Safer Internet Day will be celebrated on 10 February 2015, with the slogan ‘Let’s create a better Internet together’, which rightly hints that a safe Internet is in many ways ultimately up to us.
Although ‘being online’ is now an accepted norm for much of the world, technology continues to develop faster than most of us can keep up with. So while you may be feeling on top of your Internet security on your PC, are you as safe on your mobile device?
Smartphone apps integrate with other services on your mobile device to make life easier, such as Google Maps accessing location services to help you find your way around. But do you know which other unlikely apps, such as games, are accessing your location, your contacts, or even reading your text messages? Many apps want this information for advertising purposes, but some apps are also designed to install malware on your device.
Android devices display a list of requested app permissions when you install a new app; if you’re unhappy with what’s going to be accessed, you shouldn’t install the app. With iOS devices you will be asked for access to certain services as and when an app requires it and you can choose to say no without deleting the app. It is also possible to change app permissions in your device’s settings.
Your privacy is not usually the priority for app developers, so you need to safeguard it yourself.
Passwords are often the only protection we have for much of our online activity. If you’re still using the same password across multiple accounts you aren’t alone, but you’re almost certainly asking for trouble.
There are several factors involved in creating strong passwords; for the full low-down take a look at the Think Security Guide article on strong password security. For most of us it’s probably easier to use a password management tool such as Password Manager, but if you prefer to create your own hard-to-crack passwords and store them in your head, then this blog post will help.
However strong your passwords are, they’re still just one barrier to your personal data. And if you use the same password everywhere, it’s one barrier to ALL of your data. Nowadays many popular sites, including Facebook and Google, and most banking sites, offer two-factor authentication.
Two-factor means you need two pieces of information to verify your identity. One will be your password, while the other will be a one-time, per-transaction value that can be acquired using an app on your smartphone or a security token. For a more detailed guide to two-factor authentication. It may seem like more hassle, but if the sites you use offer two-factor authentication, you’d be wise to take advantage of it.
‘Macs don’t get viruses,’ it has often been said. The truth is that Macs, and any other computer operating system, can be vulnerable to malware. Cybercriminals release malware where they expect to achieve the most successful results. When most people used PCs, they targeted PCs. Now Macs are more popular, they too are vulnerable. The same is even more true for mobile devices.
Apple devices using iOS are still fairly safe from malware, mainly due to the rigorous checks third-party apps have to go through before being allowed in the App Store (but they’re still not immune to attack). Android apps do not go through such a process. As revealed above, apps can be vehicles for other malicious software and can access your private data. As well as being selective about what you download, also install Internet security, such as Security for Mac, to protect you against anything that slips through the net.
We’ve all heard the music industry bemoaning free downloads and pirated music. That can go for movies, TV shows, website themes and more, too. And while you may pay nothing for the content, you’re risking a lot more.
Illegal downloads are often riddled with malware. If you choose to download or use illegal apps or other software, then you do so at your own risk, leaving yourself wide open to cybercriminals keen to exploit your questionable decision.
‘Exercise your right to not share your data. Become familiar with privacy settings pages on popular websites, and make sure you check them regularly because updates can automatically change your preferences.’
If there’s one thing you learn this Safer Internet Day, make sure it’s how to check and amend your privacy settings on the various websites, apps and devices you use.
Popular websites usually have settings and preferences that you can see and change. Unfortunately, the default settings aren’t necessarily the ones that will safeguard your privacy. So exercise your right to not share your data. Become familiar with privacy settings pages and make sure you check them regularly because updates can automatically change your preferences. It’s not the most fun thing about the Internet, but if we’re going to spend a lot of time online, we need to get used to this kind of routine.
To stay safe online and enjoy all the perks of the Internet, whether on your home computer, a tablet, phone or even a smartwatch, you still need to take care; and also consider investing in a comprehensive Internet security solution such as Multi Device, which delivers Kaspersky’s highest levels of protection for your PCs, Mac computers and Android devices.
The Internet doesn’t have to be scary or dangerous, but be aware that not everything is always what it seems and people are certainly not always who they say they are. As in the physical world, baddies and bullies exist online, but if you use your common sense and take sensible precautions, they don’t have to spoil your fun.
Share our secrets to keep your friends and family safe online this Safer Internet Day and beyond. Safer Internet Day is organised by Insafe and coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre.