OCTOBER 21, 2013 (NEXTADVISOR ONLINE) by Julie Myhre -How To Protect Yourself.

As banks try to take steps to protect their consumers, it seems that hackers keep finding loopholes around banks' security.

Malware programs used to targeting banking apps, which were discovered by McAfee researchers, have the ability to replace official banking apps with hacked replacements on Android phones.

Users sign into their banking app just as they usually do — unaware of the malware — and reveal all of their banking information to the hackers.

McAfee researchers also discovered that hackers created insidious software that steals SMS text message security codes, which are sent by banks, in real time. These SMS codes are used as a one-time code to use on top of the consumer's banking password, to verify the security of the log in.

Even though these discoveries by McAfee are rather scary, there are luckily steps that you can take to protect yourself from mobile banking hackers.

1. Only use password-protected Wi-Fi: Since a majority of smartphone providers are limiting data, smartphone users are turning to free Wi-Fi when they are out on the town or away from home. This decision to connect to a unprotected network is making smartphone users vulnerable to hackers because when a network is unprotected, anyone can use it making it an ideal situation for hackers. Connecting to free Wi-Fi allows others people using the hotspot or Wi-Fi to hack into your accounts and see what you’re doing on your device.

Simply by connection to password-protected Wi-Fi can increase your chances of keeping your banking information private. It is important to keep in mind that not all password-protected Wi-Fi is necessarily safe. For example, if a public place has password-protected Wi-Fi, it still isn't as safe as your home Wi-Fi because they are still allowing access to anyone who visits the public place, such as a coffee shop.

2. Download mobile banking apps from official app stores: It's important to remember that apps purchased or downloaded through official app stores, such as the Google Play Store, are safer apps than other unofficial stores because apps in the official store are vetted by the store provider, such as Google. Mobile banking app users should only use banking apps downloaded from the official app store for their device. If their bank or financial institution does not offer a mobile app, then smartphone users should bookmark the bank's website to ensure they're visiting the correct site, and not a hacked version, every time.

3. Create strong banking passwords: Strong passwords are essential to making sure that your banking information if private. Your password should never include the word "password" and or the number sequence "1234." Instead, your password should at least contain a special character, number and capital as well as lowercase letters. You should also change your password at least every two to three months to protect it from becoming hacked. If you're unsure as to how you can create a strong password, then this blog post will walk you though the process of creating a strong password.

4. Get security software for your phone: One sure way to protect your banking apps on your smartphone is to get some sort of security software that will scan your device regularly as well as verify the authenticity and safety of all the apps on your device.

Newer Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, already include a security software that protects the phone from malicious apps, however older smartphones don't include this safety feature and users need to get it elsewhere.

Smartphone users can download a security software from the official app store. Check out our Internet security software category to learn about some of the trusted brands in security software.

Am I Required To Download ID Theft's Internet Security Software? Julie Myhre August 6, 2013

Internet Security Software

Q: I've been looking into Identity Guard's identity theft protection services and noticed that the membership also includes Internet security software. I currently have Norton AntiVirus installed on my computer. Should I use Identity Guard's Internet software instead? Does the software automatically download after I sign up?

A: Great questions! If you decide to sign up for Identity Guard, then you are not required to download the Internet security software because it does not automatically download. To download Identity Guard's Internet software, you'd need to log into your account and select "download" option.

Since you already have Norton AntiVirus on your computer, we'd recommend that you continue to use Norton because it is the best software for protecting you and your computer. As our top-rated Internet Security Software it offers protection with a lot of additional features at a budget-friendly option.

A lot of identity theft protection services offer some sort of anti-virus software with its membership, however we found that the anti-virus software included in the services are not as strong as other anti-virus software, such as Norton or McAfee.

Also, the Internet security software offered by identity theft protection services is not available on Mac computers. The software included in the identity theft protection services is better than no Internet security software.

So if you currently do not have anti-virus software, then we'd recommend that you download the software from your membership or look into purchasing Internet security software elsewhere.

Even though Internet security software is a solid aspect of identity theft protection services, the value of the services lies in the active monitoring of your personal information and credit reports as well as the identity theft restoration teams that help you through the identity theft restoration process.

How Much Does McAfee Cost? Jeff Hindenach May 8, 2013 msa_elite_primary_logo_rgb

Q: How much does McAfee internet security cost for 2 computers?

A: Usually, McAfee Internet Security costs $79.99 to cover up to 3 computers for a year. Lucky for you, McAfee offers NextAdvisor readers 50% off Internet Security, bringing the price down to $39.99 to cover up

Norton vs. Kaspersky: Which Antivirus Security Software Is Better?Jeff Hindenach May 2, 2013

Two of the biggest names in security software have a lot to offer, but which one is better?

We look at both Norton and Kaspersky and compare them side-by-side to see which Internet security software suite is the best. Price: This is a close race.

What Should I Do When I Receive A Phishing Email? by Julie Myhre September 24, 2013

Q: I received a couple of phishing emails from my bank asking for a lot of my personal information. How do I handle these? Is there a way that I can report the phony emails?

A: Good questions. Receiving a phishing email can be startling, especially when reality sets in and you recognize the email as phony. The most important thing to do once you realize it's a phishing email is to not respond or type any of your personal information into the email. The Federal Trade Commission has a couple of steps that it recommends in order to report the email as phishing.

According to the FTC, you should forward the phishing email — including the complete header of the email — to the FTC's spam database.

The email for the database is The FTC also recommends that you forward the complete email to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email. As an additional step, you also have the option to forward the email to the The Anti-Phishing Working Group, which is a group consisting of financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers and security vendors working to fight phishing. The group's email is

If you were tricked by a phishing email, then there are luckily steps that you can take to minimize the risk. Since you're personal information has been given to a possible identity thief, you want to handle this situation just as you would if you were a victim of identity theft. This blog post details the necessary steps you should take to restore your good name and credit.

It's important for you to take steps to protect your identity every day, such as shred documents containing personal information as well as monitoring the activity on your credit cards and bank accounts. Even though these steps help protect yourself from identity theft, one hands-on option is to sign up for an identity theft protection service. These service monitor your credit report as well as verify that your personal information — such as your social security number and credit card number — is not being sold or traded on the Internet black market.

Check out our identity theft protection compare chart to learn more about what each of these services offers in terms of protection as well as which service will best fit your needs.

Can I Monitor My Child's Texts With Parental Control Software? by Julie Myhre September 5, 2013

Q: I worry that my teen is sending inappropriate text messages to his friends. Is there a parental control software that will allow me to monitor his incoming and outgoing text messages?

A: We understand that you want to make sure your teen is behaving appropriately when he's text messaging his friends, yet, unfortunately, none of the parental control software we review for either iPhone or Androids can be used to monitor your child's incoming and outgoing texts. Instead, these apps protect your child by blocking pornographic material or blocking malicious apps and websites. For example, Net Nanny for Android filters website content, blocks pornographic material, masks profanity, allows/blocks mobile apps and allows the parent to set time limits on the device usage.

Since these apps don't monitor the incoming and outgoing messages, the best option would be to have an open conversation with your teen about what is and isn't appropriate for messages, including photos, language and topics. Also, talk to your teen about the consequences of misbehaving via text, such as less time with his phone, as well as bigger consequences, such as losing his good reputation. Check in with your teen regularly and make sure he understands the appropriate behavior. Lastly, remember that as the parent you own the technology and have the right to go through it, if you feel it's necessary or appropriate.

If your teens activity on social media is also a worry to you, then we'd recommend that you get Net Nanny Social. This blog post explains how this software protects your child on social media. Also, check out this blog post to find out which parental control software is available on your child's smartphone.

Can I Monitor My Teen On Social Media? by Julie Myhre August 8, 2013

Q: I just found out that my 12-year-old daughter is starting to use social media. She told me what she does on the sites, but I'm worried that she isn't completely honest with me. We already have parental control software on all of the computers in the house, but I was wondering if there is something I can use to monitor her on social media. Does software like this exist?

A: Great question! Social media can be a fun way to connect with friends, however a lot of young teens don't realize the dangers associated with it. That's why it's essential for parents to openly discuss social media with their children as well as monitor their child's activity on the websites.

Since you already have parental control software that monitors the general activity on your family or child's computer, then we'd recommend that you see if your current software can be updated to include social media monitoring. If it cannot or does not have an added option, then we'd recommend trying out our top-rated parental control software, Net Nanny.

This service offers an inexpensive software, called Net Nanny Social, that allows you to monitor your child's posts, friends and photos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Because Net Nanny Social is a web-based dashboard, you're able to monitor your child's social media use regardless of whether they're accessing it on a computer or an Internet access point, such as Wi-Fi, home network, hotspot or 3G/4G.

And, the best part of Net Nanny Social is the price. You can protect your whole family for one year by paying an annual fee of $14.99 — discounted from the regular $19.99 price.

How To Protect Your College Student From Identity Theft by Julie Myhre August 30, 2013 Q: I've heard a lot about college student identity theft on the news, and I was wondering if I should be concerned about keeping my college student's identity safe. If so, then are there steps or things that I can do to protect their identity?

A: Great question! Your concerns are completely legitimate, especially since people ages 20 to 29 have been the top victims of identity theft for the past three years, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Luckily there are some steps that you can advise your college student to take in order to help them protect their identity. We'd recommend that before you share these tips with your college student, you explain to them the importance of protecting their identity and the seriousness of identity theft.

Here are five ways that college students can protect their identity.

1. Memorize personal information: College is the first time that a lot of young people have to rely on their themselves to know their social security number, date of birth or any other important personal information. Sometimes this can be overwhelming for young adults, so they write down or store the personal information on their phone, tablet or computer. This is one of the most dangerous things that they can do with their personal information because if their dorm or apartment is broken into and the information is stolen, then they are at serious risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

A way to prevent this situation from occurring is to memorize the personal information so they won't need to rely on the paper or device.

2. Shred pre-approved credit card offers: Every college student — and adult — should invest in a shredder for their home because they can protect their identity by simply shredding pre-approved credit card offers and any other junk mail. Identity thieves often go through consumer's garbage because if they find a pre-approved credit card offer or any mail that contains personal information, then they already have the first couple of pieces to begin the process of stealing their identity.

3. Store personal information safely at dorm or home: A lot of college students don't necessarily understand how sensitive some documents, such as student loan documents, actually are, so it's essential that they know how to store their information in a safe place — such as a safe, lock box or a locked filing cabinet.

4. Check credit card and bank account statements regularly: College students should pay close attention to their credit card and banking statements, and take the extra time to go through each transaction to make sure there are no fraudulent or unfamiliar charges. If they find and unfamiliar charge, then they should report it to the bank as fraud.

5. Report lost or stolen student ID cards: Students need to be aware of their student ID card, and — when it goes missing — they should report it stolen or lost. Some colleges assign social security numbers as student ID numbers, and college students at those colleges should report their ID lost or stolen once when realize it's gone.

If identity theft is something you worry about as a parent or you fear that your college student will fall victim to identity theft, then you might want to consider signing your college student up for an identity theft protection service. These services monitor someone's personal information and alert them if they notice the information is being sold or traded on the Internet black market. Identity theft protection services also monitor activity on credit reports and send alerts when anything on any of the credit reports change.

College students 18 years old or older will have to sign up as adults, but if they are younger than 18, then you can sign them up as a child — which is a cheaper option. All of reviewed identity theft protection services offer memberships for adults. Identity Guard and Lifelock also offer identity theft protection for children under the age of 18, and TrustedID offers a family plan that protects an unlimited number of people who have the same primary address.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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