Thursday, July 23, 2020

Nasty malware could be hiding on your Android. Here's how to spot it

Swamped with ads? Don't recognize an app? Start here to deal with it.

Android malware can find ways to trick you. A mobile app called Ads Blocker, for instance, billed itself as a useful service for cutting back on pesky mobile ads, which can pop up to cover your screen just when you're about to access something important. But users would soon find the app was malware that just served up more ads, according to security researchers.

It's just one example of malware that can frustrate Android phone users, plaguing them with ads that the creators get paid to display, even when users are looking at unrelated apps. Malware often also harvests fake clicks on the ads, doubling up on the value for the makers.

"They're making money," said Nathan Collier, a researcher at internet security company Malwarebytes who helped identify the bogus ad blocker in November, "and that's the name of the game."

Researchers say adware like Ads Blocker is the most common type of malware on Android devices. Other malicious apps, however, can do worse things than make your phone so frustrating to use that you want to Hulk out and crush it -- like steal personal information from your phone. 

Malware can be disorienting, getting in the way of how you normally use your phone and making you feel uneasy even if you aren't sure what's causing the problem. It's also very common; Malwarebytes says it found close to 200,000 total instances of malware on its customers' devices in May and then again in June. So how do you know if you have malware on your phone, and how can you stop it? Here are some takeaways from mobile malware experts on what you can do.

  • How Malware on your phone works
  • Signs of Malware
  • Ransomware on Android Phones
  • What mobile malware is capable of
  • How to stop mobile malware on your Android phone

Monday, July 13, 2020

Shopping more online? Take heed to these 7 simple safety tips

While COVID-19 is hurting in-store traffic for most American retailers, e-commerce sites have experienced a huge surge in activity.

Amazon, for example, reported a 26% jump in revenue during the first three months of 2020, especially after stay-at-home orders were first introduced, compared to the same period a year ago.

The trend continued – nay, accelerated – well into the spring, with data from Adobe Analytics’ Digital Economy Index suggesting all U.S. online sales have increased by as much as 49% in April compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers.

But, as you might suspect, with this spike in online shopping comes a stark increase in problems from it, says the Federal Trade Commission.

In April and May 2020, the FTC received more than 34,000 complaints from consumers related to online shopping, many of which were tied to ordered items not received. The May numbers alone represent a nearly twofold increase over the number of reports received during the busy holiday shopping season last December. Other issues were tied to receiving an incorrect or damaged item, misleading product information and fraud.

And so, to ensure a smooth online shopping experience, take heed to these following seven safety tips:

  1. Look for the lock (a secure internet connection)
  2. Pay securely
  3. Update your software
  4. Do your homework
  5. Dig for the data
  6. Use good passwords; avoid scams [I don' think 7 characters is a strong enough password. I'd suggest at least 10 characters.]
  7. Don't shop in a hotspot

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Is your Google Home or Nest secure? How to find and delete your private data

With Google Home or Nest in your house, you've got an always-on voice assistant that regularly records audio and almost always sends it to Google. Are you OK with that?

Relying on Google Home to organize your digital life requires something of a trade-off with regards to your personal data, but that doesn't mean you have to give up your sense of privacy just to get your smart speaker to work for you. It's totally possible, through a combination of security settings and responsible privacy practices, to minimize the amount and kind of data you share with Google yet still take advantage of Google Home's hands-free conveniences. The key is knowing how much information your Google Home can live without without becoming useless.

Starting in June, new Google accounts will automatically delete private data for you. But only after 18 months by default. And only if you're a brand new Google user. That's great if you're setting up your first Google Home device or Gmail address or you just got your first Android phone, but if you're among the 1.5 billion people on Gmail or the 2.5 billion people using Android already, your account is set to hold onto your private data forever unless you tell Google otherwise.

If you love using your Google Home but want to control how many voice recordings or how much location information and other personal data Google keeps, these are the settings that you'll need to adjust to fine-tune your privacy controls.

  • Check which options you've enabled
  • Look up everything Google Assistant has on you
  • Delete some or all of your private data
  • Choose how often your private data will be deleted
  • The most extreme privacu option: Pause all activity