I remember the day I got my very first smartphone vividly. It was a cool, rainy day in June of 2010. Taking a step into the “dark side” felt amazing. I had the world at my finger tips. Social media quickly became my life line. Being on maternity leave, I found myself turning to social media on a regular basis to network. It was a means of having adult conversation. A sanity saver, if you will.
3 years later and I’m now on to my 4th smart phone. My iPhone is never far from me, and if it is I’m probably having sheer withdrawals. Sad, I know. Haha.
I’ll never forget the day in November of 2010. My family and I had headed downtown for a children’s Christmas party that my husband’s employer was hosting. We went to see Beauty and the Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical. The show was great, but my daughter was super fussy. So I did what any parent would do… I gave her my cell phone to play on as a means to distract her and try to calm her down. Well… for the first time ever she wasn’t having that. She wanted nothing to do with my phone, so she whipped it across the sold out, dark theatre. I could hear it hit the floor and slide. You can only imagine the search panic that overcame me. My whole life was on that phone. Not only that my phone was not at all protected. Anyone could have accessed my whole life… photos, social media channels, emails… you name it.
Thankfully at intermission someone stood up and graciously called out looking to place the owner with the phone that had wound up under his seat. Everything worked out! Thank heavens, but things could have ended differently.
ESET features some great tips on how to minimize the damage that could happen if your device were to be lost or stolen.
1. Password-protect your computing devices.
While it sounds obvious, if anyone steals your device they will have to defeat your password to get at your data and accounts, which will significantly slow attackers. Although it is not impossible to defeat password protection on a digital device, it adds a useful layer of protection, buying you time to locate and recover the device.
2. Always backup your files.
Why? Even if you can’t recover a stolen device that does not mean you have to lose all your information and software. Regular backups are the ultimate defense against theft of your files. There are plenty of options for backup these days including online backup. Taking the time to setup backup really pays off if a device is stolen, helping reduce the pain involved in re-creating the sensitive content.
3. Use tracking software to help get your stolen device back.
Why? Getting your stolen device back is not impossible, particularly if the device itself can tell you where it is and you can communicate with it using a sort of “remote control” via SMS or other methods. You may even be able to communicate with the person who has it. However, it is not recommended that you physically confront the thief for safety reasons. Always work with your local law enforcement.
4. Don’t tempt thieves with unattended mobile devices, particularly in public places.
Why? Leaving your computer or mobile device unattended in a car, airport or restaurant is akin to asking for it to be stolen. In a recent survey we found that 1 in 5 stolen devices were taken from a car, 12% from an airport, train, bus, or other public transportation, and 11%’ from a restaurant or coffee shop.
5. Encrypt sensitive data.
Why? Storing sensitive data in encrypted files prevents anyone exploiting your data if your computer is stolen. Note: File encryption is available free on recent version of both the Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X operating systems. This step is a lot easier than it used to be, so the pain level is low these days (unlike in years past).
If you are an Android user, ESET has an awesome Mobile Security application that I highly recommend checking out. It’s an application that keeps your smartphone or tablet secure on the go. Isn’t that piece of mind that all smartphone users would love to have!
Which leads me to my next topic of conversation… Social media. I’m a self-professed social media addict. I know many who are just like me. They could live and breathe social media. BUT – have you ever stopped to think about how protected and secure your social media accounts are?
On a daily basis I see people post things on Facebook that are public (for example, a photo of their child). OR, I’ll have someones status pop up in my news feed. The only problem is I don’t know who this person is. It just happens that one of our mutual friends commented on said individuals public (and sometimes very personal) status, which ends up on display for thousands of people to view.
ESET features a great article on how to secure your Facebook profile. I think this is an important read for everyone. Setting up privacy protection on Facebook can seem like a some what tedious and confusing task, especially with how often the social media channel implements changes.
Some important tips to keep in mind when setting up your Facebook privacy settings are:
1. Don’t give too much away.
Be careful how much you give away about yourself in your “About” profile (on the far left of your profile page). The more you add, the more an identity thief can learn about you straight away.Many people like to say as much about themselves to make them seem more interesting. Resist this, your friends know how interesting you are! So no clues to your home address, mother’s maiden name, age or
relatives should be given. You can add your phone number but this can be locked to friends only or even just yourself and Facebook. It can be useful for Facebook to know your mobile number as they can use it to alert you of suspicious activity.
2. Keeping your private stuff private
Facebook gives you the option to control your privacy settings, although by default it opens up your info to more or less anyone. So, let’s look at Facebook’s Privacy Settings in detail. These are found under the arrow at the far right of the Facebook window. Click on the arrow and then click the Privacy Settings tab. This opens up a menu bar that governs what Facebook can do with the information it holds about you.
3. Who can see your timeline?
Now go to Timeline & Tagging. This allows you to determine how much or how little of your timeline is seen by others and whether you want to be “tagged” or not.
4. Who can access your personal data?
This set of options is probably the most important on Facebook as it allows you to control what third parties can access to your Facebook profile.
5. A Facebook friend is not forever.
Unless you are using Facebook for marketing purposes, think about the actual ‘friends” you really want to connect with. For example that guy who you kind of knew in the your first dorm room? The random woman you once met on holiday. Do you have any idea what they are doing now? Are they trustworthy? When was the last time you heard from them? You get the picture. A little pruning of the Friends list is a good idea every now and again. One more tip, don’t publicly announce holidays or other absences on Facebook and use
Facebook email to communicate directly with friends.
6. Set the controls on YouTube
This deserves a special mention simply because of the popularity of the video sharing site among teenagers. Like Facebook, Google states that no-one under 13 should use the site. However the safest bet is to set up a child user account which will block any inappropriate content. You can also turn off comments to prevent your kids being abused or bullied by other users and stop them from doing the same. A quick review of the comments on virtually any YouTube video will demonstrate how nasty these can be – a practice known as “Trolling”.With regards to social media safety tips, we have a recent WLS blog post that is great, and features Bieber
(great for SEO given his high profile) which discusses Five Social Media Posts you should never click.
ESET provides a free tool called Social Media Scanner that can scan your Facebook and Twitter to protect you and your friends’ timeline, messages and news feed from malicious objects.
Back in the day when I first joined Twitter many accounts (at the time) were subject to hackers, and were issuing direct messages to random users. The direct messages would read something to the effect of… “Hey, I was visiting this website (insert link), and someone was saying nasty things about you”. The kicker – if the end user clicked on the link their smartphone or computer would then become infected. If there is one thing I have learned it is that you should not click suspicious links or links hidden within misleading content.
The ESET Social Media Scanner keeps your social media channels protected 24/7, and will notify you if it detects suspicious activity, comes across malicious content or links whether it be in your private messages, on your friends wall, on your wall or in your news feed. Pretty awesome feature, if you ask me! I have the scanner set-up, and love that I have that extra piece of mind.
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If you haven’t already checked out ESET Smart Security, I highly recommend the anti-theft and anti-virus software program. I began using it at the beginning of September, and haven’t looked back ever since!
Disclosure: I’m participating in the ESET Brand Ambassador campaign through PTPA. Compensation has been received in exchange for my review and participation. All opinions expressed are those of my own.