In addition to the usual security measures, "This year we ask users to take particular care with the information they share across social networks. This applies particularly to applications used to plan vacations or to locate people geographically through GPS devices, as this information could easily be used to break into homes," says Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.
These types of applications have become highly popular over the last year. Facebook applications such as Dopplr and TripAdvisor (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.
"Such programs are interesting and fun, but the problem lies in how criminals could exploit this information. We have already seen both the emergence and closure of services like PleaseRobMe, which as its name suggests, connects with applications and popular social networks to offer information about who is not at home at any moment. This underlines how careless people can be when offering personal information publicly," adds Corrons.
Security Tips for Your Summer Vacation
PandaLabs is continually analyzing the latest Internet trends, and with this in mind, offers the following advice to help safeguard users' security this season:
If you take your computer on vacation with you:
-- Before you do anything else, back up all your information.You never know what might happen (accidents, theft, etc.). -- Make sure that you have reliable, up-to-date protectionand all necessary security patches are installed. If you do not have an anti-malware product, you can download one for free at http://www.cloudantivirus.com. -- To mitigate the consequences of anyone stealing your computer, encrypt the information on your hard disk. This prevents anyone accessing your data without the right password. -- Clean out temporary files, logs, cookies and any password reminders or auto-complete featuresyou use with your browser. This prevents anyone using your computer, without your permission, from automatically accessing your webmail, social networks, bank account or favorite online stores. -- Don't connect to unprotected Wi-Fi networks, as you could be hooking up to a network set up by hackers to steal any information that you share across the Internet. Even if you have to pay for it, it is always better to use secure, trusted networks. -- Take care with e-mail.Phishing attacks and spam are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
If you use a computer other than your own during the holidays:
-- If you can avoid it, never use a shared computer. You never know what could be installed on a shared PC. Using PCs in cyber-cafes, for example, or systems in hotels or airports to access your bank account, could have serious consequences if a Trojan or other dangerous malware has been installed. -- If you really have no choice, and you have to enter websites requiring your personal credentials, make sure that any website you log in to uses SSL (HTTPS)so that your login information is transmitted securely.In addition,you shouldchange your credentials as soon as possibleafterward to minimize your risk. -- Avoid making any transactions or purchases online. Remember that any information you enter could well be recovered later by another user. -- Don't accept any of the prompts to save personal dataoffered by many browsers. -- When you have finished, delete all temporary files, the browser history, cookies, log files and any other information that may have been saved on the computer. -- If you download anything onto the local computer, remember to delete it before closing, to ensure this information is not available to other users.
And always, on social networks or similar sites:
-- Never use applications for planning journeysoffered by social networks to ensure that you can't be located. Don't accept the geolocation function in Twitter, and don't use this technology on your cell phone. -- Don't proactively share your holiday plansin chatrooms, IRCs, communities, etc. -- If you do spend time in chatrooms while on holiday, don't reveal any personal or confidential detailsto anyone you don't know. -- Share these recommendations with your children. -- If you observe any suspicious behavioron social networks (strangers with too much of an interest in your holiday destination, dates, etc.) contact the police.
"In addition to the above, it is worth remembering some of the basic security measures to follow this time of year. Turn off your router when you leave home, be wary of holiday-themed phishing, and take care with sharing personal information via websites. Putting these measures into place and being proactive about your computer security will provide you with peace of mind for a more enjoyable summer," concludes Corrons.
Since 1990, PandaLabs' mission has been to detect and eliminate new threats as rapidly as possible to offer our clients maximum security. To do so, PandaLabs has an innovative automated system that analyzes and classifies thousands of new samples a day and returns automatic verdicts (malware or goodware). This system is the basis of collective intelligence, Panda Security's new security model which can even detect malware that has evaded other security solutions.