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Like winter, Comic-Con 2014 is coming to San Diego. However, instead of bringing direwolves, white walkers, and the occasional dragon or three [or, at least, in addition to these], we can expect over 100,000 attendees to march on America’s Finest City between July 24-27, in search of not just comics, but such treasure as the latest in news on movies and books, not to mention a few collectible items of their favorite characters.
Over the past few years, Comic-Con has had over 130,000 attendees, and those attendees tend to be more digitally literate than other groups, so that means we will probably see well over double that number of connected devices in the form of laptops, tablets, smartphones and perhaps even tricorders. With that in mind, we have conjured up the following tips to keep your digital companions safe while in San Diego for Comic-Con 2014 (and possibly other parts of the multiverse as well)…
Tip # (there can be only) 1: Turn off Bluetooth, cellular, NFC and Wi-Fi radios on your tablets, smartphones, etc., when not in use. Not only will this will save battery life, it will prevent unwanted connections from other devices. Also, be careful about using public Wi-Fi.
Tip # 2: Install anti-theft software on laptops, smartphones and tablets. That way, if your device gets lost, stolen or enters a pocket dimension, you have a better chance of recovering it.
Tip # 3: Password-protect and encrypt any computing devices you take with you. While this will not stop cat burglars, jewel thieves or plain old villainous scum from stealing them, it will help ensure your private information remains private, and choosing a strong password helps ensure it will take even the smartest android in Starfleet years, if not decades, to brute force or guess it. For tips on creating strong passwords, see this presentation on passwords and PINs.
Tip # (fantastic) 4: Upload any videos and pictures you have recorded on a daily basis, if not more frequently. That way, if your device gets lost or stolen, or the SD Card or drive fails, you will still have a copy of that favorite interview or awesome cosplay.
Tip # 5 (is alive): Even if your electronic devices are too big to fit into the hotel safe, their storage cards will fit, and some laptops even have hard disk drives that can be easily removed, too. If your hotel safe allows you to set a PIN to unlock it, see the presentation mentioned in tip #3, above, for a list of PINs not to use.
Tip # (sinister) 6: If you are buying collectibles with digital storage, such as USB flash drives, be sure any autorun or autoplay are disabled on your computer before plugging them in, and prepare to format them the first time you use them. Better yet, since collectibles are always more valuable left in their original packaging, it might be best to leave them that way. Likewise, if you come across any USB flash drives, SD Cards or other media lying around, do not insert them into unsecured computers. It could be a trap! Turn them in to Lost and Found, instead.
Tip # 007: You might see a few public charging stations for smartphones and tablets. If you have brought your own AC adapter or a battery pack, it is safe to “top off” these devices from charging stations. But be wary of outlets providing USB connectors, which might be used to copy files off of your device or install unwanted programs.
Tip # 8 (bit): We estimate over an additional quarter of a million wireless devices will be in San Diego the week of Comic-Con, which means it is likely Internet connections, especially Wi-Fi and 3G/4G, will be slow. Be sure to update and patch your operating systems, perform full system backups and update your security software before you begin your quest.
Regardless of whether you are guarding the galaxy or merely intend to kick back, relax and take in the sights of Comic-Con 2014, here are some related articles you might find of interest from We Live Security:
And, from We Live Security’s sister site, GoExplore.Net:
You might also find the personal blog posts from ESET employees of use as well:
Lastly, I’d like to provide one little tip for those of you who might be flying into San Diego: if you get a window seat on the left side of the airplane, you’ll see ESET’s office just before you land. And, perhaps, if you stop by the office, we’ll have some special collectible items just for you.
In the meantime, we hope that you have the Best. Time. Ever. at Comic-Con!
Kudos to my fellow crime-fighters Bruce P. Burrell, Lysa Myers and Daniel Womack for their super-powered assistance with this article.
Aryeh Goretsky, MVP, ZCSE
Author Aryeh Goretsky, ESET