Teens’ Online Behavior Can Get Them in Trouble

Do you really know what your kids are doing all the time? Probably not, unless you’re a stalker (just kidding). But really, there has to be some element of trust and you can’t physically be everywhere your kids are. And that also applies to the online world. As parents, we need to be aware of what our kids are doing, teach the “rules of the road,” and help them stay safe, but we can’t always be there with them every moment of every day.

But we do need to understand that our kids are doing things online that could expose them to risk. McAfee’s 2014 Teens and Screens study showed that tween and teens continue to interact with strangers online and overshare information, even though they realize that these activities can put them at risk.

So what else did the study unveil? About 75% of tweens and teens friend people whom they know in the real world, however, 59% engage with strangers online. And one out of 12 meet the online stranger in real life. This could be because 33% of them say they feel more accepted online than in real life.

Additional facts to understand:

  • Our tweens and teens overshare personal information – 50% posted their email address, 30% their phone number and 14% (which is 14% too many) posted their home address, even though 77% know that what is posted online can’t be deleted and 80% have had a conversation with their parents on how to stay safe online
  • Social media friends are not always friendly – 52% have gotten into a fight because of social media, 50% have gotten into trouble at home or at school and 49% have regretted posted something.
  • Our kids are still hiding things from us – Although 90% believe their parents trust them to do what is right online, 45% would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching, 53% close or minimize their web browsers when their parents walk into the room and 50% clear the history of their online activity

Alarmingly, 24% said that they would not know what to do in the event of cyberbullying (how about stay away from the bully’s page and block the bully from your page?). A whopping 87% have witnessed cyberbullying and 26% have been victims themselves.

So with all these, how do we ensure we help our kids stay can enjoy the benefits of being online, while staying safe online. Here’s my top tips:

  • Establish rules: Parents should establish pinpointed rules about computer activities including sites the kids can visit and what is and isn’t appropriate behavior online, including the fact that online is forever.
  • Check in: Kids should be told to immediately report cyberbullying. whether they are witnessing it or being a victim.
  • Meet their “friends”: If it’s not possible to meet that person in person, then your child shouldn’t be chatting with them online.
  • Learn their technology: You should know more about the various devices that your kids use than your kids do, not the other way around.
  • Get their passwords: Parents should have full access to their kids’ devices and social media accounts at all times; they need the passwords.
  • Have security software on all their devices: Make sure all your kids’ devices and yours have comprehensive security software, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service.

Or you can just relegate your kids to their rooms and never let them out—like I’ve told my girls. Just kidding. But on a serious note – parents, it’s time to make this a priority, for you and your kids.

To join the conversation online, use #TeensNScreens or follow @McAfeeConsumer or like McAfee on Facebook.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

USB Drives – With Convenience Comes Risk

I’m sure most of us have used a USB drive (or thumb drive) at one point or another. They are super convenient to transfer files, especially when they are too large for email or you don’t have access to an Internet connection.

2DBut it’s this same convenience of being portable, readily available, and inexpensive that make them a prime target for cybercriminals. There’s a number of ways that these devices can fall victim to the underworld.

Because USB drives are primarily used to share and transfer files, it’s an easy target for hackers who are looking to distribute malware. And because most USB drives are set to auto-run (meaning that when you plug it into your computer, it will automatically open up the drive), the malicious software could be automatically transferred to your computer as soon as you plug this in. So once they get you to copy an infected file to the USB drive, it’s easily spread to other computers every time the USB drive is plugged in.

While their small size and portability make them easy to carry in your pocket or pretty much anywhere, it also makes them susceptible to loss or theft. Depending on what type of information is stored on here, losing this device could expose your personal information. A USB drive could easily be misplaced, dropped or taken from a table so it’s important to be careful when using these devices.

Another thing to keep in mind is that files aren’t really deleted, even if you hit the “delete” button to take something off your USB drive. In this case “delete” really means “hide” so unless you run a “wipe” program to really get rid of the files, someone could still retrieve your data, so you still need to make sure you are careful with these devices.

So here’s some tips how can you ensure that you stay safe and protect your information when using USB drives:

  • Watch your USB drive – don’t set it down and make sure you keep track of it so it’s not lost or stolen.
  • Disable auto-run – Turn off auto-run on your computer so that if a USB drive has malware, then it won’t automatically be transferred to your machine.
  • Be careful who you share your USB drives with – Be careful what computers you place your USB drive in and who you let borrow your USB drive.
  • Use comprehensive security software – make sure your security software not only scans your computer for threats, but also any drives that are attached.

Remember just as with being online, we need to make sure our conveniences don’t expose us to risk.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

Spring Clean Your Online Reputation

Spring is fast approaching, which means that spring break and college graduation are not too far away. Things could get ugly if your friends take photos of you acting foolish and then post them online for everyone to see.

14DWhether you’re searching for your next career move or are on the verge of graduation and feverishly sending out your resume, like it or not, potential employers are going online and Googling you. (Yes, Googling is considered a verb now.) Every time they find something online that is appropriate, they print it out and attach it to your resume. While I can’t confirm whether or not people are pulling your past and laughing at your expense, let’s just say I’d put money on it.

When was the last time you cleaned up your online (especially on social media) profile so that prospective employers can’t discover “bad” things about you? McAfee conducted a study, and the results show that 13.7% of people ages 18-24 know someone who was given the pink slip, courtesy of online postings.

Job seekers and upcoming college graduates take note: Difficulty getting or keeping a job due to negative social media content is a reality. I assure you anything on your social media profile that makes you look less than desirable as an employee, even an innocuous comment such as, “I always have trouble being on time,” can kill your chances at getting that dream job.

Tips on how you (the job seeker) can make your online profile look good:

DON’T:

  • Don’t friend someone you don’t know, just so you can crank up that friend-total tally. (Wow, 8,000 friends! Really?)
  • Don’t let anyone photograph or video you holding alcohol, smoking, being promiscuous or aggressive, shirtless, using vulgar gestures, or even doing something perfectly legal but stupid looking like the seflie fishy face.
  • Don’t use offensive language online, even if your privacy settings are at the highest. If you really need to get your point across, use “fudge,” “freakin,” “effing,” etc.
  • Don’t log on when your judgment may be compromised by raging hormones or alcohol/drugs.
  • Don’t negatively comment online about any person in authority (your boss, former boss, parents, a political candidate). Exception: The object of your scathing remark is a puppy beater.

DO:

  • Make sure your social network privacy settings are on high, but remember that this doesn’t give you the green light to be inappropriate.
  • Look at the past year of what you’ve posted on social media profiles. Delete every photo, video and comment that is even remotely off color.
  • Google your name, address, phone number, email address and pseudonyms to see what’s out there about you. If it’s bad and it’s deleteable, then delete.
  • If it’s not deleteable, but under the control of someone else, see what your options are to have them remove it. Email, call, beg and plead if you must.
  • Once you’ve removed what you can then start the process of pushing out good stuff. This means propagating social and search with digital content that would make your mother actually proud she spawned you. The more good stuff that shows on the first few pages of search, the more the bad stuff will be pushed down into the abyss.

If you are saying “I’m not concerned, my life is an open book, if a potential employer doesn’t want to hire me because of who I am, then I don’t want that job anyway.” Fine. But when it comes time to pay the bills, you’ve been forewarned.

You may be a college grad with a 170 IQ or a businessman with 10 years of experience, but to a prospective employer, your fishy face selfie makes you look like a tool. Be careful what you do online!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

6 Tools to protect your Privacy Online

The more advanced that communications become, the more likely your personal information is getting leaked out—every time you search the Web, send texts or e-mails, etc. Your private data is literally “out there.” However, there are six software programs to protect your privacy online.

1PExpiration date tag. Files, photos and messages are tagged with an extinguish date, then erased from your smartphone. The iOS and Android application for this is Wickr and it’s free. The only content that passes the wire is encrypted. The user’s device will encrypt and decrypt.

Block the intrusion. Where you go on the Web is tracked so that advertisers know what to market to you, but this technology is intrusive. How would you like to return the favor? You can with the free Ghostery service, an extension for the main Web browsers. It records who’s tracking your online activity, providing you information on these entities. You can instruct Ghostery to block such activity.

Multi-prong privacy features. This free program produces disposable e-mail addresses; e-mails are forwarded to the user’s main address, but a detection of spam will shut off e-mails; a login and password manager will keep track of multiple passwords and also help generate strong new passwords.

These features come with an extension for the Firefox and Chrome browser and is called MaskMe. Additional masking features come for $5/month, such as a one-time credit card number.

Easy encryption setup. If that can ever be easy, GPG Suite has made it so. With this Mac-only software, you can set up public and private encryption keys. The encrypted message, which works with Apple’s Mail, is sent by clicking a lock. The GPG Keychain Access component searches for and stores another user’s public key, plus import and export keys. The suite is supported by donations.

Stay anonymous. Today’s technology can identify you simply based on your online search history. Your search terms are retained by search engines, but if this data gets in the wrong hands, it could spell big trouble, or more likely, just be plain embarrassing.

DuckDuckGo is the alternative, as it does not record your search terms or leave them with the site you visit. It doesn’t record your computer’s IP address or the browser’s user agent string.

 VPN Use a VPN to be protected from cookies that track where you’ve visited. Knowledge of where you’ve visited can be used against you by insurance companies and lawyers, to say the least; you just never know what can happen when something out there knows your every online move.

A VPN will encrypt your online sessions with an HTTPS security feature, protecting you from non-secure Wi-Fi such as at airports and hotels. VPN will mask your IP address from tracking cookies. Hotspot Shield is a VPN provider that’s compatible with Android, iOS, Mac and PC, running in the background once installed.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

How to keep your Kids safe Online

Every parent should know all the ways they can keep their kids safe in the online world. In McAfee’s 2013 study, Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids it was found that:7W

  • 86% of kids think social sites are safe and post personal information such as their email addresses (50%) and phone numbers (32%)
  • 48% have looked at content their parents would disapprove of
  • 29% of teens access pirated illegal digital media
  • 12% of teens met a stranger online and then in the physical world
  • 54% of kids say their parents aren’t involved in their digital lives at all
  • 42% say their parents simply don’t care what they are doing online
  • 17% of parents believe the online world is as dangerous as the offline world
  • 74% of parents have thrown in the towel and are exhausted with their kids digital lives.

That last stat isn’t just scary, it’s sad. Because protecting your kids online isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. This isn’t a technology issue, it’s a parenting issue. And parent who say “I give up” are giving up on protecting their children from harm.

Here’s a basic road map of what to be aware of:

Dirty sites. This just doesn’t mean a porn site that a teen decides to check out after accidentally stumbling upon it. There are sites that promote weapons, drugs, school cheating, even how to starve down to dangerously low body weight.

Harmful contacts. Your child can be in contact with anybody in the world, without you even knowing it, and this contact may be a pedophile building up trust in your child—a trust that leads to an in-person meeting.

Information overload. Do your kids know what and what not to blab about in the cyber world? Going away on vacation soon? The whole world may find out (and the whole world includes burglars) after your chatty kid tells all on Facebook.

Sitting sickness. Sitting at the computer for hours on end not only can interfere with sleep and disrupt alertness the following school day, but excessive sitting can result in weight gain and bad posture, plus proneness to snacking on junk food.

Online bullying. Yes, words (even typed) really CAN hit harder than a fist. Cyberbullying leaves marks that are just as invasive as a swollen black eye.

Pirated content. If your kid has no money, but tons of digital files like movies and music, he may be a pirate. Law suits are being filed against parents who don’t take control of their kids online activities.

Hacking. Today kids are either hacking other or being hacked themselves. Knowing what your kids are doing and how to protect your devices is essential.

What can parents do?

Treat your kids as you’d want them to be treated. This includes online. Lay down specific rules regarding computer use and where they can visit online. Instruct your kids to promptly report any threatening or insulting online behavior.

Consider installing parental control software. A parental control program in its fundamental form will allow a parent to decide which category of sites are off-limits and how much time a child can spend online. The software is designed to prevent the child from disabling it. McAfee Family Protection allows parents access from any PC.

Parental controls also come in hardware form, but can’t provide more sophisticated control. Parental control apps exist for mobiles, yielding stronger control than software that’s filtered at the router level. Apps are available for Android, iOS or both.

What’s illegal for your boss at work to do to you is perfectly legal for you to do to your kids: use spyware to track their keystrokes, take screenshots, snag passwords, etc. Spector Pro and PC Pandora are examples. However, for most kids, this level of control isn’t necessary. But they’re invaluable if a troubled child may be interacting with a pedophile, or if your very curious child is just plain rebellious.

Install security software. It’s not enough to have antivirus, antispyware, antiphising and a firewall. You must also protect all wireless communications with Hotspot Shield VPN which locks down their devices Wifi preventing hacks.

Know who they are communicating with. At any given point and time it should be required that parent can check devices and openly discuss any conversations being had. If the parent can’t meet the person or the persons parents, then the child shouldn’t be talk talking to them.

Require device and account passwords. No matter where they go online or whatever devices they own, the parent should have full access at all times.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

6 ways College Grads can Protect Online Reputations

Here’s what you, the new college grad, can do to clean up and protect your reputation in the online world.

14DThese days, it’s crucial for college grads seeking jobs to have an online reputation that’s as clean as a whistle. I’m an online-security and ID theft expert, so trust me when I say that yes, employers DO take into account what you did at that party during your sophomore year.

How College Grads Can Clean up Their Online Reputation

A prospective employer will likely Google your name, then read the sites it’s on. And don’t assume that you’re protected by a “Joe Smith” kind of name. An astute employer will find the right Joe Smith.

One of the first things a new college grad should do, to prepare for a job interview, is to prepare for what the person hiring is likely to do (either before or after the interview): look you up online.

Find out what people are saying about you in cyberspace. Use a tool like Google Alerts, Tops, Social Mention and Sysmosys, among others. Monitor these on a daily basis.

If your own search turns up nothing bad about you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other biggies, this doesn’t mean nothing bad exists. Go deeper into the search results. Type in your middle name or just initial, or some associative fact like hometown name, to see if that alters results.

Cleaning up your online reputation, then, begins with seeing if it needs to be cleaned up in the first place. This is more important for a college grad than, say, getting that perfect manicure for job interviews or that perfect hair tinting job.

The prospective employer these days may be more interested in what your name pulls up in search engines than how perfectly coordinated your shoes are with your power suit.

Being digitally proactive keeps your online presence clean.

  1. Digital security is a must. We’ve all read about politicians, celebrities, news organizations and major corporations who’ve been hacked and negative stuff was posted from their accounts. Even when you regain control of your hacked account those unwanted posts can leave searchable breadcrumbs.  Make sure your devices are protected with antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall. Secure free Wifi connections with Hotspot Shield VPN.
  2. New college grads should invest time picking apart their Facebook page and any other kind of social media where they have the ability to change what’s on it. Delete anything relating to drinking, sex, drugs, being tired all the time, political and religious views, use of offensive words, anything that fails to benefit your reputation online.
  3. Even a comment like “Old people are bad drivers” can kill your chances of landing a job. Think before you post.
  4. Unfortunately, if someone has posted something negative about you on their blog, there’s nothing you can do unless you want to pay something like $2,000 to hire a company to knock negative Google results deep into the search pages (a prospective employer probably will not go past a few pages deep once they locate information about you). But paying someone is a viable option you should consider.
  5. A college grad can protect their online reputation by never using their name when signing up for a forum board where they may make posts that, to a prospective employer, make the job seeker look bad. If you want to post on the comments page for Fox Sports, for instance, don’t use your real name.
  6. Don’t even use your real name for signing onto support sites for medical conditions, for that matter. You just never know what may rub a prospective employer the wrong way.

The college grad’s reputation needs to appear as perfect and “pure” as possible in the online world.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Heartbleed: Free Tool To Check if That Site is Safe

I’m sure you’ve heard the news about Heartbleed by now (unless you’re in vacation wonderland and have taken a tech break). This is a serious vulnerability in the core of the Internet and is something we all should be concerned about.

heartbleedHeartbleed is a kink in encryption software, discovered by security researchers. It is a vulnerability in OpenSSL and could affect nearly two-thirds of websites online. If exploited, it can leak out your passwords and login names, thus putting your personal information at risk.

That’s why McAfee, part of Intel Security, is responding to the dangerous Heartbleed vulnerability by releasing a free tool to help consumers determine if a website they visit is safe or not. You can access the tool, here: http://tif.mcafee.com/heartbleedtest

McAfee’s Heartbleed Checker tool works by entering any website name to find out if the website is currently vulnerable to Heartbleed.

Steps to protect yourself:

  • Go to McAfee’s Heartbleed Checker tool http://tif.mcafee.com/heartbleedtest and enter any website URL to check if it’s vulnerable.
  • If the site is deemed safe your next step would be to change your password for that site. Remember, changing your password before a site is patched will not protect you and your information.
  • If the site is vulnerable, then your best bet is to monitor the activity on that account frequently looking for unauthorized activity.

Once a site has been patched so it’s no longer vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, you should change your password. Here’s some tips to remember:

  • Use strong passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols and are longer than 8 characters in length – heck the longer the better. Below is a good animation on how to create a strong password.
  • Use a password manager, like McAfee SafeKey which is included with McAfee LiveSafe™ service that will help you create strong password and remember them for you.
  • Use two-factor authentication for increased security. You get a one-time code every time someone tries to log into the account, such as those for banks, social networks and email.

Heartbleed aside, passwords are more vulnerable than ever, and just in general, should be changed every 90 days for important accounts. And remember, if your information was exposed, this is a good time to watch out for phishing scams.

A phishing scam is a ploy that tricks you into entering sensitive data, like usernames, passwords and bank account information, by emulating a familiar website.  And if your information is compromised, even if it’s just your email address, scammers could use this to try and get your other sensitive information.

Remember, in this day and age, we all need to be vigilant about protecting ourselves online.

Stay safe!

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247

VPN for Online Security: Hotspot Shield

Online users need a VPN (virtual private network), a kind of service that gives you online security, and Hotspot Shield’s service has a free version. A VPN hides your device’s IP address and interferes with any company trying to track your browsing patterns.

7WMany online companies take peoples’ data without their authorization, and then share it with other entities—again without the user’s permission. A virtual private network will put a stop to this invasion.

Thanks to the fiasco with Edward Snowden and the political messes happening in Venezuela and other parts of the world, many people are turning to VPN services like Hotspot Shield. When you surf the ‘Net on a public network (including using social media), your personal information is up for grabs in the air by vultures.

Why is VPN online security important?

Your personal data is out there literally in the air, to get mopped up by Internet entities wanting your money—or oppressive governments just wanting to snoop or even block internet access to the rest of the world. If you use your device when traveling, you’re at particular risk for suffering some kind of data breach or device infection.

The unprotected public networks of hotel, airport and coffee house Wi-Fis mean open season for crooks and snoops hunting for unprotected data transmissions. The VPN protects these transmissions of data.

In fact, Hotspot Shield was used to escape the prying of government online censors during the Arab Spring uprisings. This VPN has been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of thousands of times.

This VPN service comes with periodic pop-up ads and some banner ads for the free version, but the $30 per year version is free of ads and has malware protection.

What else does a VPN like Hotspot Shield do?

Users are protected from cookies that track where the users visit online. If your online visits are getting tracked, this information can be used against you by lawyers and insurance companies. And who knows what else could happen when tech giants out there know your every cyber move.

More on Hotspot Shield’s VPN

  • Compresses bandwidths. All the traffic on the server side, before it’s sent to the user’s device, is compressed. This way users can stretch data plans.
  • Security. All of your online sessions are encrypted: HTTPS (note the “S”) is implemented for any site you visit including banking sites. You’re protected from those non-secure Wi-Fi networks and malware.
  • Access. Think of the protection as a steel tunnel through which you access the Internet.
  • Privacy. Your IP address is masked, and so is your identity, from tracking cookies.

Hotspot Shield is compatible with iOS, Android, Mac and PC. It runs in the background once it’s installed and guards all of your applications.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

McAfee Labs 2014 Predictions

As we wind down the year, it’s a time to reflect, but also to look forward. Some of us may be thinking about resolutions and what we need to do in the upcoming year—exercise more, eat better, have better work/life balance, etc. Others of us will be thinking about how we’re going to ring in the New Year.

This time of year the McAfee Labs™ team is busy looking at what the new threats are going to be and what are new trends they expect to see. Today they released their 2014 Threat Predictions, and here’s what they believe will be in store for us:

Mobile Malware

While this is not new, this category of malware is growing like wildfire and McAfee Labs sees no slow down on this in 2014. And besides continued growth in this category (mostly on the Android platform), they believe that some  types of mobile attacks will become prevalent.

One of these growing attacks is ransomware targeting mobile devices. Once the cybercriminal has control of your device, they will hold your data “hostage” until you pay money (whether that’s conventional or virtual, like Bitcoin) to the perpetrator. But as with traditional ransomware, there’s no guarantee that you really will get your data back.

Other mobile tactics that will increase include exploiting the use of the Near Field Communications (NFC) feature (this lets consumers simply “tap and pay,” or make purchases using close-range wireless communications), now on many Android devices, to corrupt valid apps and steal data without being detected.

Virtual Currencies

While the growth of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies is helping promote economic activity, it also provides cybercriminals using ransomware attacks with a perfect system to collect money from their victims. Historically, payments made from ransomware have been subject to law enforcement actions via the payment processors, but since virtual currency is not regulated and anonymous, this makes it much easier for the hackers to get away with their attacks.

Attacks via Social Networking Sites

We’ve already seen the use of social networks to spread malware and phishing attacks. With the large number of users on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the likes, the use of these sites to deliver attacks will continue to grow.

In 2014, McAfee Labs also expects to see attacks that leverage specific features of these social networking sites, like Facebook’s open graph. These features will be exploited to find out more information about your friends, location or personal info and then be used for phishing or real-world crimes.

The other form of social attacks in 2014 will be what McAfee Labs calls “false flag” attacks. These attacks trick consumers by using an “urgent” request to reset one’s password. If you fall for this, your username and password will be stolen, paving the way for collection of your personal information and friend information by the hacker.

2014ThreatPredictions

Here’s some security resolutions to help you stay safe online in 2014:

  • Strengthen your passwords: If you’re still using easy to remember passwords that include your home address and pet’s name, it’s time to get serious about creating strong passwords that are at least eight characters long, and a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Don’t include any personal information that can be guessed by hackers.
  • Don’t open or click on suspicious emails, text or links: By simply opening an email with a piece of ransomware within it you could be leaving your devices vulnerable to hijacking.
  • Be aware when downloading apps: Since apps are the main way mobile malware is spread today, make sure to do your research before downloading any app and only download from reputable app stores.
  • Limit your use of NFC, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: If your phone has NFC capabilities, you may be unaware of default settings. Turning this feature off, as well as turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, will not only help you save battery life on your devices, but prevent attacks from hackers looking to exploit your wireless connections.
  • Check your bank statements and mobile charges regularly: This way, you can discover and report any suspicious charges
  • Install comprehensive security on all your devices: With the growing amount of threats that we’re seeing, you want to make sure that your all your devices (not just your PC) are protected. Consider installing security software such as McAfee LiveSafe™ service that protects your data, identity and all your devices (PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets).

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

12 Ways to hide Online

If you feel paranoid about online surveillance, there are ways you can significantly shrink your cyber presence so that it’s more difficult and expensive for anyone and even big intelligent agencies to monitor your online activities.

2P1. End-to end Encryption

This tactic encrypts your data from the beginning point of communication to the receiving end. The tool of choice for you and your message-recipients to install is OTR (off-the-record) messaging. This start-to-finish encryption will keep snoopers in the dark.

2. Maximal Encryption

If you can’t do end-to-end, at least encrypt as many communications as possible. This can be done with EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere browser add-on for Firefox or Chrome. It maximizes amount of data that you protect by making Web sites encrypt Web pages when possible. Encrypt your USB flash drive with TrueCrypt.

3. Encrypt Hard Drive

Latest versions of Macs, Windows, Android and iOS have ways to encrypt local storage. Turn this on so that anyone who uses your computer can’t copy its contents.

4. Strong & long Passwords

Forget short, easy to remember passwords like the name of your pet. Make them very long—all passwords. A password manager will eliminate having to remember a bunch of super long passwords. Diceware.com will help you create an unforgettable, strong master password.

5. Virtual private network software

Unencrypted data is highly vulnerable to prying eyes. Use a virtual private network (VPN); this ensures that all online transactions (e.g., filling out forms, downloading, shopping) are secured through HTTPS.

Hotspot Shield VPN is free and reliable, available for Mac, PC, Android and iPhone. This service also encrypts all mobile data and protects the user’s identity. VPNs can also be used for visiting sites you don’t trust much.

6. Use Tor

Installation and use of Tor will conceal your origins from mass and corporate surveillance. Giants like the NSA do not like Tor, and there’s a reason for that; it works.

7. Two-step authentication

This involves typing in a password and then a routinely altered confirmation number to protect against attacks on cloud and Web services.

8. Never click Attachments
Your computer can be hijacked when you click on a link sent via e-mail—a link accompanied by a hyped up message that’s designed to get you emotional rather than logical. Tell your friends and family to send you information in text whenever possible. If they must send a file, double check that it’s really from them.

9. Don’t open Emails with a blank Subject Line

An e-mail with a blank subject line may be an innocent lapse in judgment from a person you know, but the blank subject line is also a possible sign of a virus attack waiting for you if you open the e-mail.

If you receive blank subject lines apparently from someone you know, send a message to the sender by creating a new message and asking if they just sent something. Require everyone you know to fill in the subject line.

10. Anti-virus, updated software

Make sure your computer has anti-virus software and that it’s always kept up-to-date.

11. Be an ally
Teach others all you know about hiding online. Even install for others tools like Tor. Ask them to sign up for Stop Watching Us to guard against mass spying. Throw a “cryptoparty.”

12. Offline data

Keep your most secret data written down in a notebook and place where nobody would think to search for it.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.