Tips to Help Users Feel Safe Online and Minimise Possible Risks to their Privacy

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Violation of our ‘personal space’ while online is a huge concern. However, the Waze exploit is only a small issue part of a much wider concern – being tracked online. According to the ‘Are you cyber savvy?’ quiz from Kaspersky Lab, 41% of consumers are uncomfortable with websites tracking their location and online activities, yet do nothing about it. Our habitual online activities like shopping, chatting, and travelling are all recorded and stored by different services. Online merchants, for example, use consumer browsing data to tailor their ads to suit user preferences. Access counters, web analytics tools and social networks also all constantly watch Internet users, track what they do online, and where they are when they do it.

Kaspersky Lab has developed several tips to help users feel safe online and minimise possible risks to their privacy.

Seeing is stealing

  • Modern mobile devices and applications can collect and transmit data about your location using geolocation services provided by mobile phone towers, nearby Wi-Fi transmitters or signals from Glonass or GPS satellites. To avoid disclosing your location, deny access to this information in the phone or browser settings when you’re not specifically using it.

Foreseeing the dangers of unknown networks

  • When using Wi-Fi, to increase your security level, there are ways of protecting against surveillance, for example, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
  • Do not enter user names and passwords on the sites nor use instant messaging when you are connected to public Wi-Fi. It is not difficult for hackers to intercept traffic on unprotected connections or to create hotspot traps for this purpose.
  • If you have to use an unknown Wi-Fi connection, be sure to use a security solution that checks the security level of the wireless connection. Do not ignore its recommendations.
  • Do not leave the factory administrator password on your Wi-Fi router – they are published in the manuals available on manufacturers’ websites. If an attacker gains accidental access to your device settings, it will endanger the safety of your home network.

Loose lips sink ships

  • Try to leave as little personal information as possible on sites that can be viewed by lots of visitors (e.g., social networks). Check the Privacy Settings in your social media account. Don’t post everything to everyone; organize your friends into lists/circles. Publically available information can be used to track victims more closely and to gain access to other resources.
  • You can also use special browser plugins such as NoScript for Firefox which block any active content unless you whitelist the pages – this is useful for Social Media, as it prevents someone tracking you down by likejacking pages.

Finally, make sure your device is well protected against potential surveillance. This includes installing an updated security product and applying the latest updates for your operating system and software (e.g., Office, Flash Player, Acrobat Reader or Java).

About David Emm
David Emm is Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, a provider of security and threat management solutions. He has been with Kaspersky Lab since 2004 and is a member of the company’s Global Research and Analysis Team. He has worked in the anti-malware industry since 1990 in a variety of roles, including that of Senior Technology Consultant at Dr Solomon’s Software, and Systems Engineer and Product Manager at McAfee. In his current role, David regularly delivers presentations on malware and other IT security threats at exhibitions and events, highlighting what organisations and consumers can do to stay safe online. He also provides comment to broadcast and print media on the ever-changing cyber-security and threat landscape. David has a strong interest in malware, ID theft and the human aspects of security. David is a knowledgeable advisor on all aspects of online security.

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