Why You Should Avoid Using Public WiFi

Using public WiFi is a no-no unless you want to hand your private data over to hackers.

This is another example of how to fight hackers. We’ve already looked at two-factor authentication and encryption.

Public WiFi might seem like the perfect way to make your monthly-allocated data usage go further, but it’s fraught with dangers.

Public WiFi opens the door to hackers

When you’re out and about, your smartphone will detect many WiFi networks. Some will be locked, requiring a password to log on. Others will purport to be public access, free services.

However, the thing you have to remember is that these free, public access networks are also insecure.

What does that mean?

It means that when you use them, everything you type is in clear text and can be read, accessed, recorded or taken over by anyone with the correct equipment.

Can you make public WiFi safe?

If you rely on these public WiFi services, there is a solution to remove, or at least reduce the risk of hacking.

The solution is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which scrambles your communications making them unreadable.

If a VPN isn’t provided by a business firewall, you can buy applications for about £3 a month. These will scramble all communications through insecure connections.  Once a VPN is being used, there’s no way the ISP or anyone else can read or record what you’re browsing.

The moral of this post

If you have to use public WiFi when you’re out and about, make sure you use a virtual private network. If you don’t you run the risk of losing your privacy and, possibly, your data.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages.  

 

Protect The Data From Your Smart Devices

Are you concerned about protecting the data from your smart devices?

Are you worried they may be transmitting data back to the manufacturer?

Not worried?

That’s because you don’t what sort of data they are gathering.

Does a smart toy need to collect a child’s interactions? Does your smart TV need to send data on your viewing habits to hundreds of other companies?

How to protect your smart device data

Most companies are less than transparent with users when it comes to telling them how they are collecting data, what data they are gathering, how they are using it, or whether they are selling it onto third parties.

It’s usually available if you know where to look for it. A hint – take a look at the impenetrable terms and conditions.

Here are a few steps you can take to protect your smart devices (courtesy of Bullguard):

  • Smart devices come with an app or web interface so you can set them to operate according to your preferences. Some have privacy controls so you can explore the app/web interface so see exactly what these controls are and whether you can adjust the settings to control the data that is collected and shared.

  • When you register a smart device or sign up for a service, set up a separate email account that you use specifically for this purpose. You can use different names and so on, so if something goes wrong, your actual data won’t be compromised.

  • Google and Apple are increasingly taking steps to protect privacy. B their operating systems, now give you greater control over what data smartphone apps can access. Check the settings menus in your device for these features.

In addition to these, you should also:

  • Set strong passwords– To improve security you should set a strong yet but memorable password or passphrase. You should also do this on your router.
  • Keep your software up to date –  Some smart devices will update automatically, but it’s worth checking the device or app periodically.
  • Voice-controlled smart devices, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, are vulnerable to the simplest hack – someone else talking to them. You can turn off voice purchasing from the Echo’s Alexa app, or you can set up a four-digit passcode to give an extra layer of security.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages.

Take Control Of Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Facebook data breach hits Android users

 

Your Facebook privacy settings are important.

Back in April, we wrote about the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica data saga.

Despite Facebook’s attempt at smoothing things over, the scale of this violation illustrates how Facebook’s infrastructure was designed to work.

It wasn’t so much as a data breach, as it was a way of operating for commercial reasons. It all came down to Facebook’s terms of service. Its API was structured to allow third-party developers to raid user data without consequence.

Why?

Simply because it is an effective way to push ad revenue and digital activity.

Of course, now Facebook is saying that developers abused it. But the evidence suggests they encouraged app developers to do this.

Take control of your Facebook privacy settings

One way to make sure your data isn’t pillaged it to ‘trash and burn’ your Facebook account

But for some, cutting themselves off from their social media online lives is a step too far.

If you are one such person, here are some simple steps you can take that will stop apps and websites accessing information like your friend list, gender and information you’ve made public.

You can just disable all apps on your account, but that means you won’t be able to log into sites using your Facebook login. Plus, you won’t be to use games or apps via your Facebook account, including apps such as Twitter, Instagram and others.

What you can do is:

  • Go to the small triangle at the top right hand corner of the page, click on it and scroll down to ‘Settings’ and click on it
  • On the left hand side click on the Apps icon
  • From there, click the ‘Edit’ button under ‘Apps, Websites and Plugins.’
  • Click ‘Disable Platform.’

If you don’t want to disable all apps on the same page, you can limit the type of information that apps access:

  • From the same page, click ‘Edit’ under ‘Apps Others Use’
  • Then uncheck the types of information that you don’t want apps to be able to access

Isn’t it time you took back control of your data?

Password Protect Your Browser

password protect your browser

 

Do you need to password protect your browser?

If you happen to be lucky enough to own a PC or laptop that only you use, the answer is no. But not everyone is that fortunate.

Sharing your PC

A lot of families share a single PC. Therefore, user privacy is pretty important. That’s why it’s a great idea to password protect your browser.

It’s not hard to do. Here is a quick guide on how to do it for the most popular browsers: Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.

Internet Explorer

  • In Internet Explorer click on the cog icon in the top right-hand corner
  • A drop-down menu appears – click on Tools and then in the box that appears click on the ‘Content’ tab at the top
  • Then enable the Content Advisor. Click OK and enter a Default Supervisor password
  • The next step is to set the password
  • To do so, click on Settings and then General tab in the Content Advisor
  • Tick the second user option which says “The supervisor password allows you to…”
  • Click on Change Password and Choose a password
  • There is also a rating slider you can use. If you slide it to ‘None’ no website can be opened without a password

The content control in the Internet Explorer browser is now password protected. It’s also worth noting that you will be prompted for your password every time you access the content control panel.

Chrome

  • Password protecting the Chrome Browser is done by installing a simple extension
  • This is called the Simple Startup Password. Just click on the link and install it
  • After installation click on the spanner icon next to the address bar
  • Then go to Options and then Extension Tab
  • Search for Simple Startup Password, click on the Options for that Extension and then enter your password
  • Next time you use Chrome a box will appear asking you to ‘Enter browser startup password’

Firefox

Firefox provides the option to set up a master password for entering the stored passwords you may have asked it to save for websites or online accounts you use frequently. You can stop other people accessing these stored passwords by setting up a master password.

  • Go to the Menu bar and the three horizontal lines in the far right corner
  • Click on this and from the drop-down menu choose Options
  • In the options window on the left-hand side, you will see Privacy & Security
  • Click on this and tick the master password box
  • In the box that appears enter your password

The next time you open Firefox, you will be prompted to enter the master password when you try to enter stored passwords into websites.

That’s all there is to it.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages

Can You Be Anonymous Online?

How to be anonymous online

 

When we talk about being anonymous online, we’re not thinking about it in a creepy stalker kind of way. Instead, we’re thinking about how companies, hackers and the government are keeping an eye on us.

Have you noticed that you can’t browse the internet these days without adverts for the products you’ve been looking at popping up on your social media feeds?

The truth is that internet privacy is very poor. However, there are a few things you can do to enhance your privacy.

This list was created by BullGuard. You don’t have to follow all of them, but by adopting one or two you could enjoy a little more anonymity online.

 

  • Anonymising operating systems

Most of us use standard operating systems such a Windows or MacOS. However, there are other operating systems we can use that anonymise users. For instance Tails is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a USB stick or a DVD. Tails preserves your privacy and anonymity; all connections to the Internet go through Tor network nodes which ensure users are anonymous. There are operating systems which provide anonymity such as Ironkey Workspace, ZeusGuard and Qubes OS.

  • The value of VPNs

A virtual private network (VPN) anonymises your web surfing and keeps your communications private. They are specifically built to make your internet connection more difficult to identify and track as well as encrypting your communications.

  • Tor browser

Tor is often thought of as a browser which it is, but is also much more. It’s a system consisting of tools, browsers, application programming interfaces and a network all dedicated to helping you stay anonymous online. When you use the Tor browser you enter a Tor network path and the traffic to and from your destination is routed through a random set of Tor network nodes. Tor is one of the best ways to stay anonymous when combined with other privacy tools.

  • Privacy Badger

Privacy Badger is a browser plug-in offered by the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Available for Chrome and Firefox, it stops advertisers and third-party trackers from tracking your web browsing, including what pages you visit. It watches third-party domains that place images, scripts and advertising in web pages you visit and stop them from tracking you.

  • Free applications can track you

Free applications come with a price. If an application is free and it isn’t designed to protect your privacy and its popular then it’s very likely that it contacts servers and send back information about how you are using the product.

  • Privacy testing

If you have a few privacy features in place the Electronic Freedom Foundation provides a service to assess how well they are working. Simply click through to this page and click the Test Me button.

  • ‘Private’ search engines

Popular search engines like Google and Bing keep track of your searches so they can target ads at you. The DuckDuckGo browser is designed to protect your privacy so your searches aren’t tracked.

  • Sharing files anonymously

Dropbox is very popular file sharing service. But as Edward Snowden said it is “hostile to privacy.” A free alternative that enables anonymity is OnionShare. It’s available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu.

  • Delete cookies and browsing history

It’s a good idea to regularly clean out cookies that websites use to track you and your browsing history. These can be used to identify where you’ve been. CCleaner is a useful free tool that enables you to do this quickly. There are others too.

Privacy is a basic right we all have. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you gain control of your online life.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages

Source: BullGuard

Why You Should Think Twice Before Sharing Your Location Online

don't share your location

 

It’s good to share – at least that’s what many of today’s apps would like you to believe.

Foursquare, Facebook, Swarm and Twitter encourage you to check-in everywhere you go. Now, for most of us, that’s not a big deal. However, if you’re one of those people with hundreds and thousands of followers, are you sure sharing is safe?

The potential harm

You might think this is a fuss over nothing and, to be honest, 90% of the time sharing your location is completely harmless. But, the potential for crime is real.

There have been instances where burglars have monitored social media so the can target houses of those posting idyllic photos of their beach holiday.

Sharing your location can lead to unwanted visitors – how about a jealous ex turning up unannounced? OK, this in all likelihood is rare, but it could happen.

Sharing safely

We don’t want to be a party pooper, and you can enjoy these apps safely. The key is to make sure you know who you’re sharing your location information with. Rather than broadcasting your location publicly, think about who you want to see where you are.

Panda Security offers these tips:

Apple

Tools like Apple’s iMessage allow you to send pinpoint locations to specific contacts for instance – perfect when you’re trying to organise a meeting, or when one of your friends gets lost on the way. Find My Friends, another Apple app, allows family members and close friends to keep tabs on each other all the time – so long as they agree to sharing their location first.

Android

For Android users, Panda Mobile Security limits sharing personal information through the Privacy Auditor. It shows the permissions required by the apps installed on your device (access to contacts, bank account data, photos, your location, etc.). With a quick look you’ll decide which apps can have access to your location.

Google Maps offers similar functionality – but to maintain your privacy you must set a time limit for sharing. This means your contacts will only see where you are for a few hours or days, reducing the risk of someone you don’t want following you around.

So there are ways you can share your location safely.

Above all:

  • Don’t share your location blindly to everyone
  • Regularly check your sharing permissions
  • use privacy-based apps like iMessage, Find My Friends and Google Maps

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Panda Security

Stay Secure With Two-Factor Authentication

keep data safe

 

Two-factor authentication is a way of adding a second layer of protection to the standard password method of identification.

It’s free and easy to use but isn’t infallible. Critics are quick to point out that because you normally have to use your phone number, it’s just one more bit of information you’re handing over to a third party. However, it is a good step towards protecting your online accounts.

How to use two-factor authentication

To help you boost your online security, here are details of how to use two-factor authentication on your favourite sites.

Paypal

  • Log in to your account on the website. Click on your profile icon then Profile and then settings
  • On the left side of the page, click My Settings and scroll to the bottom of the page
  • Find Security Key and click on Get Started to the right. You’ll have to enter your password again before continuing
  • Your Security Key page will have a message that says there are no keys currently activated
  • Click on the Get Security Key link at the bottom of the page and follow the prompts
  • You’ll then need to enter a phone number. A confirmation code is then sent to the phone number you specify via text
  • The security key page will then list your phone number, and every time you access your account you will need to enter your password and then phone number

Facebook

  • Sign in to your Facebook account. Click the drop-down arrow in the top-right corner and choose Settings
  • Select Security in the left pane, then click Edit to the right of Login Approvals
  • Next, check ‘Require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers’
  • A window opens explaining how log-in approvals work
  • Follow the prompts, which include adding a phone number to your account and entering a confirmation code that will be sent to your number
  • You can also take advantage of the code generator feature within Facebook’s mobile applications
  • The code generator is found within the app by sliding out the More menu and scrolling down to the Settings section
  • There you will find a Code Generator option, which will display a six-digit code when launched

Yahoo

  • Yahoo’s two-step verification can be setup by visiting your account settings page
  • Click on Account Security on the left side of the page
  • At the bottom of the list will be a switch to enable two-step verification. Sliding it to the On position will bring up a prompt asking you for your phone number
  • Enter your number, then click either Send SMS or Call Me to receive a confirmation code
  • Enter the code when you receive it, and you’re done

Dropbox

  • Log in to your Dropbox account from a Web browser, then open the menu in the top-right corner and head to Settings and then Security
  • Click Enable next to the Status for Two-step verification. After entering your password, you’ll be prompted to pick a method of receiving authentication codes in the future
  • You’ll need to choose between receiving codes via SMS or using an authenticator app. SMS only requires a phone number, and you’re set

If you plan to use an authenticator app, follow these steps:

  • Scan the barcode with your authenticator app of choice
  • Enter the six-digit code from SMS or the authenticator app into box on the website
  • Dropbox will show you a 16-digit code to be used in case you lose your device. Keep this emergency backup code in a safe place
  • Click Enable and you’re all set

LinkedIn

  • Open the top-right menu and click on Manage next to Privacy & Settings
  • On the tabs along the bottom-left-hand side, click Account > Manage security settings (bottom of the left column)
  • Under Two-step verification for sign-in, click Turn On. Enter a reliable cell phone number and then click Send Code
  • Enter the code you receive via SMS to log back into the LinkedIn website

Twitter

  • Setting up Twitter’s two-factor authentication requires you to use a computer and visit your security settings page
  • Tick the box next to ‘Send login verification requests to (my number)
  • If you don’t already have a phone number attached to your account, follow the prompts to add one
  • With the box is ticked you’ll receive a series of prompts letting you know that the service is about to be enabled and that you need to connect your mobile phone number to your Twitter account

No security system is completely infallible, but by using the two-factor authenticator system, you’re at least taking the right steps to keep your data safe from prying eyes.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Yahoo Hack Once Again Highlights Online Security

Password management paradox

 

Last year, Yahoo disclosed that one billion accounts were compromised in an attack that took place in August 2013. That’s on top of the 500 million accounts that were breached in a separate incident in 2014.

The breached data included names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, hashed passwords, and a mix of encrypted and unencrypted security questions and answers, although according to Yahoo it didn’t include unencrypted passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account information.

This incident once again highlights the issues with online security. Hacked email accounts cause all sorts of problems.

They can be used to send out junk messages; your contacts can be harvested and then be inundated with malware spam and phishing attacks and of course they can be used to impersonate you.

If you sign up with an online service, it will almost certainly require you to supply an email address. If a hacker gets this information, they can reset the password by requesting a password reset email and take control of your account.

So how can you stay safe even when trusted companies are falling prey to hackers?

It’s all in the password

Always use strong passwords of at least 8 to 10 characters, consisting of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

If this is difficult to remember you can base it on a phrase, you will remember, such as “I like eating bread with butter and sauce” becomes: ‘iLEt!ngB&bWs0’ or some other variation that you choose.
Hackers find these types of passwords extremely difficult to crack.

Get protected

One of the best ways to add an extra layer of security is to install internet security. Here at MPM, we recommend BullGuard Internet Security, which offers protection against phishing emails, spam, malicious links and all forms of malware.

If you receive an email with a malicious link embedded in the email body or as an attachment, it will get flagged.

To go one step further, BullGuard Premium Protection includes robust identity protection. It searches the web, including the dark web, for your personal information such as email addresses and bank details. If it finds this information, for instance on a deep web hacking forum, you receive immediate notification.

Together with a strong password, these tools will keep you and your family safe from all types of hacks, protecting your personal information at all times.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Bullguard

How Does The Snoopers’ Charter Affect You?

Snoopers' charter

 

The Snoopers’ Charter – what do you know about it?

Well, its other name is The Investigatory Powers Act 2016. It means that 48 different organisations (including the Ministry of Defence and the Food Standards Agency) can now legally view your internet history, among other things.

Before you start to panic, it doesn’t mean that you are always being monitored. But it does mean that web and phone companies are now legally obliged to store records of the websites you visit and keep them for 12 months, and must hand the information over to any of the 48 organisations that request it.

And before you think that deleting your internet history will our fox them, think again. That only destroys your copy if the data.

Having said that there are some things you can do to preserve your online privacy:

VPN

The use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the most practical ways you can hide your location online. It acts like a ‘middle man”, requesting the websites you want and sending it back to you. Any websites you visit would then be attributed to the VPN itself, rather than your computer.

Block web trackers

Even with a VPN, your data could still be collected. Even data that does identify you personally is valuable, particularly to advertisers. To stop this going through, you can get a web browser extension such as Ghostery. This will show you all the trackers running on each website, and you can select which ones you want to block.

Use encrypted chat

If you’re worried about your chat logs being accessed, we’d recommend you use WhatsApp or iMessage because they encrypt your conversations at both ends, so the conversation stays between the people that are involved.

There is one drawback though because part of the Snoopers’ Charter allows the 48 organisations to hack into your devices legally. There’s not much you can do to prevent investigators getting from doing this and downloading your data regardless of which encrypted messenger app you were using.

Don’t panic

Even thought this sounds scary, don’t panic about it. If investigators want access to your computer or device, there’s very little you could do to prevent it even before the Snoopers’ Charter passed. We learned through Edward Snowden that this information was being collected illegally, it is the fact that it has become legal which has privacy advocates concerned.

In all honesty, as a personal user, you’re more likely to have trouble from cyber criminals than the Government hacking into your devices.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: Transcendit

Protect Your iCloud Pictures From Prying Eyes

iCloud security

You probably have loads of pictures stored in iCloud.

You’re probably not a world-famous celebrity, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take their security seriously. After all, do you really want to run the risk of your personal photos making their way on the web?

To help you keep your images safe from prying eyes, here’s how to make sure you have the tightest possible security for your iCloud pictures.

1 – Control what is backup to iCloud

Head over to ‘Settings’ and then scroll down to ‘iCloud’. You will see a list of apps and services that are automatically backing up information to the cloud.

By turning off apps and photos you can effectively control what is backed up to iCloud.

2 – Reset your password

There’s no getting away from the fact that the best security comes from strong passwords.

Hackers used to gain access by using a tools that ran through likely password combinations until they found the right one. Apple has now placed restrictions on the number of password attempts that can be made, but it’s still a good idea to have a strong password that can’t be cracked.

You can do this by using a combination of upper and lowercase characters, numbers and symbols.

3 – Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication improves the security of your Apple ID and all the personal information you store with Apple.

  • Go to Settings > iCloud > tap your Apple ID
  • Tap Password & Security
  • Tap Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

When you want to sign into your account in the future, you’ll be required to enter your regular password followed by a verification code that will be sent to your phone at the time of login.

4 – Turn off iCloud

One way of beating the hackers is simply not to use iCloud.

If you don’t want to use the service, go to ‘Settings’ then ‘iCloud’ and scroll down to the bottom where you’ll see ‘Sign out’. Click on this and you’ll get the option to delete your account.

Alternatively, you can turn off the iCloud drive.

5 – Manually back up using iTunes

If you decide not to use iCloud, you’ll have to manually back-up your content using iTunes, giving you more control of where your backup is stored.

Once you’ve made sure you’re running the latest versions of iTunes, connect your iOS device to your computer, choose ‘File’ > ‘Devices’ > ‘Backup’

If you’re using iTunes 10.7 or earlier you can right-click the device from the list and choose Backup Now.  Once finished, open iTunes preferences and select the Devices tab. Here you’ll see the name of the device along with the date and time iTunes creates the backup.

 

By using one of these simple work arounds you can make sure your photos are kept safe from hackers – regardless of whether you’re a celebrity or not.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: BullGuard