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Monday, February 6, 2012

Safer Internet Day and the security risks facing young smartphone users

Mark Bridge writes:

It’s Safer Internet Day today, which is a European Commission-backed event that’s all about promoting the safer use of online technology - both fixed-line and mobile internet connections - with a particular focus on children and young people.

Internet security specialist G Data has taken advantage of the occasion to offer its top five mobile security tips for parents and children to help them stay safe online.

Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data, said “Today’s children are more digitally advanced than ever before, but as a result are less cautious than their elders. If kids are old enough to use a mobile device, they need to realise that such a device still requires a robust security solution. From malicious apps to the dangers of public Wi-Fi, children also need to be educated about the security risks. Safer Internet Day is a great initiative and G Data fully supports it. Children are the future and it is important they are made aware of the risks so they can discover the digital world safely.”

G Data’s top five mobile security warnings for children include:

1. Fake Apps

Cyber criminals may create fraudulent apps for Android devices, says G Data. The app often pretends to be harmless and useful - perhaps a game - but also secretly initiates calls to premium numbers, causing the user to spend hundreds of pounds on their mobile phone. G Data recommends children to only download applications that have many positive user reviews from reliable sources such as the Google Android Market. It also notes that legitimate apps can be offered fraudulent updates.

2. Public WiFi

Public WiFi can be insecure, which risks criminals ‘listening in’ to spy on any information being sent and received. G Data says children should try to avoid sites that require a login when using free WiFi and should only enter passwords or personal information on encrypted websites (where the address bar says “https://”).

3. Social Media

G Data says children should be made aware that criminals are using sites such as Facebook and Twitter to find users’ personal data, offering a particular warning about sharing geographical locations via mobile apps.

4. Passwords

Strong passwords are essential, warns G Data, recommending that users incorporate numbers and symbols into their passwords and never use the same password across different platforms. It offers a simple way for youngsters to remember multiple passwords by incorporating the name of the service into the password; for example “Eddyfacebookwillems12!” for Facebook and “Eddytwitterwillems12!” for Twitter.

5. Mobile Security Solution

Finally, G Data recommends that users install an effective security solution on their mobile device. The solution should regularly scan for viruses and should also check authorisation for installed apps. It points to its own security solution - G Data MobileSecurity - as one of the options available.

We spoke to Eddy Willems of G Data in November last year. Click here to hear the podcast or click here for a summary of the conversation.
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