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Cyber Flashing: How not to expose yourself

Back in the day, the only way to share files was to send it over 56kbps dial-up lines. Now, we conveniently use wireless technology to transfer large files easier. The ease and convenience of using your device’s wireless connectivity to accept and transfer files might be the next best thing since sliced bread, but it can also leave you exposed to unwanted activity on your device.

A couple of months back, an article published on several media outlets reported an incident in London where a commuter received an indecent image of a man’s privates on her iPhone as she was travelling to work. The commuter immediately rejected the file, but another image of the same nature shortly followed. Feeling violated, the victim reported incident to the police to be investigated.

The investigation revealed that the victim had Airdrop – a built-in file sharing feature of the iPhone – currently on at the time of the incident. It was also revealed that the default settings was changed to be able to receive files from anyone, which led her to be exposed to the malicious cyber flasher aboard the same train.

Airdrop is exclusive to iOS devices including iPhones, iPads, iPod touch, and Apple Macs. It uses wi-fi and Bluetooth to communicate between devices over short ranges, which means that whoever sent the files would be someone nearby, and knowingly sending files over to gain gratification and to cause discomfort to the person they are sending it to.

How to prevent getting cyber-flashed

Getting cyber-flashed can be distressing and it can make anyone feel unsafe knowing that whoever is sending the files is nearby. To prevent getting cyber-flashed, follow these simple device security tips:

  1. Turn the app off

More often than not, file sharing apps like Airdrop are set to “contacts only” by default. This is to limit the file-sharing feature to people who you know. You can set Airdrop and similar apps to “off” to completely shut the door on anyone attempting to transfer. Only leave apps like Airdrop on when you need them, and don’t forget to shut the app off after using.

  1. Update your apps

The major concern over file sharing apps is the possibility for it to be exploited to gather, steal, or malign data from your device. Although there hasn’t been a report for hacking file sharing apps, sooner or later, someone will discover an exploit and use it to gain access to your device. Software publishers are always aware of these vulnerabilities, and they consistently update their apps as soon as they discover the vulnerabilities themselves. Update your apps to get the latest, most secure version from the developer.

  1. Do not accept any files from any person you do not know

This is device security 101. If you don’t know the sender, then you have no reason to accept the file being sent to you. Reject the file no matter how harmless it appears to be. Anonymous senders are anonymous for a reason, and more often than not, they do more harm than good. Err on the safe side and reject the file being sent to you.

Concerned about your IT security? Alvarez Technology Group specializes in enterprise IT services including IT security, management, and deployment.  Contact Alvarez Technology Group at (831) 753 -7677 or send us an email at info@alvareztg.com to get in touch with an IT security expert.

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