The scariest day of the year, Halloween is quickly approaching. In the western hemisphere, the season can only mean one thing: kids racing door to door, trying to collect as many candies from their neighbors as they can while dressed as either their heroes or the scariest thing they can think of. Across the world, however, ghosts, ghouls, warlocks, and witches are on the prowl online.
Let’s examine some of the common dangers that we can encounter online, and the steps to keep us and our dear ones secure this Halloween, both online and offline. Let’s see the attack vectors we must watch out for this Halloween!
H for Halloween Apps
We have a habit of looking out for freebies, despite knowing very well that when the service is free, we are the products. From goods on unofficial app stores to malicious ads in Halloween offer apps, any of these could lead to our devices being infected with malware. The solution: opt for physical shopping, limit your online shopping to trusted websites, and never fall for freebies.
A for Alertness
Always remember that all festivals are shopping seasons, and by default hunting time for cybercriminals. Always be alert and double-check your transactions, conversations, and online activities. It might dampen the festive cheer but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
L for Low sharing
Putting out your plans for Halloween on publicly visible mode on social media is making things easy for attackers to trick targets with specially themed phishing campaigns. Adults may be able to distinguish fraud messages, kids can be tricked easily. It is important to be aware and teach your children how to spot regular signs of phishing campaigns, from spelling mistakes to an offer surprisingly similar to that of your plans.
L for Location details
Unless essential, turn off your location access or GPS in your device. Same applies for your social media posts. Cybercriminals may be able to access your personal information by using your location to find out when and where you are travelling. Th This information could be used for anything from targeted phishing to the physical burglary of your house.
O for Open networks
Halloween is also the shopping season and we might be tempted to use open networks available at shopping malls or restaurants. Cybercriminals with specialized software kits and hardware can listen in on Wi-Fi transmissions. The attackers may be able to examine the entirety of the websites you’ve visited (together with any data you may have entered while on those websites), obtain your login details, and even take over your online session using this technique. If at all you wish to browse, use your phone’s personal Wi-Fi hotspot.
W for Wi-Fi password
You will be hosting a lot of guests this weekend and it is a given that most of them will be using your Wi-Fi network. Any device infected with malware can send your Wi-Fi access details to its source. Be safe. Don’t give out your Wi-Fi password, if possible. Change your Wi-Fi password frequently this month.
E for Engaging with strangers
Like Halloween monsters, stalkers come in all costumes, from that of a friendly stranger to a peer or relative. Most child-stalkers engage in the act of grooming: They gain the children’s trust, then gradually lower their inhibitions, and in the end monetarily and psychologically abuse their victims. Always make your children feel safe and make them understand that they can trust you. Make then understand the risk of engaging with strangers. And please keep away from unauthorised child monitoring apps. Many of them have been found to be floated by cyberriminals!
E for Employing MFA
Multi-factor authentication is your first line of defence against social media and bank account hack. Usernames and passwords are vulnerable to brute force attacks and can be stolen by third parties. OTP or verification requests from unfamiliar sources will alert us of a possible hacking attempt.
N for No piracy
From Halloween-themed music to scary movies, we might be tempted to download them from pirate sites or stream them illegally. Apart from the possible legal penalties, free streaming websites usually spam users with popup ads or adware that sometimes be laced with malware. Children who can easily be fooled would click and end up downloading the malware to their devices, compromising them. Downloaded files can also be the ones infected with malware. Simple solution: say no to free streaming and pirate downloads.