Written by Gabrielle Ladouceur Despins, writer at WeLiveSecurity-ESET
The final stretch of 2018 approaches. For parents of young children, this means that lunch boxes and homework are back. It is also the season, for many of us, when trees start to change color before the arrival of the cold season. It is also the time when entertainment companies try to entice viewers back to the sofa to discover what new treats they have in store.
Your couch is ready, you’ve possibly stocked up on popcorn, and maybe you’ve invited friends to celebrate the return of your favorite show. But have you thought about securing your connected TV (Smart TV)? Smart TV, like all connected devices, can present various types of threats, including the risk of having your conversation recorded and using security vulnerabilities that can allow attackers to take control of your device.
We have published several articles in the past on the security of connected devices. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to use your Smart TV more safely:
1 – Protect your router credentials
To take advantage of the technology of connected televisions, the use of the router is a very popular avenue, due to its practicality and the flexibility it offers. This device allows you to connect several devices to your network, without using a large number of cables, which would reduce the versatility of IoT devices.
However, a router that hasn’t yet been secured could put your Smart TV and your entire network at risk. For example, a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack could allow a criminal to install malware on your Smart TV. To achieve this, the cybercriminal needs to have access to your network. Access to your network – which the attacker will have, if s/he has your Wi-Fi , or has otherwise hacked into your router.
To ensure the security of your router, the admin username, along with the provided password should be changed, if you haven’t already done so! It really is the first step you should take. Make sure you use a strong and unique username and password. In order to prevent access to your network without your consent, you should also make sure to disable any features you do not use, such as any features you are not using that could facilitate access to your network without your consent.
Also, always make sure to update your router, if and when such an update is available, as well as all your connected devices, to be protected against newly discovered and fixed vulnerabilities. If you need to purchase a new device, you should look for a device that complies with and supports the new WPA3 protocol. You will find several other tips in this blog article.
2- Sort your networks and devices
Many devices are probably linked to your router. A good practice for securing your home network is to list devices and create separate networks with custom permissions to better protect the most sensitive devices. Viewing the list of devices will allow you to turn off those you do not use or no longer use. This step will make it easier to detect an intrusion attempt, since you will already be familiar with the names of devices using your network.
The creation of a separate network offers other advantages. For example, you may decide to separate sensitive devices such as surveillance cameras, storage devices or home automation devices from the rest of your connected devices, including your Smart TV, to avoid the risk of breaches. You can also choose to share only certain devices with your guests at home.
3- Configure your Smart TV
Just like all your connected devices – and your router – your Smart TV must be properly configured to ensure security and functionality. If the features vary from device to device, check the manual. First, make sure you configure the privacy settings and information you allow your provider to collect – or share with third parties. Several Smart TV vendors have found themselves in the spotlight for collecting a great deal of information from their customers – including voice recordings. To prevent this, and other possible violations, make sure you configure your router’s settings for both privacy and the information you allow your provider to collect – or share with third parties.
If your Smart TV also includes a camera, remember that it too can put your privacy at stake. Cybersecurity researchers have identified attacks where Smart TV cameras were accessed via the internet. Once again, caution should be exercised. Turn off the camera when not in use. You can even place a piece of tape on the lens, to prevent anyone from getting in and watching you even when your Smart TV is off.
Remember also that any enabled features may pose a risk. Indeed, uncorrected loopholes in them can serve as an opening through which cybercriminals can sneak in. So remember to disable the features you are not using. Even if it means reactivating them in the future, if you wish to use them.
Also think about adjusting the configuration of protection measures offered by the provider, updates – we will come back to this below – and, if necessary, parental control! Most of today’s devices are equipped with user-friendly graphical interfaces, so it only takes a few minutes to properly protect you.
4- Install the latest updates
Criminals are always looking for new vulnerabilities that they can use to infiltrate their victim’s device, network or computer. A vulnerability is an exploitable weakness in an application that makes it possible to perform an unwanted or wrong action that cybercriminals can use to attack your devices. Connected devices, like your Smart TV, have firmware. Like all computer systems, Smart TV firmware must be regularly updated so that you have all the patches in place, especially to avoid bugs and vulnerabilities.
Unlike your computer’s operating system or smartphone, most Internet of Things (IoT) devices do not update firmware automatically. However, many IoT devices offer you the option to put the firmware directly into your console, which makes your task easier. If not, you must download and install the updates yourself. In both cases, you then have to install the updates if applicable.
5- Use a complete security solution
Like your computer or mobile phone, your smart devices can be infected with malware or other threats created by cybercriminals. You should therefore use a complete security solution from a trusted provider to protect these devices as well. There are several options, including ESET Smart TV security available on Google Play Store, that offers you real-time protection against viruses and ransomware, in addition to automated virus database updates. Test some of these products as they usually offer you a trial period. When you find the one that suits your needs we strongly suggest you secure your Smart TV with it.
6- Download applications with caution
We often discuss this issue of malicious applications and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) on WeLiveSecurity. And with good reason! Malware and PUAs are a major problem: in 2017 Google removed approximately 2000 applications per day that violated its policies.
Banking Trojans, fake security applications, paying applications pretending to be legitimate free applications, or malicious software disguised as games or legitimate applications — cybercriminals have numerous tactics up their sleeves. Malicious applications can also affect your Smart TV so, as with any other device, you should take special care with the applications you download to it.
The first advice is of course to always download applications directly from the Google Play store or the App Store. Always check the name of the software author, the number of installations and other users’ evaluations before downloading an application. If in doubt, wait before installing an application that you think might be questionable.
7- Use streaming with caution
Now that your devices themselves are secure, remember that your web browsing is also a preferred entry point for cybercriminals. Attackers do use streaming sites to deliver various types of threats, ranging from social engineering campaigns to malicious code downloads, cryptojacking and potentially unwanted Applications (PUAs). Choose the streaming sites you consult with caution. Actively search for and use reliable and legitimate websites for online viewing.
Now that you have implemented these measures to improve the security of your Smart TV, you can sit back and enjoy the upcoming season safely. However, remember that IT security is not limited to individual actions taken on a specific date. Keeping your Smart TV and connected devices safe requires continuous effort and monitoring.
Be sure to implement these security measures and review your cyber security practices in IoT regularly. This way, you can not only enjoy the next season of your favorite shows but can continue to use all your connected devices safely, including in coming seasons.
The Pros and Cons of Choosing Between SSD and HDD as External Storage Device
Written by Antoine Harb, Team Leader – Middle East and North Africa at Kingston Technology
As we spend longer hours online for work, school, entertainment, and other activities, more and more files are being saved in the internal hard drives of our computers every single day. Eventually, this internal hard drive will not be enough to accommodate all our files, making it all the more vital to find high-performing and secure external devices for backup and new data storage.
When it comes to external storage devices, the options include external solid-state drives (SSDs) and traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs are commonly installed into your computers as their internal storage. These days, however, a number of people are turning to SSDs to use them as their external storage as well.
The two technologies have different speeds, durability, capacity, and cost. Before buying an external storage device, it is best to determine your needs, desired specifications, and your budget. This way, you are guaranteeing that you are purchasing a device suitable to your requirements.
Weighing the devices’ pros and cons is the way to go to ensure you get the best value for your money.
External SSD vs. External HDD
Compared to SSDs, HDDs are more affordable with higher capacities. An HDD is better suited for archiving inactive and/or less frequently accessed data. With that said, however, an HDD in contrast to an SSD, is more prone to failure of moving parts that can lead to data loss. The high-capacity SSDs, on the other hand, is faster and more powerful than HDDs, thus enabling quick access to your files. With a lightweight design for portability and easy use, they are smaller in size and have better transmission speeds. They can also be relied upon if you need external storage with superior performance.
There are other benefits of using external SSDs. While known for its fast processing of a large amount of data, an external SSD operates without the distracting noise and vibration typically present when utilizing an HDD. Additionally, the shock-resistant SSD scores way better in the area of durability —the lack of moving parts allows the technology to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
But with its advanced and reliable features, the super-fast external SSD storage device costs more than the traditional HDD. If, however, you are planning to buy a faster or larger capacity SSD to upgrade your current PC storage, you can opt to recycle the old one and use it as external storage. In order to have more space, you will need to either remove the existing files or reformat the old SSD. This strategy will help you save on cost while enjoying a faster external storage product.
Furthermore, when purchasing an SSD as your external storage, you have to keep in mind that this technology is not suitable for data archiving or cold storage of data. The reason behind this is that an SSD, which is designed for everyday use, caters to those who require high-speed performance.
External SSDs and HDDs differ in many ways. They both come with pros and cons. When choosing the right one for you, it all boils down to meeting your needs.
Watch Out for These Scams Targeting Amazon Customers
Written by Amer Owaida, Security Writer at ESET
Amazon is the largest online marketplace in the world boasting over US$386 billion in revenue in 2020 with 200 million subscribers to its Amazon Prime service just in the United States. And that’s just a fraction of the whole customer base that it serves around the globe year-round. Of course, such a huge customer pool attracts cybercriminals who are looking to make a bank by scamming unsuspecting victims with a variety of tricks that they have in their arsenal of scammery.
Fake order phishing email
As with any major service, Amazon is no stranger to being spoofed or impersonated by enterprising fraudsters who are looking to dupe people out of their personal information or to access credentials to their accounts. The emails you may receive can take on various forms, however, they usually impersonate a common Amazon dispatch email, that regular customers have encountered many times over. For example, you might receive one confirming a purchase that you didn’t make and tries to trick you into clicking on various links that look like contact information to Amazon’s customer service.
These links can then redirect to something looking like the official Amazon login page, however, when you try to sign in you will have divulged your credentials to the scammer. Alternatively, by clicking on the link or attachment in the email you may download a malicious payload to your device that will attempt to download keylogging software that will try to harvest your credentials to any services you use.
Generally speaking, unless the fraudster behind the scam did an immaculate job with the counterfeit email there are several warning signs that will give it away as an attempt at phishing. If the email contains, typos, grammar mistakes, or an attachment it is most assuredly a scam. When checking out a link that you’ve received in an email, by hovering your cursor over it, check whether the address is something.amazon.com where something is one of many valid Amazon subdomains – for example, pay.amazon.com or www.amazon.com. If you suspect that you’re being phished you should contact Amazon directly, since it takes these issues seriously.
Gift card scams
Gift card fraud is another perennial problem that you can encounter. The con-artists may utilize different strategies to dupe their victims, however, the ultimate goal remains the same – trick them into purchasing and sending Amazon gift cards. Popular tactics usually include evoking a sense of urgency or pressure in order to make victims act quickly rather than give deep thought to the contents of the message or phone call.
Victims may receive unsolicited email messages or phone calls about a pressing issue involving their social security numbers or benefits and to resolve it they’ll have to pay a penalty using gift cards. Alternatively, victims may be told that a family member is in trouble and needs financial help. There are multiple scenarios at play where fraudsters can also impersonate Amazon itself, claim to be someone from the management of the victim’s employer, you name it.
However, fortunately, most of these scams can be uncovered quite easily if you keep a cool head. Government officials will never ask you to pay a fine or penalty with a gift card, so you can be 100% sure that if you get such a request it’s a scam. As for the rest of the scenarios, to verify the claims you just need to call your family member to see if they’re in trouble or the person from your company that requested the gift cards. And of course, it goes without saying that you should contact all of the aforementioned people or institutions through the verified official channels.
Payment scams come in many shapes and sizes, and while the form may differ, in the end, the scammers behind them are after only one thing – the contents of your bank account. There are multiple ways that this can occur. One tactic that is often utilized is trying to convince you to pay outside Amazon’s secure platform. The crooks will try to lure you in various ways by offering a discounted price, for example, however, if you relent, the most probable outcome is that you’ll both lose your money and won’t get the product.
And additionally, you won’t be able to lodge a complaint with Amazon since you paid the fraudulent charges outside the confines of their platform. Other flavors of payment scams to watch out for include paying to claim a prize that you’ve supposedly won or to a seller whose identity you can’t verify, and avoid offers that seem too good to be true or that you find suspicious.
The obvious advice, in this case, is to stick to Amazon’s platform for all orders and payments. Even the company itself warns against sending money outside the confines of its platform: “Don’t send money (by cash, wire transfer, Western Union, PayPal, MoneyGram, or other means, including by Amazon Payments) to a seller who claims that Amazon or Amazon Payments will guarantee the transaction, refund your funds if you’re not satisfied with the purchase, or hold your funds in escrow.”
Dodgy phone calls
Sometimes scammers will resort to more “analog” means to try and hoodwink their victims – fake support calls. The content of the calls might vary, however, they often sound like a pre-recorded message impersonating Amazon claiming it has registered something wrong with your account, something that would pique your interest – a fishy purchase, lost package, etc.
According to a warning issued by the United States Federal Trade Commission, the message will then either inform you to press 1 to speak to a customer support agent or give you a number to call back. If you engage in conversation, the scammers will most likely try to wheedle sensitive data out of you like your personal information or your payment data.
The most sensible thing to do, before going into full-blown panic mode, is to check if there is anything suspicious going on by contacting Amazon through the direct channels listed on the support section of their website. The company does acknowledge that in some cases it may make outbound calls but it will never ask customers to reveal any sensitive personal information in order to verify their identity.
When it comes to online shopping and its related activities the saying “trust but verify” remains as true as ever. To sum it up, most of the scams can be avoided if you remain vigilant, curious, and keep your wits about you. If you receive any unsolicited emails be extra careful to verify their provenance and never divulge personal sensitive information to anyone claiming to be a “customer support representative or agent”.
Create a Ring of Security Around Your Home
With an app and a couple of gadgets, technology can provide peace of mind in the toughest of times – whether you’re at home or away, says Mohammad Meraj Hoda, vice president of Business Development – Middle East & Africa at Ring
Over the last year, we have learned that there’s no such thing as a predictable routine. Even as UAE authorities do their utmost to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, once-mundane everyday schedules can easily be disrupted by abrupt school closures, sudden quarantines or even an endless procession of deliveries of all kinds. At times when it can all get a bit too much, an extra layer of security can offer peace of mind.
But when you can’t bring in new household help with visa and travel restrictions, technology can do your bidding instead. Indeed, technology is now so far advanced that with a couple of installs and a few quick tweaks, you can protect your home inside and out. With a video doorbell, indoor cameras around the house, and an app, you can create a ring of security around your home within a few minutes.
When you choose a single brand of products, such as Ring, the appliances can easily work together, and best of all, everything can be monitored from your smartphone – even if you happen to be elsewhere physically. As UAE residents have become more alert to visitors and the risks accompanying them, convenience and safety are more important than ever. This is where Ring’s bouquet of products can help.
Video Doorbells Help Everyone
Since they were first created in 2013, video doorbells have proved their worth repeatedly in many different situations around the world. From a bear trying to open a car door to meteors flying through the skies, they have captured a number of untoward and unwanted visitors around the world. Products such as the Ring Video Doorbell 3 are activated by motion around your front door and begin recording events within their line of sight. Because Ring video doorbells connect to the internet via your home Wi-Fi system, this video feed can be set to be livestreamed straight to your phone, or you can access it later.
Even if you are at home, there is no need to go to the door. You can see who your visitors are from your smartphone. With the Ring Video Doorbell 3, you simply tap on the alert to check who’s at the door and even communicate with them. Even if you are at home, you can safely keep your distance from visitors, and if necessary, ask them to leave packages at your door.
Indoor Cameras Offer Peace of Mind
Meanwhile, for family-focused people who are away in the office or at an event outside the home (perhaps even in another emirate!), an indoor camera provides the assurance that no untoward incidents have taken place at home. Perhaps you want to chat with those who are at home, verify if your teenage kids are getting to their homework, or if your cat has been playing up while you’re away. A quick check is easy with a compact indoor camera such as Ring’s new Indoor Cam, which slots unobtrusively into small spaces around the home.
This clever new device makes it easy to speak with older family members or see if school children have reached home. Between the indoor cameras and the outdoor doorbell camera, you can easily keep an eye on every corner of your home from anywhere. In addition, with Ring’s Protect Plan, it’s easy to add an extra layer of security to your home.
Although life has become more challenging on so many fronts, technology can help the stresses of living through these strange times. A little planning and a few moments’ work can go a long way to securing peace of mind for everyone at home.
Review: Huawei MateBook 14s
Huawei has been churning out one awesome laptop after another in quick succession. We recently reviewed the company’s brilliant MateBook...
Review: WD My Passport SSD (1TB)
WD’s new My Passport SSD is a gorgeous-looking external SSD storage device that offers storage capacities ranging between 256GB to...
Review: Honor 50
The new Honor 50 is the company’s first major smartphone launch since Honor spun out of its parent company Huawei...
Video: HUAWEI nova 9 – Will This Be the New Camera King?
The Huawei nova 9 offers a flagship-grade 6.57-inch, 120Hz OLED panel and 10-bit colour depth, potent Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor,...
Review: Xiaomi 11T Pro
Xiaomi launched a series of new smartphones on the regional market including the 11 Lite 5G NE, the 11T, and...