The security problems associated with unsecured WiFi networks when you sit on the beach, cafe, etc., the applications that “show” your geographical location, the information exchanged through social networks etc are hiding serious security threats for your PC and for your personal information as well.
The use of secure wireless networks, encryption or hiding of data on disk to prevent “theft”, and serious precautions during online shopping or banking transactions, are among the practical security measures that users need to follow for protecting their personal information.
With the proliferation of social networks and the numerous applications used to share information via the Internet, PandaLabs, the anti-malware labs of Panda Security, advise users to take additional steps to avoid falling victims to malicious actions during the holidays.
Besides the traditional security measures that are usually taken, “This year, we ask users to pay special attention when sharing information over the Internet, especially when it comes to planning trips using applications, or when using GPS devices to reveal our geographic location to other members of the community. Such information can easily be taken into advantage from those who steal personal data or planning hostile actions” states Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.
These types of “geo-location” applications are used widely in recent years. Facebook applications such as Doorpl or Trip Advisor (which describes the current location of someone or the desired destination of someone), the Twitter geolocation utility (which shows from which location your tweets are sent), or the location services via GPS mobile devices (iPhone and Android users) are just some examples.
PandaLabs constantly analyze the latest trends in Internet and are able to advise users for their protection throughout the year and more specifically during a massive holiday period like the summer.
If you take your own computer with you on vacation:
– Before you do anything, keep a back up of all your data.
– Make sure you have a reliable and updated antivirus/antimalware protection software and that all necessary security patches are installed.
– In order to mitigate the consequences of theft of your computer, use the encryption technology for information stored on your hard disk, even if such work is tedious and complicated. This will prohibit any access to your files without correct password.
– Clear the temporary files, logs, cookies and password reminders or auto-complete features you use on the browser. This would eliminate the automatic access to webmail, social networks, bank accounts or your favorite online stores.
– Do not connect on unprotected WiFi networks, as you can “get hooked” by hackers who can intercept information shared with your community. Even if you have to pay for network access, it is better and safer to use a secure network you can trust.
– Pay attention to email. The phishing attacks and spam are becoming smarter for stealing sensitive personal data.
If you use another computer on your vacation:
– It’s better not to use someone else computer. You do not know what is installed on this computer. It is possible that PCs in cyber-cafes, hotels or airports, from where you might log into your bank account, etc. are infected by a dangerous Trojan Horse.
– If you do not really have a choice and must go into websites that require your personal credentials, make sure you change them immediately after use in order to minimize the risk.
– Avoid doing online transactions if possible. Remember that any information you enter can be used by another user.
– Do not accept any inducement for storage of personal data offered by many web browsers.
– When you are finished using the computer, delete all temporary files, browser history, the cookies, the log files and any other information stored on computer.
– If you download something on the computer, remember to delete it before turning the computer off.
Using social networks
– Never use the travel planning applications offered by these networks in order to be sure that it is impossible to identify who you are. Do not accept the geolocation detection (geolocation function) in Twitter and do not use this technology in mobile phones.
– Do not reveal your plans for your holidays in chat rooms, IRCs, social communities, etc.
– If you spend time in chat rooms while you’re on vacation, do not disclose any personal or confidential information to someone you don’t know.
– Share the above tips with your children, which are often more open to good faith to share information via the Internet.
– If you notice any suspicious behavior while you are connected to a social network (people with great interest for other people’s destinations, dates, etc.) contact the police. Prevention is always better than cure.