nude photos of themselves leaked on the Internet! The problem is that most people are not doing anything to protect their privacy, for example, 40% of Americans don’t even lock their smartphones.
“While people are rightfully concerned about privacy, there is a disconnect between that concern and the steps they take to protect themselves,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive officer of Avast. “Users have a multitude of devices and passwords to keep track of, which can be overwhelming. When users feel overwhelmed, they tend to default to unsafe practices that put their privacy at risk.”
The new Avast 2016 for PC and Mac, the redesigned Avast Mobile Security, and the new kid on the block, Avast SecureMe, will all help reduce the complex task of protecting your private, personal information.
So time to face your fear and take steps to protect yourself. Here’s some tools that Avast is launching today to help you: