BANGALORE, INDIA: From the hottest new tablet to a sleek new laptop, a shiny new electronic device is likely at the top of many holiday wish lists this year. Many lucky recipients will immediately load personal data, contact information, photos, and entertainment files onto their new toy, eager to enjoy their new tech devices.
Not so fast, warns McAfee. When new devices are completely unprotected, it takes just a few clicks to have personal information stolen or for their new device to become laden with malware.
A recent McAfee survey found that global consumers had on average more than $37,000 of "digital assets" stored on the multiple devices they own.
1. If you have a new smartphone or tablet, know that threats aimed at mobile devices are growing.
* Mobile malware is on the rise, and Android is now the most targeted platform. According to McAfee, attacks aimed at the Android platform have grown 76 percent in the second quarter of 2011 over the first quarter.
Malicious applications are a main threat area, so be careful of third-party applications and only download from a reputable app store.
2. If you have a new Apple computer or device, including an iPad or iPhone, transfer your PC best practices to your new Apple product.
* Unfortunately, the popularity of Apple computers and devices has led to escalated threats. According to McAfee Labs, as of late 2010, there were 5,000 pieces of malware targeting the Mac platform and is increasing by 10% per month.
As a proactive measure, consider installing security software that's been developed for the Mac since more threats are being aimed at this platform. Check out Apple's new iCloud service, which provides tools for syncing, backing up and securing data.
3. If you have a new PC or netbook, make sure your computer has comprehensive security software - anti-virus software alone is not enough. Be sure to back up regularly.
* 8,900 new malicious websites are found daily. (McAfee Q2 Threats Report)
* Malware cost U.S. consumers $2.3 billion last year. (Source: Consumer Reports)
Your security software should include at a minimum: real-time anti-virus, a two-way firewall, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and safe search capabilities. Additional levels of protection include anti-spam, parental controls, wireless network protection, and anti-theft protection that encrypts sensitive financial documents.
4. Keep in mind that free security software can leave you unprotected.
5. Protect your data.
Consider a product that offers data backup and restore features as well as advanced security that allows you to remotely lock your device and wipe your data in case of a loss.
6. Search and shop safely.
7. Be aware of "scareware," or fake antivirus software.
Scareware tricks users into believing that the computer is infected to get them to "buy" fake anti-virus software and hand over their personal and financial details, usually via pop-ups.
8. Educate your family and pay attention to your children's online activities.
Keep your computer in a common area and discuss which information is appropriate to share online and which is not, such as addresses, phone numbers, and other private information. Be aware that if your children
are surfing the web, they may not be as prudent when clicking on unknown links and sites, potentially increasing the risk of threats.