New Challenges for Online Security

Posted on December 31, 2012. Filed under: Steve Peplinski |

You’re probably tired of hearing about what you need to stay safe on line, but just as a refresher, here are the basics:

Desktop Security Basics

  • Install Windows Updates
  • Keep Flash, Java, Adobe Reader and other third party apps updated
  • Don’t click on links in email
  • Keep your antivirus up to date
  • Be careful where you go on the web.  Site rating services like Web of Trust can be a big help with this.
  • Use complex passwords and change them frequently

 But technology doesn’t sit still, and you’ve probably got a new online device that comes with a new set of risks!  That would be your smart phone or tablet computer.  In the last 20 years, access to information has gone from the public library to your desktop computer to a laptop in your shoulder bag to a smart phone in your pocket! 

 So what are the risks, and how can you protect yourself?  Since smart phones are Internet connected computers, they present the same risks that our desktops and laptops present for identity theft and becoming part of botnets.  And since they’re becoming more and more ubiquitous, MalWare writers are putting more efforts into exploiting them, but protecting yourself isn’t all that different. 

 Smartphone Security Basics

  • Update your apps when the vendor releases new versions.  You can check your settings to make sure that your apps are set to AutoUpdate.  Then when your phone notifies you that an update is available, make time to install it.
  • Be careful where you get your apps from.  The Apple Store and Google Play make an effort to ensure that apps you acquire there are safe and free from malware.  If you get an app from another source, you could be putting yourself at risk. 
  • Install antivirus software. 
    • A quick Google search found free apps from Sophos, AVG, and Kaspersky, three reputable companies.
    • Eset has a more robust app that costs $9.99.  It allows you to remotely lock your device, to locate a stolen device by remotely turning on the GPS, or even remotely wipe the device.  $9.99 a year is pretty cheap for peace of mind.
    • If you have a mobile banking app, start thinking of your smart phone the same way you think of your wallet.  Keep it safe so you don’t lose it. 

Don’t ignore the risks, but don’t panic either.  A little knowledge and a little effort can go a long way towards keeping you safe online.

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