Watch Out For Malicious PDF Attachments

Malicious PDFs are another hacker’s favourite. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at ways you can be vigilant in the fight against hackers. So far, we’ve looked at two-factor authentication, encryption, and avoiding public WiFi.

This time we’re going to look at PDFs attached to emails.

Why PDF attachments can be bad news

Hackers are sneaky by nature.

On the face of it, a PDF looks quite an innocuous document. After all, you open them every day during your regular working practices. However, there is a darker side to the humble PDF.

Its called steganography – derived from the Greek language meaning ‘covered writing’, where a data file or malicious code can be hidden within another file.

A PDF file is a perfect vessel for hackers because they’re generally thought to be safe. However, if you receive one that contains malicious code, opening it will drop the code on to your device in a similar manner to clicking on a malicious link on a website.

How to stay safe from malicious PDFs

They are challenging to catch and check. That’s why it’s best that whatever PDF reader you use, your anti-virus or endpoint protection is up to date and that your email servers are running current and updated filters.

Software is also available that can test the PDF file before allowing it through to the intended user.

Be vigilant. Stay safe.

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

Keep Your Kids Safe Online With BullGuard’s Guide

You grew up in a very different world to your children.

If you wanted to talk to your friends you either met up or used the telephone.

You didn’t have a photographic record of your every move mainly because by the time you’d finished the film and got it developed you’d forgotten all about it.

Today, children are used to everything happening immediately.

There’s nothing they can’t do on their phones and other devices: play games, chat with friends, take selfies, do homework and look at things they shouldn’t.

As a parent you have 2 choices: watch every move they make and be constantly looking over their shoulder, or educate them about the dangers of the internet and trust them to do the right thing.

Of course, that is if you are well versed in everything technological and let’s face it, how many of us really understand the internet as well as our kids do?

Thankfully, help is at hand.

BullGuard have put together A Parent’s Guide to Protecting Children Online  to help you understand the dangers of the internet, offering helpful tips on how to keep your children safe and how to engage with them about their online activities without being overbearing.

It also includes the results of a survey of 2,000 parents that highlights the widespread concerns parents have about their children using the internet and the struggle of keeping up with technology and all that it entails.

Plus, there’s a really useful section on introducing children to the basics of security and understanding that online security isn’t just about stranger danger, it also encompasses malware and viruses.

Packed with practical advice, it’s a must-have for all parents.

You can get your copy here.

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

Watch What You Post on Facebook

The chances are you have a Facebook account and are fairly active on it, posting all sorts of status updates, adding photos and playing games.

Although you think your information is secure because you’ve taken the time to check your privacy settings, what happens in a friend’s account gets hacked, or they forget to log out so someone you don’t know can see your updates? A recent article on netsecurity.about.com highlights 5 things you should think twice about before posting.

1. Birth dates

If you share your birth date on Facebook you’ll get loads of lovely comments from friends on your big day, but you’re also providing potential thieves with important information they can use to steal your identity.

The best option is not to list it at all, but if you’re adamant you want to, miss out the year.

2. Relationship

Are you single? Married? Divorced? Whatever your relationship status keep it to yourself.

Worse case scenario, if you’re newly single you could end up with unwanted attention from people.

3. Location

Using Facebook’s location tagging feature tells people not only where you are, but where you’re not – i.e. at home.

4. Home alone

You never know exactly who is reading your profile (or your children’s), so never tell the world you’re home alone.

5. Picture of your kids

It’s sad that you even have to consider this, but don’t tag, name or give the date of birth of your children on Facebook. You never know who could be looking at them. The same goes for photos with other people’s kids in them. If you want them to see the pictures, send them a link.

Social media is fun and a great way to keep in touch with people, but you still need to exercise caution when using it. Most of it is common sense, so just be careful and think twice.

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

How to Protect Your Child Online

The internet can be a powerful  learning tool, but at the same time it can be a dangerous place for children to hang out.

We all tell our children not to talk to strangers and not to take sweets from someone they don’t know, but what about their safety online? How stringent are you to make sure they surf safely?

The first steps

How do you go about educating them on internet safety?

The first step is to talk to them. Make sure they understand what they can and can’t view online. This should be done as soon as they start to use the internet and should be reiterated regularly.

Initially, especially with younger children, it is wise to sit with them when they are using the internet. This is a good opportunity to talk to them about online dangers and so they understand early on, their boundaries.

That’s all well and good with younger children, but what happens when they are older?

Many secondary (and even primary) school children will know more about  the inner workings of computers and the internet than you. Also, by this time, many children have reached the stage in life when they start to push the boundaries you set.

How can you make sure they are only using suitable websites?

Again, you could set the rule that you are with them when they use the internet, but this is likely to become less feasible the older they get. You will want to start to trust your child’s judgement and they will certainly not want you watching over their shoulder on a regular basis. So it may be time for the next step.

Internet monitoring

Your ISP will probably offer some sort of parental controls, limiting the range of websites your children can access, should they decide to push the boundaries.

To go a step further, you could also use internet monitoring software, although teenagers will probably resent this as it implies a lack of trust. But, you have to weigh up their reaction with the dangers they may face.

Talking is good

Earlier we mentioned talking to your children and setting clear guidelines on internet usage. This is essential because you must remember that your children won’t just be accessing the internet at home.

Away from home, and the parental controls you have installed, they can gain access through smartphones, internet cafes and at friends houses.

Therefore it is essential you instil within them safe internet usage.