Identifying criminals these days is usually not as easy as spotting them based on their appearance or behavior. Unfortunately, there isn’t any particular dress code for a thief, particularly the cyber kind. Cybercriminals can be your neighbor next door or in a completely different country, with the full ability to get into your digital life. Because you never know who might be trying to get at your personal information, safeguarding yourself by being aware and proactive can help stop cybercriminals from getting into your digital life.
The first step is being aware that your digital assets are more at risk than you think. McAfee Labs found that one in six people are at risk of downloading a bad app or click a suspicious URL. Most people don’t understand that the business of cybercrime is growing at an alarming rate, specifically for mobile devices. More than 40% of malware families misbehave in more than one way showing that criminals are developing sophisticated hacks on mobile platforms.
One tactic that cybercriminals are using to obtain valuable information from your mobile device is near field communication (NFC). Essentially, these criminals can hack your mobile device by being within a certain proximity to you if you have your NFC, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi turned on. They get into your device through these paths, exposing personal and financial information. McAfee Labs saw its first mobile drive-by downloads in 2012 and expects to see more of this type of attack in 2013.
Now that you know what you are up against take these four steps to start protecting your device and your privacy.
- Don’t use “free” Wi-Fi networks: As convenient as these are, they can be more dangerous than you think. Once you get on that network your computer is at the mercy of the cybercriminal. This is the equivalent of leaving the front door to your house open; burglars can come and go as they please and take whatever they want.
- Check the settings on your phone: Most devices come with a set of default settings that might have your NFC setting turned on. Taking three minutes to check your device’s settings and turning that feature off can save you from having your valuable information stolen.
- Be cautious when you download apps: Take a few seconds to read through user ratings of certain apps; you never know what you may be downloading onto your phone.
- Protect yourself with security software: Security software is a great way to spot malware and virus attacks before they happen. Many times the signs of a cyber-attack on your phone are minimal. Being proactive and protecting your digital assets with security software allows you to be in control of your device and not the cybercriminal.