Hark The Cyber Angels Sing- Fend Off Cyber Attacks This Holiday Season!

‘Tis the season to be happy and spread cheer, to get and to give – be generous. But let’s not give conmen the chance to scam us. Being well aware of the feelings of bonhomie and genorosity that permeate the human spirits this time of the year, scamsters think up ingenuous and ever-changing strategies to get what they want; including an entry pass to your computer.

And, they are getting better at it every passing day – creating authentic looking sites, better composed mails and pop-ups that are set to ignite interest and trust. Tweens and teens, who use the net to buy gifts and send e-cards on their own or for their parents (yes, many parents do take the help of kids to find e-tailers and make purchases) are often their biggest victims. But no worries, help is at hand.

So, like in the years before, McAfee brings to you a list of scams directed mainly at digital citizens.

Read and pay heed!

  • Unsafe mobile apps: Smartphone is in and so are phone apps. You can check, compare and place orders while having a pizza, chatting with friends over coffee, on the way to the movies or while waiting at the doctors. But don’t be in a hurry to download apps. You may unwittingly open gates to malware or phishing. Verify, ask around and ALWAYS download apps from official sites. Especially, mobile banking.
  • SMS ploy alert: Received a link in a SMS to amazing sites, discounts, bargain offers? Ignore. Instead go online and Google for etailer details and reviews
  • Hot gift offers might land you in hot soup: No free lunches ever. Anything that is free or unbelievably discounted online will be too good to be true. Check site authenticity and reputation first. Don’t click on pop-ups to win sweepstakes either
  • The travel deal trap: Nah, leave that tempting discounted travel offer alone, unless you have previously used the site and know it to be authentic
  • Who sent the e-greeting? Be mindful while checking mails and teach the same to your children. Don’t click on e-greetings without checking sender details. Wishes are welcome but not cookies or malware
  • Gaming boundaries: Hey buddies! Stay put in online gaming zones you know well, even if a new site is offering popular games at discounted rates. Research the site first, discuss with fellow gamers and parents and then take a decision
  • You have got a shipment coming: Of course, there will be shipments sent to you during Christmas and New Year, but wait! Does the mail ID look right? Ponder before clicking links and offering personal details to open document
  • Gift card ghotala (scam): So, this year, you thought let people buy what they want instead of being burdened with unwanted scarves and crockery. Noble thought. But how well do you know the company from where you plan to buy gift cards? Who recommended it? Never use third-party retailers to get cards, refer to only official ones
  • SMShing is the new danger: Phishing via SMS is the new threat and don’t you fall victim to it. After making a purchase, if your bank or the seller sends an SMS to verify the purchase by sharing account details, smell a rat. Never reply. Instead, contact the bank/seller and verify
  • Uncharitable charities: Want to share with the less fortunate? The right spirit for Christmas, one that scamsters are waiting to exploit. So ask around before dashing off any sum to a charity via the net. There are many scams right now, like ‘Donate for ebola victims’. Be cautious!
  • Dating jeopardy: Nobody to take along for a Christmas dance? Alone this New Year’s Eve? Looking for a partner? Don’t go looking for one online. You maybe duped. If you do want to get a date online, stick to official sites and never reveal financial details or send money.
  • E-tailing site: Before you start making purchases online, do spend time reviewing the sites to determine whether they are fake or true. Better stick to well-known ones. Also check their return and refund policies

Now if you have McAfee LiveSafe or McAfee Mobile Security installed on your devices, your SiteAdvisor would tell you if a site is unsafe or not. That eliminates 50% of the troubles. Also they prevent cookies from being downloaded and constantly check for malware so that you can have a safe cyber experience.

All you have to do is STOP.THINK.CONNECT. Have a fabulous Christmas and New Year folks! Stay happy, stay safe!


Youth & Social Media

The digital world is here to stay. The youth are growing up with and making internet technologies, such as social networking sites, an integral part of their lives. They want to know; share and be heard. They can connect with people who appeal to them; share views and photos instantly; sound out ideas in public; give vent to their emotions; and MOST important of all, feel accepted and get peer approval.

McAfee’s latest Tweens, Teens & Technology 2014 report reveals large participation (70%) of Indian youth on social media. Facebook still rules the roost but the youth are moving away gradually towards other platforms that offer new experiences. Another salient finding was that despite age restrictions, more tweens access networking sites than their teen counterparts.

But social media is not all hunky-dory and fun. It involves certain risks and its necessary that the youth are made aware of these before they sign up, including:

  • Cyberbullying: 36% youth have faced or witnessed cyberbullying
  • Addiction: Children are becoming addicted to various social media platforms and experience mood swings based on responses and ‘likes’
  • ID theft, hacking and scams: Often people tick boxes in a hurry without even reading T&Cs or accept friendship requests just to be more ‘popular’
  • Grooming: Paedophiles groom kids online using social media. Youth with low self-esteem face maximum risks as they look for approval online
  • Loss of privacy: Nothing is 100% safe online. So, loginID and passwords, photos and posts can be shared with the public by unscrupulous people

Admittedly, parents are mostly digital immigrants but still they are best guides for their child.Just like they wouldn’t let children go for a sleepover without investigating the household, similarly they should study the online media world first, discuss the pros and cons with the children and then allow them to sign up. However, McAfee survey reveals that only 46% youth’s parents have had a conversation with them about online safety, while 52% said their parents simply don’t care.

Sadly, even the most tech-savvy parents often forget that personal devices also need to be secured. Advanced security software offering parental controls is a necessary protection till children gain emotional and intellectual maturity.

By far, the most important online safety tip to give a kid is: STOP, THINK & CONNECT

Stop before you reply, retweet, like or share a post. Think is it true? Can it flare tension, cause negativity? And Connect only when optimistic that the post is safe to send.