Secure smart devices for the holiday season

Summer is almost here and many are currently considering taking their beloved smart devices with them on their travels. However, the risks of doing so are sizeable.

With a recent Bitdefender study discovering that over 35% of analyzed smartphone apps can track users location, it is essential that necessary security precautions are taken to protect data on the move and guard against growing threats.

Catalin Cosoi, Chief Security Strategist at Bitdefender, offers key recommendations to help keep smart devices safe this summer:

Only use secure Wi-Fi hotspots: Free Wi-Fi hotspots are prone to traffic sniffing and malware distribution since they are not password-protected and anyone can access them. Imagine that someone sitting next to you at Starbucks, pretending to be checking his favorite news site, was in fact intercepting your traffic to see every bit of information you access, including your banking credentials. This is now a very real threat.

Pay close attention to mobile apps: If you need to download apps to help you identify hotels, restaurants, museums or locate taxis in an unfamiliar area, be sure to only install mobile apps from trusted, reputable sources. Otherwise, pirated apps might share your contacts, location services, photos, microphone and other sensitive data and features.

Keep a backup of your data at home: Users with insecure devices are increasingly being targeted by cyber criminals. As such, it is imperative to keep a back-up of your data, either online or on a physical drive. Furthermore, ensure your smart device has a mobile security solution installed. This will both protect you from loss and theft, as well as cyber-criminals.

Password-protect and encrypt your device: If someone steals or finds your device, blocking that person from accessing your private pictures, contact list or text messages is definitely reassuring. It is vital to lock your mobile device screen with a PIN, strong password or pattern. This is the first measure you can take to avoid prying eyes.

Do not access links or open attachments from random e-mails: Just as with desktops and laptops, e-mails via mobile devices can carry malware in attachments or include links to dangerous pages. Ransomware and other financial malware are also known to spread via especially crafted social engineering schemes. It is best to refrain from clicking suspicious links or opening attachments from e-mails with an unknown sender, and to install an antivirus solution to alert you of unsafe sites.

Be careful about revealing your location. Checking-in at restaurants, bars, hotels or landmarks may be fun, but it is not privacy-friendly. Mobile device users should disable GPS technology before taking photos with smartphones if they later plan to post these photos online.


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