Blog

Slack Could Be Hurting Your Productivity

Slack Could Be Hurting Your Productivity

Hurting Your Productivity

In my office we use Slack as our interoffice communication, like many other offices around the country. We started using it as a way to increase our productivity and team communication. Instead of having constant meetings or running back and forth to talk to certain people all of that communication could be done in one centralized online location. And at first it worked out great. But now I am finding it incredibly difficult to get work done because my notifications are going off all day long. All this after the Yanny vs. Laurel debate too. 

 

hurting your productivity
Is This Hurting Your Productivity?

Even when I change my settings to show that I’m unavailable, the messages still come. They are always there just waiting for me to read them. If I try to turn it off for an hour or two, when I come back there are dozens of messages to sort through. Some of which have nothing to do with me.

 

Online Communication

I think that the easy accessibility we have to each other makes us less productive. In a meeting there is an agenda and a structure so we can talk about specific things. When I’m not using my cell phone spy app. But on Slack and other instant messaging platforms, it’s too easy for conversations to drift on endlessly. Private messages become long conversations that have very little to do with any thing work related. This is a huge time waster. I think I got more done when all communication was face to face. 

How can you reclaim your productive time from constant instant message intrusions? The best way I’ve found is to totally sign out of instant messaging. Of course, that means that people can’t reach me. They can leave me a message, send me an email, or come to my desk if they need something. But no one has ever come to my desk since I started reclaiming my time. Not one person needed my attention so badly they actually crossed the office to get it. 

 

hurting your productivity
Office Setup

Instant Messaging

If you find that instant messaging is bringing down your productivity, try signing out of your instant messaging. And don’t leave your email inbox open for a few hours each day. That gives you some quiet mental space so that you can focus on getting things accomplished. Giving myself just a few hours of interruption free time made a huge difference in my productivity. It can make a difference in yours too. Multitasking isn’t always the best and most productive use of your time. Especially since your boss is likely monitoring your productivity.

Everything You Need To Know About Meltdown And Spectre

Everything You Need To Know About Meltdown And Spectre

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you’ve probably heard something about Meltdown and Spectre. These cyber attacks look to exploit a serious flaw embedded in just about all modern processors. Unfortunately, this flaw isn’t limited to personal computers. Smartphones as well as other smart devices are also at risk.

In order to understand how Meltdown and Spectre exploit your system’s processor, you must first understand a key function of modern CPUs: speculative execution. Without going into technical detail, speculative execution can improve CPU performance by predicting the route in which information will travel. This allows the CPU to execute a command in any order it sees fit. This avoids potential bottlenecks that would otherwise increase processing time. In the event that the processor fails to predict the correct route, the command will be rolled back in a way that is invisible to applications. These attacks exploit this function, allowing them to extract information from the CPU’s memory cache. Like a reverse phone number lookup, Meltdown and Spectre can access an unprecedented amount of sensitive information.

Meltdown And Spectre Vulnerabilities

While both of these attacks exploit the same processor flaw, the Meltdown attack causes the greatest amount of concern. This is because Meltdown allows the attacker to access information from the computer’s “kernel” (the central part of the operating system). The kernel essentially acts as a bridge between the computer’s applications and the processing unit. By peering into this location, Meltdown can extract the most sensitive information on a given device. As you can probably tell, an attack that can penetrate this deep into a computer system poses a massive security risk. For that reason, just about every major tech company and manufacturer has issued a patch to address this vulnerability.

Spectre, while still a significant security threat, is a far more difficult attack to execute than Meltdown. Unfortunately, this also makes Spectre more resilient to patches that otherwise address Meltdown. Some researchers believe software updates will not be enough to completely protect our systems from Spectre. Only by developing new hardware without speculative execution can we completely eliminate the threat of Spectre. That being said, it may take years before CPU manufacturers can develop such a chip. Until then, Spectre will continue to haunt our processors.

Another issue regarding these exploits is that no single company can fix either on their own. In order to address these vulnerabilities, processor companies (Intel, AMD), operating system companies, (Microsoft, Apple) and cloud service companies (SAP, IBM) have to work in tandem. So far the efforts of these companies have successfully created a working patch for the Meltdown attack (while still addressing Spectre in some ways).

The Impact Of Meltdown And Spectre

Everything You Need To Know About Meltdown And Spectre
Everything from personal devices to computer servers are at risk

Even though fixes for Meltdown (and in some ways, Spectre) have been released by most major manufacturers, some devices have yet to be patched. For those devices that have fixes available, installing the patches can slow down your computer by upwards of 30%. While the typical user might not notice a slowdown, the same cannot be said for everyone. In fact, many systems that rely on cloud computing are having trouble. For instance, Epic Games, the creator behind the popular shooting game “Fortnite” has had numerous reports of login failure and server downtime since the patches went publicThe company has since revealed that a third-party cloud service, responsible for handling the game’s influx of players, is at fault for the issues.

If you happen to be running an AMD chip however, a 30% slowdown is the least of your worries. Many AMD users who have installed Microsoft’s Meltdown and Spectre patch have bricked their entire system. Microsoft seems to be working on a fix for this issue. So we’ll be sure to update this blog when the fix arrives. In the mean time, if you happen to own a device with an AMD chip in it, make sure you disable the Windows auto update feature. Hopefully, as developers learn more about these vulnerabilities, more efficient ways to address Meltdown and Spectre will be found. For now however, we’ll have to settle for slower processing speeds and failed login attempts.

Related: Cryptojacking And How It Can Put Your Computer At Risk

 

Cryptojacking And How It Can Put Your Computer At Risk

Cryptojacking And How It Can Put Your Computer At Risk

 

What Are Cryptocurrencies?

I’m sure most of you reading this have heard about cryptocurrency in one form or another. Some of you may have even invested in this new form of currency. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the different cryptocurrencies and how they work, I’ll go over some very basic knowledge before jumping into cryptojacking and its effects.

Cryptocurrencies are a secure digital asset that have exploded in both popularity and value over the past year. There are many different types of cryptocurrencies in circulation today. Aside from the most well-known (and valuable) Bitcoin, there is Ethereum, Ripple, and Monero. It’s important to understand how Monero differs from the others, since it’s the primary currency being used in cryptojacking efforts.

While it may be difficult to uncover the real name behind a bitcoin address, it is certainly possible. And once that name is uncovered, a simple person search can be used to find out everything there is to know about that individual. Monero on the other hand is completely anonymous and notoriously difficult to track payments. That is why its been so widely adopted by the online black market.

Unlike traditional forms of money that print new bills to add to circulation, a specialized process know as “mining” is used to create new cryptocurrency. Without going too in-depth, the practice of mining essentially uses your computer’s processor to solve complex mathematical sequences. Once the correct solution is found, the user will be awarded a predetermined amount of cryptocurrency. In order to be successful at mining however, a massive amount of processing power is needed. This is why most miners build specialized computers and join groups of other miners to increase the power of their networks.

Cryptojacking And How It Can Affect Your Device

Contrary to it’s name, the term cryptojacking does not refer to stealing an individual’s currency. Instead, cryptojacking refers to stealing computing resources (and the electricity used to power those resources) from an individual’s computer in order to mine for cryptocurrency.

Cryptojacking And How It Can Put Your Computer At Risk
Cryptojacking scripts utilize your computers processing power to help mine currency for the website’s host.

The first wide-spread instances of cryptojacking were reported back in September when Showtime and the popular torrent site The Pirate Bay were found to have injected cryptojacking code into their websites. While it’s unclear what method Showtime used, The Pirate Bay admitted to testing a new program called Coinhive in hopes of replacing their notoriously terrible ads. Essentially what this program does is turn any visiting computer into a mining tool for the host website. As a result, any Internet users browsing The Pirate Bay were subjected to an increased CPU load.

The issue with cryptojacking isn’t that websites are trying to monetize their traffic. In fact, some researchers believe this technique, in a more legitimate form, could actually help websites reduce the need for advertisements. The problem is, websites running these programs are using their visitor’s computer resources without their permission. Not only is this an invasive practice, it can also impact the lifespan of the computer itself. One researcher found that having multiple tabs opened to known cryptojacking websites easily brought the computers CPU load up to 100%. Prolonged usage at these rates can significantly reduce the lifetime of internal components. In some cases, important components can be irreversibly damaged, rendering the whole system inoperable.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s take a look at some ways you can protect your devices. The first thing to look into would be your anti-virus software. Some of these programs, such as Malwarebytes, offer tools that can block cryptojacking scripts. If your anti-virus software doesn’t have such a tool, then you can download an extension for your browser that will do the same thing. One such example is the NoCoin extension for the Chrome browser. If extensions aren’t really your thing, you could instead download the new Opera browser. As of today, Opera’s 50th version will come standard with cryptojacking protection. Choose the option which best suits your needs and remember to always keep an eye on your computer’s performance.

Related: 9 Types Of Malware That May Put Your Data At Risk

 

Why Your Boss Is Monitoring Your Internet Activity

Why Your Boss Is Monitoring Your Internet Activity

 

One of the most prominent employee monitoring surveys to date revealed that about two-thirds of U.S. companies – 66 percent – monitor their employees’ Internet use.

And that was 10 years ago.

The 2007 American Management Association (AMA) survey found that 45 percent of companies log keystrokes and 43 percent track employee emails. No major study has been released since, but tech and employment experts agree the numbers have increased. By some estimates, 80 percent of companies now monitor employee Internet use.

Typically, employers are looking for one or all of these:

  • Policy violations such as visiting inappropriate websites, using inappropriate language in emails, or spending company time on personal activities such as shopping or browsing social media
  • Evidence that you’re looking for another job, including job board and recruiting firm searches
  • Risky behavior – whether accidental or malicious – that could lead to a data breach, including emailing or printing confidential business information
  • Data and statistics on employee productivity

Only two states, Connecticut and Delaware, require companies to notify employees of monitoring, but most employers choose to be transparent. According to the AMA survey, 84 percent of companies that monitor computer activity let their employees know.

How Am I Being Monitored?

The vast majority of companies use employee monitoring software to automate this process. Even in 2007, nearly three-quarters of businesses that monitored emails used technology to do it, rather than assigning someone the task of manually reading emails.

Monitoring software is becoming so popular that the industry is exploding. What was a $200 million industry in 2016 is projected to reach $500 million by 2020, according to 451 Research.

Most monitoring software offers companies flexibility in what type of activity they monitor. They can set up custom flags or filters that send an alert when, for example, a specific topic is searched or a certain word is used in an email. Employers can also set up “rules” that track, flag and help prevent certain behavior, including visiting malware-infected websites or emailing sensitive records.

The tricky thing for employees is that it’s almost impossible to tell which activities your boss is monitoring. The company might be keeping tabs on only flagrant policy violations such as visiting an adult website, or they might be watching just about everything you do.

Can I Stop Employee Monitoring?

In a word, no. Employers have the legal right to monitor what takes place within their walls — and on company-issued devices. Employee contracts usually outline these rights. However, unless you agree to it, employers do not have the right to monitor your personal devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops, even if you sometimes use them for work purposes.

Keep in mind that there are important and legitimate reasons to monitor employee activity. Most of the time the purpose is simply to protect the business, not to snoop.

Employees cause more data breaches than hackers, sometimes purely by accident. According to a 2009 report from the American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute, 14 percent of employees have emailed confidential information to a third party, while 6 percent have emailed credit card and Social Security information. Without monitoring tools, these undetected violations can cause major damage to a company’s reputation and finances.

How To Stay Under The Radar

About 30 percent of bosses have fired an employee for Internet misuse, the 2007 AMA study found. While 28 percent have fired a subordinate for email violations.

To avoid joining this statistic, never assuming anything you do at work or on a work-issued device is private. Assume you’re being monitored, even if you don’t know for sure. A simple rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t tell your boss about, don’t do it.

If you want to know whether you’re being monitored, ask. Most employers are willing to share this information. If they’re evasive, take that to mean yes.

About The Author

Why Your Boss is Monitoring Your Internet Activity

Isaac Kohen is the founder and CEO of Teramind, an employee monitoring and insider threat prevention platform that detects, records, and prevents, malicious user behavior. Isaac can be reached at ikohen@teramind.co. Twitter: @ITSecCentral @TeramindCo

How I Used A Reverse Number Lookup To Catch My Cheating Girlfriend

How I Used A Reverse Number Lookup To Catch My Cheating Girlfriend

 

I’m sure some of you out there have been in a relationship where someone has cheated. Maybe you were the one being cheated on, or perhaps you were the one doing the cheating. Personally, I have first hand experience with the former. Let me explain a little more about this relationship, and more importantly, how I was able to use Kiwi Searches phone lookup tool  to catch my girlfriend cheating.

Find Out Who They're Talking To

A few months ago, I ended a long-term relationship with a girl named Lisa. At first, everything started off as perfect as can be. We spent a few days talking online and texting each other before we decided to set up our first date. That was the beginning of a relationship that lasted just over two and a half years. For the majority of that time we were as happy as could be. We would go out together a few times a week, text each other constantly while we were apart and would spend just about all of our free time in each other’s company.

That being said, a few weeks after our two year anniversary, things started to go downhill. At first it started out slowly, with a break in our weekly routine. Little by little our time together started to disappear. While this was definitely a red flag, I didn’t think much of it at first. Lisa had told me that a new promotion at her job was responsible for taking up the majority of her free time. I remember her promising that once the training for said position was complete, we would get to see each other more often. At first, I was excited to hear about her promotion, but after a few weeks went by I began to realize the promotion wasn’t the reason for her lack of free time.

How I Used A Reverse Number Lookup To Catch My Cheating Girlfriend

What really convinced me something was wrong was the way she started behaving whenever we would spend time together. The first thing I noticed? She began hiding her phone from me constantly. At first I thought she was doing this unintentionally, after all, this was something she had never done before. Also, if her phone was ever left out in the open, it was always face down. But once again, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

That was until one day I noticed her phone constantly going off throughout the night. This began to bother me as it would continue to happen every time we saw each other. I never brought my concerns to her attention, but I did make a passing comment on all the new messages she was receiving. But she insisted these messages were from her job, and we left it at that.

After a few consecutive weeks of similar behavior, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. One evening, Lisa fell asleep on the couch in the middle of our movie night. However, out of the corner of my eye I noticed her face down phone had constantly been lighting up throughout the movie. I reached for the phone, careful not to wake Lisa up. What I found when I flipped over the phone shocked me. In the hour and a half that the movie was playing for, Lisa had received 7 missed calls from a seemingly random phone number along with 23 new text messages. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My first thought was to use Lisa’s finger to unlock her phone. That way I could at least read all those text messages, which were undoubtedly from the same number.

Half of me wanted so badly to unlock her phone. I needed to know who was sending my girlfriend these messages nonstop. But the other half of me still trusted Lisa. I asked myself what would happen if I broke into her phone only to find out the person on the other end had the wrong number? Also, I knew if I went through with this plan, Lisa would undoubtedly wake up and catch me in the act. Ultimately, I decided against breaking into her phone, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t a random caller.

The next day I did what anybody would do when faced with a problem they couldn’t solve: I asked Google. After typing in “how to reverse look up a phone number” I stumbled upon an amazing service that helped me identify that random number, and so much more.

Using A Reverse Phone Number Lookup Service

As I said earlier, the service that I used to perform this number lookup was called Kiwi Searches. Upon arriving on the homepage, the first thing I noticed was the amount of services available. From the reverse address lookup to criminal record searches, Kiwi Searches can be used to compile a variety of different reports. But I was here for one reason, which was to find out as much as possible about the owner of a particular phone number.

I began this process by selecting the reverse phone search option from the drop down menu on the homepage. After entering the number I discovered on Lisa’s phone the night before, I was brought to a preview page which revealed a few details about the phone’s owner. This information included the owner’s age and address history. To my surprise, this individual lived only a few miles from Lisa’s job and was around the same age as us. I needed to know more, so I decided to go ahead and purchase the full report. What I discovered next changed everything.

The information laid out in the phone report gave me the owner’s name: Brad. Having found this information, I decided to go back and perform a reverse name lookup on this Brad. From this report, I discovered that Brad not only lives close to Lisa’s job, he actually works there as well. But the most surprising thing I found was in the social media section of the report. It turns out Brad has a ton of recent pictures, including one of him kissing my girlfriend! This was all I needed to finally convince myself to end my relationship with Lisa.

I can honestly say that without Kiwi Searches, I might still be with Lisa today. So if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, the first thing you should do is gather as much information as possible. And the best way to do that is by using Kiwi Searches.

Why You Should Avoid Connected Toys This Holiday Season

Why You Should Avoid Connected Toys This Holiday Season

 

Thinking of giving a connected toy as a gift this holiday season? If so, you may want to reconsider that decision, at least for the time being. This year has seen some of the most widespread security breaches in recent memory. botnet attacks solely on IoT devices have been on the rise. And while botnets are quickly becoming more advanced, IoT device security has remained weak, if present at all.

The Dangers Of Wi-Fi Enabled Children’s Toys

Why You Should Avoid Connected Toys This Holiday Season
The arrival of Mattel’s Hello Barbie was met with harsh criticism over privacy concerns.

From blatant invasions of privacy to allowing strangers to talk directly to your child, connected toys present a new and ever present danger.

Take for instance Mattel’s Hello Barbie, which was released around this time a few years ago. The premiere feature of this doll is a push-to-talk microphone and speaker located on the doll’s necklace. Once activated, the child’s voice is sent to ToyTalk (Mattel’s partner on this project) where keywords are identified and an appropriate response is transmitted back to the doll. The issue with this? The entire conversation is kept on record to help “improve” the product in the future. In essence, the Hello Barbie doll is a surveillance device for Mattel. All of the information acquired by these dolls can be used as Mattel sees fit, including the right to sell this information off to third party companies.

The situation surrounding Hello Barbie depicts how a connected toy can be intentionally designed to exploit your child’s privacy. In fact, Germany has taken legislative action against a similar connected toy. As of this time last year, the connected toy My Friend Carla (which behaves in a similar way to Mattel’s Hello Barbie) has been designated as an “illegal espionage apparatus” by the German government. As a result, any German store found selling the My Friend Carla will be heavily fined.

Security Flaws In Connected Toys

In addition to privacy concerns, connected toys also suffer from lackluster security protocols. One potentially dangerous example of this is the I-Que Intelligent Robot. By itself, the I-Que Intelligent Robot is simply an action figure that lights up. However, once connected to a smartphone app, the toy essentially becomes an IoT device. This connection gives the robot a whole new set of actions, including games and text-to-speech activation.

But because of the devices lack of security, any individual with this app installed on their phone can easily access the toy. And since the app allows for text-to-speech, any stranger can communicate directly to your child without you knowing.

While its true that anyone attempting to access these connected toys would have to be within Wi-Fi or Blutooth range. These ranges can be extended, allowing an individual to easily search for unsecured devices from outside the house.

If your child already has a connected toy (even if it’s not one of the above) you should make sure they remain supervised while they play with it. That way, even if their particular toy has vulnerabilities, you can ensure your child remains safe.

Related Article: How To Protect Your Devices From The Latest WiFi Vulnerability

 

Critical Security Flaw Discovered In MacOS High Sierra

Critical Security Flaw Discovered In MacOS High Sierra

 

If you’re a regular here on Digital Security World, then you already know how much we stress the need for strong password protection. Even if this is your first time here, you probably know something about password security and its importance. That being said, what could possibly be worse for account security than having a weak password? How about having no password at all. Incredibly, this was the state of all Mac devices running the macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 software last week. This coming from one of the most prominent tech companies in the world, a company which prides itself on the security of its devices.

The following devices are compatible with MacOS High Sierra software:

  • iMac
  • MacBook
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro
  • MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Air
  • Mac Mini
  • MacBook Retina

The High Sierra Vulnerability

Critical Security Flaw Discovered In MacOS High Sierra
The “root” vulnerability affects every Apple device running the macOS 10.13.1 High Sierra software.

First reported by developer Lemi Orhan Ergin, the vulnerability in the 10.13.1 version of High Sierra gives anyone access to the above devices without having to know the login information. Simply typing the word “root” into the username field while leaving the password field blank will award full access to the computer. Even worse, accessing the device in this way will grant the user administrator status. This is relevant because a user with administrator status can easily access any file or location on the computer, including areas that a standard user would not have access to. For example, if you happen to have your iPhone synced to your Mac or iCloud, an intruder could spy on your text messages.

While it’s easy to see the massive security risk associated with this particular vulnerability, Apple was able to put out a quick patch to address the issue (MacOS 10.13.2 High Sierra). Unfortunately, some users have noted an issue with updating from the base version of High Sierra (MacOS 10.13) to the latest update. So if you happened to skip the MacOS 10.13.1 update, just make sure you reapply the latest version and restart your computer afterward. This will fix the root vulnerability.

Were any of your devices affected by the root vulnerability? Have a question regarding High Sierra? If so, leave a comment below.

You May Also Like: Does The iPhone X Face ID Pose A Security Threat?

Protecting Your Google Home And Amazon Alexa

Protecting Your Google Home And Amazon Alexa

 

Do you have a voice assistant in your home? If so, you already know about the convenience these devices can give both you and your family. Whether its an Amazon Alexa in your living room, or a Google Assistant in your kitchen, these devices are great for helping you multitask. And if you happen to have the Google Assistant, it can do two things at once as well. On the other hand, if you purchased an Alexa instead, you can take advantage of the more than 20,000 “skills” available. For example, fans of the game Destiny 2 can use an Alexa skill to equip their favorite loadout or call for backup, all without having to pick up a controller. You can even purchase your very own Ghost (the AI companion that helps guide you through the game) which connects to your Alexa, giving you the most immersive gaming experience possible.

As with any device that’s connected to the Internet, security is of paramount concern. Voice assistants are no exception, which is why you must take the necessary steps in order to secure them. Aside from having access to personal information, voice assistants can also be used to make online purchases. Luckily, there are ways you can prevent unauthorized access to your information.

Voice Assistant Vulnerabilities

Not taking into account the more technical security issues, such as WiFi exploits that could compromise your devices, there are other ways for someone to gain access to your Alexa or Google Assistant. The simplest one? Imitating the owner’s voice. A key feature of voice assistants is their ability to differentiate one person’s voice from another. This allows the device to store personal settings (such as account information) for each individual user. The problem with this? It’s pretty easy to fool the voice recognition software.

Your Smart Home's Voice Recognition Software Could Be Easily Tricked
It’s far easier for someone to access your voice assistant than you may realize.

To be fair, if someone was trying to access your personal profile they would still have to be close enough to your device to activate it. That being said, if you’re someone who lives with a few roommates, your device may be at risk. Luckily, there are ways you can protect yourself.

Securing Your Google Home Or Alexa

The absolute best way to secure either of devices would be to completely disable the voice recognition tool. That way you won’t have to worry about someone getting into your own personal profile. For most users though, this defeats the purpose of having a voice assistant in the first place. Instead, try adding a voice activated pin number to your personal account, That way, anytime your Google Assistant or Alexa is prompted to make a purchase, the 4-digit pin number would have to be spoken first. While this is somewhat inconvenient, it does end up giving you the best of both words. You will still be able to make purchases via voice command, but you’ll also have the security you need to protect your personal information.

Related: How To Secure Your Connected Devices And Personal Information

How To Keep Your Information Safe On Black Friday & Cyber Monday

How To Keep Your Information Safe On Black Friday & Cyber Monday

 

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Survival Guide

Thinking of spending Black Friday on the couch this year instead of camping out at your local Walmart? Well then, you probably already know that most retailers are expanding their in-store Black Friday deals to include their online stores as well. But before you decide to do all your holiday shopping online, there are a few things you should do to ensure your information is well protected. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

Use A Reputable Payment Service

How To Keep Your Information Safe On Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Payment service providers make online shopping safer and less of a hassle

There are many payment service providers on the market today. Some of the most popular ones include Paypal, Apple Pay, Mastercard’s Masterpass, and Visa Checkout. There are many reasons why you should consider using one of these services. The most important one being; you don’t have to enter your credit card information every time you buy from a new website. The payment service will essentially act as your credit card, ensuring that your information stays safe even in the event of a future data breach. In addition to this, using these services will make it far easier to purchase from multiple sites. You won’t have to take the time to enter your credit card information, you just log into your payment service account and checkout.

Shop On Safe & Secure Websites

How To Keep Your Information Safe On Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Before you enter any personal information, make sure the website you’re on is secure

One of the most important tips to follow while shopping online is to ensure that the site you are purchasing from is legitimate. Before you even make it onto the payment page, look for signs that the website is secured. You can verify the security of a website by looking in the top left corner of your web browser. Search for a green padlock to the left of the address bar, or for the HTTPS attached to the URL. Finding either of these will let you know that the website you’re currently on is secure.

Proceed With Caution

How To Keep Your Information Safe On Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Be vigilant and keep a lookout for anything suspicious this holiday season

While shopping online this holiday season, be on the look out for fake retailer apps, email scams, and “too good to be true” offers. Each year, scams such as these flood the internet, hoping to cash in on shopping craze. If you choose to go the app route, make sure you download it through your smartphone’s official app store. The majority of apps you’ll find here are safe to download, however, you should still make sure it’s official. Look for misspellings in both the title of the app and on the description page, as these are potential signs of a fake app.

This same tip applies to spam emails which are commonplace throughout the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. These emails are filled with incredible deals that are designed to peak the interest of whoever opens them. Do not be fooled however, these fraudulent emails are designed to entice you to click their many links. Once you click through the email, you will be lead to a fake website designed to steal your information. There are a few things you can do to spot these fake emails. For one, most of them will be filled with misspellings. You can also hover your mouse over any links in the email to see their destination. If the URL seems to be suspicious, avoid clicking through any of the links on the email.

These few tips should help you secure your information this shopping season. Do you have any tips you would like to see included in this article? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Related: How To Secure Your Connected Devices And Personal Information

 

 

 

Here’s How You Can Protect Your Social Media Accounts

Here’s How You Can Protect Your Social Media Accounts

Protecting Your Social Media Accounts

In today’s connected world, social media has become a major part of our lives. In fact, the majority of adults in the US use social media on a daily basis. Unfortunately, not everyone uses social media for catching up with friends and sharing cat videos. Whether it be hackers trying to remotely access your information, or a suspicious partner hoping to catch a cheater in the act, social media is usually the first place they turn to as well.

With so much of our personal information being uploaded and shared on these social media platforms, how can we be sure that our information is secure? In truth, the only way to completely secure your information would be to refrain from uploading it in the first place. That being said, there are some ways you can protect the data you deem appropriate to put online. Here are a few helpful tips.

Secure Your Logins

Here's How You Can Protect Your Social Media Accounts
Securing your login information is the first step in protecting your online accounts

Setting up your login credentials in a secure way is going to be your first line of defense against the most common online threats. During account creation, most platforms will ask to use your email address as your username. While this isn’t a security risk on its own, using the same email address or account name across multiple platforms can be.  To combat this, try using a separate username and password for each of your social media accounts. That way, if one of your accounts is hacked, you can be sure that the rest are safe.

Password strength is another factor to consider while you’re securing your social media accounts. Most social media platforms will provide security tips or grade you on the strength of your password. These requirements, while somewhat useful, are based upon old guidelines that aren’t as effective today. Instead of following these guidelines, try using long phrases containing random words for your passwords. This will not only help you create a strong password, but it will also make that password far easier to remember.

Two-Factor Authentication

Here's How You Can Protect Your Social Media Accounts
Smartphones often use two-factor authentication to help verify in-app purchases

If you feel the need for enhanced security on your social media accounts, you should consider activating two-factor authentication. Just about every social media platform has an option to turn on this security feature. If you’ve never used two-factor authentication before, the process is quite simple. You start by signing into your account as you normally would. After entering the correct information, you will receive a notification on your smartphone. Simply verify your login attempt and you will be granted access to your account. This will prevent anyone signing in on a foreign device from accessing your account.

Are you already following some of these tips? Have a few that you would like to add? Leave a comment for us in the section below!

Related: You Are Being Watched: How Harvard Used Social Media Monitoring To Rescind 10 Student Admissions