Protect your stuff

Apple iOS devices have been key security features such as passcode, encryptions and Find my iPhone. Image courtesy Apple.We depend on our digital devices for nearly every aspect of our modern lives.

Whether it's using our laptop or desktop computers to get work done or to store tens of thousands of images or music, or using our smartphone's GPS and maps to find a particular resturant or location, it would be difficult to imagine living our daily lives without all of this helpful technology.

Unfortunately, these helpful devices can also sometimes be used to cause us harm - through theft of our information, abuse of systems such as webcams to capture images of us without our permission or knowledge, or the theft of our devices and data. That's why it's more important than ever to protect our digital property.

Know the risks of modern malware

When most people think of malware - or malicious software - they think of computer viruses that can spread quickly and cause our devices to malfunction. Unfortunately, this type of malware isn't all that common anymore. Today's malware isn't built to be nuisance, it's usually built to enable some criminal enterprise such as:

  • Remote access. Remote Access Tools or RATS are designed to give criminals control over your devices from afar. This can allow them to steal information, record keystrokes, turn on webcams, or do just about anything on a device. 
  • Data theft.  There are millions of malware programs circulating online designed to steal information, particularly banking or other financial information such as credit card or tax filing information. 
  • Ransomware. This is a growing category of malware that can hold your device or data for ransom by encrypting (think scrambling data to make it inaccessible without a key). A new type of randsomware for mobile devices will even try to capture images of you after you have downloaded potentially embarassing software and then threaten to release that information unless a ransom is paid.
  • SPAM. Criminals seek to use your devices to help spread malware to others, or to take advantage of others through scams for pharamecticals or other products and services. 
  • Click Fraud. Criminals will also use your devices to fraudelently click on online ads, increasing the value to the sites hosting it and costing advertisers billions in wasted funds on ads that no human ever interacted with. 

How can you protect your devices from malware?

  • Always keep your devices and software up-to-date. This includes software such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office and more which can contain vulnerablities that malware will exploit to gain control over your device or steal your information.
  • Make sure you have up-to-date Anti-Virus / Anti-Malware software installed on all your devices (particularly Windows PCs or Android mobile devices).
  • Be careful what software you download and install. More than 90% of all malware sent to UNB comes as a so-called Trojan - meaning it looks like legitimate software but instead is either completely malware or has malware included in the program. 

Other ways to protect your devices - password protection and encryption

You can prevent the unauthorized access or theft of your data in the event of a device loss by enabling device passwords and encrypting your data. This is particularly important for smartphones and tablets, which can be easily lost or stolen. If you use an Apple device (iPhone or iPad), by turning on the passcode feature you automaticallty are turning on encryption, making your device's data inaccessible without your unique code. New Android devices also enable encryption after you set a passcode or other biometric password. 

For Windows, Linux or Mac computers, there are a variety of options. For Windows computers, certain Professional or Enterprise versions of Windows contain built-in BitLocker encryption. All Macs also ship with their own encryption built-in, called FileVault. Various  free and paid programs are available for Linux. 

In addition to password protecting and encrypting your device, it's highly recommended to use services such as Apple's Find my iPhone or Google's Android Device Manager to locate your device or remotely wipe it in the event you can't recover it. Enabling Find my iPhone also makes your iPad or iPhone useless to a thief without your unique AppleID username and password.