Christmastime is here once again. As the year winds down, people all over the world are picking out gifts for the loved ones in their lives that deserve a little holiday cheer. These gifts are increasingly taking the form of handy gadgets with an Internet connection. The technology has gotten a lot cheaper and a lot more versatile, and as such these devices are quickly becoming hot items on everyone's Christmas list.
With 68 percent of U.S. adults owning a smartphone and 45 percent owning a tablet, it's clear that Americans really do love their connected gizmos. But there is a darker side to the popularity of these devices. Although this is meant to be a time of joy and cheer, many cyber criminals use the holidays to take what isn't theirs.
Despite the fact that these individuals are working very hard to ruin the holidays, there are ways to navigate around them. Being educated about what these people do and best-practices about newly-acquired devices can seriously cut down the risk of a breach of sensitive data.
Keep track of devices with private information
Although many people out there believe that a cyber attack is the biggest threat to their content security, this simply isn't the case. Hackers and cyber criminals are certainly a problem that will be discussed later, but they're more flashy and interesting than the real problem facing modern data security: loss of a device.
A Trend Micro research paper by Numaan Huq has found that losing a device causes many more data loss incidents than cyber crime. Hackers were found to be responsible for 25 percent of data loss events, whereas losing a device caused 41 percent of these episodes. Huq stated in a separate article that while losing a device is simply an eventuality for some people or businesses, it doesn't have to result in information being stolen.
While Huq suggests investing in an app that alerts the user when the gadget isn't near, his most practical advice for the average person has to do with device security. Even the most basic of users need to have some sort of authorization process in order to access the information contained within the piece of hardware they're trying to get into. This can take the form of biometric security, like a fingerprint scanner, or even just a password.
Although a lot of older devices only allow the user to have a four digit code, some newer ones are allowing for up to six digits or even an actual letter-based password. Those with gadgets that fall in the latter are extremely lucky, as this means the item will be quite hard to crack. Those that fall in the former are a little more at risk, as their passwords are easier for a computer to guess. The only thing to do here, aside from not losing the device in the first place, is to be mindful of the information on these machines.
A cyber attack is still possible
Losing the device itself may be the most probable data loss event, but that doesn't mean hackers aren't a problem. Huq's research paper stated that "hacking into a network—whether using brute force, social engineering, or malware—has the highest chance of returns." Hacking in its many forms is extremely efficient at retrieving just about any piece of information the cyber criminal desires. The report also found that a cyber attack can acquire anything from health care records to personally identifiable information. PII is basically anything that can identify a person specifically, like a Social Security number or a mother's maiden name.
That being said, the report also found that the black market is absolutely flooded with this kind of information. PII is worth about $1 each simply due to the massive amount of people who have had their identity stolen. While this low number is comforting in a way, as anyone who has had their information stolen will most likely be drowned out by the white noise of the market, it also means that literally anyone with the desire to can purchase the identity of a complete stranger.
The biggest problem with solving a cyber attack after the fact is how hard these events are to discover and trace. The Better Business Bureau found that, on average, it takes about 170 days to discover that a malicious attack has even occurred. That's nearly half a year of time the hacker gets to spend covering his tracks, leaving the victim with little ability to protect themselves. As such, the only way to keep such an event from happening is investing in preventative security software beforehand.
Cyber security management is essential
Internet-connected gadgets are a great gift to give during the holidays, but giving one without thinking about cyber protection is asking for trouble. Hackers may not be the biggest threat to data security, but they also can't be stopped by doing something as simple as keeping track of important devices. Keeping a cyber attack at bay requires solid cyber security software that is specially designed for mobile devices.
Thankfully, Trend Micro is extremely experienced at keeping mobile users safe from some of the most advanced targeted attacks. The host of mobile security software packages offered can help to make sure those involved in cyber crime don't gain access to the important data contained on smartphones and tablets.
Cyber criminals don't take a break this time of year, and neither should a mobile devices cyber security software.