Data Breaches – What Do They Mean To You?

Data breaches are happening all the time. Every month another story breaks.

How do you react when you hear them?

Do you shrug and think ‘it won’t happen to me’, or does it make you sit up and think about your data security?

Here’s an interesting post we found on BullGuard’s blog that we wanted to share with you.

Data breaches are real

Mega data breaches come so thick and fast and the numbers are so large they become abstract. It’s reached a point where we can’t help but glaze over and often because the numbers are impossibly huge.

It’s easy to visualise 100, 5,000 and even 50,000 hacked data records because we can picture that many people.

Verifications.io data breach

The latest data exposure affected 808,539,849 records and while the preciseness of the number is helpful it’s still an impossibly large number for most people to make sense of.

But wait for it; the exposure figures were revised and now it is believed that 2,069,145,043 total records from all over the world were exposed. That’s over two billion.

The exposed data belonged to a company called Verfications.io. Four databases were compromised. Verfications.io describes itself as an email marketing firm with a particular specialisation in circumventing spam traps and bouncing emails.

We can also describe it as one of those companies that operate in the shadowy data economy, trading in huge quantities of personal user data.

Why it happened

The exposed data breakdown figures from just one database are as follows:

  • Email records – 798,171,891 records
  • Email with Phone – 4,150,600 records
  • Business leads = 6,217,358 records

The records were not encrypted but stored in plain text, and it appears the data, from multiple clients, had been pooled. At the time of writing, Verifications.io website is unavailable which isn’t too surprising.

While it is a leak, rather than a hack, the data could well have been downloaded for future devious use such as phishing emails, scams and payment fraud scams. The data could also be sold on hacker forums in a couple of months from now.

Two billion is still an impossibly large number to grasp but the moral of this data exposure is that cyber security is still far too much of an afterthought for many organisations.

What can you do to protect yourself?

In the face of this relentless deluge, we have to protect ourselves because clearly many of the myriad organisations that hold our personal data don’t do enough to keep it safe.

With this is mind BullGuard Premium Protection is the best form or protection available. It safeguards all your personal information, notifying you immediately if it appears on the internet.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages. If you have any questions about Internet Explorer, please get in touch.

Source: BullGuard

Has your iPhone Or iPad stopped charging?

Technology is great when it works. However, now and then it likes to throw a curve ball to remind us how much we rely on it.

Take smartphones as an example, specifically the iPhone (the same applies to iPads).

You may have experienced this situation: your iPhone won’t charge, or charging can be a bit hit and miss.

Your first reaction is probably to head off to town and buy a ridiculously expensive replacement charging lead (aka a Lightning connector). Or, you may decide to get your handset repaired.

Stop.

Before you go down either of those routes, you need to know that there’s a good chance the connectors have become clogged due to small areas of corrosion. So small you can barely see them.

You can easily clean them by:

  • Applying a little WD40 (other specialist contact cleaners are available) to the contacts
  • Using a soft tipped brush or even a pencil eraser to clean the contacts.
  • Gently cleaning the contacts using light pressure

And that’s it. It works and brings device charging up to full throttle. However, don’t use an acidic based fluid to clean the connector, such as lemon juice or vinegar; as this could increase corrosion and drip into the device creating a bit of mess on those finely engineered, expensive electronics.

If you have an iPhone loaded with music that isn’t playing through your speaker dock, or only intermittently, clean the speaker and device contacts using the above method.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages. If you have any questions about Internet Explorer, please get in touch.

Thanks for the tip Bullguard

BullGuard Does It Again

If you take a look at our Internet Security and Anti Virus page, you will discover that we are great advocates of BullGuard.

We’re delighted to tell you that BullGuard has once again been awarded top honours in an AV-Test of anti-virus software for home users.

This is an independent test, which assesses security software from 11 different vendors (on computers running Windows 10).

BullGuard wiped the board, scoring the highest in every category.

We’ll let BullGuard tell you more.

BullGuard wins!

Protection

BullGuard Internet Security gained top marks in the protection category which tested for how well it stopped viruses. Including zero-day threats which often cause the most damage. One example is last year’s WannaCry ransomware, which rampaged around the world in a matter of hours taking out the systems of many high profile organisations.

BullGuard’s multi-layered detection engine is specifically designed to stop all threats from getting through. Including all types of ransomware and crypto-mining malware.

Performance

BullGuard Internet Security also gained top marks for performance. This category assesses how well antivirus software operates on a computer.

Does it slow a computer down; does it interrupt other processes on a computer? No; this is why BullGuard ranked highest.

BullGuard Internet Security boosts performance for gamers. Its Game Booster feature ensures players don’t have to turn off their protection to enjoy blisteringly fast gaming.

Usability

Usability was the third and final category that AV-Test assessed across all the antivirus software suites.

Again, BullGuard achieved full marks. This wasn’t surprising given that one of BullGuard’s guiding design principles is to ensure the software is uncompromisingly easy-to-use.

Too often security software can appear complex for home users. As a dedicated supplier of security software for home users, BullGuard takes the position that the user must be at the centre. As a result, the user control panel is simple-to-use, well-designed and aesthetically pleasing, as AV-Test will testify too.

Everyone at MPM IT wants to extend our congratulations to BullGuard and thank them for providing excellent protection.

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

The World Loses One Of The Internet’s Founding Fathers

On 26th December 2018, the world lost Dr Larry Roberts aged 81.

The American scientist helped design and build the forerunner of the internet along with Bob Kahn, Vint Cerf, and Len Kleinrock.

The report from the BBC went on to say:

The son of two chemists, Dr Roberts reportedly chose electronics as a field of study because it was more forward-looking.

“I wanted something new, not old like chemistry,” he told Katie Hafner in an interview with the New York Times.

Two key developments credited to Dr Roberts include the layout of the original network and the way it shuffled data between its nodes.

Dr Roberts decided on a distributed layout for the elements of the network, rather than a centralised system, and decreed that data should be split into small chunks or packets as it travelled to its destination.

This packet-switching system, as it came to be known, drew on work done in the UK by Donald Davies at the National Physical Laboratory.

Dr Larry Roberts and Arpnet

In the late 1960s, Dr Roberts ran the part of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency given the job of creating a computer network called Arpnet. The BBC’s article goes on to say that:

The first four computers were connected to Arpanet in 1969 and it grew rapidly as universities and other research institutions joined it.

Dr Roberts was also keen for Arpanet to be put to practical use and he encouraged early users to adopt email to improve communication and collaboration.

Arpanet persisted until 1983 when it was folded into the larger internet and became one part of that network.

After leaving Arpa, Dr Roberts had a distinguished career founding and then running a series of networking start-ups.

A true pioneer, Dr Roberts will be greatly missed.

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

Windows 10 Upgrade Changes

Windows 10

 

The Windows 10 prompt to upgrade was changed following several complaints.

It had been claimed that Mircosoft was forcing the upgrade in users using a ‘nasty trick’. The corporation had given the update ‘recommended’ status, normally associated with critical security updates. When prompted to update, if the user clicked the red ‘X’, the upgrade wouldn’t start immediately, but it would be automatically scheduled for a later time.

Sneaky.

However, Microsoft has now conceded and has changed the process admitting it was confusing.

A statement from Terry Myerson, VP at Windows and Devices Group stated:

“The new experience has clearer options to upgrafe now, choose a time, or decline the offer. If the red x is selected on this new dialog, it will dismiss the dialog box and we will notify the device again in a few days.”

Microsoft continues to promote Windows 10 as a better computing experience with added security features over previous versions and recommends that all users upgrade.

However, some users are still resisting citing worries about the strain the software may put on their hardware and that Windows 10 tracks its users too closely.

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

Using Your Tech Safely On Holiday

keeping your tech safe on holiday

You’ve been waiting all year for your holiday.

The last thing on your mind is the safety of your tech, but if you don’t give it some thought you could end up with a nasty surprise on your return in the shape of unwelcome bills or lost data.

To help you out, below are some simple and effective tips to keep you safe when you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.

Free Wi-Fi – or is it?

Most travel hubs, like airports, train stations and hotels, offer free public Wi-Fi. It’s a great thing and can make travelling that little bit easier, but you do need to exercise some caution in how you use it.

Before you hook up to a free Wi-Fi network in a public place, check the name of the network with staff or on any signs.

While most public Wi-Fi networks are safe it doesn’t take much for a hacker to set up something known as a man-in-the-middle attack. This essentially intercepts your data by posing as a legitimate network.

Let’s say you’re staying at the Hotel Grand. It may have a free Wi-Fi network called Hotel Grand Wi-Fi. A hacker could easily set up a network called FREE Grand Wi-Fi, try and route you onto their network and basically intercept all of your data.

So when you’re looking for Wi-Fi connection, if ‘free’ appears next to a network name you do need to be cautious. If you’re not absolutely certain about the integrity of a network don’t use it.

Keep your OS up to date – and apps

Another simple precaution is to ensure your operating system is up-to-date. This will at least patch any flaws that have been discovered in it.

And if any apps require updates, make sure you apply them too before you head off on your travels.

Look out for unasked for downloads

You need to be careful when connecting to public or hotel Wi-Fi networks. There have been ‘download tricks’, which are incidents where your device prompts you to update a software package. When accepted, malware is installed. If you get such a request, ignore it.

Mobile security

Also consider getting some antivirus software on your android mobile device, such as BullGuard Mobile Security, which is designed for the Android platform.

Check for HTTPS

It’s also wise to get into the habit of checking there’s always a lock symbol in the browser bar when you’re logging onto websites. This symbol tells you that communications between your device and the website are encrypted with HTTPS and as such are safe.

Happy holidays

It’s a shame all of this is necessary, but that’s the way of the world we live in. By following these simple tips you will be able to holiday in the knowledge that your tech and data are safe and sound.

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

Did You Miss National Unplugging Day?

plug

 

Yes, there really is a National Unplugging Day.

This year’s was on 26th June. If you missed out, don’t worry, you’ll get another chance next year.

The point behind it is to offer you a chance to do a digital detox.

We’re all so tied to our smartphones, iPads and computers these days it’s hard to imagine what life used to be like (for those of us old enough to remember the non-connected world).

So to help you prepare for it, here are a few tips on how you become completely unplugged for the day – if you’re up to the challenge.

  1. Turn your phone off

A simple and obvious step, but one that’s really difficult to do.

If switching it off is too much for you, how about putting it on silent and turning off notifications so your just using it as a phone.

If you can be really brave and go incommunicado for the day, switch it off and shut it away in a draw.

  1. Leave tech behind

This is easier said than done, but how about a weekend away where there is no WiFi.

If a trip away isn’t on the cards, put all your tech in one room, shut the door and walk away from it. Then go and so something outside – go for a run, bike ride or visiting a lovely ruin somewhere; anything that keeps you away from your virtual online life.

  1. Get your news the old-fashioned way

If shutting yourself off from the world is just a bit too scary for you, buy a newspaper so you can see what’s going on.

Going on a day trip? Then use a good old-fashioned map book rather than your phone’s satnav.

  1. Stop checking at night

Hands up if you’re guilty of sending emails at night or updating your Facebook status.

Stop it. No one wants to be contacted or poked at that time of night. Switch your phone to flight mode, or better still, leave it downstairs and buy an alarm clock.

  1. No sneaky peaks

One rather worrying statistic is that, according to a US study from a couple of years ago, 75 per cent of people use their devices in the lavatory.

Don’t not only is it wrong, it’s unhygienic.

  1. Do something different

Forget catching up on box sets, get outside and do something different, or bake a cask, or do that DIY you’ve been putting off, how about write someone a proper old-fashioned letter?

Are you up for the challenge?

 

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

 

Why It’s Important to Backup Your Data

Backup your data

 

Did you know that 31st March was World Backup Day?

Granted, this news is reaching you rather late, but in our minds World Backup Day should be every day. In fact it should be second nature.

The problem is most of us know it should be done, but never seem to have the time to make sure the right measures are in place.

Today, everything we do is dependent on data. Hardware failure, user error and malware can cause a real headache, which is why good backups (both business and home) are essential.

In honour of World Backup Day, Spiceworks and Unitrends produced this infographic aimed at raising awareness of the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of regular backups.

World Backup Day

Looking for backup solutions?

If you’re unsure of what you should be doing, we’re always happy to advise you on the best method for your particular circumstances.

Just call or drop us an email here at MPM IT.

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

Source: Spiceworks

 

Is Your Internet Explorer a Hot Potato?

IE is a hot potato

 

Estimates suggest that Internet Explorer accounts for 57% of the browser market.

Great for Microsoft, but there lies a problem. According to a recent article on the BBC website, Computerworld claims that only 55% of IE users are running the latest version. You might not think that’s too much of an issue, well you’d be wrong because Microsoft has ended technical support and security updates for versions 8,9 and 10.

“Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates,” Microsoft announced on its website.

“Microsoft encourages customers to upgrade and stay up-to-date on the latest browser for a faster, more secure browsing experience.”

Bad news for you, great news for hackers.

With some 340 million people still relying on older versions of IE, experts have warned about a security “hot potato”.

“It is safe to assume that cybercriminals have been stockpiling IE vulnerability information ahead of the support cut-off,” said Craig Young, a researcher at security firm Tripwire.

This view is backed up by Mark James, a researcher at security firm ESET, who added:

“No updates, no patches, no fixes, no new versions and no support options if things go wrong. This basically means it’s a hot potato and you need to drop it as fast as you can.”

The best advice we can give if you currently run IE is to update it to the most current version, or switch to Firefox or Chrome.

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

7 Things You Must Do When You Get a New PC

New PC

 

Yay, your new PC has arrived and you can’t wait to get it out of the box and switch it on.

Stop.

You want to flick the switch and dive in, don’t you?

Don’t.

Before you get carried away there are 7 vital steps you must carry out before you can safely start playing.

1. Updates

Yes, this is pretty boring, but also essential. You don’t want to be poking around online unless you copy of Windows is fully patched and up to date.

Depending on how long your machine  was in the shop, this can take a few minutes, or a few hours. The main thing is that you are patient and get it done before going any further.

Connect to the internet, open the Start menu (Windows 10) and head to Settings > Update and security > Check for updates. Then wait until it’s finished.

2. Browser

Next up is to choose your favourite browser. You’ll be familiar with the main contenders, so we won’t go into detail about them, but whichever floats your boat, set that as your browser of choice.

3. Think security

Now’s the time to decide whether you’re going to opt for a free anti virus or pay out for something like Nortons or McAfee.

They all have the good and bad points – again this will come down to personal preference, but whichever you chose get it set up ASAP to make sure your new machine is protected.

4. Time for a clean up

Boxed PCs will come with a shed load of bloatware clogging up your hard drive.

Use PC Decrapifier to scan your PC for known bloatware. It will then allow you get shot of it all in one hit.

5. Get your house in order

Now you’ve made room, it’s time to instal the stuff you want.

6. Cloning

Now your PC is shaping up just the way you want it, it’s time to create a clone or image of your primary hard drive and save it to another hard drive. That means if your primary drive gives up the ghost, you have a back up.

7. Drivers

The last thing on our list is updating your drivers. If your PC is straight from the box you should be able to ignore this step. If, however, you’ve built it yourself, it would be wise to check you have the most up to date versions.

It’s always exciting getting a new PC, but taking your time and following these simple steps will help make sure you get many years trouble-free use.

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