Archive for the ‘consumer’ Category

Sarahah, honesty and making sure your kids aren’t part of the problem

August 23rd, 2017

Freedom of speech in written texts? Totally anonymous? No fear of being identified and penalized? Whoa, that’s what GenY was waiting for! And youngsters have been, going for it I mean, by the drove!

If you are still wondering what I am talking about, it’s the new app Sarahah, that’s got everyone’s attention. The brainchild of a Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, its original purpose was to provide a platform to people to offer honest but anonymous feedback in the workplace without the fear of retribution. Zain soon realized the potential for it in personal use and so opened a new section in the website for personal feedback from friends. This feature became very popular in the Middle East and Africa, which led to its introduction in the western countries as the Sarahah App.

How does it work?

All you have to do is download it and link it to your social media accounts- SnapChat, Facebook or Instagram and share the link you receive with friends or public; and voila, you are ready to tell anyone- anonymously- exactly what you think of them, their work, their attitude, their past deeds or whatever it is about them that pleases or irks you.

Quick facts on Sarahah:

  1. It is available for download on PlayStore and iStore
  2. It is anonymous so just about ANYONE can send a message
  3. Spam Alert: Fake sites like Sarahah Spyer and Sarahah exposed are sending spam messages to users to check sender’s name on their sites
  4. There is a minimum age criteria though- the app is for people over 17. But a large number of teens are on it so the age criteria has obviously not played a deterrent.

So now my Facebook page is flooded with sweet comments that people have received via Sarahah (The comments are not visible to others unless users choose to share) and reciprocal outpour of love and guesses on who the sender might be. Sometimes they guess it right, sometimes they do not. What concerns cyber security experts like me (yeah, we like people to use their devices and the net with their eyes open) is that the anonymity may embolden some malicious users to reveal “honest” feelings- and so be abusive, mean, acerbic and untruthful. Or to use the app to insult or demean someone they do not like. How will the receivers handle it then?

What does this mean for parents & kids in India?

According to McAfee’s “Teen Tween Technology 2015” study in India, 43% of the children active on social media claim to have witnessed cruel behaviour on social networks, while 52% of the children indicated that they have bullied people over social media themselves. And this when there was no Sarahah app around! We learn two things from here, children are being bullied and simultaneously children could be playing accomplice to cyberbullying by being the perpetrators or witnesses.

Such apps that allow people to “speak their mind” have the potential to turn into breeding grounds for cyberbullying and according to reports, it has started happening, with some users allegedly receiving hate mails and death threats!

What parents need to understand?

  1. Watch for signals: If a child faces cyberbullying, there could be behavioral changes like depression, drop in academic performance, marked disinterest in everything. Watch out for these signs in your teen. Also, as the McAfee study suggested, kids could be not just be on the receiving end but initiating it also. This is where a good open relationship with kids about cyber etiquettes is critical from an early age.
  2. Better to be safe: Monitoring underage kid’s activities online through parental control app is critical at points in time like these. Until kids gain maturity to identify on their own, guidance from parents is essential just like how you would help cross the street. If you feel uncomfortable or disturbed by any message, its recommended to take screen shots and uninstall the app
  3. Communicate: What goes online stays online and may have future consequences. It’s important to empower children early until they can judge what can harm them. That said we also need to highlight that participating in such acts can have consequences and if seen, should be reported.

It is difficult to predict whether the popularity of the app will gain steam or lose sheen in the coming months. But what we can say for certain is if you and your kids stay aware and updated, you will enjoy your virtual experience.


Stay safe folks!

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How to Navigate this Connected World

August 18th, 2017

This blog was written in collaboration with Kishore Jotwani, Sr. Director of Marketing & Business Development for Intel’s Wireless Consumer Infrastructure Platforms and Bill Zhou, VP of product management, ARRIS. 

Doors locked, windows shut, and alarm set. I should be safe… right?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an ever-growing force that makes my everyday life easier. With real-world applications aplenty, I can’t imagine my life without IoT devices. Fitness wearables allow me to stay on track with my health goals, smart home security cameras keep my family and home safe, and even my smart oven helps me step up my cooking skills.

Unfortunately, as with anything else, there are two sides to this coin. Highlighted events over the past year have shown us that IoT devices, if not properly secured, can be vulnerable to attacks. In October of 2016,  the Dyn DDoS attack leveraged, and infected, countless connected devices to shut down several popular sites, like Spotify and Twitter. Similarly, the Mirai malware used vulnerable IoT devices, forming them into a botnet army, to stake its claim.

Now more than ever, it’s clear we live in an interconnected world, in which our homes present new opportunities for entry—and I don’t mean breaking a window. Instead of only having to worry about a physical break-in, we’re faced with the threat of a cyber break-in—one that aims to compromise connected home gadgets, and personal data to boot.

I use connected devices to help make my life easier and streamline everyday processes, but without proper security, I’m left as a sitting duck. Also, with the growing number of IoT devices in my home, they’re all competing for network bandwidth and slow down my network speed.

So, what can you do to keep your home, and your family’s data and devices secure without sacrificing network speed?

The most important thing to note is that cybercriminals rely on the assumption that we, as consumers, won’t be proactive when it comes to properly locking down our smart home devices, and the accounts connected to them.

By following these tips, you can stay proactive and beat cybercriminals at their own game:

  • Stay updated: Do your research on smart home devices, and choose the most secure one you can get your hands on. Also, always keep your devices’ software up to date to practice optimal security.
  • Change it up: If you purchase a new, connected device for your home, change the default password right away. Need some help creating a secure login for it? We’ve got you covered.
  • Safety first: Implement a solution that keeps all your smart home devices secure. For an extra layer of security, you can onboard two different routers for your home, dedicating one specifically to your IoT devices. Having one network for your connected devices and another for your other personal devices (laptop and mobile) is considered a best practice. That way, if a hacker gains access of one network, your devices on the other network are safe.
  • Have a one-stop shop: Look for a solution that offers protection at the home network level, like ARRIS Secure Home Internet by McAfee®, now available in the ARRIS SURFboard SBG7580-AC gateway. Because this solution is directly embedded in the gateway, it automatically protects your connected gadgets, without slowing down your network speed.

Remember, cybercriminals are expecting us to slip up with security, so it’s important to stay on top of it. Stay informed on smart home protection best practices, and show those hackers who’s boss!

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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Blue Whale Challenge – What You Need To Know And Do!

August 8th, 2017

Parents are waking up to this new online threat to their kids: ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’ which in extreme steps leads children to commit suicide. Fingers are flying fast on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter sharing ‘facts’ about the challenge, tips about mentoring kids, and opinions of experts that are adding to the confusion.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge?” “Is it a game or an app?” “Where is it available?” “How can I know if my child is playing it?” These and other similar questions are now making the rounds, understandably, as perturbed parents are trying their best to get a grip on the issue.

The facts first:

Alternate names: A Blue Whale/ A Quiet House/ A Silent House/ A Sea of Whales/ Wake Me Up at 4:20 am.

The background: The Blue Whale Challenge was developed by a Russian who is currently behind bars. The game had an app but now it has been removed. HOWEVER, if anyone has backed up data and saved the app, it may still be there on their devices. It may also be shared in unregulated groups.

The game: The game consists of a series of dares, and every time the player completes a challenge, a new one is assigned to him/her. This happens over a period of 50 days (According to some reports, this includes carving a Blue Whale on the hand). The last one is supposed to be one that is potentially life-threatening. Not only that, the participant has to livestream or share the suicide on Facebook.

The modus operandi: How does the moderator get the participants to accept and complete challenges? Simply by goading them on; shaming them or belittling them if they show hesitation. They already have the phone numbers and email addresses of the participants, so it’s easy for the moderator to contact the participants. The participants are also threatened not to keep records of any mails or messages or else their family member’s personal information would be hacked and made public.

Origin:  There are contradictory reports about existence of an app and now it’s been removed from online stores. Social media and forums are recognized means which have helped proliferate the same.

What can parents do?

This is not a case of malware or virus attacks. It is more related to human psychology and banks on the child’s naiveté, lack of self-esteem and acceptance to a group. Such games have existed and continue to exist and bans won’t prevent their creation. Just like there are fun challenges like the ice bucket challenge and the pink whale challenge, there are also potentially harmful ones that include taking selfies in front of running trains and other dangerous acts. Children by nature are adventurous and dares, no matter how small or big, could satisfy this need for excitement.

  1. Open Conversation: Like in the real world where you guide your child, likewise your child needs guidance in the online world too which can only be given by you until they attain maturity. Have regular and informal conversation so they share without the fear of being reprimanded. Encourage questions, address their curiosity and guide them in a friendly manner rather than leaving up to them to figure things on their own Also, its recommended to impart knowledge to break free from peer pressure and not be negative online. A strong, confident child will be able to make better decisions and this is the skill as parents you can teach your children.
  2. Stranger Danger: According to McAfee’s ‘Connected Family’ study in 2017, 49% of Indian parents are concerned about their child potentially interacting with a social predator or cybercriminal online. Education and open conversations within families are critical as kids are curious and give trust easily. Highlight incidents about how strangers try to earn trust falsely for their own agenda which can extend from cybercrime to physical theft when you are not home. Insist that they should avoid entering into any form of communication, sharing or confiding with strangers including calling, emailing, texting or meeting people they don’t know well in person.
  3. Balance: Set daily internet time when they can surf online and do school work. Also, make the rule -Absolutely NO devices go to bed with your child. If you notice your child is online more often than usual you should investigate.
  4. Monitor: Even if you are not a tech savvy person, there is nothing like a parent’s concern to keep children on the right path. It’s suggested you use the parental control features available in reputed security software which makes it easy and simple to help keep your children safe online.
  5. Do your part: Discuss with your child about how to identify such online dangers and report it if they encounter any. It’s our duty to keep the ecosystem safe for everyone as we would expect from our neighbor.

Monitoring your child’s online experience until they get a sense of judgement is something I have always advocated for, and is now more important than ever. Do your part and help make the internet a safer place for everyone.

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World Wide Web – The journey from 1990

July 31st, 2017

This year on my birthday, family and friends sent me gifts and flowers bought from online stores. Even my cake was ordered online! I wondered, “How would things have been without the World Wide Web?”

August 1, 2017 was the 26th birthday of the World Wide Web and this is the right opportunity to thank its creators, and this service for all that it has made possible.

The World Wide Web (we know it better as the www that precedes all web addresses) was the brain-child of Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau, and was born in August 1990 at CERN in Switzerland. Very soon this service became the magic portal that gave access to infinite resources online – something our previous generation would have thought possible only in science fiction.

A year later in August 1991, the first website was published, and today there are more than one billion websites in existence!

How many times do you use the browser service each day? Take a guess-10, 20, 30? Almost everything you do online requires you to use a browser – whether it’s using Google for information, watching movies and shows online, checking social media accounts, making online transactions or even communicating through WhatsApp. Well, that makes it how many times??

Cyber criminals have created bugs that can attack systems, crash devices, steal files, and disrupt organizational functioning and services. As responsible netizens, we should therefore be aware of the potential cyber threats and use a reputed security software to keep us and our family safe online.

The theory of a computer bug or virus was introduced long before the first virus was developed. In 1983, Fred Cohen demonstrated a program that could replicate itself multiple times. The first worm to create global disruption was the ‘Morris Worm’. Developed by Robert Morris, it leveraged the vulnerabilities in the UNIX system and replicated itself regularly, massively slowing down computers. This attack has the dubious distinction of being the first global multi-platform attack and raised awareness about the need for cybersecurity.

The exponential growth of internet users, businesses and services online has given ample opportunities for cyber criminals to launch targeted attacks, to fulfil various ends. Modern hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated using social engineering and phishing to target gullible users.

Some notable global cyber-attacks include:

  • 2004: Netsky and Sasser worm attacks
  • 2006: Operation Shady Rat
  • 2008: Project Chanology
  • 2009: Yahoo attack (Operation Aurora)
  • 2010: Stuxnet worm
  • 2011: Sony PlayStation Hack
  • 2012: Flame
  • 2013: Spamhaus Project
  • 2017: #Wannacry and #Petya ransomware

Though we use the terms Virus, Worms, Trojan Horses interchangeably, they are in fact not quite the same. While a virus needs a host file to spread from one computer to another; a worm is a self-replicating program that can create copies of itself and send to all on the user’s contact list. A Trojan horse pretends to be a genuine software but actually contains a malicious code.

Being aware is the first step towards cyber safety and what better way to observe World Wide Web day than by being a safe surfer? Here’s how you can ensure your safety while browsing:

  • Use a well-known security software, like McAfee LiveSafe or McAfee Total Protection
  • Always install OS updates, don’t keep it for later
  • Disable Auto-run of attachments in your e-mail program
  • Be very suspicious of .exe files
  • Scan all apps, devices, files and software before use
  • Use McAfee WebAdvisor to identify safe sites to visit

Here’s looking forward to the achievement of the Digital India vision where every citizen will know how to browse safely and lead a secure digital life and encourage their family to do so.

The rise in ransomware attacks has directed global attention towards cyber insurance and we shall be exploring this in our next blog. See you next time!


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Running from Ransomware: A Mobile User’s Guide

July 25th, 2017

From the second my alarm goes off, my day goes 100 miles a minute. In addition to getting myself ready for work, I have to pack my kids some brag-worthy lunches, conquer the stack of unwashed dishes in the sink from the night before, and make sure that everyone is out the door on time. One day, in  the midst of all the usual mania, I had a horrible realization that I had forgotten to buy my mom’s birthday present.

To save myself some time, I whipped out my phone, scrolled through the net and explored a few last-minute gift options. In the corner of my eye, I saw an ad for some cute shoes she’d like from a retail site I had previously visited. Zoom, tap, bam! Browsing history comes through to help me find a present in the blink of an eye.

Last-minute online shopping isn’t the only thing our connected devices are good for. We rely on our mobile phones for the simplest things to navigate through our daily lives. From mapping directions, to scrolling through nearby restaurant reviews, to quickly scanning newsworthy articles, our devices accumulate a lot of personal data through our browsing history.

Although browsing history has come handy for me in certain situations, it often gets a bad rap on its own. Leaker Locker, the new mobile malware discovered by the McAfee team, has created a browsing history nightmare by leveraging surfing habits against mobile users.

When we’re navigating through the net, we usually (often wrongfully) assume that our information will remain private. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Our increased trust of the web and dependence on our connected devices has excited cybercriminals, causing the number of mobile malware threats to grow over 80% in the last year.

Hiding behind apps that can be found in the Google Play store, Leaker Locker harnesses its malicious ransomware by disguising itself as an unauthorized mobile backup. Present on two apps on the Google Play store, this ransomware disguised as an app leaves the everyday consumer, like you and me, vulnerable.

So how does Leaker Locker work? It attacks when the user allows device permissions to the newly downloaded, disguised app. Once the malicious app gains access to the device, the device is locked down, and a message pops up on-screen, announcing  that the owner’s sensitive information has been compromised. This private information is then used as a bargaining chip for a ransom.

Want to make sure you’re not the next victim of this ransomware? Follow these tips:

  • Attention, Please: Scope out the app’s listing on the app store, and read through its reviews carefully. Sure, an app might look like a fun game or seem to make your life convenient, but it pays to be vigilant. Many users leave helpful warnings to others about if a specific app has been disguised as a hub for ransomware. If the reviews or actual app listings seem fishy, steer clear.
  • Don’t Pay to Play: Cybercriminals love to demand money in exchange for the “safety” of your personal data. Although paying the ransom seems like a good idea, don’t fall for this trap! Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee the return of your information. Be extra cautious and try to keep sensitive data off your mobile device.
  • Back It Up: Back up your personal information and files by taking advantage of both an external hard drive and the cloud. In the event that you get locked out of your mobile device, you’ll still have access to important data. This back up plan will give you a better peace of mind.

Mobile ransomware has been making headlines, and cybercriminals don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Get educated and be familiar with their actions. To cover all of your bases, consider turning to a mobile security solution like McAfee Mobile Security (MMS) for Android. With newly designed features that allow you to browse more securely on mobile, MMS provides real time malware (ransomware included) detection capabilities. Most importantly, it gives you the power to safeguard against threats like Leaker Locker a single tap.

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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Are Your Kids Playing Virtual Hide-n-Seek With You?

July 24th, 2017

We all grew up playing hide-n-seek. Remember how your toddler loved playing hide-and-seek as well? Well, today’s tech savvy kids have taken the game to an all new level by playing digital hide-and-seek with their parents. They have started hiding their online activities from their parents, just to enjoy some privacy and feel ‘grown-up.’

Now kids will be adventurous and try to stretch boundaries, especially teens. They also hide certain things because they may feel parents wouldn’t approve of them. These can range from networking at late hours, hacking, cyberbullying, connecting with strangers or watching age-inappropriate content.

So how do kids play the virtual hide-and-seek game with their parents? Aha, they sure know some smart ways around it that will keep you searching in vain:

  1. Using multiple email and social media accounts
  2. Signing up on social media platforms that parents don’t frequent
  3. Regularly deleting messages, temporary files and history
  4. Using the incognito mode
  5. Use of acronyms in messages
  6. Keeping passwords secret from parents
  7. Renaming contacts and files in devices

Consider the fact that 84 percent of parents allow their child to bring an internet connected device to bed, as per the McAfee Connected Family Study 2017. Do you think that can perhaps be the reason why it’s easy for kids to hide their activities from their parents? Further, 59% of parents monitor their child’s device usage, whereas 41% allow their child to use their devices whenever they want with no restrictions.

Websites are continually upgrading their security and introducing checks like minimum age criteria seeking to control the spread of fake accounts. Before exploring the online world, children need to first learn how to surf safely and handle online issues. As a parent, you are the primary educator for a child’s cybersafety training, you need to observe and guide them. It’s highly unlikely of you to leave your child alone, without keeping an eye out while going out in the real world. Similarly, why would you leave them on their own in the vast cyber world?

As your children grow older they will seek more privacy, and you may have to give them that freedom. It is important as it would instill in them a sense of ‘grown up’ and strengthen the bond of mutual trust between the child and the parent. But before you arrive at this stage, help them learn to stay safe online.

In the cyberworld, children sometimes may want to venture into unsafe territories and talk with strangers, away from parental monitoring. Not monitoring children would seem like a difficult proposition in such a scenario, unless you have parental controls activated or are aware of the online sites they visit and their passwords. They will try their best to hide their virtual footprints from you. Then what?

As your children sign up on social media sites, you need to be ready as well with the following tips:

  • Be friends with your children online
  • Encourage them to share their passwords with you
  • Periodically review the apps on your child’s phone and discuss the pros and cons with them
  • Activate parental controls to monitor them remotely
  • Keep communication channels open with them and ask them to be wary of online dangers, like cyberbullying
  • Advise them to share uncomfortable or negative experiences with parents immediately

Kids will be kids and we need to make allowances for them, understand and trust them to an extent. However, it is equally necessary that your children reciprocate that trust and respect for a fulfilling parent-child relation. For this, start their cybersafety education early on and be a parent as well as a friend to them.

So start today, if you haven’t already, and help your child stay safe online.

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123456 Is Not an Acceptable Password in 2017

July 11th, 2017

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what is the safest password of them all?

We all know using a secure password is one of the best practices for protection on the web, but we don’t always practice what we preach. We’ve all been guilty of using our first street address or our first pet’s name as passwords, and dedicating that one login to all of our online accounts for the sake of simplicity. I can even admit that there was once a time that my phone was PIN-free—it’s just plain easier, and faster. I understand the long sigh that comes with having to sign in every time you want to use a device. However, it’s never a good idea to trade security for convenience, especially with devices or accounts that hold information as personal as your bank info or family address. Complex passwords help protect your online banking account, emails, and personal information from being accessed by prying eyes.

Yes, secure logins are a crucial layer for account protection, but in all honesty, humans are creatures of habit. We love to use the same password for multiple accounts, use easy-to-remember birthdays or nicknames, or simply don’t change default passwords on devices.

Recent breaches have reminded us that passwords should always take priority (they’re so important, we’ve acknowledged a World Password Day dedicated to changing your passwords!). History has shown us that hackers love and live for bad passwords, so using poor passwords for important accounts will increase your vulnerability to a hack. To make sure that you don’t a commit a security faux pas, check out this secure password checklist:

  • Don’t Use a Real Word: If your password contains a word from the dictionary, nix it. Don’t use the name of your favorite flower or the name of your pet. Instead, consider using either a made-up word, mix of ‘slang’ words, or even gibberish. The more complicated, the better!
  • Mix It Up: As almost all password readers are case-sensitive, consider using a mix of upper- and lowercase letters to be extra secure. Throw in some numbers and symbols to complicate the password, and stay away from your standard birthday or ‘123456’ password.
  • Use the Default and You’ll Be At Fault: All “smart” devices are equipped with default passwords, from your new smart thermostat to the drone you just got for your birthday. As soon as you take your gadget out of the box and set it up for use, change the password immediately, and make sure you update these passwords regularly.
  • “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Apply: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Although it may seem like a hassle to remember these passwords, the can’t-beat security will be worth the extra effort down the line. Password management solutions like True Key are helpful to keep track of all your login info, as well as generate secure, unique passwords for you.

It’s important to remember to change passwords early, and change them often, across all devices—this makes it extra difficult for cybercriminals to access your personal information. Protecting accounts and devices from their wired connection up to their web logins will help keep hackers at bay.

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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The ‘Beginners Guide To IoT’

July 11th, 2017

You’ve probably heard the term ‘smart’ being placed in front of everyday objects such as watches, locks and even cars. Over the past couple of years, the term is being used more than ever as more devices become ‘smart’. These devices now impact nearly every aspect of our lives but, as a consumer, where do you begin to understand the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT? With so many of us relying on the internet and the cost to connect decreasing, more and more devices are being built with Wi-Fi and sensor capabilities to enable us to get connected.

As the name suggests, IoT refers to the connection between an object and the Internet, with the purpose of making products ‘smarter’ and allowing users to operate devices from afar, whether that’s from a computer or other smart device. For example, a smart lock would lock and unlock a door when it receives authorisation from its user’s Wi-Fi-connected device. Similarly, an alarm or smoke detector that is ‘smart’ would alert the homeowner if their home was under the threat of a fire or burglary, as well as collecting the home’s behavioural patterns along the way.

So how does IoT work? Usually connected via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Radio-Frequency Identification (R-FID), devices or ‘Things’ collect and transmit data between each other, allowing users to gain control of an object such as a TV, car or a household appliance. This process is called machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

IoT is playing a larger role in our everyday lives and is being applied to more and more industries each day. Fridges, washing machines and even medical healthcare monitors are all becoming smart and a consequence of this is the risk of security and privacy breaches much closer to home. It is therefore critical that consumers are protecting themselves appropriately and making sure their data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Here are a few tips we’d recommend running through to protect yourself:

1. A simple Google search will allow you to research products in depth before and after purchasing them from a trustworthy company — this way you are aware of any vulnerabilities your product may have and can take the necessary measures to protect your privacy.

2. Secure your router and IoT devices with firmware like the McAfee Secure Home Platform and ensure they’re set with strong passwords to avoid any unauthorised access.

3. Lastly, consider two-step authentication — this can boost your device’s security even further and reduce the chances of hackers breaching them.

To keep up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity news, take a look at the McAfee Security blog here.

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The Trends & Challenges Facing The Internet Of Things

July 11th, 2017

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is now commonplace in society today. Since the term was first coined back in the 80’s, connected devices have changed our lives in ways many of us could only dream of. However, whilst the growth has been significant, integrating IoT devices into everyday life even further is not without its challenges. In this post, I’m going to look at some of the trends that will help take IoT integration even further, as well as some of the hurdles being faced.


Hands Free

Today, the most common way of interacting with IoT devices and electronics is primarily touch. However, the ability to use voice is shaking up how consumers and technology interact. Voice is making a significant impact on our everyday lives and it will continue to become more prominent as the technology evolves. Very recently, we’ve seen the introduction of Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home devices. With the likes of Siri, Cortana and Assistant already being used outside of smartphones and tablets, it will only be a matter of time before consumers are controlling their IoT devices by voice. It has even begun to make its way into cars, as we’ve seen with Nissan introducing Cortana to the dashboard interface. Using our hands could well become a thing of the past!

Big Data & Machine Learning

At the very core, big data and IoT need each other. Both are powerful trends that are reshaping the way consumers and businesses operate. However, the value of IoT for big tech firms isn’t just in the hardware, it also lies in the huge amounts of data the devices are producing. Data is becoming the ‘new oil’ and IoT devices increase the amount of data companies have on consumers, making them incredibly valuable. Companies will start to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse the huge pools of data allowing them to provide a much more tailored offering with devices eventually beginning to learn and adapt to how we use them. With AI integration, it gives companies the ability to analyse data and learn, with devices ultimately becoming automated — a fundamental shift in how consumers interact with their devices.


Safety & Security

With more devices becoming connected and even more planned for the future, one of the biggest elements that needs to be addressed to make IoT a success is making sure devices are safe and secure. A recent report from Gartner predicted there will be 8.4 billion connected ‘things’ in 2017 and as many as 20 billion by 2020 — a huge amount of devices that if breached, could at the very least expose critical user data, but could also do much worse when we consider how connected hospitals and cities are becoming. If we take hospitals for example, an attack on the network could have huge ramifications on patients so as the reliability on technology increases, the security must mirror that. Looking at things much closer to home, implementing the right security platforms, like our Smart Home software will make sure cyber attacks on your connected devices in the home don’t happen.

Multiple Devices

As we’ve mentioned before, the exponential growth of IoT means more and more devices will be using a network, which will in turn place an incredible amount of strain on our networks. The result of an overburdened network could mean a drop in service, which is something most businesses and consumers would be keen to avoid. How many times has your internet connection dropped or your WiFi cut out for a few seconds? It’s not uncommon in the home today and the consequences are probably minimal, but imagine that happening for businesses — it could be catastrophic. Seamless integration is critical for the successful use of IoT.

To keep up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity news, take a look at the McAfee Security blog here.

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7 Strategies to Help Kids Sidestep Digital Friction this Summer

July 4th, 2017

What happens when you mix long summer days with a steady flow of SnapChats, tweets, Instagram feeds, and a non-stop hum of group texts streaming into your life?

If you’re an adult, you’ve likely learned how to power off and unplug for a few hours or days when you’ve hit digital overload. If you are a tween or teen, however, those sensors alerting you to trouble have yet to develop fully. So you keep scrolling, texting, posting, reading sometimes mindlessly. It may be a slow, subtle, creep but if you spend more than a few hours a day on your phone, you may experience anxiety, body image issues, sleeplessness, and even some depression, according to several studies (and, let’s be honest, good old common sense).

The summer months can amplify the social highs (friendship, affirmation, memories) and the emotional lows of digital connection (anxiety, cyberbullying, depression).

While the social connection we find in through our digital devices is not inherently dangerous, it can and does go awry if mismanaged. The constant connection can and does go south occasionally and, at times, with significant fallout. Think about it: When you get half a dozen teen girls (or guys) filling a single pipeline of chatter the lack of context, verbal inflection, accountability, and body language can instantly send an innocent chat into a 10-phone collision.

Here are some basic communication tactics with a bit of conflict management thrown to help your tweens and teens dodge the digital fallout this summer.

7 Tips to Help Kids Minimize Digital Friction this Summer

  1. Schedule Time Off. Sometimes the temptation to go to your phone for mental stimulation is just too much. So, just as you’d schedule time off from work or any other stressful situation, encourage kids to schedule time off from their peers and phones each day. Unplugging and learning to enjoy time alone grows the mind, body, and spirit.
  2. Stop scrolling, start going! Why scroll through pictures of beautiful places, fun outings, and exciting trips when you can insert yourself into them? Sounds simple but it’s easy to forget that kids just don’t know what they don’t know. Plan a family day of no phones. Fill it with hiking, beach time, kayaking, or even planning a family trip to another county, state, or continent. Want to keep the experience low-cost? That’s easier than you think. Try some of these apps to discover hiking trails nearby, camps, and fun things to do for little or not cost. Simply widening a child’s peripheral vision is enough to get them thinking bigger and reaching for their phone less. Know where to go, with this list of ways to help kids get outside this summer.
  3. Coach them to cope. If an online conflict does arise, a few simple strategies, well placed, can save the day. But, sometimes kids need coaching. 1) If an online conversation becomes argumentative or uncomfortable, teach your kids how to change the topic. Ask whose going to the baseball game or about a hot shopping spot. It’s an old trick, but it works! 2) Encourage your child to clarify a troubling statement immediately with phrases such as “when you said xx . . . I heard xx . . . is that what you meant?” or “I’m not sure if you are serious or joking right now.”
  4. Share with caution. Remember the screenshot. Remind your child that a group text (and anything shared online) can be captured and shared outside of that group. Be aware that a digital conversation is never “secret” or “private,” as with the recent Harvard University texting scandal. Nothing is private online — even those seemingly safe conversations.
  5. Be real. Be kind. Remind your kids to never say anything in a group text or a public post that they would feel uncomfortable (or afraid) saying to that person or the group face-to-face. Because of its remote nature, online chats and texts (in particular with an audience looking on) can spark overconfidence or arrogance and lead to overly brash exchanges. If something hurtful is said, teach your child to take a break and step away before responding.
  6. Emote with emojis. Those little graphic faces may very well be the best mediator your child has. Emoticons can express instant laughter, joking and help bridge at least a few of the physical deficits of online communication.
  7. Fix it face-to-face. This last point will require an extra dose of maturity for a tween or teen. Teach your child how to use an online fallout to actually improve their friendships. If a misunderstanding does occur, encourage your child to put his or her phone down and meet with the friend/s face-to-face to work it out. Usually, all involved will agree, that intent was misinterpreted. Teach your child to use “I” statements such as “I feel hurt by some of the stuff you said. I want to talk about it face-to-face in a way we can both feel heard and understood.”

Communicating online is tough for both adults and kids. While our tweens and teens do not need us to rescue them from every online conflict, don’t hesitate, to offer wisdom and guidance as they rise, fall, and mature in the online world.



Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @IntelSec_Family. (Disclosures).

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