For many people, the holiday season is a time for giving, and new devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops were popular gifts this year. But for cybercriminals, it's a season of taking as a wave of unprotected devices get turned on and connected to the Internet for the first time, leaving them open to malware and information theft.
If you go online unprotected you could encounter a virus that prevents your computer or netbook from functioning properly. Or, if you use your mobile device without security you could accidentally download a malicious app that accesses your sensitive information or sends expensive texts without your knowledge. So, before you fire up your new device and connect it to the Internet, it's important to take a few precautions.
- Protect your data—Many of us store personal and valuable information on our devices, including contacts, photos and entertainment. In fact, a recent McAfee study found that the average Internet user values the worth of their digital assets across various devices at over $37,0001. Protect your data by making sure that you back it up and have the ability to restore it in case your device is lost or stolen.
- Use comprehensive security software—If you have a new PC or netbook, make sure to protect it by installing security software that includes real-time antivirus, antispam, and antiphishing and as well as a two-way firewall to protect you from the latest threats.
- Apply your PC best practices across your Internet-connected devices— As devices such as smartphones, tablets, and netbooks have become more popular, cybercriminals have viewed them as new avenues for attack.Remember that you have to be just as cautious using Internet-enabled devices as you are when using your home PC. Never click on unsolicited emails and avoid searching for popular search terms that could lead you to dangerous websites. It's also a good idea to look into security software for your device.
- Be aware of scareware or fake antivirus software- Keep in mind that free security software only offers the basic level of protection and is usually intended to get you to upgrade to a more comprehensive, paid product. And, also be aware of scareware, which is usually distributed via pop-ups tricks users into believing that a computer is infected to get them to buy fake-antivirus software and hand over their personal and financial details. Don't buy antivirus software through pop-up ads. Always purchase your security software from a reputable vendor.
- Be aware of growing mobile threats— If you have a new mobile device, it's important to know that mobile threats are growing rapidly and your new device needs protection against malware, spyware, information loss and theft. Keep in mind that malware targeting the Android platform alone grew 400% in the last year, and no platform is safe from attack, including tablets. In addition to antivirus protection, consider software that will allow you to remotely locate and wipe your device, as well as restore data.
- Consider using McAfee All Access to protect all your devices— Take the headache out of securing all your devices by using a product such as McAfee® All Access which provides all-in-one protection for smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs. In addition to offering antivirus, antispyware and antiphishing protection, it can also safeguard you against spam, identity theft, and a host of other online threats.
Getting a new device is always fun, but make sure that you can continue to enjoy it by taking steps to protect it ahead of time. This way you can ensure the longevity of your device and the safety of your information.
1 McAfee Digital Assets Study, 2011