With the boom in social networks and the numerous applications now available for sharing information across the Internet, global IT vendor Panda Security advises users to take extra precautions in order to prevent falling victim to computer fraud.
“This year we advise users to take particular care with the information they share across social networks”, says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “This applies particularly to applications used to plan journeys or to locate people geographically through GPS devices, as this information could easily be exploited and used to aid housebreaking.”
These types of applications have become highly popular over the last year. Facebook apps such as Doorpl or Trip Advisor (which show messages describing where you are or where and when you are planning to go); the Twitter geolocation utility (displaying where tweets have been sent from), or services for locating mobile devices through GPS (now widely employed by iPhone or Android users), are just a few examples.
While many of these programs are interesting and fun, the problem lies in the exploitation of this information by criminals. The emergence (and closure) of services like Pleaserobme, which as its name suggests, connects with these applications to offer information about who is not at home, is just one example of the abuse of these applications. “This underlines how careless we can be as users when offering personal information publicly”, adds Matthews.
There are numerous precautions that users are encouraged to take in order to prevent being exploited during the holiday season.
Users who take their PC’s with them on holiday are advised to back up all their information as they face the risk of having their PC’s stolen or breaking down while away. In addition they are advised to have reliable, up-to-date protection with all the necessary security patches installed.
Although encrypting the information on their hard disks may seem a tiresome or complex task, is another strong security measure Panda encourages users to take as it prevents anyone from accessing data without the right password.
Furthermore, users should never connect to unprotected WiFi networks, as they could be hooking up to a network set up by hackers to steal any information that they share across the Internet. It is always better to use secure, trusted networks, even if it means paying more. Lastly, users are advised to take care with email as phishing attacks and spam are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
In addition to this holiday advice, there are constant precautions that should always be taken.
No one should use applications for planning journeys offered by social networks, to ensure that you can’t be located. Similarly, users shouldn’t accept the geolocation function in Twitter or use this application from their cell phones.
Users who do spend time in chat rooms while on holiday should also never reveal any personal or confidential details to anyone unknown. If users notice any suspicious behavior on social networks (strangers with too much of an interest in your holiday destination, dates, etc.) they should contact the police. All these safety tips should be shared with children, who are more naïve than their parents and therefore make easier targets.
“In addition to the above, it is worth remembering some of the basic security measures at this time of year. Turn off your router when you leave home, beware of typical, holiday-themed phishing, take care with dubious looking websites, as many of them are designed to infect your computer… and, above all, have a great holiday”, concludes Matthews.
More information is available at the PandaLabs blog: http://www.pandalabs.com
For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.