Jun 22, 2016

Keeping Your Phone Safe

If there is one piece of property that you would want to save from a fire today it would probably be your computer. It is a treasure trove of memories and important documents and it is one of your major gateways into the greater world.

Now imagine that power in your pocket. Imagine still that you leave it at the restaurant you were just at or the cab you were just in. What do you do now? Hopefully you have security enabled because nearly everything your computer contains, your smartphone does too.

Why You Should Secure Your Phone

Your phone is arguably more valuable than your wallet. If your wallet is lost or stolen, you might lose a bit of cash, have to cancel your credit cards and get a new license. A smartphone can hold all this information and more if you haven’t done your due diligence to secure it. With wallet-less payments like Apple Pay becoming more popular, a thief doesn’t even need your wallet. This information along with access to your email and other electronic services means that you could come under identity theft in the future. With the rise of wearable technology and better sensors, your phone has some degree of access to your health information as well.

The Lock Screen

The lock screen is the first line of defense to keeping your smartphone information private. Just like you wouldn’t leave your car or house door open, don't forget to lock your phone.

Pins and Patterns

These are the easiest to remember and use, but they are also the least secure. This mainly comes down to a numbers game. A four digit PIN has 10,000 combinations while a five digit one has 100,000 options. The longer the pin or pattern, the more guesses it would take to get through it by brute force. Thankfully there are software features that limit this possibility by having penalties for getting a wrong answer. Longer time between guesses and a delay in how quickly numbers can be entered are among the typical penalties.

These are still relatively safe for the average user, just never commit the cardinal sin of passwords. Birthdays and important dates, names of friends and pets and a password and 12345 are always on the weakest passwords list, so never use them.


Encrypting your data protects you from a better than average thief. Encryption scrambles the information on the phone in such a way as to make it unreadable unless the correct password is entered.

While no form of security is perfect, an encrypted phone can give you enough time to locate your phone if you leave it somewhere or to perform a remote wipe to completely destroy any important information before it can be broken into. It used to be that encryption was not turned on by default when you got a new phone. That is increasingly not the case because of the current political climate. This was because older phones were not as powerful as they are now and turning on encryption had a tendency to slow down the performance. But today, phones like the Galaxy Note5 have more than enough speed to keep full encryption without a noticeable dip in speed and performance.

Jun 7, 2016

How to Outwit the Credit Card Fraudsters

If you conduct a lot of business online, you're probably giving your credit cards a good workout. And why not? You get airline miles, bonus points and discounts. But keep in mind that credit card fraudsters stay a step ahead of the game. Here's how you can outwit the scammers.

Review your credit card statements

As more people open online shopping accounts, fraudsters are targeting the accounts, not actual credit cards, to run up charges. So if you shop online regularly, be smart and review your statement each week. Do this online; in fact, cancel those paper statements. Be especially alert for small charges for about a dollar — scammers test a stolen card with small charges.

Keep in mind that scammers don't need your credit card number to use it. Online stores that hold your credit card information may be vulnerable to break-ins. You might discover a breach by reviewing your statement even before a site's owners do.

Follow security industry reports

The security industry pays a lot of attention to scam developments and is eager to enlighten the public. Follow a consumer-oriented service like LifeLock, which posts useful information on social forums like Facebook. There, you can read about data chips, fraud alerts and security tips on your phone during a lunch or coffee break.

Look for news from major industry players and think tanks like Forrester Research, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Kaspersky Lab's blog.

Shop at sites that require two-factor authentication

Limit your shopping to sites that require two-factor authentication (2FA) to open an account.
The 2FA method of security asks for more than a PIN or password to log on. It asks several additional security questions and records the answer. They rotate questions with each logon. For example, you may be asked to provide your father's hometown or the model of your first car — information that isn't readily available for crooks to discover.

If you shop via mobile, Kaspersky recommends using only official apps. Make sure they are upgraded to the latest version, and install strong mobile antivirus software on your phone and tablet.

Shop only via secure Internet connection

Mobile web is so tempting. It lets you make purchases anywhere through your smartphone.
Before you do this, make sure your phone isn't on an open Internet connection. If you're asked for a password before you can even connect to the Internet, be very grateful. This means no one can casually steal your information. It's even better if the shop providing the free connection changes its password every day.

Still, nothing is better than shopping through your own password-protected network.

Change your passwords frequently

Finally, change your passwords frequently everywhere one is demanded.

It's tough to keep up with new passwords, so use a password manager that creates new ones for you. Use the manger to access the sites, rather than typing in a password someone can steal. Password managers will also prompt you to change credentials and prevent you from using duplicate passwords on different sites.

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