If you’re going mobile this holiday season, you’ll probably be still connected to the Internet in some way. Whether you’re on your phone or using someone else’s machine, you should keep in mind a few quick tips to make sure the end of your 2011 is happy and secure.
1. ‘Tis the season to change your passwords.
Especially if you haven’t yet in 2011, now is the time change the passwords of you most important accounts. F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen says, “Focus your password efforts to services that actually matter to you. Lousy passwords are not a sin on a site you don’t really care about.” Here’s a system we recommend to create and remember strong passwords. Also keep in mind that you want to limit the private information you share on public machines or over free Wi-Fi networks. If you must do banking or shopping from a machine or network you do not trust, use one-time passwords, if at all possible.
2. Plan ahead but don’t post ahead.
Decide which devices you need on your travels, back up your data, and hit the road. But wait till you get home to post your travel plans on social network. If you would like to make your whereabouts known to a group of people, consider email. If you must use Facebook, make sure you’re a privacy settings master. The general rule is, “Don’t tell anyone online that you’re going out of town who wouldn’t in real life.” After you return home is the best time to share your photos and memories with your social circle.
3. Take the geo-tagging data off your images.
Every few months there is a major news story about how thousands of people are sharing their location unintentionally via the pictures that they take on their mobile devices. Even if you don’t tell your social network that you’re out of town, they already may know from the metadata on the photos you share. Here’s how to turn off geo-tagging on your phone.
4. Shop smart and monitor your credit cards.
Make sure you’re on a secure “https” site when you make any online financial transaction. Use retailers that you trust and search on their sites rather through search engines, if possible. Use one-time use credit cards if your bank offers them. If not use the same card for all online transactions and keep an eye on your credit card account at least weekly to report any suspicious transactions.
5. If possible, put a remote lock software on your smartphone.
Smartphones often contain the keys to our online lives. If you’re out traveling celebrating, you’re much more likely to misplace it. A remote lock software like our free Anti-Theft for Mobile makes it easy to lock your phone from anywhere. It can help you locate your device and, in the worst case scenario, you can remotely wipe it and protect all your sensitive data and private images.
Nothing is more irreplaceable than the time you spend with the people you love. Hopefully these tips will help you safely create memories that last a lifetime.
CC image by Beverly & Pack.
We recently invited our active Twitter community to ask us anything that came into their minds about privacy, VPNs and all manner of related topics. The Twittersphere didn’t pull any punches, and among the great questions was one asking us to make our case for own existence: What are the reasons to pay for Freedome and not use some free privacy solution? Well, here’s a few we think you'll be interested in. 1. Connection speed / bandwidth Everyone wants security and privacy, but NOBODY wants it at the expense of a sluggish connection. Running a VPN takes a surprising amount of servers and bandwidth, and these resources have to come from somewhere. So if you don’t want your internet connection bottlenecked by a VPN server coughing out modem-speed traffic like an asthmatic robot, you might want to consider a paid option. Next to connection speed, bandwidth size is the biggest prequisite people tend to have. Maybe it's the fact that we're based in Finland where the concept of data caps is very uncommon, but putting any sort of bandwidth limit even into the free trial version of Freedome was never truly considered. Unlimited bandwidth for all! 2. Our business model is giving you privacy, not taking it away When any online service claims to be free to its users, there is often a catch. There are exceptions (like Troy Hunt’s awesome Haveibeenpwned to see if your passwords have leaked), but most will ultimately take payment…. in one form or another. This can come in the form of tracking you for advertising purposes, or even selling your bandwidth to hackers. Be careful of free services and make sure you understand what you're giving in return. For instance, our iOS developers created the free F-Secure AdBlocker, and we were quite open about the fact that we were using the app to raise awareness of Freedome. Sometimes the trade-off is worth it for the customer, sometimes it is not. 3. Publicly listed company One of the threats facing consumers looking for a VPN are shady companies that operate in the privacy market. Freedome was conceived by a startup team within F-Secure, a company with a 25+ year spotless reputation among consumers. Without even considering ethical implications, making sure we keep the trust of our stakeholders is vital to our continued existence as a company. When you use a service to encrypt your traffic and handle your data, there is no choice but to place trust in that service. We try to be as open about our ways of operating as possible, but ultimately, the choice of where you place your trust is yours and yours alone. 4. Based in a country where the law is on privacy’s side If suspect business practices present one threat to consumers looking for privacy, so do the over intrusive governments in countries where VPN providers are based in. The U.K is working on the Investigatory Powers Bill (more often referred to as the "Snoopers Charter"), the U.S has an extremely spotty history in keeping their hands off people's Internet traffic, and Russia is increasingly tightening their control over what people say online. Thankfully, Finland is considered a pioneer when it comes to consumer-friendly online privacy laws. It is a great benefit both for us as a company and our customers that we have the law on our side when it comes to putting digital rights of consumers first. 5. It's just a better and prettier app Being part of an established online security company like F-Secure gives us access to a lot of resources. When you pool this together with the startup mentality of the Freedome team, you get a new kind of security app that packs features unavailable in other similar products. Freedome uses F-Secure's own security cloud to access a constantly updated list of online tracking servers and malicious sites to block them from your protection. And finally, what Anni already touched upon in her video answer: It's light, intuitive and very easy on the eyes. Words like "VPN" and "encryption" might bring into mind a clunky & unfriendly interface, but we wanted to challenge that. Everything from setup to turning it on is done with a single button. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX3FFNAl4hI?list=PLkMjG1Mo4pKL0JFjRTd4vCvK4An5QTp5D]
European Cyber Security Month (or National Cyber Security Awareness Month as it’s known in the US) is just around the corner. And considering the recent disclosure of Yahoo’s massive data breach, it seems like a good time for companies to give some consideration to their cyber security policies. One person glad to see it arrive is F-Secure Cyber Security Advisor Erka Koivunen. Erka, who’s advised people, companies, and even governments on how to protect themselves from online threats for years, wants to let people know that security is more than relying on the latest technologies or devices for protection. It’s just as much about processes and practices as it is about technology. That’s why Erka is participating in an “Ask me Anything” session on Reddit called “How to Create a Culture of Security.” Erka will answer your questions about what you, your colleagues, and your boss need to know about being hacked. Plus, Erka will be joined by Cosmin Ciobanu from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (better known as ENISA, the organized of European Cyber Security Month) to provide some additional insights on how to improve security in workplaces around Europe. This will be Erka’s second AMA, having previously fielded a range of questions about online privacy in an AMA conducted last Data Privacy Day. The AMA session will kick-off at 8 AM EST/3 PM EET on October 4th. We’ll update this blog post with the link as soon as it’s available, so check back here so you don’t miss out.
Protecting yourself on the internet used to be a lot simpler -- mostly because you weren't always on the internet. Now we can be online from when we wake up until when we go to sleep. We seamlessly shift from chatting to shopping to banking -- rarely sticking to one device or platform for too long. Most of us aren't just a Mac or PC or an Android anymore -- we're all of the above. “I, and I think most people, have a cross-platform household – I use several different devices with different operating systems on a daily basis," F-Secure security advisor Sean Sullivan explains. The old paradigm of just protecting your PC or your phone can leave your devices exposed to threats. And even the best security software in the world won't protect your public Wi-Fi connection from being snooped on, possibly exposing your most private details, including passwords. That's why we've launched F-Secure total security and privacy, which combines F-Secure SAFE and F-Secure Freedome. F-Secure SAFE is a multi-device internet security suite that protects all your devices. Freedome is a VPN offers a simple way to encrypt your communications over public Wi-Fi and change your virtual location to access geo-blocked sites and services while blocking malicious websites and online tracking. You can still purchase F-Secure SAFE and Freedome separately. And there have been recent improvements to both, including: Silent upgrades that ensure SAFE is automatically updated Parental controls now available on all supported SAFE platforms Ability to create Freedome Wi-Fi hotspots with Android devices while VPN is turned on "Buying separate products to protect iOS, Windows, Macs and whatever else isn’t just expensive, but it means you have to get used to different pieces of software designed to do the same thing," Sean explains. F-Secure total security and privacy is now available for a free trial here. If you're a current SAFE customer, you can't upgrade to total security and privacy but you should receive a discount offer for Freedome. "Bundling protective measures into packages to run on different devices is more economical and more user friendly, both of which are good for security.” Cheers, Sandra [Image by Hans Kylberg | Flickr]