Most of us will travel somewhere this summer whether it be a weekend getaway, a two-week break or even a daytrip or two, and all of us (well, 99% probably) will take our mobile devices in some form with us too. Sad, but true, we just don’t unplug anymore, but we must be somewhat wary of where we plug in too!
As the long-weekend is fast-approaching (I’m counting down let me tell you) I got to chat with Norton’s Lynn Hargrove, Director of Consumer Solutions, about this topic and it really was very enlightening.
Lynn and I share a love of coffee so we started there; When travelling we are making pit stops along the way and a lot of these stops include wifi hotspots where we check our Facebook statuses, do some stuff online and post pictures. Did you know that sneaky cyber-criminals are setting up their own duplicate networks that can steal your info? Apparently they are! I was surprised at this, but then again, I’m not. What Lynn told me was to verify what the name of the wifi network is with the venue BEFORE you log-in. Networks with names that are VERY similar may be listed on your device, and may trick you, in a bad way. Look for extensions to the name like ‘Store_1′ as opposed to ‘Store’ for example. Which one would you connect to? See, I never thought of that…and now I do.
Also important is to check the name of the network when you get to your destination…such as a hotel. A lot of them offer free wifi, but how secure is it? Make sure you ask. A sure way to ruin a trip is to have your personal information stolen and exploited on what was supposed to be a time of relaxation.
Talking to your kids (or Grandkids or nieces and nephews) BEFORE you leave about how to use their devices (because they all seem to be more plugged than we are some days) is also key. They love to post about anything and everything and few realize the potential consequences of these seemingly inconsequential messages. Things like posting pics from their trips, while they are still on their trip says to potential thieves: Hey! Empty house! Never post that you are away, or, if it slips, never say how long you are gone for or how far you’ve gone at the very least. That’s something I’m actually very diligent about myself. Also, they may borrow your mobile device while away, or use someone else’s. They need to be aware that what they do online, on a strange network, could be compromised. Be aware of where they ‘check-in’ on their devices too. Lynn suggested that when on a potentially unsecure network to limit your use to checking the news, weather etc., keep it simple and you’ll carry less risk.
Lynn was also quite clear about mobile banking on your device and doing sensitive things on them while not on your home network. If you absolutely have to do these activities, look for the ‘Verified by Norton’ checkmark/logo and quadruple check you are on the proper network. Having the Norton app on your device is also recommended, it is available for iPhone and Android at present and I know I got hubby to check into that for his phone as soon as Lynn and I hung up.
Summer is also the time to go to outdoor festivals and concerts and Smartphones play a central role in the way people experience these around the world. We take photos, post to social media, connect with friends, search for information and more. According to a survey conducted by Norton:
- 88% of Canadians said the smartphone was a must have, 8% higher than bringing their ID.
- 70% of Canadians say they use public Wi-Fi at music festivals
- Nearly 4 in 10 (37%) use their phone to access their bank account
- 59 per cent check social media and almost half post to social media sites (48%)
Again, while it is definitely a blast to post about events as they happen, be smart about it, you never know who’s watching you.
With this being said, the survey also revealed that although smartphones augment event experiences, Canadians are not actively protecting their phones from theft or digital risks:
- Less than half have an application that tracks their phone
- Only half (51%) have their work email password enabled
- 61% don’t require any password to access their photos
Lynn suggests changing your passwords, and often. Also, use varying cases in them and add things like numbers to them. This will all help to make potential problem-makers’s lives that much more difficult. And, put a password on all of your devices, you wouldn’t leave your wallet wide-open on a table, don’t do it with your phones/tablets etc. either.
Lastly, but certainly not least, all of those wonderful apps out there…watch them. Sometimes you can wind up with a clone that is designed to steal your data. Keep a close eye on the stats around them to protect yourself.
Protecting your home, car, loved ones, that (for the most part) becomes second-nature to us fairly quickly. By taking some of the above steps, you can better protect your identity, finances and security. I know I’m adding passwords to my devices…how about you?