Keep Prying Eyes Away From Your iCloud Pictures

iCloud picture security

 

Your pictures capture important personal memories. You store them in iCloud to ensure they’re safe from crashing PCs or malware disasters. But are they really safe?

OK, you’re unlikely to fall victim to unscrupulous hackers who mercilessly stalk the rich and famous, but that doesn’t mean you can be relaxed about the security measures you take to protect your photos.

To help you rest easy at night knowing your pictures are safe and sound, here’s a 5 step process that will make sure prying eyes can’t get near your photos.

1. Controlled backup

The first stage is to know what data is being backed up to your iCloud.

Go to Settings > iCloud and you’ll see a list of apps and services that automatically backup to the cloud. All you have to do is switch on or off the ones you want to be backed up.

2. Powerful passwords

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the importance of strong passwords. Even though Apple places a restriction on the number of password attempts, it’s essential you create a strong password. That means using upper and lowercase, plus numbers and symbols to create a password that you can remember and that’s super strong.

3. Two-factor authentication

The two-factor authentication feature adds an extra layer of security. To enable it, go to Settings > iCloud > Password & Security > turn on two-factor authentication.

Now, when you sign into your account, you’ll be asked to enter your password and a verification code that will be sent to your phone when you login.

4. Switch off iCloud

After having said how great iCloud is, this might seem a bit of an odd one to you.

The problem with storing your precious memories in the cloud is that you don’t have control as to how they are stored, so if you’d rather not use iCloud and prefer to backup to an external hard drive, go to Settings > iCloud and scroll to the bottom. Here you’ll find the option to ‘Sign out’.

5. Manual backup

If you decide to go with our last suggestion and switch off automatic backups to iCloud, you’ll have to backup manually using iTunes.

Yes, it’s a pain, but you do at least get to control where your backup is stored.

First, make sure you’re running the latest version of iTunes, then connect your iOS device and choose File > Device > Backup.

Once you’ve done that, open iTunes preferences and select the Devices tab. This will show you the name of the device and the date and time iTunes created the backup.

 

There you go – that’s how you can either make sure your iCloud account remains safe from hackers, or backup your pictures using iTunes. Whichever method you choose, stick to our advice to make sure your memories stay safe and secure.

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

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

How Well Do You Know The Company That’s Hosting Your Website?

When hosting goes wrong

Your website is your business so your choice of hosting company is important.

What would you do if it suddenly vanished?

Panic?

Well that’s exactly what happened to some of 123.reg’s customers.

According to a recent story on the BBC website in April, the web hosting firm accidentally deleted an unspecified number of its customers’ websites.

So what happened?

Well, many of its clients use a virtual private server (VPS), a machine that hosts hundreds of websites, but mimics the functionality of a private server. The company said that while performing a “clean-up” operation on its VPS systems a coding error in its software “effectively deleted” customers websites.

Wow!

Of course, you would think that a company like 123.reg that hosts about 1.7m sites in the UK could have a backup in case this type of things happen, wouldn’t you?

They don’t.

They told the BBC it didn’t have a backup copy of all its customers’ data, but was working with a data recovery specialist to “manage the process of restoration.” In other words, it was advising its customers to rebuild their own websites with their own backup data.

What?

The went on to say:

“Our VPS product is an unmanaged service and we always recommend that customers implement backups to safeguard against unexpected issues,” the company said.

“Customers who had purchased 123-reg backups can be online now.”

“Many of our customers keep their own backups.”

The data loss left the affected online businesses without a website and the company has been flooded with messages on social media criticising them for their lack of communication.

In an email sent to its customers, 123-reg said it had “begun copying recovered VPS images to new hosts” and expected some websites to be restored overnight.

It said it would audit all its automated scripts and prevent customer websites from being deleted without human approval in the future.

Little comfort for those businesses affected.

Who’s hosting your website?

This highlights the need for diligence when choosing your hosting company.

Granted, issues like this can’t be foreseen, especially by you, but by opting for a local company over a huge player could be a good option.

For a start you should be able to get answers out of them quickly should the worse happen. But mainly, using a local supplier will mean you’re going to be more than just another sale to them.

Big isn’t always best.

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

Source: BBC

 

Say Farewell to OneDrive’s Unlimited Storage for Office 365 Users

OneDrive cloud storage changes

 

Once upon a time, paying Office 365 subscribers enjoyed unlimited OneDrive storage, increasing the platform’s competitiveness against the likes of Google Drive and Dropbox. But now Microsoft has changed its mind because, apparently, the unlimited storage privilege had been abused by some users.

According to their official blog:

“Since starting to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings.”

They also added that, in some cases, users used 75TB of storage, which is 14,000 times the average used by Office 365 subscribers.

The changes mean that subscribers for Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 University will go back to a 1TB limit for OneDrive storage. If you are on one of these plans and currently have more than 1TB stored in your OneDrive account, you can keep the increased space for 12 months.

To sum up:

  • Microsoft is offering pro-rated refunds to users who decide ti withdraw from their Office 365 subscription
  • Paid users of OneDrive will also experience downgrades, with the 100GB and 200GB storage options being replaced by a 50GB service for a monthly fee of $1.99 (currently standalone storage plans won’t be affected)
  • Free storage on OneDrive will decrease from 5GB to 15GB for all new and current users, with the bonus of 15GB for camera roll storage also being discontinued

Not such great news if you use the service.

It will be interesting to see how many current users will move their cloud storage services in light of Microsoft’s changes.

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

 

Source: Techtimes

 

7 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy

Internet privacy

The Internet has undoubtedly made your life easier.

You can find just about anything on it from the comfort of your own home and has made shopping around a lot easier.

As a business owner its transparency means you can use your website analytics to help define effective marketing campaigns. Mind you its transparency isn’t always good because it’s helped agencies such as GCHQ to develop tools and techniques to “snoop” on what people are doing whilst online.

You may think that’s a good thing, especially in today’s terrorist threats, but so you really want ad agencies scooping up information about your web movements so they can sell them on to the highest bidder?

If you’d rather they didn’t, here are a few tips to help you.

1. Search engines

Google is the number one search engine of choice for most people, but it also makes oodles of cash tracking your searches by selling on their data to advertisers.

How can you browse in peace? Well, the simple answer is to switch from Google to one of the smaller engines such as Blekko and DuckDuckGo.

2. Internet browsing

If you’re a Mac user you probably use Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari, but you guessed it, they all snoop on you and track your searches even if you’re using private search mode.

If you want the snooping to stop switch to Firefox, Tor or Opera.

3. Email

You probably remember a while ago the fuss and bother that hit the fan when it came to light that Hotmail and Gmail were scrutinising the content of your emails. Again, the simple answer is to switch to a provider that encrypts your emails to keep them safe from prying eyes – such as Hushmail and Zixmail.

Mind you, changing email addresses is a bit of a faff, so I guess this one depends on how much you want to protect what you’re sending to people.

4. Social networks

These are the biggest giveaways of personal data. They are regularly trawled by hackers, criminals and the police. Pulling away from the digital social scene entirely may not be your cup of tea, so use them wisely and always be on your guard.

5. Encrypting files

For some this may seem a bit over the top, but if you’re serious about protecting your privacy encrypting all your files is the way to go.

Its a great way to keep all your files secure whether you’re sending them over the internet, backing them up or carrying them around on your laptop. The best place to start is by encrypting your hard drive.

Goof encryption tools include VeraCrypt and AxCrypt and if you use Windows 7 or 8 you can use BitLocker. Of course, your encryption is only as good as your secure password!

If you store you data in the cloud use a product such as BullGuard Backup.

6. Internet service providers

Yes, you guessed it, most of the popular ISPs also monitor your internet usage – including chat services, videos and Skype.

If you want to stop their income-generating fun try one of these services – VoxOx instead of Skype and Google Hangouts, Vimeo and Veoh rather than YouTube, Tresorit instead of Dropbox and Google Drive, and Crypto.cat and Pidgin.im rather than Gchat or Facebook chat.

7. Smartphones

The easiest way to stop apps from snooping is to ditch your smartphone and go back to your old school Nokia.

That might be a bit extreme, so how about switching off location services and turn off the apps that track you in the background. A useful app that roots out those that snoop is Protect My Privacy, which is available for both Android and iPhone.

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.com

Is Online Storage Worth the Money?

Online storage security isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – you only have to look at the celebrity news to work that one out, namely Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlet Johannson’s recent nude photo leaks.

You may have heard that Apple’s iCloud storage system has recently changed it’s pricing plan so you only get 5GB free storage. If you want more you have to pay a monthly fee.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper (and safer) in the long run to buy a hard drive to store your photos, videos and files?

There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument: online storage is convenient and easy to use, but you’re placing all your trust in a third party’s security provision. So what other solutions are there?

Well how about the diskGenie from iStorage? It offers powerful encryption in a compact, portable device and comes with a 3 year warranty.

Also featuring AES 256 bit real time hardware encryption, it protects the data on the drive keeping it safe even if the hard drive is removed from its enclosure. Quite simply, the iStorage diskGenie is the ultimate portable hard drive and secure storage system.

With no software to install, easy setup and real-time encryption, the diskGenie is the best way to protect your data, customers and your business.

Its low powered, compact, robust design features a 16-point omni-directional shock mounting system, protecting the drive from drops and knocks. It is perfect for safely transporting data between office and home as well as storing photos, music and video files.

The diskGenie also offers stress free deployment in corporate environments whilst adding secure additional capacity to your system. Allowing the enrolment of up to ten unique user IDs and one administrator, it is an unparalleled business collaboration tool.

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

Cloud Computing: The Fall of Legacy Tapes

If ever there was a strong case for turning to the Cloud, it’s the future (or rather lack of) of legacy cloud servicestapes.

Legacy tapes are backups that tend to sit in expensive offsite storage vaults. Many of them are of no use, but have to be kept due to legal, compliance and regulatory purposes.

The bigger issue however, is that many of the irreplaceable tape backups are inaccessible because modern machines can’t handle legacy formats.

So there’s a whole lot of backup data out there that can’t be used. The answer for many companies is to retain old hardware just so the tapes can be accessed should the need arise.

But this is just part of a wider IT problem facing many companies.

According to research conducted by EMC, estimated unscheduled downtime costs UK businesses £379,519 per year, which doesn’t include security breaches or data loss. The study showed that globally, IT and senior business executives found that reduced investments in critical areas of IT (e.g. continuous availability, integrated backup and advanced security) hampered IT resilience and recovery after downtime.

Even if downtime is short, there is an immediate impact on the business, which is where the Cloud comes into its own.

The main advantages are:

  • Greater flexibility by adapting bandwidth as the business grows
  • Cloud computing providers take on most issues related to disaster recovery, restoring services faster
  • Businesses benefit from automatic software updates (including security updates)
  • Reduces capital expenditure
  • Employees can work from anywhere
  • Greener way of working
  • Greater security

The pay as you go feature of many Cloud services make it affordable for all businesses. Considering its flexibility and security advantages, it’s definitely an option all companies should investigate, negating the need for expensive offsite storage and backups that could, potentially, become obsolete.

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

 

 

Why Backing-up to an Internal Hard Drive Isn’t a Great Idea

This post is short and sweet, but still very important.

On the face of it, an internal back-up is a great idea.

It can work away to its heart’s content, backing everything up as you go without any downtime.

Plus, if your main hard drive crashes, you can restore your files quickly and easily.

But what happens if someone steals your computer? Your hard drive and your back-up are gone and so are all your files. Similarly, you could lose everything should you experience fire, flood or even a power surge.

There’s also human error to consider. If your internal back-up mirrors your hard drive and you accidentally overwrite a file, it will be overwritten on your back-up too.

None of those scenarios are good. That’s why you should always have an external back-up of your files. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and could save you a lot of time, stress and money.

Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

That might sound like an odd question, but it has been prompted by an article by Simon Secure cloud storageQuicke in MicroScope.co.uk.

According to Simon, research carried out by Varonis highlights that many senior managers only have a loose grip on understanding where their information is stored. In fact, 67% of companies surveyed admitted that their senior management had no idea where their data was, with 74% having no formal process for tracking files that had been placed in the cloud.

Very disturbing reading.

Not only that, but only 9% of companies had a process in place to authorise and review those accessing hosted information with a whopping 68% having no plans to introduce such secure procedures.

The article went on to quote David Gibson, VP of strategy at Varonis:

“The results clearly show a lack of control by those organizations that have adopted cloud file sync services.

“The most disturbing findings were the number of companies that report they have no way to track what data is being stored in the cloud, no process to manage access to that data (or plans to do so), and that management doesn’t know where enterprise data is stored. This should act as a wake-up call for organizations to develop a conscious strategy to ensure secure collaboration as quickly as possible.”

Are you using the cloud? If so, do you know where all your data is? And do you have security procedure in place?

If not – why not?

When Was Your Last Security Audit?

Picture this…scream

It’s the middle of the night, you’re drifting off into a wonderful dream. Suddenly, you are rudely awoken by your phone. You try to ignore it, but its incessant ringing drags you back to full consciousness. As you listen to the frantic voice at the other end, in seconds, you are wide awake…

“We’ve had a disaster, we’ve lost the lot!”

IT has made all our lives a lot easier, but when it goes wrong it can cause a major disaster.

Did you know that due to inadequate responses to a disaster:

  • 70% of companies who suffer an IT disaster go bust within 18 months
  • 90% of business interruptions were caused by IT hardware and software problems
  • £1.1 billion was lost to British industry in 1997 due to IT disasters

How prepared are you?

Do you know how vulnerable your company is?

What would you do if you lost your computer systems?

If you answered ‘don’t know’ to either of those questions, you need some help.

Your IT infrastructure is the life blood of your company, without it you’re going know where. Just think about how much that will cost you – if everything came to a grinding halt.

That’s why it’s essential you invest in regular security audits. By having a full review of your systems carried out, you will understand how you can best protect your business.

Make sure you’re fully protected for a safe and prosperous 2012.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides full IT security audits for sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.