Security roundup: Social media security tips, How hackers can take over popular laptops in 10 minutes

This week, we look at how you can better protect yourself on social media, why you should look at deleting laptop bloatware, and more.


Symantec’s senior information developer Dick O’Brien has commented on the recent MySpace and Tumblr attacks, saying they ‘illustrate the value of properly encrypting sensitive user data’.

“Reports on the Tumblr breach indicate that user passwords were properly encrypted (hashed and salted). If that’s correct, it means it’s unlikely that they will be cracked, limiting the personal information available for cyber criminals to just email addresses. Obviously this is still concerning for users, but the reality is that it could be much worse had the passwords been poorly secured,” explained O’Brien.

“The more time we spend updating our social networks, the more attractive they are to hackers. Our research shows that in 2015, people in the UK were targeted by social media scams more than any other nation in Europe and as cyber criminals become more sophisticated, the information we share on our social profiles is increasingly vulnerable.”

There are however some simple steps people can take to better protect their information online. Here’s some top tips from Norton by Symantec:

– Use strong passwords. Passwords should have at least eight characters and should combine alphanumeric and special characters. Where possible, use two-factor or strong authentication, which works by requiring a user to provide not just a username and password but also a unique, one-time six-digit security code.

– Be sceptical of new followers. If a random person follows you, do not automatically follow them back. Look at their tweets. Are they retweeting content that looks like spam? If they are, they are most likely a bot.

– Numbers can lie. Even if these random followers have tens of thousands of followers, those numbers can easily be faked. Do not base your decision to follow them back based on how many people follow them.

– Look for the ‘verified’ badge. Twitter users should always check to see if a well-known brand or famous celebrity has been verified by Twitter before following. The blue verified badge denotes that.

– Avoid divulging personal information. Don’t give out unnecessary personal data like usernames and password via email, or on social networking sites. Don’t share personal details such as your date of birth, phone number or address on public websites.

– Protect your computer. Keep your system clean and in good shape with an updated security software suite like Norton Internet Security.


After a recent discovery that critical flaws on HP, Dell, Acer, Asus and Lenovo laptops let hackers take over in 10 minutes – Lee Munson, security researcher for had the following to say about “bloatware” pre-loaded onto commercial PCs and laptops and some advice for consumers.

“Bloatware is remarkably easy to remove from your PC. Much like any other unwanted program, all you need to do is open your Control Panel, scan through the list of programs installed on your machine, and choose which you would like to uninstall.

“While I would recommend doing this the first time you use your new machine, it is a process that can be undertaken whenever you like; just be careful not to remove anything that actually is useful.

“As for whether vendors should be installing bloatware, I’d say ‘no’ on account of the fact that it can pose a security risk, the sheer annoyance of it and the impact it can have on a system’s speed and storage space.

“Bloatware, like any other type of software, can be vulnerable and susceptible to attack and it really is down to the user to educate themselves about the risks and how to check what is running on their system and how to remove unwanted programs. If any type of regulation or legislation were to be brought in to deal with bloatware, well, we know how well that normally pans out…”


New research by KPMG reveals that while a quarter of fraudsters use technology to rip off companies, only three per cent of businesses detected illegal behaviour using data analytics.

In fact, 24 per cent of technology-enabled frauds were caught accidentally.

Alex Plavsic, head of investigations at KPMG in the UK, said: “As technology becomes more advanced, so too do the schemes to use it maliciously. And while it’s clear that fraudsters are all too comfortable using technology to perpetrate a fraud, we are seeing little evidence that companies are doing the same in response to prevent it. 

“A shockingly small number of companies have invested in threat-monitoring systems and data analytics, which can shift through data looking for suspicious items and help businesses uncover and question anomalous or suspicious behaviour.”


– Kaspersky Lab has assisted in one of Russia’s largest cybercriminal arrests – hackers who stole $45 million from banks, other financial institutions and businesses since 2011.

The Internet of Things (IoT) industry must establish a common set of security standards of which to adhere, says Databarracks, arguing that IoT risks should feature in organisations’ continuity plans if they want to be protected.

– SailPoint has unveiled the latest version of SecurityIQTM – its solution that provides an integrated and comprehensive approach to governing all data in the enterprise.

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