Category Archives: Home and Family Care

30 BEST WEBSITES FOR WOMEN TO SHOP

1. Boohoo

Boohoo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce sites. The booming retailer offers non-stop fashion with up to 100 new pieces hitting the site every day. The majority of styles on offer are under AU$100, and some are even as low as $2, so fill up your basket without any pesky spending guilt.

2. Nasty Gal

Created by “girlboss” Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal began as a humble eBay store selling vintage clothing. Since then, the brand has grown into an e-commerce giant that sells a broad range of genuine vintage and new, vintage-inspired pieces. This site is perfect for girls with a little bit of attitude who like to have a lot of fun.

3. H&M

Do we even need to introduce H&M? The Swedish super-retailer is everyone’s first choice for affordable, fast-fashion clothing, and its online store makes it all available from the comfort of your home. Sit on the couch while stocking up on great basics, lingerie, trends, accessories, workwear, activewear, and even homewares.

4. Free People

If you’re a free spirit or a hippy at heart, Free People is the online shopping destination for you. This bohemian retailer dishes up the goods when it comes to dreamy designs. Fill up your basket with wonderful pieces that are fit for brunch, the beach or a trip around the world. Also, take a look at the brand’s Movement label for great activewear.

Nordstrom has been a leading fashion retailer for over 100 years and is continuing to uphold the title. Although the brand’s online store is obviously a lot younger, it follows suit from Nordstrom’s physical stores in terms of excellent service and extensive product range.

6. Mango

Mango, also known as MNG, offers a broad range of minimally chic clothing and accessories. The brand’s designs are pieces that can be worn every day that easily blend into the rest of your wardrobe.

7. Luisa Via Roma

From sporty to chic, this site has it all. It offers pieces fresh off the runway, exclusive collaborations and discounts across some of the world’s biggest labels. If you’re after curated styles that will make you stand out from the crowd, you can’t look past Luisviaroma – it’s the one-stop-shop for all things beautiful.

8. ASOS

If you haven’t shopped online at ASOS, you’ve seriously been missing out. This site is a one-stop destination for all of your fashion and beauty needs at a reasonable price. Filter through thousands of on-trend products from a variety of brands as well as the ASOS house labels.

9. The Outnet

Created by the people at Net-A-Porter, The Outnet is the ultimate destination for exclusive discounts on more than 350 designer labels. Some of the featured brands include Chloé, Stuart Weitzman and Oscar de la Renta. This is a great place to visit if you’re after your first luxury piece, but don’t want to spend your entire paycheck on it.

10. Farfetch

There’s only one of you, so why wear something that everyone else has? Finding your perfect piece of clothing shouldn’t be a hassle, thanks to Farfetch. With vintage pieces from the labels you love like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Versace, you can be seen in something that no-one else is wearing.

11. Shopbop

Since its launch in 2000, Shopbop has become a site that fashionistas know and love. It’s the perfect place to shop for both contemporary and designer labels and has an impressive selection of apparel, shoes, bags, and accessories. Another major highlight of this site is that it offers lookbook and wardrobe advice features, which makes the online experience all the more enjoyable!

12. Revolve

You can always count on Revolve to bring you the most trendy pieces you’ll need for a season update, and the site features many prominent designer brands. They’ve even added face masks to their list of products —  so you know they’re keeping an eye on current trends and needs. For convenience, fashion lovers can also get their favorite beauty products on the site, which is super appealing because you don’t have to order from multiple retailers. Revolve’s Shop This Look section is also a fantastic way to find outfits you want to recreate, and their dedicated customer service team will help with any issues.

13. Nordstrom Rack

If you love a bargain, then Nordstrom Rack is the place to go! We all know that designer clothes can come with a high price tag, but this is the site that helps you save money while also getting your hands on your dream brands. At Nordstrom Rack, you can get up to 70 percent off the original department store and boutique prices, and they are continually adding new items to the inventory. Be sure to check in weekly for new arrivals and shop your favorite styles, which can be done from the comfort of your living room. If you want to browse on-the-go, the mobile app also makes shopping super easy!

14. Saks Fifth Avenue

Most people have heard of Saks Fifth Avenue, the famous New York department store, and their online site does not disappoint. Saks is known for fashionable and exclusive items, and you can now shop them from the comfort of your home. Choose from a wide range of designers, pick the trendiest apparel, handbags, and shoes, and finish off your looks with interesting pieces of jewelry and chic accessories. If you need inspiration, The Edit highlights seasonal favorites and trends, and the editorials are always impressive.

15. Topshop

One of our favorite British high street brands, Topshop, is also available online. This site offers all the great styles that you’re used to finding in-store at the same affordable price. Tall, petite and maternity ranges are also on offer for those who want Topshop’s on-trend style but need a different fit. On top of all that, standard international delivery, which is up to nine days, is free when you spend over £100.

16. SSENSE

For the lovers of luxury fashion and independent designers, look no further than SSense. With thousands of incredible curated pieces available, you can find a one-of-a-kind piece that others will adore, or the latest items fresh off the runway. Whether you’re gaga for Gucci or a lover of La Perla, this is the site for you.

17. Uniqlo

Uniqlo is the place to go for basics on a budget. You may not find the most fashionable pieces here, but you will find some great, quality pieces to be the core ingredients of your casual wardrobe. Think comfortable cotton hoodies, cashmere sweaters, down puffer jackets and essential seamless underwear, all for the lowest prices imaginable.

18. Verishop

Verishop is the one-stop-online-shop customers love because they have so many different apartments. From men’s and women’s clothing and apparel to beauty and wellness or stylish pieces for your home, this is the best way to find items you love or the perfect gift for friends and dear ones. Shop from both global and digitally native brands, including Billie the Label, and leisurewear brand LETT. Another highlight is the fast and free shipping and 24-hour customer service, which makes the whole experience easy and fun!

19. MyTheresa

MyTheresa has been around for over 30 years, first as a fashion hotspot in Munich, and later an online extension of the exclusive store. What can you expect from this site? For starters, fast delivery within one business day, free returns within 30 days, and an impressive collection of designer items! The site stocks over 250 international designers, and is known for being one of the best sites to purchase luxury buys, with big names including Acne Studios, Emilio Pucci, and Fendi.

20. & Other Stories

If you live in the U.K., U.S., or one of a selection of European countries, then you are lucky enough to be able to shop online at &OtherStories. The brand focuses on the whole outfit, making accessories an essential part of its business. The clothes are nice, but the pieces to buy are bags, shoes, sunglasses, and jewelry.

21. Coggles

Discover your next favorite piece of clothing on Coggles. Featuring designers like Victoria Beckham, Balmain, and Kenzo, you can filter through thousands of beautiful clothes and accessories to find something perfect for you. From sneakers to fine jewelry, it’s the perfect shopping site for a friend or yourself.

22. Missguided

Missguided is your online shopping destination for young and fun fashion. This site is perfect for anyone who’s not afraid to show a bit of skin. Low cut tops, bodycon dresses and short shorts are a regular occurrence here. Pick up a few of the brand’s continuously on-trend pieces as a cheap way to spice up your usual wardrobe.

23. MatchesFashion

Everyone deserves to treat themselves once in a while, so why not do it on Matches Fashion? From the essentials to the exquisite, this site offers unmatched assistance. If you’re having difficulty making a decision or you need a bit of extra help, let the MyStylist service help you out. Whether you’re unsure of how to put a look together or you need to spark some inspiration, this team is here to help.

24. Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters stocks a huge range of brands and styles so that you can find what you need for the price that you want. Filter products by categories, styles, lengths, sizes, colors, brands and prices to quickly hunt down key items, or just click through pages and browse all the lovely styles.

25. Forever21

Forever 21 offers super-affordable casual wear that is both cute and stylish. This user-friendly online store is the perfect place to pick up all the trends that you want to try without investing too much financially. The brand also loves social media and often re-posts customers’ photos, so get buying and then get snapping to feel the online love

26. ModCloth

Visit ModCloth if you’re on the lookout for indie, vintage, and retro-inspired clothing and accessories. This brand’s democratizing approach to fashion is incredibly refreshing, featuring a variety of models on its site and selling styles to suit everyone. Take a look at the dress section to find some truly beautiful pieces that are perfect for summer days and picnics in the park.

27. Miss Selfridge

Miss Selfridge, which initially began as a part of Selfridges department store in the U.K., is now a part of the Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop. Visit this retailer’s site if you’re looking for fun party dresses or gorgeous day wear.

28. COS

COS is like the older, cooler and much more refined sister to H&M. Made by the same company, COS steers away from fads and passing trends while H&M embraces them. Offering a range of minimal and modern wardrobe essentials, COS will provide you with pieces that last beyond the current season. Although you will pay more than you would at H&M, you’ll get your money’s worth.

29. Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer, which launched its Australian web store this year, offers a range of relaxed and chic styles that are all well within budget. Check out the brand’s extensive range of accessories to find affordable pieces to match every outfit. Also, explore the M&S & Alexa Chung Collaboration for great vintage-inspired styles.

30. Princess Polly

Shopping multiple brands that you love in one spot is as convenient as it is fun. Proving this point is the online retailer, Princess Polly. This site carries several fashionable and affordable brands, including Evil Twin, Minkpink, Somedays Lovin, The Fifth Label, Windsor Smith and Nobody Denim

HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR PHONE HAS BEEN HACKED

by Natasha Stokes on May 01, 2019

Techlicious editors independently review products. To help support our mission, we may earn affiliate commissions from links contained on this page.

From email to banking, our smartphones are the main hub of our online lives. No wonder that smartphones are starting to stack up to computers as common targets for online hackers.

Security researchers recently revealed one attack campaign that released malicious Android apps that were nearly identical to legitimate secure messaging programs, including WhatsApp and Signal, tricking thousands of people in nearly 20 countries into installing it. These apps were downloaded via a website called Secure Android, and once installed, gave hackers access to photos, location information, audio capture, and message contents. According to EFF Staff Technology Cooper Quentin, of note is that the malware did not involve a sophisticated software exploit, but instead only required “application permissions that users themselves granted when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they contained malware.”

Malware is often downloaded from non-official sources, including phishing links sent via email or message, as well as malicious websites such as the Secure Android site mentioned above. (While security experts recommend always downloading from official app stores – like the Apple App Store or Google Play – some countries are unable to access certain apps from these sources, for example, secure messaging apps that would allow people to communicate secretly.

Across the board, mobile malware has been on the riseup – in part due to an increase in political spies trying to break into the devices of persons of interest. Once this malware is online, other criminals are able to exploit compromised devices too. Malware can include spyware that monitors a device’s content, programs that harness a device’s internet bandwidth for use in a botnet to send spam, or phishing screens that steal a user’s logins when entered into a compromised, legitimate app.

Then there are the commercial spy apps that require physical access to download to a phone – often done by those well-known to the victim such as a partner or parent – and which can monitor everything that occurs on the device.

Not sure if you may have been hacked? We spoke to Josh Galindo, director of training at uBreakiFix, about how to tell a smartphone might have been compromised. And, we explore the seven ways your phone can be hacked and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

6 Signs your phone may have been hacked

1. Noticeable decrease in battery life

While a phone’s battery life inevitably decreases over time, a smartphone that has been compromised by malware may start to display a significantly decreased lifespan. This is because the malware – or spy app – may be using up phone resources to scan the device and transmit the information back to a criminal server.

(That said, simple everyday use can equally deplete a phone’s lifespan. Check if that’s the case by running through these steps for improving your Android or iPhone battery life.

2. Sluggish performance

Do you find your phone frequently freezing, or certain applications crashing? This could be down to malware that is overloading the phone’s resources or clashing with other applications.

You may also experience continued running of applications despite efforts to close them, or even have the phone itself crash and/or restart repeatedly.

(As with reduced battery life, many factors could contribute to a slower phone – essentially, its everyday use, so first try deep cleaning your Android or iPhone.)

3. High data usage

Another sign of a compromised phone is an unusually high data bill at the end of the month, which can come from malware or spy apps running in the background, sending information back to its server.

4. Outgoing calls or texts you didn’t send

If you’re seeing lists of calls or texts to numbers you don’t know, be wary – these could be premium-rate numbers that malware is forcing your phone to contact; the proceeds of which land in the cyber-crim’s wallet. In this case, check your phone bill for any costs you don’t recognise.

5. Mystery pop-ups

While not all pop-ups mean your phone has been hacked, constant pop-up alerts could indicate that your phone has been infected with adware, a form of malware that forces devices to view certain pages that drive revenue through clicks. Even if a pop-up isn’t the result of a compromised phone, many may be phishing links that attempt to get users to type in sensitive info – or download more malware. The vast majority of such pop-ups can be neutralised simply by shutting the window – though be sure you’re clicking the right X, as many are designed to shunt users towards clicking an area that instead opens up the target, sometimes malicious, site.

6. Unusual activity on any accounts linked to the device

If a hacker has access to your phone, they also have access to its accounts – from social media to email to various lifestyle or productivity apps. This could reveal itself in activity on your accounts, such as resetting a password, sending emails, marking unread emails that you don’t remember reading, or signing up for new accounts whose verification emails land in your inbox.

In this case, you could be at risk for identity fraud, where criminals open new accounts or lines of credit in your name, using information taken from your breached accounts. It’s a good idea to change your passwords – without updating them on your phone – before running a security sweep on your phone itself.

SOS steps

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms of a hacked smartphone, the best first step is to download a mobile security app.

For Android, we like Avast, which not only scans for malware but offers a call blocker, firewall, VPN, and a feature to request a PIN every time certain apps are used – preventing malware from opening sensitive apps such as your online banking.

iPhones may be less prone to hacks, but they aren’t totally immune. Lookout for iOS flags apps that are acting maliciously, potentially dangerous Wi-Fi networks,  and if the iPhone has been jailbroken (which increases its risk for hacking). It’s free, with $9.99/month for identity protection, including alerts of logins being exposed.

Who would hack your phone?

By now, government spying is such a common refrain that we may have become desensitized to the notion that the NSA taps our phone calls or the FBI can hack our computers whenever it wants. Yet there are other technological means – and motives – for hackers, criminals and even the people we know, such as a spouse or employer, to hack into our phones and invade our privacy.

7 ways your phone can be hacked

From targeted breaches and vendetta-fueled snooping to opportunistic land grabs for the data of the unsuspecting, here are seven ways someone could be spying on your cell phone – and what you can do about it.

1. Spy apps

There is a glut of phone monitoring apps designed to covertly track someone’s location and snoop on their communications. Many are advertised to suspicious partners or distrustful employers, but still more are marketed as a legitimate tool for safety-concerned parents to keep tabs on their kids. Such apps can be used to remotely view text messages, emails, internet history, and photos; log phone calls and GPS locations; some may even hijack the phone’s mic to record conversations made in person. Basically, almost anything a hacker could possible want to do with your phone, these apps would allow.

And this isn’t just empty rhetoric. When we studied cell phone spying apps back in 2013, we found they could do everything they promised. Worse, they were easy for anyone to install, and the person who was being spied on would be none the wiser that there every move was being tracked.

“There aren’t too many indicators of a hidden spy app – you might see more internet traffic on your bill, or your battery life may be shorter than usual because the app is reporting back to a third-party,” says Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist at security firm Sophos.

Likelihood

Spy apps are available on Google Play, as well as non-official stores for iOS and Android apps, making it pretty easy for anyone with access to your phone (and a motive) to download one.

How to protect yourself

  • Since installing spy apps require physical access to your device, putting a passcode on your phone greatly reduces the chances of someone being able to access your phone in the first place. And since spy apps are often installed by someone close to you (think spouse or significant other), pick a code that won’t be guessed by anyone else.
  • Go through your apps list for ones you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. “If a device isn’t jailbroken, all apps show up,” says Wisniewski. “If it is jailbroken, spy apps are able to hide deep in the device, and whether security software can find it depends on the sophistication of the spy app [because security software scans for known malware].”
  • For iPhones, ensuring you phone isn’t jailbroken also prevents anyone from downloading a spy app to your phone, since such software – which tampers with system-level functions – doesn’t make it onto the App Store.
  • Download a mobile security app. For Android, we like Avast and for iOS, we recommend Lookout for iOS.

2. Phishing by message

Whether it’s a text claiming to be from your financial institution, or a friend exhorting you to check out this photo of you last night, SMSes containing deceptive links that aim to scrape sensitive information (otherwise known as phishing or “smishing”) continue to make the rounds.

Android phones may also fall prey to messages with links to download malicious apps. (The same scam isn’t prevalent for iPhones, which are commonly non-jailbroken and therefore can’t download apps from anywhere except the App Store.)

Such malicious apps may expose a user’s phone data, or contain a phishing overlay designed to steal login information from targeted apps – for example, a user’s bank or email app.

Likelihood

Quite likely. Though people have learned to be skeptical of emails asking them to “click to see this funny video!”, security lab Kaspersky notes that they tend to be less wary on their phones.

How to protect yourself

  • Keep in mind how you usually verify your identity with various accounts – for example, your bank will never ask you to input your full password or PIN.
  • Avoid clicking links from numbers you don’t know, or in curiously vague messages from friends, especially if you can’t see the full URL.
  • If you do click on the link and end up downloading an app, your Android phone should notify you. Delete the app and/or run a mobile security scan.

3. SS7 global phone network vulnerability

A communication protocol for mobile networks across the world, Signalling System No 7 (SS7), has a vulnerability that lets hackers spy on text messages, phone calls and locations, armed only with someone’s mobile phone number. An added concern is that text message is a common means to receive two-factor authentication codes from, say, email services or financial institutions – if these are intercepted, an enterprising hacker could access protected accounts, wrecking financial and personal havoc.

According to security researcher Karsten Nohl, law enforcement and intelligence agencies use the exploit to intercept cell phone data, and hence don’t necessarily have great incentive to seeing that it gets patched.

Likelihood

Extremely unlikely, unless you’re a political leader, CEO or other person whose communications could hold high worth for criminals. Journalists or dissidents travelling in politically restless countries may be at an elevated risk for phone tapping.

How to protect yourself

  • Use an end-to-end encrypted message service that works over the internet (thus bypassing the SS7 protocol), says Wisniewski. WhatsApp (free, iOS/Android), Signal (free, iOS/Android) and Wickr Me (free, iOS/Android) all encrypt messages and calls, preventing anyone from intercepting or interfering with your communications.
  • Be aware that if you are in a potentially targeted group your phone conversations could be monitored and act accordingly.

4. Snooping via open Wi-Fi networks

Thought that password-free Wi-Fi network with full signal bars was too good to be true? It might just be. Eavesdroppers on an unsecured Wi-Fi network can view all its unencrypted traffic. And nefarious public hotspots can redirect you to lookalike banking or email sites designed to capture your username and password. And it’s not necessarily a shifty manager of the establishment you’re frequenting. For example, someone physically across the road from a popular coffee chain could set up a login-free Wi-Fi network named after the café, in hopes of catching useful login details for sale or identity theft.

Likelihood

Any tech-savvy person could potentially download the necessary software to intercept and analyze Wi-Fi traffic – including your neighbor having a laugh at your expense (you weren’t browsing NSFW websites again, were you?).

How to protect yourself

  • Only use secured networks where all traffic is encrypted by default during transmission to prevent others from snooping on your Wi-Fi signal.
  • Download a VPN app to encrypt your smartphone traffic. ExpressVPN (Android/iOS from $6.67/month) is a great all-round choice that offers multi-device protection, for your tablet and laptop for example.
  • If you must connect to a public network and don’t have a VPN app, avoid entering in login details for banking sites or email. If you can’t avoid it, ensure the URL in your browser address bar is the correct one. And never enter private information unless you have a secure connection to the other site (look for “https” in the URL and a green lock icon in the address bar).

5. Unauthorized access to iCloud or Google account

Hacked iCloud and Google accounts offer access to an astounding amount of information backed up from your smartphone – photos, phonebooks, current location, messages, call logs and in the case of the iCloud Keychain, saved passwords to email accounts, browsers and other apps. And there are spyware sellers out there who specifically market their products against these vulnerabilities.

Online criminals may not find much value in the photos of regular folk – unlike nude pictures of celebrities that are quickly leaked– but they know the owners of the photos do, says Wisniewski, which can lead to accounts and their content being held digitally hostage unless victims pay a ransom.

Additionally, a cracked Google account means a cracked Gmail, the primary email for many users.

Having access to a primary email can lead to domino-effect hacking of all the accounts that email is linked to – from your Facebook account to your mobile carrier account, paving the way for a depth of identity theft that would seriously compromise your credit.

Likelihood

“This is a big risk. All an attacker needs is an email address; not access to the phone, nor the phone number,” Wisniewski says. If you happen to use your name in your email address, your primary email address to sign up for iCloud/Google, and a weak password that incorporates personally identifiable information, it wouldn’t be difficult for a hacker who can easily glean such information from social networks or search engines.

How to protect yourself

  • Create a strong password for these key accounts (and as always, your email).
  • Enable login notifications so you’re aware of sign-ins from new computers or locations.
  • Enable two-factor authentication so that even if someone discovers your password they can’t access your account without access to your phone.
  • To prevent someone resetting your password, lie when setting up password security questions. You would be amazed how many security questions rely on information that is easily available on the Internet or is widely known by your family and friends.

6. Malicious charging stations

Well-chosen for a time when smartphones barely last the day and Google is the main way to not get lost, this hack leverages our ubiquitous need for juicing our phone battery, malware be damned. Malicious charging stations – including malware-loaded computers – take advantage of the fact that standard USB cables transfer data as well as charge battery. Older Android phones may even automatically mount the hard drive upon connection to any computer, exposing its data to an unscrupulous owner.

Security researchers have also shown it’s possible to hijack the video-out feature on most recent phones so that when plugged into a malicious charge hub, a hacker can monitor every keystroke, including passwords and sensitive data.

Likelihood

Low. There are no widely known instances of hackers exploiting the video-out function, while newer Android phones ask for permission to load their hard drive when plugged into a new computer; iPhones request a PIN. However, new vulnerabilities may be discovered.

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t plug into unknown devices; bring a wall charger. You might want to invest in a charge-only USB cable like PortaPow ($6.99 on Amazon)
  • If a public computer is your only option to revive a dead battery, select the “Charge only” option (Android phones) if you get a pop-up when you plug in, or deny access from the other computer (iPhone).

7. FBI’s StingRay (and other fake cellular towers)

An ongoing initiative by the FBI to tap phones in the course of criminal investigations (or indeed, peaceful protests) involves the use of cellular surveillance devices (the eponymous StingRays) that mimic bona fide network towers.

StingRays, and similar pretender wireless carrier towers, force nearby cell phones to drop their existing carrier connection to connect to the StingRay instead, allowing the device’s operators to monitor calls and texts made by these phones, their movements, and the numbers of who they text and call.

As StingRays have a radius of about 1km, an attempt to monitor a suspect’s phone in a crowded city center could amount to tens of thousands of phones being tapped.

Until late 2015, warrants weren’t required for StingRay-enabled cellphone tracking; currently, around a dozen states outlaw the use of eavesdropping tech unless in criminal investigations, yet many agencies don’t obtain warrants for their use.

Likelihood

While the average citizen isn’t the target of a StingRay operation, it’s impossible to know what is done with extraneous data captured from non-targets, thanks to tight-lipped federal agencies.

How to protect yourself

  • Use encrypted messaging and voice call apps, particularly if you enter a situation that could be of government interest, such as a protest. Signal (free, iOS/Android) and Wickr Me (free, iOS/Android) both encrypt messages and calls, preventing anyone from intercepting or interfering with your communications. Most encryption in use today isn’t breakable, says Wisniewski, and a single phone call would take 10-15 years to decrypt.

“The challenging thing is, what the police have legal power to do, hackers can do the same,” Wisniewski says. “We’re no longer in the realm of technology that costs millions and which only the military have access to. Individuals with intent to interfere with communications have the ability to do so.”

From security insiders to less tech-savvy folk, many are already moving away from traditional, unencrypted communications – and perhaps in several years, it’ll be unthinkable that we ever allowed our private conversations and information to fly through the ether unprotected.

20 MOST DANGEROUS PHONE APPLICATIONS

20 most dangerous mobile apps: How to best mitigate the risk

John P. Mello Jr.,
Freelance writer

Mobile apps can be a nightmare for IT. There are millions of them, and most were developed without any concern for security. Some IT organizations have tried to counter potential threat from mobile apps by blacklisting programs they deem risky, but that’s not always effective.

Here are the top pitfalls of blacklisting, and alternative approaches to controlling the chaos that can result when a company’s employees are working on mobile devices connected to the company network.

The 20 most-blocked mobile apps

An analysis by Appthority of the blacklists of its enterprise customers is revealing. For example, here are the top 10 Android apps blackballed by enterprises:

  • Poot-debug(W100).apk
  • AndroidSystemTheme
  • Where’s My Droid
  • Weather
  • Wild Crocodile
  • Star War
  • ggzzversion
  • Boyfriend Tracker
  • Chicken Puzzle
  • Device Alive

In its analysis, Appthority ranks risk on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest risk. Eight of the apps in the Android top 10 had a risk score of 9, primarily because they contained malware. The other two apps—Boyfriend Tracker and Chicken Puzzle—scored a 6 because of data issues or privacy concerns.

On the iOS side of things, these apps were blacklisted the most:

  • WhatsApp Messenger
  • Pokémon GO
  • WinZip Utilities
  • CamScanner Productivity
  • Plex
  • WeChat
  • Facebook Messenger
  • eBay Kleinanzeigen
  • Netease News
  • Device Alive

The seven riskiest apps scored a 7. Their sins included sending SMS messages or sensitive data without encryption. Three programs—Pokémon GO, Plex, and Device Alive—scored a 6 because they did things such as access address books and cameras without permission and tracked a phone user’s location.

Blacklisting’s deficiencies

While these 20 apps were the most commonly blacklisted, there were plenty more in Appthority’s list of 100 enterprise apps that were as risky or riskier to use. Many of those apps ask for permissions that can be a prelude to risky behavior—the ability to read and send text messages, for example, or access a phone’s camera, microphone, and address book.

Leigh-Anne Galloway, cybersecurity resilience lead at Positive Technologies, said the proof was in the permissions.

“Users should avoid installing apps that require too many dangerous permissions. The more permissions an application has, the more risk it presents in the case that it’s hacked.”
—Leigh-Anne Galloway

The sheer volume of apps available to users can make blacklisting problematic. “Blacklisting apps has never had much success in stopping breaches in the PC world, and I don’t see it as working in mobile either,” said Georgia Weidman, CEO of Shevirah, a provider of tools for assessing and managing mobile device risk.

“If you blacklist an app, a million more with those same issues will take their place. Taking a set of apps and blacklisting them isn’t going to solve any particular problem.”
—Georgia Weidman

What’s more, one enterprise’s risky app is another’s anointed app. “WhatsApp is on the list of bad apps,” Weidman noted, “but a lot of organizations use WhatsApp or a similar secure, encrypted messenger for corporate communication.”

We can’t look at every application deeply enough to say yes or no definitively about whether its risky behavior is due to a sloppy developer or someone with malicious intent, she added.

Shadow IT complicates security

Making matters worse, employees often use productivity apps without IT’s knowledge. Referred to as shadow IT, this practice has become prevalent within the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture, where people use their personal devices and download apps without informing IT, explained Michela Menting, digital security research director at ABI Research.

This is not always done maliciously by the employee, she said. Often they do this in good faith, to increase their productivity or facilitate their work in some way, she said.

“They forget that by not telling IT, they can put their organization at risk.”
—Michela Menting

By keeping IT in the dark, mobile users broaden the attack surface available to an organization’s adversaries. “BYOD extends your corporate environment to your employees’ homes, vehicles, neighborhoods—and then enables them to bring whatever they picked up into your environment,” said Devon Kerr, principal threat researcher at Endgame, a maker of cybersecurity solutions for enterprises.

“It is an inheritance model that is being taken advantage of by threat actors to gain a foothold in otherwise resistant organizations.”
—Devon Kerr

One of the riskiest apps for an enterprise may not appear on any top 10 list at all: email. Email is risky for two reasons. Corporate credentials are needed to access a mailbox, and email is used to share a lot of sensitive corporate information.

Whitelisting apps can help

If emails or credentials are stored somewhere other than on a device or are accessible to a third party, in any way, the business is at significant risk, said Matt Hathaway, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Uptycs.

“The most important action for IT staff to take around email apps is to evaluate the most common, whitelist those that are secure, and configure their email servers to decline authentication attempts from any apps which aren’t on this whitelist,” Hathaway said.

For external programs, whitelisting should extend beyond email apps to all external mobile apps, added Positive Technologies’ Galloway. “IT must also create rules” for the use of personal devices that can be used for work, she said.

Another approach is to host all applications accessible to a user’s phone. Then when employees attempt to access corporate resources, they can do so only through the hosted apps. That essentially makes the phone act like a remote desktop client.

Daniel Kennedy, research director for information security and networking at 451 Research., said that in a true BYOD environment, IT’s ability to control risky apps is limited. Enterprise mobility management or mobile device management tools provide part of the answer by allowing for capabilities on employee-owned devices, such as access revocation, conditional access, data wipe, additional authentication, and data separation, he said.

“Blocking access to company data or blacklisting certain apps based on risk are other options.”
—Daniel Kennedy

Gautam Aggarwal, CMO and head of products at NSS Labs, a security testing, enterprise research, and threat analysis company, agreed that keeping a tight rein on access is a key to reducing mobile app risk. “The best approach to mitigate potential risks is to establish access-control policies that govern the use of mobile applications and, specifically, access to high-value applications and data on the network,” he said.

“Regardless of your organization’s size, maintaining visibility into the types of devices accessing applications on the network is crucial to maintaining a proper security posture.”
—Gautam Aggarwal

Thwarting threats with SIEMs

That kind of visibility can be obtained through the use of security information and event management (SIEM) software. SIEMs collect information from multiple network sources and analyze that data for potential or existing threats.

The tools monitor network activity and can generate alerts when suspicious activity is encountered, said Avast researcher Martin Hron.

“When used properly, a SIEM can notably reduce the risk of an enterprise network being infiltrated by malicious mobile applications installed on employees’ phones.”
—Martin Hron

To fully address mobile threats, though, a SIEM may need additional help. For example, some tools can track security issues on mobile devices and make that information available to a SIEM through APIs. This allows the SIEM to centralize both device monitoring and incident response.

SIEMs can help detect malicious activity from mobile apps if the company also uses an enterprise mobility management solution, which accumulates mobile device data, Positive Technologies’ Galloway explained. “In those cases, a SIEM helps detect incidents such as theft of a device or confidential information.”

Nothing’s perfect

A word of warning for SIEM shoppers was voiced by Endgame’s Kerr: “A SIEM is only as good as the human beings who are monitoring it and the procedures those human beings developed. If your organization is already struggling to monitor social media, monitoring mobile devices is going to be exceptionally challenging.”

“Mobile device management, enterprise mobility management, mobile antivirus—pick your poison—they all provide value in controlling mobile apps,” added Shevirah’s Weidman. “But just as we still see PC malware, none of these products are going to 100% protect you.

CHILD TRAFFICKING IN THE USA

Child victims of trafficking are recruited, transported, transferred, harbored or received for the purpose of exploitation. They may be forced to work in sweatshops, on construction sites or in houses as domestic servants; on the streets as child beggars, in wars as child soldiers, on farms, in traveling sales crews or in restaurants and hotels. Some are forced to work in brothels and strip clubs or for escort and massage services.

Putting a stop to all forms of child trafficking is critical to UNICEF’s work.

Child trafficking in the U.S.

Trafficking is not just an issue that happens to people in other countries. The United States is a source and transit country, and is also considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States; anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises.

UNICEF’s work in child protection

To protect children from exploitation, risk factors such as poverty and discrimination need to be addressed. UNICEF’s efforts in countries around the world include:

  • Helping to provide a living wage for parents so that their children do not have to work to support the family and can attend school instead
  • Lobbying governments and other partners to develop laws and strengthen child protection systems to prevent and respond to violence and abuse
  • Advocating for the legal birth registration of all newborns
  • Working with communities and faith-based organizations to change harmful societal norms that make children more vulnerable to exploitation
  • Supporting the training of professionals working with children including social workers, health workers and police and border officials to help stop trafficking

How you can help prevent human trafficking

Speak Out: Study up on the root causes of trafficking and spread the word using the hashtag #EndTrafficking and tagging @UNICEFUSA. Share this page or create your own messaging using the UNICEF USA Social Press Kit.

Advocate: Let your mayor or member of congress know that trafficking is an issue that matters. Join UNICEF USA in sending an email to your local elected officials urging them to keep trafficking and its victims top of mind.