While “dangerous” is not the word that would come to mind when you think of Anna Kendrick, the actor best known for her work in the Pitch Perfect movies and voicing Princess Poppy in Trolls World Tour, she finds herself at the top of the McAfee’s “most dangerous celebrities” online list this year. McAfee keeps track of the celebrity search terms most likely to result in a malicious link or phishing content. As the coronavirus resulted in shelter-at-home order and social distancing was encouraged, internet usage in 2020 has skyrocketed – and bad actors have taken advantage.
According the Wall Street Journal, internet usage increased 25% in March, just as the shelter-at-home orders had taken place. While the sudden early rise in internet use slowly decreased throughout the summer, remote school, work from home and the lack of movie theaters continue to keep internet use higher than previous years.
Kendrick’s most recent film, Trolls World Tour happened to coincide with the sudden shift to films streamed online on their release date. Universal’s decision to stream Trolls on-demand in April was met with some hesitance as the move might hurt the theatre industry, but did result in record-breaking sales amid the pandemic response. The success moved Kendrick from the fourth spot on the McAfee list in 2019 to number one in 2020.
Anna Kendrick is among several other actors and musicians in the top ten of the McAfee list that includes Sean Combs, Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Julia Roberts. These names evoke a timelessness in a year that seems to feel like an eternity. This was reflected in the shifts in search online with more users seeking nostalgia and comfort in an uncertain year. According to a study in late 2019, people shift to “nostalgic consumption” when there is a “collective sense of uncertainty and anxiety.”
But these searches have consequences to vulnerable users who may interact with malicious sites that phish for clicks. A search for Anna Kendrick (with terms like “torrent” or “free”) may result in links that are dangerous. According to cybersecurity expert Lisa Toth at Baringa Partners, by clicking these links, the site can “try and take over your computer and install unwanted malicious programs (called malware). If your computer isn’t up to date and well protected then those malicious programs can record you typing your passwords, copy all of your personal emails and pictures, or lock you out of your computer and hold you to ransom.”
With more people online, ransomware has seen a sevenfold increase in 2020. Ransomware is a piece of software that locks your machine until you pay the cybercriminal something to release your computer. Cybercriminals are getting savvier, but they’re taking advantage of our emotional connection to these actors as well. Dean Kelshall at Baringa Partners explains: “The most vulnerable are those who are too trusting or who react emotionally” to links or to emails.
Sean Combs, who has been in our nostalgic emotional space for over two decades from Puff Daddy to Diddy, ranks as number two on the McAfee list. Combs hosted a livestream town hall event called “Black America & Coronavirus” early in the pandemic and he also increased excitement by announcing a possible reboot of the MTV classic “Making the Band.” The combination of nostalgia, comfort and emotions potentially lowers our guard against digital threats.
Aside from playing Princess Poppy in Trolls, Anna Kendrick also debuted her series “Love Life” on HBO Max in May. The combination of her lasting popularity and range of audiences from children to adults results in her “dangerous” status on the McAfee list. Cybersecurity expert Baker Nanduru, VP of McAfee’s Consumer Endpoint Segment, recommends that “fans stay vigilant about protecting their digital lives and think twice before clicking.”
You may think it is easy to remain safe online, but a search for “Anna Kendrick free” or “Anna Kendrick torrent” provides a series of suspicious links. Cybersecurity experts agree that you should avoid all these sites, but specifically sites with web addresses that contain made up words and extensions like .ru (Russia) or .icu (the shady “I see you”). If you end up on these sites, they’re sometimes overloaded with download buttons, many of which contain ads or direct downloads to viruses rather than content.
Baringa Partners’ Kelshall stresses that a simple click on a malicious site gives access to “use your personal information to defraud you, rack up debt in your name or even try and use your information to expose your friends and family” which could result in “personal embarrassment and associated repercussions.”
The bad actors online may using good actors to lure their victims, but it’s more important than ever to take the time to increase our internet literacies and be aware of how we interact with digital media.
TikTok enhances privacy with new family pairing options
TikTok, the leading destination for short-form mobile videos, today announced it will enhance privacy and browsing options for families by building on its existing Family Pairing features.
As more families continue to turn to internet platforms like TikTok to stay entertained, informed, and connected, parents can now guide their teen’s TikTok experience with the following new controls when Family Pairing is enabled:
● Search: Directly control whether your teen can search for content, users, hashtags, or sounds.
● Comments: Decide who can comment on your teen’s videos (everyone, friends, no one)
● Discoverability: Decide whether your teen’s account is private (your teen decides who can see their content) or public (anyone can search and view content)
● Liked videos: Decide who can view the videos your teen liked
Parenting a teen’s digital life can be daunting and many parents feel as though they’re playing catchup when it comes to the latest technology and apps their teens use. With that in mind, TikTok continuously speaks to parents and teens to ensure the digital landscape can be navigated together safely.
Family Pairing, which allows a parent to link their TikTok account to their teen’s, already offers features such as Screen Time Management, Restricted Mode, and Direct Message controls to provide parents with insight and control over how their teens use TikTok.
“While the internet provides us with many amazing opportunities to connect to others and learn about new things, we’re committed to helping facilitate important conversations within families about internet safety,” said Boniswa Sidwaba, TikTok Content Operations Manager, Africa.
“We all need to apply the same cautions online as we would in real life, and having an enjoyable experience on TikTok starts with understanding the tools and controls parents and teens can access to remain safe.”
TikTok has taken a number of steps over the past year to improve and enhance its teams, policies, controls and educational resources. In addition to its tools for families, the platform continues to strengthen its safety and well-being policies as well as promoting a positive user experience.
For families who want to learn more about online safety, TikTok has created a number of resources, including its Youth Portal, Parents page, educational safety videos and more. TikTok remains committed to the safety of its community – especially the youth – and will continue to develop resources, tools, and policies as it aims for the highest level of safety.
How can I look at others’ WhatsApp status without them knowing it?
The WhatsApp status feature has become a widely used option today with people posting regular updates on their stories.
After rolling out the feature, WhatsApp had also introduced an option of privacy on the status that you upload — who can and cannot see the update.
For users’ privacy, WhatsApp had rolled out a feature through which you can stop the blue tick, the read sign, in messages from appearing. However, did you know that the same could be done for stories?
Yes, you can spy on others’ stories without them having any knowledge about it.
How to do it
Well, it is a pretty simple trick, the same that is used for messages — WhatsApp> Setting> Privacy> Toggle off the Read receipt.
Now, you can view your contacts’ status without them knowing about it, but on the downside, you will not be able to see who has opened your status.
Snap to pay video creators $1 million daily
The fast-growing public listed American social media company – Snap Inc., plans to release new functionality to its Snapchat app in order to enable popular videos that would be termed as Spotlight, and further disclosed it will pay $1 million per day to the creators of high performing videos.
According to Bloomberg, Snap revealed how content creators could earn such income with ease, as the level of entry was kept minimal, on the basis that video submitters to Spotlight do not need to have large followers or popular profiles.
What you should know
An algorithm from the app software will be the judge in realizing what videos Snapchat users will see based on how often Snap users view such videos.
If other snap chat users view the same content repeatedly, for example, that’s an alert it’s trending and this will trigger the algorithm to distribute it more widely.
What this means
The new feature will give Snapchat enough ammunition to fend off its rivals in an ever-changing competitive market for posting trendy videos online, which has been largely controlled by Google’s YouTube, Facebook Inc.’s Instagram, and China-based ByteDance Ltd.’s popularly known TikTok.
Tech Experts anticipate that such a new feature in its trendy app could generate more revenue for the company, as its recent earnings show it has 249 million daily active users in Q3 – such high numbers will attract global brands on advertising and enable more sponsored content.
The investors of the American social media company have earned high returns from its stock in 2020 alone, as its stock has almost tripled this year to a record $45.38million on the bias that an increasing number of young people spend more time on the app.
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