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What Not To Do This Black Friday?

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Guest written by James Lyne, Global Head of Security Research, Sophos

Instead of creating the traditional ‘top tips to protect yourself from cyber-criminals this Shopping Season’, Sophos has turned it on its head to create the Shopping Season Security Checklist which will highlight the top 10 consumer traits that leave you vulnerable to cyber-criminals.

  1. Use a password that’s easy to remember, like ‘Password’ or ‘123456’. Though they are easy to remember, for a cyber-criminal this is like giving candy to a baby. A password like this can be cracked in less than a second.
  2. Have the same password for everything so it’s easy to remember. It’s a lot of hassle having to have a separate password for our online banking, online shopping and email accounts. However, remember if a cyber criminal has access to one password they have access to all your accounts and the plethora of data they contain.
  3. Create a ‘log-in and password’ folder on your phone or in your email. So, you have different passwords and usernames – that’s great. But keeping a folder with all of the information in is a hacker’s dream and one that is easier to access than you might think. You’re better off using a password manager that you know is secure.
  4. Ignore notifications to update your phone or your laptop. We all get frustrated by notifications asking us to update the software on our laptops or iPhones, and it’s so easy to ignore or click remind me later. But some updates will have important security patches that really need to be carried out.
  5. Open links or attachments in an email from an unknown sender. Has curiosity ever got the better of you, and you’ve been desperate to know what’s in the attachment or tempted to click a malicious looking link? Phishing emails are going from strength to strength and some are even fooling the pros, but as a rule of thumb never open it if you’re not expecting it.
  6. Replying to emails that notify you of unusual activity on your account. The majority of ‘fraud alert’ or ‘account compromise’ emails these days tend to be scams. Don’t reply to them or click on the links, but instead go directly to the website of the provider (or phone them) to check for issues. Clicking a link in one of these emails and ‘signing in’ is a classic way to lose your login information.
  7. Click ‘remember me’ when you log into sites. It’s convenient to be able to go on a site and already be logged in, but do you want to allow a cyber criminal access to your Facebook account for example? Always log out and never tick the ‘remember me’ box.
  8. Believe deals that are too good to be true – there’s no such thing as a free iPhone. We’re all after a good bargain this Black Friday, but this also presents cyber criminals with an opportunity to steal your information by offering you the most competitive deals. Use your initiative to know what is real and what isn’t, and if you aren’t sure, don’t take the risk.
  9. Connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network. It’s important to be confident that the Wi-Fi you’re connecting to is secure. Otherwise all the data on your phone from your Facebook account to your banking apps could be infiltrated by a cyber criminal. If you’re not sure it’s secure but you really need to connect, you could use VPN.
  10. Don’t check your transactions and miss any fraudulent activity on your cards. These days it’s much harder to check every transaction on our bank statements, however the Christmas shopping period is the most important time of year to be doing this in order to avoid falling victim to fraud. If you discover payments that you can’t identify, notify your bank immediately.
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Four Trends Creators and Brands Should Consider When Developing Video Content

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Written by Team Likee

Short-form video content has been on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down in 2022. Social media continues to evolve and has become an integral part of our lives during the past year, as people spend more time at home consuming and engaging with content through their personal computing and mobile devices.

Despite the ever-changing landscape of social media, the key to succeeding in 2022 is to know where and how your audience is spending their time and meet them there with relevant content. Furthermore, customers need to be the focal point of every brand content, campaign, or strategy put into action to help build a strong presence for the future.

According to Forbes, by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. By leveraging emerging social media trends towards long-term planning, content creators, brands and businesses have the opportunity to truly differentiate themselves from competitors by creating relevant content with a slight difference.

“The pace at which the world is changing is quite fast and those that can anticipate the future and react to it will be the ones that can achieve longevity and success both in the short and long terms,” said Wick Wang, Operations Director of Likee MENA. “The key takeaway from last year is that people are reinventing their lifestyle, adapting behaviors, learning new skills, and finding their true passions online through social media. More than anything, the need for interactivity, live experiences, creative expression and true immersive content may very well be the blueprint for success on social media. Understanding how interests have changed and creating a plan to create relevant and trend-driven content is what will add value for both the creators and audience alike.”

Of all the content created though, video content will reign supreme, and below are the top four trends that content creators and brands should pay close attention to when it comes to conceptualizing, scripting, producing, and shooting video content.

Trend 1: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Becomes a Norm
There has been quite a lot of discussion about how AR and VR devices are becoming more feasible to use and that they will soon become more mainstream. In fact, the global AR and VR market is set to be valued at USD 570 billion by 2025, according to Saudi Arabia’s smart-city mega-project NEOM.

As technology becomes more accessible and the demand for more immersive content increases, AR and VR environments will finally find their way into the vision of people from all walks of life.

From healthcare providers using AR/VR for self-guided diagnostics to retail stores offering virtual ‘try it before you buy,’ creators and brands across different industries will use this technology to create seamless virtual experiences to captivate their audience, enhance their experience and create value in the form of information, education, entertainment and more.

Looking to the future, creators and brands need to be ready to incorporate AR and VR into their video creation, marketing and promotion strategies, as traditional videos may soon not be enough.

Trend 2: Trend jacking
It seems as though everyone today wants to “go viral”. Creators and brands try their best to go viral to maintain brand awareness and to gain a new audience. Today though, instead of conceptualizing something bold and new, creators and brands simply pounce on existing trends and play along with them.

Audiences across all social media platforms truly appreciate fresh versions of trending content as they can relate to it. By capitalizing on trending topics, viewers have the ability to connect and participate in a social media movement themselves that is being played out locally, regionally, or even internationally.

A recent trend that many brands and companies leveraged to create unique experiences of their own was that of the hit Netflix show – Squid Game. Trend jacking is a quick and easy way to raise awareness for content, engage with the fan base and strengthen followings.

Trend 3: Explainer Videos
Although selfies and stories will continue to be in fashion next year, there is a strong urge to generate more explainer videos. In fact, explainer videos account for 73 percent of the most commonly-created types of videos across social platforms.

Explainer videos are short, snappy, engaging, and have unusually high retention rates of around 77 percent. Good explainer videos tell a story and follow a simple structure that draws viewers in and takes them on a short enjoyable journey and is typically used to share content-of-value that highlights a product, feature, service, business idea, or concept.

Content creators and brands that are looking to develop quality content need to include explainer videos within their content strategy. This will not only improve their credibility and conversion rates but position them as being value-creators for relevant audiences.

Trend 4: Interactive Videos
It’s no secret, 82 percent of all web traffic is predicted to come from video by 2022. Furthermore, interactive video content generates 2x more conversions than passive content, 4-5x more page views than static content and 93 percent of marketers say that interactive content is somewhat or very effective at educating the buyer, versus just 70 percent for static content.

Interactive videos support user interaction through clicks, touches, taps, and movement. Viewers become the discoverer and creator whereby they navigate themselves through the video by choosing the narrative, storyline and making decisions based on their interests.

Interactive videos are extremely rewarding. They can help content creators, brands and businesses achieve a more detailed account of the personality of their audience members’ which can, in turn, help them understand what content is in demand and then develop videos that not only meet audience expectations but exceed them.

2022 will be the year of opportunity for everyone. Those that can identify potential trends and create quality content that is relevant to their audience and pop culture are the ones that will not only set a strong foundation for themselves but will realize exponential success both now and in the years to come.

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Top 10 Bad Cybersecurity Habits to Shed in 2022

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Written by Phil Muncaster, guest writer at ESET

The new year is a new opportunity to rewire your digital life. An increasingly important part of this is cybersecurity. In fact, 2021 is already shaping up to have been one of the most prolific years yet for cybercriminals. Almost 19 billion records were exposed in the first half of the year alone. Better security should mean you’re more insulated from the risk of identity fraud and financial loss. The cost of these scams reached a record $56bn in 2020, with most of this coming online. Although the organizations you interact with have a duty, and often a legal responsibility, to keep your data protected, it’s important to do your bit.

If you’re still feeling reluctant to find new ways to protect your digital world, consider this: a third of US identity crime victims have claimed they didn’t have enough money to buy food or pay for utilities last year as a result of fraud, according to the U.S. Identity Theft Resource Center.

Be alert, be proactive and break these 10 bad habits to improve your cyber-hygiene in 2022:

Using outdated software
Vulnerabilities in operating systems, browsers, and other software on your PCs and devices are one of the top ways cyber-criminals can attack. The problem is that more of these bugs were discovered in 2020 than any year previously: over 18,100. That amounts to more than 50 new software vulnerabilities per day. The good news is that by switching on automatic update functionality and clicking through to update when prompted, this task needn’t intrude too much on day-to-day life.

Poor password hygiene
Passwords represent the keys to our digital front door. Unfortunately, as we have so many to remember these days – around 100 on average – we tend to use them insecurely. Using the same password for multiple accounts and easy-to-guess credentials gives hackers a massive advantage. They have software to crack weak encryption, try commonly-used variants and attempt to use breached passwords across other accounts (known as credential stuffing). Instead, use a password manager to remember and recall strong, unique passwords or passphrases. And switch on two-factor authentication (2FA) on any account that offers it.

Using public Wi-Fi
We’re all getting out-and-about more these days. And that brings with it a temptation to use public Wi-Fi. But there are risks. Hackers can use the same networks to eavesdrop on your internet usage, access your accounts and steal your identity. To stay safe, try to avoid these public hotspots altogether. If you must use them, don’t log in to any important accounts while connected.

Not thinking before clicking
Phishing is one of the most prolific cyber threats out there. It uses a technique known as social engineering, where the attacker tries to trick their victim into clicking on a malicious link or opening a malware-laden attachment. They take advantage of our hard-wired credulity and often try to force rapid decision-making by lending the message a sense of urgency. The number one rule to thwart these attacks is to think before you click. Double-check with the person or company sending the email to make sure it is legitimate. Take a breath. Don’t be pressured into taking over-hasty action.

Not using security on all devices
It goes without saying that in an era of prolific cyber-threats, you should have anti-malware protection from a reputable provider on all of your PCs and laptops. But how many of us extend the same security to our mobile and tablet devices? Research suggests we spend nearly 5,000 hours each year using these gadgets. And there’s plenty of opportunities to come across malicious apps and websites in that time. Protect your device today.

Using non-secure websites
HTTPS sites use encryption to protect the traffic going from your web browser to the site in question. It has two purposes: to authenticate that website as genuine and not a phishing or fraudulent web property; and to ensure cybercriminals can’t eavesdrop on your communications to steal passwords and financial information. It’s not a 100% guarantee nothing bad will happen as even many phishing sites use HTTPS these days. But it’s a good start. Always look for the padlock symbol.

Sharing work and personal lives
Many of us have spent a large part of the past two years merging a once clearly defined line between our work and our personal lives. As the line has become more blurred, cyber risk has crept in. Consider the use of work emails and passwords to register on consumer shopping and other sites. What if those sites are breached? Now hackers may be able to hijack your corporate account. Using unprotected personal devices for work also adds extra risk. Keeping business and pleasure discrete is worth the extra effort.

Giving out details over the phone
Just as email and SMS-based phishing use social engineering techniques to trick users into clicking, so voice phishing, also called vishing, is an increasingly popular way to elicit personal and financial info from victims. The scammers often disguise their real number to add legitimacy to the attack. The best rule of thumb is not to hand out any sensitive info over the phone. Ask who they are and where they’re calling from and then ring the company directly to check – not using any phone numbers provided by the caller.

Not backing up
Ransomware is costing businesses hundreds of millions annually. So it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are still variants lying in wait for consumers. Imagine if you were suddenly locked out of your home PC. All the data on it, and potentially cloud storage, could be lost forever – including family photos and important work documents. Regular backups, according to the 3-2-1 best practice rule, provide peace of mind in case the worst happens.

Not protecting the smart home
Nearly a third of European houses are fitted out with smart gadgets like voice assistants, smart TVs, and security cameras. But by fitting them with connectivity and intelligence, these devices also become a more attractive target for criminals. They can be hijacked and turned into botnets to launch attacks on others, or used as a gateway to the rest of your devices and data. To keep them secure, change default passwords on start-up. Also, be sure to choose a vendor who has a track record of fixing known vulnerabilities in their products and research potential security flaws before purchasing a gadget.

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Expert Speak

Don’t Forget to Unplug Your Devices Before You Leave for the Holidays

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Written by Tony Anscombe, Chief Security Evangelist at ESET

Depending on who you talk to, climate change can sometimes be a contentious topic, but even the sceptics should accept that there is little point in wasting energy. No, this is not going to be a rant about the unacceptable energy consumed by cryptocurrency mining – I’ll save that for another day.

Whether you are in the office or working from home, many of us have the tendency to invoke sleep mode on laptops and other devices. We do it for the convenience of being able to quickly restart the device and get back to work without the need to restart the operating system. The laptop then gets removed from the docking station or unplugged from the monitor, placed in the rucksack ready for the ride home, or to the next room for the remote workers. The monitor remains in situ and is often left to take itself off to sleep – no lullaby, no goodnight, nothing … we just walk away.

The standby power mode that a monitor revert means it typically uses around 0.5 W, 4 kWh per year. This does, of course, differ depending on the device type, manufacturer, age of the device, and other variables. The older the device, the more power it is likely to use, as it may not have needed to be compliant with regulations, such as the EcoDesign Directive in the European Union.

If we take the equipment in my home office as typical, then this consists of a printer, monitor, laptop, phone charger, mesh network satellite hub, and a surge-protected power strip that displays a light when operational. Other than the mesh network satellite hub, all of these devices could in theory be unplugged when I leave my workspace for the day.

My wife has a home office setup that is similar so we can double the monitor, laptop, phone charger count and add in a docking station. I am sure that our number of devices represents the majority of people’s workstation configuration either in an office or a remote workspace. Let’s assume that four devices remain plugged in on standby mode for each workspace.

For me, a remote worker based in California, the energy cost during off-peak hours can be as low as 28 cents per kWh, meaning that the average person is potentially spending US$4+ per year to leave the devices plugged in for convenience.

Now, you may be reading this and thinking this is not much cash and I agree. But there are 14,000 people in the small town I live in, and if we allow that 30% of them have a similar setup due to remote working or just a family workspace, then 4,200 people are spending US$16,800 that could be saved. If we then calculate this for the Bay Area with a population of just under eight million, the numbers start to become significant at 2.4 million workstations costing US$9.6m per year for standby mode. But this really is not about the money, is it?!

The real cost is the carbon footprint due to the unnecessary use of energy. The four devices at 4 kWh, assuming 30% of people have a workspace, either at home or an office and they leave everything in standby, then 38.4 million kWh are being used for no useful purpose. This creates a carbon footprint, allowing for a typical energy mix, of 15 tons of CO2 emissions per year. I am sure you can do the math on what this means for an entire country, the continent, or even globally. It’s very significant.

So, as you walk away from your workstation, be it at home or in an office, with the intention of returning after the holiday season, unplug the devices from the wall socket – it’s both cost-effective and better for the environment.

Happy holidays!

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