Tech experts, police offer tips for protecting your digital devi - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tech experts, police offer tips for protecting your digital devices from cyber crooks

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Honolulu police and tech experts said they're seeing more people whose smart phones are being victimized by cyber crooks stealing their financial information.

And they're offering easy, free or cheap things you can do to protect your phone against cyber crime.

Instead of flocking to the malls this holiday season , more people than ever did some holiday shopping on their mobile devices such as smart phones.

"So you're going to start seeing the bad guys are going to start targeting these devices more and more to get information and steal from you,” said Honolulu Police Capt. John McCarthy, a cyber crime expert. He said iPhones, Androids and other mobile devices are going to be a big trend for cyber criminals.

"So you've gotta be really on your toes for this one. It's going to come and I think it's going to be the big thing of the next coming year," McCarthy said.

Super Geeks Hawaii stores on Oahu report several customers a week bringing in mobile devices that have been infected with malware, used by crooks.

“It's just because we use them more often. We store our credit card numbers there, we store our bank account information there," said Tim Caminos, CEO and owner of Super Geeks Hawaii.

Here’s some simple advice from Burt Lum, a tech consultant and owner of Bytemarks LLC: Do not open strange attachments that show up on your email that could suck financial information from your phone and send it to criminals.

"And if there's anything that you are not familiar with that all of a sudden becomes an attachment, then you should be concerned and not download it and see what it is," Lum said. “Malware is something that is malicious and has some devious purpose. To gather up information and actually establish another connection and then send that information out."

Another important tip: Be sure to use password protection on your smart phone.

Also download free or relatively cheap anti-virus software for your mobile devices, including tablets.

"You can prevent a personal data breach by having something that's continually scanning and checking your phone for viruses and hacks," said Caminos, of Super Geeks.

Most people probably have anti-virus protection for their desktop and laptop computers, but Caminos said they fail to get the same anti-virus software for their smart phones and tablets, making them vulnerable

Caminos recommended four anti-virus programs to protect mobile devices: Lookout, Antivir, Web Root and Trend Micro.

“All of them are cheap and most have a free and premium version,” Caminos said.

If you don't protect your phone with ant-virus measures, criminals can "clone your phone."

McCarthy, the HPD captain, said, "They basically have a copy of your phone. And next thing you know, you're getting bills that you never made, you're getting charges that you never made. And you're not going to take a monetary loss, necessarily, but it's going to take a lot of time to correct what went wrong."

Other advice: Do not use public wifi at places like a coffee shop, fast food restaurant or the airport to login to bank accounts or make credit card purchases.

Basic web browsing for looking up movies, a place to eat or reading the news is fine, Caminos said.

"If you're checking your bank accounts, if you're wire transferring money between accounts, if you're going and buying gifts online, you want to do that from a secure place.  Do it from home, do it from a place where you know that your wifi or connection is secure," Caminos added.

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