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Is Malware a big problem? Yes -- and we are the solution

Proliferation of device types is also proliferating malware.  159.8 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (66.8 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in January 2014, 51% were Android devices, 41.6% were Apple iOS and rest were 'other'.  There were 70 million tablets in the USA around then as well, 51% Apple, and 40% Android. Both device types are of interest to the malware hacking communities. Researchers at Georgia Tech showed how to hack an iPhone in 60 seconds, removing the Facebook app and replacing it with an imposter.

And it's not just phones, tablets, and PCs.  You want to control your home's temperature through Internet access to your new, cool Nest thermostat. A hacker may also find this appealing -- especially knowing when you are home or on vacation.  And your favorite games, including those loved by all ages -- check out this invasion of malware and Angry Birds.  

What is the definition of malware, anyway? At this point, the definition matters, so the sweeping scope of the problem is clear(er). The term 'malware' is derived from the words "malicious software." That is "Software designed to do harm by causing damage to systems or data, invading privacy, stealing information, or infiltrating computers without permission. Includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses, some keyloggers, spyware, adware, and bots."  Those keyloggers and information stealers want money, after all, and we users on the Internet seem to be a far easier way to steal it than holding up a bank.

So how to protect all of us against malware? Caution -- or the old saying, trust but verify, must be the thought process instilled in us -- all ages, all levels of technology sophistication. Why? Because in the end, we have to do the tough work of protecting ourselves -- ourselves. After reviewing this list of excellent advice for improving 'cyber safety', and then checking out the FTC list of advice it references, protection against malware boils down to heightened caution in online interactions: For example, a known person sends an e-mail but it only contains a link -- don't open it -- delete. Don't put your vacation dates on a Facebook page. Don't access your financial data from WiFi hotspots... In some twisted way, the very success of Internet access ease of use is replacing what we once did best -- looking the person (the teller, the bookseller, the service provider) in the eye.  And we had honed our skills -- Blink.  For those who train and guide on Internet use, help figure out the Online Blink.


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