MWC 2015: Shaping the Mobile Future

The phones are ringing, the telecom operators are chattering and the developers are pulling all-nighters programming. It’s beginning to look a lot like Mobile World Congress (MWC).

MWC is one of the biggest extravaganzas for the mobile world. It brings together mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from across the world to discuss the future of mobile telephony. This year the conference will be held from the 2nd-5th of March in the scenic city of Barcelona. Here are some tips to make the most of your time in Barcelona, and to give you a glimpse into the mobile future!

Hot Topics to Watch For

Trends we expect to see buzzing at MWC? Mobile payment systems, security applications, and of course, wearables. Not to be forgotten, we’ll also get to see the much-anticipated launches from major mobile device manufacturers.

While a few large and competing mobile payment systems rolled out toward the end of last year, it is clear there’s still a lot of work to be done in this field before we see widespread adoption.

Another mobile area where we’re expecting to see exciting innovations is security. With last year’s breaches and the spike in malware samples, companies need to be innovative and proactive when creating security mechanisms for mobile devices. From mobile security apps to two-factor authentication, you can expect to see it all at MWC.

Like CES, we’re hearing rumblings of wearables taking the center stage in 2015. What better time for mobile, wearable devices to turn up than at Mobile World Congress? 

MWC Tips and Tricks

First thing’s first: come visit us! We’ll be in the Intel stand #3D30 in Hall 3, so stop by and check out all of the exciting Intel Security demos and chat with our team. We may even have a surprise for you!

We know it can be tempting to fill your schedule to the brim with sessions, keynotes, and MWC after-hours events. However, we recommend leaving some unplanned gaps in your schedule so you can explore the venue and spend some time in each of the eight halls.

Another great place to spend some time in is the Networking Gardens, renamed ‘Les Rambles’ in honor of MWC’s 10-year anniversary in Barcelona. Swing by any of the ten outdoor networking gardens for a coffee or snack, a few impromptu meetings, a look at the graffiti wall or some fresh air.

The Best of Barcelona

Barcelona—the land of beautiful beaches, delicious tapas, and Gaudí’s finest works. There is no shortage of things to do in any down time you may have during MWC. So hail a cab, lace up your sneakers and take a walk, or make use of the Metro for a little sightseeing!

If you’re looking for a place to grab dinner or drinks, hop on the Metro (yellow line) and head on over to the El Born neighborhood. There’s a plethora of restaurants to choose from, and plenty of discotecas for those of you planning on keeping up with Spain’s late night hours.

If you have an extra day, be sure to check out the Gothic Quarter or Passeig de Gràcia for some shopping and a glimpse of Gaudí’s most famous buildings. If you’re a foodie, walk on over to Las Ramblas and check out the largest covered market in Barcelona, La Boqueria. Here you’ll not only see tons of fresh seafood, smoothies, produce and sweets, but also will be able to sample a myriad of traditional Spanish tapas.

Stay tuned for more Mobile World Congress updates from Intel Security by following @IntelSec_Home on Twitter, liking our page on Facebook, and checking back here on the blog. And, for those of you joining us in Barcelona, we’ll see you March 2n-5t at Hall 3, Stand #3D30!

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Mobile Apps Failing Security Tests

It’s been said that there are over a million different apps for the smartphone. Well, however many may exist, know that not all of them are passing security tests with flying colors.

You may already be a user of at least several of the 25 most downloaded apps And what’s so special about the top 25? 18 of them flunked a security test that was given by McAfee Labs™ this past January. And they flunked the test four months after their developers had been notified of these vulnerabilities.

App creators’ first priority is to produce the next winning app before their competitors do. Hence, how secure it is doesn’t top the priority list, and that’s why there’s such a pervasive problem with security in the mobile app world.

Because these apps failed to set up secure connections, this opens the door for cybercriminals to snatch your personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords. And this is growing because this weakness in apps is so well known and it’s pretty easy for cybercriminals to purchase toolkits that help them infect smartphones via these vulnerable apps.

The technique is called a “man in the middle” attack. The “man” stands between you and the hacker, seizing your personal information. The “man” may capture your usernames and passwords for social media accounts and so much more—enough to open up a credit card account in your name and then max it out (guess who will get the bills); and enough to commit a lot of damage by manipulating your Facebook account.

So What Can You Do?

Here’s some tips to help you protect yourself from these unsecure apps:

  • Before purchasing an app, get familiar with its security features—read reviews and check what permissions the app is asking access to. You don’t want to end up with an app that accesses way more information about you than necessary for what you want the app for in the first place.
  • Download only from reputable app stores, not third-party vendors. This will reduce your chance of downloading a malicious app.
  • Don’t have your apps set to auto login. Even though it may be a pain when you want to access Facebook, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Make sure you use different passwords for each of your apps. Sorry, I know that’s a hassle, but that’s what you must do. And make sure your password is long and strong.

Here’s to staying safe on our mobile devices.

RobertSicilianoRobert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.

Hacking Humans: How Cybercriminals Trick Their Victims

Intel Security has compiled a list of the top ways cybercriminals play with the minds of their targeted victims. And the chief way that the cybercriminals do this is via phishing scams—that are designed to take your money.

The fact that two-thirds of all the emails out there on this planet are phishy tells me that there’s a heck of a lot of people out there who are easily duped into giving over their money. I’m riled because many of these emails (we all get them) scream “SCAM!” because their subject lines are so ridiculous, not to mention the story of some befallen prince that’s in the message

I bet there’s a dozen phishing emails sitting in your junk folder right now. Unfortunately, a lot of these scam emails find their way into your inbox as well.

McAfee Labs™ has declared that there’s over 30 million URLS that may be of a malicious nature. Malicious websites are often associated with scammy emails—the email message lures you into clicking on a link to the phony website.

Clicking on the link may download a virus, or, it may take you to a phony website that’s made to look legitimate. And then on this phony site, you input sensitive information like your credit card number and password because you think the site really IS your bank’s site, or some other service that you have an account with.

6 ways hackers get inside your head:

  1. Threatening you to comply…or else. The “else” often being deactivation of their account (which the scammer has no idea you have, but he sent out so many emails with this threat that he knows that the law of numbers means he’ll snare some of you in his trap).
  2. Getting you to agree to do something because the hacker knows that in general, most people want to live up to their word. That “something,” of course, is some kind of computer task that will compromise security—totally unknown to you, of course.
  3. Pretending to be someone in authority. This could be the company CEO, the IRS or the manager of your bank.
  4. Providing you with something so that you feel obligated to return the favor.
  5. “If everyone else does it, it’s okay.” Hackers apply this concept by making a phishing email appear that it’s gone out to other people in the your circle of friends or acquaintances.
  6. Playing on your emotions to get you to like the crook. A skilled fraudster will use wit and charm, information from your social profiles, or even a phony picture he took off of a photo gallery of professional models to win your trust.

In order to preventing human hacking via phishing scams, you need to be aware of them. Aware of the scams, ruses, motivations and then simply hit delete. Whenever in doubt, pick up the phone and call the sender to confirm the email is legit.

RobertSicilianoRobert Siciliano is an Online Safety Expert to Intel Security. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.

Personal Privacy vs. Security – Do We Have to Choose?

Since the dawn of the mobile era, there has been a continuous fight for an increase in the security measures taken to protect user’s data sent through mobile apps.

When various mobile messaging apps began rolling out encryption, it came as no surprise that consumers and security aficionados rejoiced. After all, encryption is more or less a high-tech way of creating a code for users’ data so that it can’t be read by prying hackers – thus allowing them to safely peruse their apps of choice. What did come as a surprise, however, was the potential backlash of cybercriminals utilizing encryption to plot their crimes. This backlash is the cause of the current conundrum we are in when regarding the debate between personal privacy and security.

So, if it came down to it, what would you choose: your personal privacy rights or the safety and security of the masses?

This seems like quite the brain exercise, but with recent discussions and hearings around banning encrypted mobile messaging apps, this may not be a purely theoretical question much longer.

As we’ve discussed before, encryption is a key security measure that mobile apps employ to help protect a user’s data from the spying eyes of invasive hackers. Encryption makes possible everything from e-commerce and online banking to secure mobile messaging and file-sharing.

However, as some are beginning to note, one side effect of encryption is that it creates a “safe space” for those with malicious intent to communicate and share information privately. More specifically, the concern is that these safe spaces create protected breeding grounds for cybercriminals to plot and plan their attacks.

If the above is indeed true, then where do we draw the line between personal privacy and the monitoring of potentially threatening and harmful information? Should users of encrypted mobile messaging apps be willing to turn over their personal data for the sake of society’s protection?

While at times it may seem like security infringes privacy, this should not be the case. The two concepts actually complement one another, and consumers should not have to forgo one in order to have the other.

A great example of privacy and security working together can be seen through the McAfee® Mobile Security product. Free for both Android and iOS, it offers a variety of protections for users’ data, while also weeding out cybercriminals who are up to no good.

For the time being at least, encryption is here to stay. We’ve come too far in terms of our security developments for a technology like this to disappear without significant backlash. As both general consumers and those with malicious intent continue to have access to tools like encryption, it’s important to have discussions about how to gather security intelligence while still respecting users’ privacy rights.

Of course, when users allow any apps to access their personal information, there must be an understanding that the data may not be completely private. Therefore, until the argument about encryption and personal safety is settled, the simplest course of action is to avoid these apps altogether—or at least avoid sharing sensitive information on and with them.

As always, to keep up with the latest security threats, make sure to follow @IntelSec_Home on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.

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Time for a Mobile Health Check this Safer Internet Day

Smartphones and tablets now play an integral role in our daily lives. In fact, the average person now spends 32,850 minutes on their phone every year. We download games on the go, do our banking online and even monitor our own health using our favourite mobile apps. But do we actually consider the digital health of the mobile devices themselves?

A recent study from Intel Security found that a quarter of us don’t even have basic mobile protection with a pin or password in place. And when it comes to app security, too many of us are giving away personal information without considering the security and privacy risks with 63% of adults admitting to not reading app terms and conditions when downloading.

This Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity for us to take stock of our digital lives and take the necessary cyber hygiene checks to help keep data loss and theft at bay.

Take Intel Security’s Digital Health Check for your Mobile:

  1. Review what your apps are up to. Use security software such as McAfee Mobile Security to run a scan of app permissions to help you identify suspicious app requests such as location, contact or account data. Think twice before saying yes to app permissions in the future
  2. Put a pin or password on all your mobile devices. This is simple but goes a long way to help keep prying eyes away from your information
  3. Back up your data…today! More than 1 in 10 people have NEVER backed up their device. With all the personal information – from photos and videos to contact information – stored on devices, get in the habit of running a monthly data back up
  4. Disable automatically log-in on all apps and websites to make sure that a stranger can’t log into your accounts if your phone falls into the wrong hands. Use a password manager if you have a number of websites and apps you use daily
  5. Check you have mobile device security and that it’s up to date. Protect your phone and the information it holds by installing mobile security that includes anti-theft measures and protection against viruses and malware

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