Are Your Children Tweeting? – Its Fun but It Also Pays To Play Safe on Twitter

OK, let’s face it- I like talking. Perhaps a little too much but never ‘garrulous’ (as some mean spirits would say!) But I also love listening to people talking about themselves, their experiences, their discoveries, and their realizations. But what I like most is a good debate/discussion on all topics under the sun. And where else will you have such a wonderful heterogeneous mix of friends to talk or argue with than on Twitter?

Twitter, which came into existence barely six years ago, has taken the Internet community by storm. Today the micro-blogging site has over 500 million active users, yours truly being one of those addicts who feels restless if a day goes by without tweeting! I love the fact that there’s so much to discover every day, to discuss, to share- no wonder Twitter generates over 340 million tweets daily!

You know the fun parts of Twitter?

  • Post length can’t exceed 140 characters (We are spared from the attacks of the verbose!)
  • You get to meet like-minded people whom you would have otherwise never known
  • You can offer links to your blogs and get wider audience this way for your business, activities
  • It is a more personal way to interact, form groups, keep in touch with friends
  • Journalists, businesses, politicians use it widely and you can get to connect with them as well
  • Twitter is behind many of the recent social uprisings

So as long as you use the site wisely and responsibly, it offers a window to the world. Now the thing to know is what additional facts should parents know before they allow their kids to go on Twitter:

  • Twitter’s policy clearly states that its services are ‘not directed to persons under 13’. However, the site does not take any serious steps to enforce this limit
  • Whatever is posted under public settings becomes accessible to all, including direct message (dm). Even people you don’t follow can read your public posts

The red flags:

  • Twitter messages are public; and you can’t take back your words, even if you delete them
  • Twitter collects data about you and shares it with third parties
  • If the company is ever sold, this information can be sold off as an asset
  • Advertisers can target users based on their history of their tweets
  • The number of trolls is on the rise and they can prove to be really troublesome
  • There is no need to seek pre-approval or permission to share any users’ posts. So what you might intend for some to read may go viral, with sometimes unpleasant consequences
  • Spammers are already at work. They  spam accounts to direct higher traffic to their websites
  • Young people are at a high risk of being influenced by “online groomers
  • Hashtagged comments may backfire as trolls or mischief makers may bend them to suit their ends
  • Kids take their beefs (virtual arguments and fights) to the real world, and then it gets ugly

The dangers themselves suggest the remedies and precautions. Kids should play it safe and befriend only a limited few. Moreover, they should make their profiles “by request only”, so that they can choose who they want to interact with. Also educate them on how to identify, avoid and block trolls and abusive people.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that people on Twitter air their personal views and often exaggerate. So kids should under no circumstances believe all that they read.

And remember to keep your security software installed and upgraded. Every time I check out suggested link and my McAfee Total Protection stops me with a bright “WHOA! Do you really want to go there?” message. I am thankful and feel so very secure. Try it, its liberating J

Happy Tweeting, Tweeps…cheep, cheep!!!


What Online Shoppers in India Must Be Wary of – McAfee Shows the Way

McAfee had commissioned a study titled, “2012 Holiday Shopping Study” to find out the online habits and behaviors of Indians, especially those planning to use the Internet and mobile devices to shop this holiday season. In light of these findings, McAfee exposes the Top 12 Scams of Christmas that cyber crooks have planned to swindle those who shop online this holiday season.

There are some interesting findings from the survey that I’d like to draw your attention to:

  • Indian respondents scored the highest amongst all countries in terms of resorting to smart phones to purchase holiday gifts for others for end of year celebrations
  • Though most Indians professed a degree of concern regarding the probable loss of personal information while using an app on a smartphone or tablet, still 95% of them are willing to provide some level of personal information if that can get them discounts, free gifts etc!
  • Indians are also more likely to be a victim of a cyber scam. More than 23% of polled Indians have been victims and almost 25% of the respondents know someone who has been a victim
  • 40% of those Indians who plan on shopping online during the 2012 holiday season plan on using a PC (50%) will use a tablet (23%) and/or 38% will use their smartphones

So what should these shoppers be wary of? Here’s is an interesting infographics to reveal just that…


5 simple things to do to stay safe while shopping online:

  1. Ensure you have an advanced security software installed
  2. Check the site, ask around, read reviews before carrying out transactions
  3.  Always be suspicious of free gifts, tempting offers and massive discounts-there’s never any free meal. Don’t fill up  survey forms to win free iPads,  for that’s a clever way to details
  4. Check shipping and return policies and read buyer reviews for the products
  5. Do not share credit card details and other sensitive data like birth date. Use your credit card for transactions, rather than your debit card

Have you started using McAfee SiteAdvisor? If not, download it pronto. It will tell you which sites are unsafe or have malicious content. Just steer clear of them. Happy shopping!!

10 Quick Tips to Mobile Security

Mobile security is a topic I return to again and again and why not? Considering the proliferation of smartphone among the urban population of India and the demand for the same even in rural outbacks with poor internet connectivity, it is imperative to remind ourselves that along with all the advantages (and there are many) these devices can be sources of danger for users, especially kids. And though we are aware of many of these threats, we may not be aware of ALL of them.

I was reminded of the dangers related to these phones upon reading the McAfee Q1 2013 Threat Report. Some findings related to mobile malware caught my attention:

  • Growth in almost all areas of malware and spam declined, with the exception of mobile-based malware
  • Android firmly fixed as the largest target for writers of mobile malware by 40%
  • Much of the Android malware has been for-profit SMS-sending Trojans, which help cybercriminals to hijack phones to send messages that cost their owners money

Here is a very interesting infographic from McAfee on how to protect yourself from bad apps:

So here are the promised 10 quick tips to protect your mobile phones:

1.    Beware of third-party applications; download from a reputable app store only

2.    Read other users’ reviews and make sure the app’s access permissions make sense

3.    Be wary of unnecessary permissions asked for, like an alarm clock app asking to access your contacts

4.    Protect yourself against data loss, by backing up your mobile device regularly

5.    Be wary of what you click while browsing the web, as malware makers use ads to trick smartphone users into installing infected apps

6.    Have difficult-to-guess passwords for your phone, just like you do for your PC

7.    Turn off Bluetooth and other connections when not in use

8.    Don’t use geotagging while clicking snaps. When you share them immediately, people will come to know your exact location

9.    Install an advanced and comprehensive security software in your phone to protect your devices

10.  Do use a personal firewall

A quick word on the next generation of McAfee® MobileSecuritysoftware, which offers greater control to smartphone and tablet owners over their privacy as well as protects them from financial fraud, identity theft and viruses. It is inclusive of the new McAfee App Alert™, which provides important information about what apps are doing with users’ personal information. Besides this, it also offers:

  • Call and SMS Filtering: Easily filters out spammers, incorrect numbers and unwanted texts
  • Online Management: The McAfee Web portal lets users quickly execute needed security tasks, such as backup, restore, locate, and remote lock and wipe
  • Uninstall Protection: Prevents a thief or another user from bypassing their McAfee mobile protection
  • Complete Anti-virus, Anti-spyware and Anti-phishing Protection
  • Anti-theft protection including device locking

So go on, enjoy your smartphone to the hilt, confident in the knowledge that you, your kids, your phone and your data are all safe.