Safe and secure online, on holiday – Kaspersky Lab official blog

Hopefully, you’ve read our advice on researching and booking holidays and other travel safely and securely. But have you thought about how to keep yourself protected online while you’re away, whether it’s the annual family holiday or a short break?

Whether you’re basking in the sunshine or enjoying the snowy slopes, it can be easy to forget that your online safety is as important as your sunscreen or goggles. So we’d like to offer some simple advice to help ensure that when it comes to being online, you’re as safe when away as when you’re at home.

Look after your mobile devices

The great thing about smartphones and tablets is that they’re small and portable. The downside to this is that they’re easy to lose, and easy for someone to steal. The consequences of this happening in your own country are bad enough, but if you’re abroad, you face additional inconvenience, expense and, often, upset.

When you’re out and about – especially in city centres – keep your phone or tablet close to you and get it out only when you have to in a safe place, to answer a message or check the map. Don’t leave it unattended in cafes, bars or public transport, and if there isn’t a safe in your hotel room, we recommend you take it with you.

And remember that apartments, villas, ski lodges or caravans all make attractive targets for thieves, so take care here as well.

Wi-Fi hotspots

When you’re on holiday – just like when you’re at home – there’s nothing easier and more convenient than being able to connect to Wi-Fi in your hotel room, the café or a bar. You can keep up with your friends, check the news, catch up on your email (uh oh, you’re meant to be relaxing!) and check your bank account.

But have you considered if that hotspot is secure, and what information you might be revealing inadvertently?

If you’re doing anything private online such as banking, paying for something, logging into a shopping site or confidential email – our advice is: don’t do it using a Wi-Fi hotspot, but use your data (remember, roaming is cheaper these days) or a mobile dongle.

This is because with hotspots, you have no guarantee that the connection is secure, so there’s a chance that it could be eavesdropped on orhijacked. Even if you need a code or your email to log on, it’s not worth the risk.

Social media

When you’re having a great time on holiday, there’s nothing quite like sharing it with posts and photos on your favourite social media platform, right?

Right, but the problem is, you can never be sure who’s going to end up seeing what you’ve posted and these days, social media has become the best friend of both burglars and fraudsters.

Advertise that fact that your home is unoccupied – even if it’s only for a weekend break – and you’re risking having it broken into. This isn’t uncommon, and even high-profile celebs have fallen victim. Insurance companies are now refusing to pay out if they find you’ve posted that you’re away so surely this, combined with the thought that somebody could be going through all your belongings while you’re away, would make you think twice.

We mentioned fraudsters using social media too, and this one affects your workplace. It’s become commonplace for fraudsters to combine the fact that you’re away on holiday with other snippets gained on LinkedIn or a sly phone call to defraud your business. They’ll impersonate a supplier, the bank, HMRC or – if you’re a senior exec, you – to extract money out of an unwitting colleague. You can only begin to imagine the consequences.

In conclusion

We want to you relax and enjoy your break and be able to enjoy your online experience seamlessly and safely while you’re away too. Following this practical holiday advice and the other online safety basics on our website, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Have a great time!

Source: Safe and secure online, on holiday – Kaspersky Lab official blog

Two-factor authentication: Everything you need to know! | iMore

How do you protect your photos, messages, and more from being hacked or stolen online? With two-factor authentication!

Two-factor authentication: Everything you need to know!

Hackers are too good, and security systems flawed. Longer complicated passwords created by generators like Safari’s iCloud Keychain or third party apps like LastPass or 1Password can help, but the best way to lock down your accounts is to add extra security options for two-step or two-factor (2FA) authentication. Here’s how to go about it.

What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication is the most prevalent way to secure your accounts: It asks you to authenticate that you are who you say you are by supplying not only your password, but a unique code supplied from your phone or an external app. It ensures that those accessing your accounts have access to your physical devices as well as your virtual passwords, and makes a simple password crack or social engineering hack a lot more insufficient when it comes to accessing your personal data.

What’s the difference between two-factor authentication and two-step verification?

They’re commonly used interchangeably, but two-factor traditionally requires two different types of authentication. That can include something you know (password), something your are (fingerprint), or something you have (Bluetooth dongle). Two-step verification, on the other hand, can use the same type of information delivered by different sources. For example, a code you remember (password) plus a code you’re sent over SMS (token).

Two (or more) factors can be more secure, but two steps are typically enough for most online accounts. It’s a better version of the old “security questions”. It not only helps you avoid needing to remember your random answers, but it also removes the risk of relying on potentially easy-to-find information.

Why is two-factor authentication so important?

Passwords are weak, broken, and by all accounts, outdated: Having to remember a random assortment of numbers, letters, and possibly (but not always) other characters can be tough on your memory and easy for attackers to compromise, especially when technology like Touch ID exists. Apps like 1Password or LastPass can help with organizing and memorizing your passwords and even help you create super-long strings, but you’re still reliant on a single password to keep you safe. Two-step/two-factor authentication requires two different keys to log you into your account, significantly amping up the level of difficulty for any would-be hackers to access your personal information.

What accounts can I set up with two-step verification or two-factor authentication?

Over the past few years, lots of web services and banks have hopped aboard the multiple authentication methods bandwagon — more than we can properly list. The folks over at Two Factor Auth, however, have kindly put together a master list of services that support two-step verification or two-factor authentication, along with links to how-to documents, what methods of two-factor authentication they support, and how to contact a service you use to request that they implement two-factor authentication.

Here at iMore, we’ve put together a bunch of articles on some of the most popular services that support two-step/two-factor authentication — as well as the easiest ways to set it up — to help you keep your accounts safe and away from prying eyes.

What if I lose my phone (or have it stolen)?

One of the big fears with SMS or code-based two-factor authentication is the potential loss of your primary authentication device: If you don’t have your phone, you can’t get SMS messages, et cetera. Thankfully, most services offer recovery keys or special passcodes that can unlock your account in case you don’t have access to your cell phone at the present moment. Make sure to write these down in a safe place; I use 1Password’s secure notes feature for this, and also store a hard copy in my office.

Need more help with two-step verification or two-factor authentication?

Running into trouble setting up two-step verification or two-factor authentication? Have a question about turning two-step or two-factor on for your favorite service? The iMore Forums are a great place to get advice and help from other members of our community; you can also ask a question in our Q&A forum and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Source: Two-factor authentication: Everything you need to know! | iMore

What does the NCSC think of password managers? – NCSC Site

Android password screen

People keep asking the NCSC if it’s OK for them to use password managers (sometimes called password vaults). If so, which ones? Who should use them – private citizens, small businesses, massive enterprises? And how should people use them? Is it safe to put all your crucial passwords into a password manager, and forget trying to remember any at all?

This is a big topic, so we’re chunking it up. This blog explains what I think about password managers in general, and how I use them myself. This might be helpful if you’re an individual deciding whether and how to use a password manager for your personal use. If you’re looking for business use, this blog post won’t hold all the answers you need (look out for more from the NCSC on this soon).

Should I use a password manager?

Yes. Password managers are a good thing.

They give you huge advantages in a world where there’s far too many passwords for anyone to remember. For example:

  • they make it easy for you to use long, complex, unique passwords across different sites and services, with no memory burden
  • they are better than humans at spotting fake websites, so they can help prevent you falling for phishing attacks
  • they can generate new passwords when you need them and automatically paste them into the right places
  • they can sync your passwords across all your devices, so you’ll have them with you whether you’re on your laptop, phone or tablet

All these things are full of win. They reduce security friction – making security easier and more convenient.  If security is difficult, tedious, appears to add no value or gets in the way of the main task we’re trying to do, then we tend to find (insecure) ways around it. And then we end up less protected.

Well, that all sounds great. Where’s the catch?

You might be thinking “If password managers are this good, why haven’t you recommended them before now?”

Well, they do have some drawbacks:

  • Password managers are attractive targets in themselves. They’ve been successfully attacked in the past, and realistically they will be again. So all your passwords could get stolen in one go.
  • If you forget the master password for your password manager, you will not be able to get back in. You will have to try and access all your accounts individually, or recreate/reset them from scratch. This will hurt.
  • You can’t use them for everything. Some service providers (such as certain banks) don’t support the use of password managers. If you tell them you’ve put your banking passwords into one (or written them down in any way at all) they might not give you your money back if you are the victim of cyber crime. If your bank is one that takes this stance, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to manage critical passwords without writing them down. On the brighter side, this is much easier to do once you’ve got most of your passwords out of your head and into the password manager.

Should I use a browser-based password manager?

Many web browsers now come with password managers built in, and they can be a very good choice. They are very convenient to use, as they are fully integrated with the web browser – so they know when you’re on a website that needs a password, and they just pop up and do their thing. You don’t even have to remember a separate master password. So feel free to use the built-in password manager, provided that:

  1. You keep your web browser up-to-date.
  2. You have some kind of access control on your device such as a PIN/password/biometric…two things you should be doing anyway!

One drawback with browser-based password managers is that your passwords may not automatically sync between all your devices if these use different operating systems. So, if you have a Windows laptop, an iPad and an Android smartphone, your passwords may not follow you around everywhere – unless you use the same web-browser on all your devices and log into it. Also, if more than one person uses a device on the same user profile, they would all have access to the same password-protected content. You may not want that.

Should I use a standalone password manager?

Compared to browser-based managers, standalone password managers tend to do a better job of keeping your passwords available to you on all your different devices, no matter what platform they’re on. They give you a little more control over when and where you use your passwords, as you get to press a button to say ‘I want to use the password please’, rather than the web page in the browser requesting one when it feels like it.

Importantly, with a standalone password manager you do have to create and remember a long master passphrase (unlike with a browser-based one). Standalone password managers may also include more advanced features, such as:

  • notifications about compromised websites
  • flagging up reused or weak passwords
  • prompting you to change old passwords*
  • helping you change passwords for some websites, by integrating with your browser
  • multi-factor authentication

How do I do this, then?

As with many things, there are lots of different ways of going about this. This is what I do myself:

  1. First, try and cut down the number of passwords in your life, and reduce how much you rely on those passwords to prove who you are. Use multi-factor authentication or single sign-on where available. For infrequently-used passwords, use a password reset mechanism when you need to log in (instead of making any attempt to recall or store the password). But take really good care of the email account that the password reset emails are sent to.
  2. Consider biometrics. Fingerprint readers on smartphones are generally good enough to protect your phone and the data on it, and they are very usable. So feel free to use them. Turn on encryption (if it’s not already on) for extra protection.
  3. Decide whether to use a browser-based or a standalone password manager. Personally, I use both, for different things.
  4. If you use a standalone password manager, make its master passphrase the best you possibly can. We suggest a passphrase rather than a password as it’s much easier to make it really long, and adding length gives much more protection than adding complexity. Make it hard for someone who knows you to guess in 20 attempts, and make it totally different from any password or passphrase you’ve ever used anywhere else.
  5. Memorise your passphrase. Yes, you really do have to, sorry! If it helps, write it on a piece of paper until it’s firmly lodged in your memory. Keep the piece of paper very safe, and destroy it when you’ve memorised the password.
  6. Don’t put any work passwords into your personal password manager unless you’ve got permission from your employer.

Finally, think about how important each password is to you for each account. If someone discovered this password, would it result in

  • your life being ruined?
  • your bank refusing to refund any losses?

If the answer to either is ‘yes’, then I wouldn’t put it in a password manager. For these cases, a password shouldn’t be the only thing that the security of your account rests on. So look at extra defences such as multi-factor authentication.

For other, less important accounts, having the password stolen might be massively inconvenient, but there would be no real permanent damage done. Passwords for these accounts should be OK to go into your password manager.

Some accounts have very low value. For instance, an online forum that requires a password, but doesn’t actually hold any personal information you care about. These passwords can be stored in a password manager without a second thought.

A future without passwords?

Long-term, I think the success of password managers shows  – yet again –  that password-based authentication has outstayed its welcome. Passwords are supposed to be ‘something you know’, but now we’re saying the best way to manage them is not to know them (because your password manager knows them all for you). Passwords have taken us a long way, but now it’s really time to move on.

The NCSC is working to help us all reduce our reliance on passwords, and to move towards a future where we make greater use of better, more secure, more usable authentication mechanisms instead. In the meantime, we’re also working on some guidance on how best to use password managers in organisations – look out for this soon.

Password managers are a good thing – for now. But we hope not forever.

Source: What does the NCSC think of password managers? – NCSC Site

Cyber Safe Warwickshire – Cyber Criminals are Sending Victims Passwords In New Sextortion Scam

Cyber criminals are sending victims their own passwords in an attempt to trick them into believing they have been filmed on their computer watching porn and demanding payment. Action Fraud has provided the following information and advice. 

There have been over 110 of reports made to Action Fraud from concerned victims who have received these scary emails.

In a new twist not seen before by Action Fraud, the emails contain the victim’s own password in the subject line. Action Fraud has contacted several victims to verify this information, who have confirmed that these passwords are genuine and recent. The emails demand payment in Bitcoin and claim that the victim has been filmed on their computer watching porn.

An example email reads:

“I’m aware, XXXXXX is your password. You don’t know me and you’re probably thinking why you are getting this mail, right?

Well, I actually placed a malware on the adult video clips (porno) web site and guess what, you visited this website to experience fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching video clips, your internet browser started out working as a RDP (Remote Desktop) with a key logger which gave me access to your display screen as well as web camera. Just after that, my software program gathered every one of your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, and email.

What did I do?

I made a double-screen video. First part shows the video you were watching (you have a nice taste omg), and 2nd part displays the recording of your webcam.

Exactly what should you do?

Well, I believe, $2900 is a fair price tag for our little secret. You’ll make the payment by Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).

BTC Address: 1HpXtDRumKRhaFTXXXXXXXXXX

(It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it)

Important:

You now have one day to make the payment. (I have a special pixel within this email message, and now I know that you have read this e mail). If I do not receive the BitCoins, I will definately send out your video recording to all of your contacts including close relatives, co-workers, and many others. Nevertheless, if I receive the payment, I’ll destroy the video immidiately. If you need evidence, reply with “Yes!” and I will send your video to your 10 friends. It is a non-negotiable offer, therefore do not waste my time and yours by responding to this message.”

Suspected data breach

Action Fraud suspects that the fraudsters may have gained victim’s passwords from an old data breach.

After running some of the victim’s email addresses through ‘Have i been pwned?’, a website that allows people to check if their account has been compromised in a data breach, Action Fraud found that almost all of the accounts were at risk.

Last month, fraudsters were also sending emails demanding payment in Bitcoin, using WannaCry as a hook.

How to protect yourself

  • If you receive one of these emails, delete it and report it to Action Fraud.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision: paying only highlights that you’re vulnerable and that you may be targeted again. The police advise that you do not pay criminals.
  • Secure it: Change your password immediately and reset it on any other accounts you’ve used the same one for. Always use a strong and separate password. Whenever possible, enable Two-Factor
  • Do not email the fraudsters or make the payment in Bitcoin.
  • Always update your anti-virus software and operating systems regularly.
  • Cover your webcam when not in use.

You can also find out more information about Sextortion on our advice page here

Source: Cyber Safe Warwickshire – Cyber Criminals are Sending Victims Passwords In New Sextortion Scam

New Sentencing Guidelines For Revenge Porn, Stalking & Harassment

People found guilty of repeatedly uploading revenge porn will face the toughest punishments when new sentencing guidelines come into force.

It is the first time the Sentencing Council for England and Wales has given instructions to courts on dealing with those who humiliate others by uploading private sexual images and videos.

They also include guidelines for stalking and harassment cases.

The offence of disclosing private sexual images without consent – known as “revenge porn” – was introduced in 2015 and carries a maximum sentence of two years.

In 2016/17, there were 465 prosecutions for the offence in England and Wales.

What The Guidelines Suggest:

  • Offenders who repeatedly post explicit material after it has already been taken offline should receive the harshest sentences, there is a trend of some offenders doing this.
  • Those who set up fake social media accounts to embarrass their targets will also face stronger punishments, as they show “significant planning” has gone into the offence, says the council.

Also covered are a range of “intimidatory” offences, including stalking and harassment.

In these cases, tougher sentences are recommended by the council if there are aggravating factors, such as:

  • abusing a position of trust
  • sending grossly violent material to the victim
  • impacting others, such as children.

Coercive Control

The guidelines also take into account the crime of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship – which can see offenders facing up to five years in jail.

This was introduced as an offence in December 2015 to tackle repeated domestic abuse, such as controlling victims over social media, spying on them online, stopping them from socialising or stopping their access to money.

The guidelines say that behaviour that results in debt or homelessness will be a possible aggravating factor, meaning a stronger sentence.

The guidelines will come into force on 1st October 2018.

Help & Support

Record number of fake HMRC websites deactivated – GOV.UK

HMRC has removed more than 20,000 malicious websites during the past year, but warns people to stay alert to the threat from online fraudsters.

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New figures show that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) requested a record 20,750 malicious sites to be taken down in the past 12 months, an increase of 29% on the previous year.

Despite a record number of malicious sites being removed, HMRC is warning the public to stay alert as millions of taxpayers remain at risk of losing substantial amounts of money to online crooks. The warning comes as Scam Awareness month, run by Citizens Advice, draws to a close.

HMRC has brought in cutting edge technology to tackle cyber-crime and target fraudsters. However, the public needs to be aware and report phishing attempts to truly defeat the criminals. Today (30 June 2018), ministers are urging people to take action to protect themselves as well.

Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact people out of the blue to ask for their PIN, password or bank details. So people should never give out private information, download attachments, or click on links in emails and messages they weren’t expecting.

People should forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

They can also contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls, or use its online fraud reporting tool.

Treasury Minister Mel Stride MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:  “The criminals behind these scams prey on the public and abuse their trust in government. We’re determined to stop them. HMRC is cracking down harder than ever, as these latest figures show. But we need the public’s help as well. By doing the right thing and reporting suspicious messages you will not only protect yourself, you will protect other potential victims.”

The most common type of scam is the ‘tax refund’ email and SMS. HMRC does not offer tax refunds by text message or by email.

HMRC has also been trialling new technology which identifies phishing texts with ‘tags’ that suggest they are from HMRC, and stops them from being delivered. Since the pilot began in April 2017, there has been a 90% reduction in people reporting spoof HMRC-related texts. This innovative approach netted the cyber security team with the Cyber Resilience Innovation of the Year Award in the Digital Leaders (DL100) Awards.

In November 2016, the department implemented a verification system, called DMARC, which allows emails to be verified to ensure they come from a genuine source. The system has successfully stopped half a billion phishing emails reaching customers.

HMRC has also saved the public more than £2.4 million by tackling fraudsters that trick the public into using premium rate phone numbers for services that HMRC provide for free. Scammers create websites that look similar to HMRC’s official site and then direct the public to call numbers with extortionate costs. HMRC has successfully challenged the ownership of these websites, masquerading as official websites, and taken them out of the hands of cheats.

HMRC is working with the National Cyber Security Centre to further this work and extend the benefits beyond HMRC customers.

Source: Record number of fake HMRC websites deactivated – GOV.UK

It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find

Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data. We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed. So in addition to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcements last week – cracking down on abuse of the Facebook platform, strengthening our policies, and making it easier for people to revoke apps’ ability to use your data – we’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy. Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.

Making Data Settings and Tools Easier to Find

Controls that are easier to find and use. We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps.

A comparison of the old settings menu (left) and new settings menu (right).

New Privacy Shortcuts menu. People have also told us that information about privacy, security, and ads should be much easier to find. The new Privacy Shortcuts is a menu where you can control your data in just a few taps, with clearer explanations of how our controls work. The experience is now clearer, more visual, and easy-to-find. From here you can:

  • Make your account more secure: You can add more layers of protection to your account, like two-factor authentication. If you turn this on and someone tries to log into your account from a device we don’t recognize, you’ll be asked to confirm whether it was you.
  • Control your personal information: You can review what you’ve shared and delete it if you want to. This includes posts you’ve shared or reacted to, friend requests you’ve sent, and things you’ve searched for on Facebook.
  • Control the ads you see: You can manage the information we use to show you ads. Ad preferences explains how ads work and the options you have.
  • Manage who sees your posts and profile information: You own what you share on Facebook, and you can manage things like who sees your posts and the information you choose to include on your profile.

Tools to find, download and delete your Facebook data. It’s one thing to have a policy explaining what data we collect and use, but it’s even more useful when people see and manage their own information. Some people want to delete things they’ve shared in the past, while others are just curious about the information Facebook has. So we’re introducing Access Your Information – a secure way for people to access and manage their information, such as posts, reactions, comments, and things you’ve searched for. You can go here to delete anything from your timeline or profile that you no longer want on Facebook.

We’re also making it easier to download the data you’ve shared with Facebook – it’s your data, after all. You can download a secure copy and even move it to another service. This includes photos you’ve uploaded, contacts you’ve added to your account, posts on your timeline, and more.

The Road Ahead

It’s also our responsibility to tell you how we collect and use your data in language that’s detailed, but also easy to understand. In the coming weeks, we’ll be proposing updates to Facebook’s terms of service that include our commitments to people. We’ll also update our data policy to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it. These updates are about transparency – not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.

We’ve worked with regulators, legislators and privacy experts on these tools and updates. We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks..

What does the National Cybercrime Security Centre (NCSC) think of password managers?

 People keep asking the NCSC if it’s OK for them to use password managers (sometimes called password vaults). If so, which ones? Who should use them – private citizens, small businesses, massive enterprises? And how should people use them? Is it safe to put all your crucial passwords into a password manager, and forget trying to remember any at all?

This is a big topic, so we’re chunking it up. This blog explains what I think about password managers in general, and how I use them myself. This might be helpful if you’re an individual deciding whether and how to use a password manager for your personal use. If you’re looking for business use, this blog post won’t hold all the answers you need (look out for more from the NCSC on this soon).

Should I use a password manager?

Yes. Password managers are a good thing.

They give you huge advantages in a world where there’s far too many passwords for anyone to remember. For example:

  • they make it easy for you to use long, complex, unique passwords across different sites and services, with no memory burden
  • they are better than humans at spotting fake websites, so they can help prevent you falling for phishing attacks
  • they can generate new passwords when you need them and automatically paste them into the right places
  • they can sync your passwords across all your devices, so you’ll have them with you whether you’re on your laptop, phone or tablet

All these things are full of win. They reduce security friction – making security easier and more convenient.  If security is difficult, tedious, appears to add no value or gets in the way of the main task we’re trying to do, then we tend to find (insecure) ways around it. And then we end up less protected.

Well, that all sounds great. Where’s the catch?

You might be thinking “If password managers are this good, why haven’t you recommended them before now?”

Well, they do have some drawbacks:

  • Password managers are attractive targets in themselves. They’ve been successfully attacked in the past, and realistically they will be again. So all your passwords could get stolen in one go.
  • If you forget the master password for your password manager, you will not be able to get back in. You will have to try and access all your accounts individually, or recreate/reset them from scratch. This will hurt.
  • You can’t use them for everything. Some service providers (such as certain banks) don’t support the use of password managers. If you tell them you’ve put your banking passwords into one (or written them down in any way at all) they might not give you your money back if you are the victim of cyber crime. If your bank is one that takes this stance, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to manage critical passwords without writing them down. On the brighter side, this is much easier to do once you’ve got most of your passwords out of your head and into the password manager.

Should I use a browser-based password manager?

Many web browsers now come with password managers built in, and they can be a very good choice. They are very convenient to use, as they are fully integrated with the web browser – so they know when you’re on a website that needs a password, and they just pop up and do their thing. You don’t even have to remember a separate master password. So feel free to use the built-in password manager, provided that:

  1. You keep your web browser up-to-date.
  2. You have some kind of access control on your device such as a PIN/password/biometric
    …two things you should be doing anyway!

One drawback with browser-based password managers is that your passwords may not automatically sync between all your devices if these use different operating systems. So, if you have a Windows laptop, an iPad and an Android smartphone, your passwords may not follow you around everywhere – unless you use the same web-browser on all your devices and log into it. Also, if more than one person uses a device on the same user profile, they would all have access to the same password-protected content. You may not want that.

Should I use a standalone password manager?

Compared to browser-based managers, standalone password managers tend to do a better job of keeping your passwords available to you on all your different devices, no matter what platform they’re on. They give you a little more control over when and where you use your passwords, as you get to press a button to say ‘I want to use the password please’, rather than the web page in the browser requesting one when it feels like it. Importantly, with a standalone password manager you do have to create and remember a long master passphrase (unlike with a browser-based one). Standalone password managers may also include more advanced features, such as:

  • notifications about compromised websites
  • flagging up reused or weak passwords
  • prompting you to change old passwords*
  • helping you change passwords for some websites, by integrating with your browser
  • multi-factor authentication

How do I do this, then?

As with many things, there are lots of different ways of going about this. This is what I do myself:

  1. First, try and cut down the number of passwords in your life, and reduce how much you rely on those passwords to prove who you are. Use multi-factor authentication or single sign-on where available. For infrequently-used passwords, use a password reset mechanism when you need to log in (instead of making any attempt to recall or store the password). But take really good care of the email account that the password reset emails are sent to.
  2. Consider biometrics. Fingerprint readers on smartphones are generally good enough to protect your phone and the data on it, and they are very usable. So feel free to use them. Turn on encryption (if it’s not already on) for extra protection.
  3. Decide whether to use a browser-based or a standalone password manager. Personally, I use both, for different things.
  4. If you use a standalone password manager, make its master passphrase the best you possibly can. We suggest a passphrase rather than a password as it’s much easier to make it really long, and adding length gives much more protection than adding complexity. Make it hard for someone who knows you to guess in 20 attempts, and make it totally different from any password or passphrase you’ve ever used anywhere else.
  5. Memorise your passphrase. Yes, you really do have to, sorry! If it helps, write it on a piece of paper until it’s firmly lodged in your memory. Keep the piece of paper very safe, and destroy it when you’ve memorised the password.
  6. Don’t put any work passwords into your personal password manager unless you’ve got permission from your employer.

Finally, think about how important each password is to you for each account. If someone discovered this password, would it result in

  • your life being ruined?
  • your bank refusing to refund any lossesIf the answer to either is ‘yes’, then I wouldn’t put it in a password manager. For these cases, a password shouldn’t be the only thing that the security of your account rests on. So look at extra defences such as multi-factor authentication.

For other, less important accounts, having the password stolen might be massively inconvenient, but there would be no real permanent damage done. Passwords for these accounts should be OK to go into your password manager. Some accounts have very low value. For instance, an online forum that requires a password, but doesn’t actually hold any personal information you care about. These passwords can be stored in a password manager without a second thought.

A future without passwords?

Long-term, I think the success of password managers shows  – yet again –  that password-based authentication has outstayed its welcome. Passwords are supposed to be ‘something you know’, but now we’re saying the best way to manage them is not to know them (because your password manager knows them all for you). Passwords have taken us a long way, but now it’s really time to move on. The NCSC is working to help us all reduce our reliance on passwords, and to move towards a future where we make greater use of better, more secure, more usable authentication mechanisms instead. In the meantime, we’re also working on some guidance on how best to use password managers in organisations – look out for this soon.

Password managers are a good thing – for now. But we hope not forever.

Source: What does the NCSC think of password managers? – NCSC Site

The top 8 frauds to watch out for in 2018

A new report from NatWest has identified the top ways they expect fraudsters will try and get their hands-on people’s cash in 2018. NatWest has worked with research agency The Future Laboratory to analyse data from the last 18 months to predict eight frauds expected to emerge in 2018.

Eight scams to watch out for in 2018 

  1. Social media spying. People might not realise how much information they are giving away, but to a fraudster the posts can be very helpful in setting up a scam.
  2.  Malicious software on smartphones. It is expected that malware or malicious software threats will grow among mobile devices.
  3. Bogus Brexit investments. Consumers should be wary of fake investment opportunities. For example, fraudsters may email customers, warning Brexit will affect their savings, and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product.
  4. Fraudsters preying on World Cup excitement. Some fraudsters will sell football tickets that are either fake or will never arrive. It is also expected that “package trips” will be offered by fake travel companies. Always buy tickets from a reputable source.
  5. Money mules. Mule recruiters may trawl social media for potential targets, particularly cash-strapped students in university towns, and use them to inadvertently launder money. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and send the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.
  6. Wedding excitement. Experts fear couples could be easy prey for fraudsters who tempt victims with extravagant offers at bargain prices. Fraudsters can set up fake websites for elements of the big day like venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses that appear very realistic. Fake wedding planners will take people’s money and then disappear.
  7. Romance scams. Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims. They use messaging to mine victims’ personal details to use for identity fraud. Or, just when the victim thinks they have met the perfect partner the fraudsters asks them for money.
  8. Scams aimed at first-time buyers. Computer hackers monitor emails sent by a solicitor to a first-time buyer and then they pounce, pretending to be the solicitor and telling them the solicitors’ bank account details have changed in order to steal cash.

Julie McArdle, NatWest security manager said: “Scammers are dogged in their attempts to get their hands on people’s money and are always looking for new ways to get ahead. This means banks and customers need to evolve alongside scammers too. By being aware and staying ahead of scammers, we can stop them winning and keep the country’s money safe and secure.”

If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by using the online reporting tool.

No excuses: how to tighten up your online security in 10 minutes | Cyber Aware | The Guardian

It’s one of those “it’ll never happen to me” things. Sure, we’ve all got a friend whose cousin had their identity stolen online, but cybercrime is so uncommon, isn’t it?

Not according to an Office for National Statistics survey. There were 3.7 million victims of fraud and computer misuse in the year ending September 2017, meaning you are 35 times more likely to encounter it than robbery. The good news is there are very simple things you can do to tighten up your online security right now, according to the government’s Cyber Aware campaign, which has been set up to help the public and small businesses better protect themselves from cybercrime.

Don’t say ‘remind me later’ to updates
It’s tempting to flick away a software or app update reminder, telling yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, but updates are crucial to help protect devices from viruses and hackers. They’re designed to fix weaknesses in software and apps that hackers could potentially take advantage of. Set up your devices so updates are done automatically or, even better, at night when you’re sleeping.

Pa55word! is not gonna cut it any more
Cyber Aware says passwords are prime territory for hackers – so it’s high time you gave up using your dog’s name. Make sure you use strong, separate passwords for your most important accounts like your email, so that if hackers do manage to steal your password for, say, your fitness app, they can’t use it to access your banking app. Try using three random words which you can supplement with numbers and symbols, for example, 4wartschickenbath32£.

You should also use two-factor authentication, when available, to protect your email account, a handy tool to give it an extra layer of security. New research from Experian and Cyber Aware reveals that over half of all those surveyed aged 18-25 reuse their email password for other accounts – putting their cybersecurity and identity at risk. As a result, they’re urging Brits to help protect their email accounts from hackers with a strong and separate email password through the just-launched #OneReset campaign.

Set up screen locks
Did we say dead simple? Yes, this is about as easy as it gets in making your online security watertight. All devices should go to lock mode when you’re not using them. Pins, patterns or passwords to unlock them shouldn’t be easy to guess, like 1, 2, 3, 4 or an L shape (we’ve been through this, you’re better than that).

Back up, back up, back up
The one golden rule of smart online behaviour is to back up your data regularly. If your device is infected by a virus, malware or is hacked, you may not be able to access your data as it could be damaged, deleted or held to ransom. Use an external hard drive or the cloud to save copies of your photos and documents, but make sure the external hard drive is not permanently connected to the device – either physically or over a wifi connection – as it could become infected too.

Not all wifi is created equal
We all love a bit of free wifi, but be careful about using public hotspots to transfer sensitive information like credit card details. Hackers can set up networks, enabling them to intercept information you’re sending online. So it’s best to do your online banking and shopping on a trusted network.

‘Jailbreaking’ is a no-no
Here’s one for the more tech-savvy. “Jailbreaking” or “rooting” your smartphone means disabling software restrictions set up by the manufacturer so you can download apps and tools which aren’t available through official app stores. Doing so leaves your phone vulnerable to malware and invalidates the warranty of the device. You will also stop receiving software updates, which, if you’ve been paying attention, is bad news.

Spot the imposters
Cybercriminals can set up fake websites that look very similar to the real thing, in an effort to get you to share sensitive information such as your bank details. There might even be a padlock or “https” in the address bar but check thoroughly for misspelled names, and logos and design features that don’t quite look right. Wherever possible, type the address of the website directly into the browser yourself, or find the website using a search engine. If you notice something is up, get out quickly.

Resist the urge to open suspicious links or attachments
Haven’t heard from your cousin John in eons and he’s now sent an email with a link to win a free iPhone? Back away. Even if something arrives in your inbox supposedly from someone you know or a company you trust, it could be fake. Never respond to suspicious or unexpected emails, as this will let the sender know your email address is active. Flag it as spam and send it to trash where it belongs.

For advice on simple ways to be more secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website

Source: No excuses: how to tighten up your online security in 10 minutes | Cyber Aware | The Guardian