As summer holidays approach warnings have been made of unsecured applications that indicate a user's location and information or do not offer data security.
PandaLabs has advised users to take extra precautions to prevent falling victim to computer fraud, with specific warnings made about Facebook applications such as Doorpl or Trip Advisor, which show messages describing where you are or where and when you are planning to go.
Also highlighted is the Twitter geolocation utility that displays where tweets have been sent from, or services for locating mobile devices through GPS, which are now widely employed by iPhone or Android users.
Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, said: “In addition to the usual security measures, this year we ask users to take particular care with the information they share across social networks. This applies particularly to applications used to plan journeys or to locate people geographically through GPS devices, as this information could easily be exploited to aid housebreaking.
“Such programs are interesting and fun, but the problem lies in how professional criminals could exploit this information. We have already seen the emergence (and closure) of services such as pleaserobme.com, which as its name suggests, connects with these applications to offer information about who is not at home at any moment. This underlines how careless we can be as users when offering personal information publicly.”
PandaLabs also warned of websites that require personal credentials, and if a user is forced to submit them, make sure to change these as soon as possible afterwards to minimise the risk. It also discouraged connection to unprotected WiFi networks, as users could be hooking up to a network set up by hackers to steal any information that they share across the internet.
Tony Neate, managing director of Get Safe Online, also warned of scams targeting tourists this summer, particularly as many use the internet to find and book holidays. He said: “The fraudsters are of course following. The anonymity of the web makes it much easier for criminals to pull the wool over our eyes and to target significant numbers of people at any one time – they only need one to respond to make it worth their while.
“Of course, most of us are lucky enough to book our holidays online with no problems at all. However, it's easy to get caught out, and for those that do, the effects can be devastating. Not only can you lose fairly substantial sums of money, the upset of having to turn around and go back home can put a real dampener on your summer.
Research released by Get Safe Online found that one in three users are not following basic anti-fraud measures, such as checking whether the operator is a member of a recognised travel authority, doing background checks and looking out for signs of a secure website. It also found that over two-thirds of UK web users have never heard of the most common scams.