Keeping Your Online Gadgets Safe

A wide range of household gadgets are being targeted by hackers, now that a gap in their security has been revealed. It is vital that for your own safety and security that you know how easy it is to keep your gadgets free from hacking by burglars and other criminals, so I shall outline very easy ways to enable this safety.

Gadgets that are being targeted include televisions, kids’ toys, smart thermostats, smart speakers, baby monitors and smart cameras. Most experts within this field have stated that the security of these devices is very good, but devices that use wireless technology is a criminal’s path straight into your own home, as they can easily be hacked. Similarly, Bluetooth connections between gadgets is another method of access into your own private life within your home. These have all come about due to the passwords attached to the gadgets being easily predicted, and not changed by house owners, leaving them vulnerable to hacking by burglars. Below, we look at the gadgets listed above, and advise you with some very easy steps to make them much safer and resilient to hackers.

Televisions:

Televisions come with cameras, microphones and web connection, all of which are accessible for hackers, potentially being able to use these means to broadcast inappropriate videos directly onto your TV. To resist this from happening, put some black tape over the top of the camera on your TV, and tweak your security settings to make it harder for hackers to get through (reset password etc.).

Kids’ Toys

Your children could be contacted by perverts through their gadgets where offensive images, videos or voices could be broadcast to them. Which? Has stated that karaoke machines, robots and walkie talkies all had security flaws, and 3 of the 7 toys tested could allow strangers to be in contact with the user. To improve the security of these gadgets, alter the PIN numbers and passwords, and turn the gadgets off when not in use by the children.

Smart Thermostats

The altering of your heating in your house could leave clues to hackers and burglars as to whether or not you are home, where if the heating is off for a long period, it would suggest to them that you are not in your house, leaving it vulnerable to burglary. To avoid your thermostat being hacked, again alter your password to something strong, and potentially allow two-step authentication, making your gadget more resilient and less likely to be hacked.

Smart Speakers

One of the best speakers in the market is Amazon’s Alexa, a gadget found in within most families now-a-days. However, there are some security fears that hackers are listening or even watching your daily activities through the cameras that some of the products are equipped with. Look for cameras on the product, and cover these up. There is also an option to opt out of being listened to, and manually programme instructions to Alexa through a tablet, being more secure, if strong passwords are set up between the two devices.

Baby Monitors and Smart Cameras

Some video cameras that can be bought cheaply on online shopping markets such as amazon have been tested to have security flaws, making it easier for hackers to access your gadgets. Weak passwords and remote access for strangers were noticed as key factors that meant hackers could easily use the cameras to investigate your homes. Before you buy a product such as this, use products that are well-known such as Arlo and Nest, which all have a high level of security.

If you require any help or advise whilst setting up your gadgets please get in touch with us here https://www.mpmit.co.uk/contact-mpm-it-computer-support-services/

The MPMIT Team, offering local IT support in byte sized chunks to Micro businesses and Sole Traders in the Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and the surrounding areas.

World Backup Day – without data where would we be now?

Covid-19, and the subsequent lockdowns, has proven just how data-dependent we are. Millions of people are now working from home and if it wasn’t for the internet and data, economies the world over would crash spectacularly.

Data allows us to withdraw cash from ATMs, make remote payments and buy things in shops even as high streets are shuttered up. We can remotely communicate with friends, families, and colleagues and keep things ticking as the world limps along.

Of course, we don’t think of data as enabling us to work from home, it’s all about the internet and broadband speeds but without data where we would be now? We’d be in a world of filing cabinets, mountains of paper, clickety-clack typewriters, and clipboards.

As such the current situation drives home the importance of this week’s World Backup Day, which was on the 31st March.

Your data is more valuable than your smartphone, laptop, and Mac

Believe it or not, hardware is cheap compared to your files. Lose your smartphone or laptop and you can replace them. Lose your data and you’re in trouble if it’s not backed up.

Think of all those tunes, videos, films, contact numbers, letters, photos, work, research, work projects and anything else you hold valuable – they’re all gone.

Maybe you can put a financial value on them; perhaps you’ve spent lots of money on music and videos, perhaps you’ve spent endless hours on work and personal projects, maybe you’ve been gathering photos over the years?

It’s hard to put a price on these personal, and often precious, things.

What do you do?

You back everything up that you hold valuable and don’t want to lose.

It’s a simple thing to do. You’re making a second copy of everything that would result in a lot of weeping and wailing if you lost it.

If something happens to the original files you can restore the backups to your computer, smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Why should you back up?

There are some very common situations in which people lose their data. Your smartphone is lost or stolen, a hard drive crashes, you leave a laptop on a train, plane or bus, your device is infected with malware that locks up your files or you accidentally delete important files.

Backup options

Simply put a backup refers to any piece of data that exists in two places. It’s essentially a recovery plan and as such it’s common to keep backups offsite such as in the cloud or at the very least on an external or storage device.

Using a cloud backup service is the easiest, most economical and most effective way of keeping your important data safe.

BullGuard Premium Protection and BullGuard Internet Security both have integrated cloud backup for DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive, and external storage such as standalone hard drive or USB.

You simply create a profile then decide what you want to back up, where you want to back it up and when. It’s as simple as that. And all your invaluable data is safe. What better than that on World Backup Day to make a plan for backing up your data?

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

Are You in The Password Management Paradox?

Password management paradox

 

What is the Password Management Paradox and are you in it?

Let’s find out.

  • Does your company make you change your password every 30 to 60 days?
  • Do you constantly forget your passwords?

If you answered yes to both of those, you’re in the Password Management Paradox.

The problem is you’re forced to change your password to increase security. However, the more passwords you have (and the more regularly you change them) actually decreases security and here’s why.

You will potentially ignore the constant requests to change your password, or you’ll spend most of your time on the phone to your IT section resetting your password because you can’t remember what you changed it to.

So how can you keep your work and personal data safe?

Here are our three top tips to help you:

  1. Never use the same password twice. Yes, it’s a pain, but if you use a password on multiple sites and one gets hacked, you’re opening yourself up to a whole lot of grief because your other online  data (including potentially your banking details) will be in danger
  2. Use complicated phrases that are easy to remember. Another paradox? Nope – an example would be using the phrase “I love MPM Computer Consultancy” but using the initial letters as your password (i.e. ILMPMCC)
  3. Keep track of your passwords with a password manager program

If you want to keep your data safe, you have to think smart.

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

The Security Risks Attached to iPad and iPhone

security risks with iPhone and iPad

 

The news has been awash recently with details about Apple’s reluctance to create software that will hack an iPhone at the will of the FBI.

Depending on where you stand on the moral issue of helping your country to catch terrorists, it’s a major leap for a company like Apple to place their customers’ security and privacy first.

That, in part is why the i-family of gadgets has been so popular – because the biggest risks to your security are not remote attacks, but personal theft.

Even if you’re unlucky enough to have your phone or tablet stolen, assuming the thief doesn’t know your passcode, your data is pretty safe because 10 failed attempts at your code and the contents of your phone are wiped clean.

To give you peace of mind, here are a few basic things you can do to keep your personal data safe.

Setting your passcode or password

  1. Open Settings > General and tap Passcode Lock
  2. Click Turn Passcode On
  3. Enter a four digit PIN
  4. Re-enter the four digit PIN
  5. Tap “Require Passcode” and ensure it is set to “Immediately”
  6. Tap Passcode Lock to get back to the Passcode Lock settings

If you prefer, you can use a password instead of a passcode to ensure a higher level of security, but you will need to enter the combination of letters and numbers to unlock your iPad or iPhone, so most people stick with the passcode.

  1. Tap Simple Passcode to Off
  2. Enter a password (a combination of numbers and letters)

Find My iPad/iPhone

Find My iPhone is an app and service that you can install to locate an iOS device if it has gone missing. It also enables you to remotely wipe an iPhone or iPad, or send a message to it in the hope of retrieving a lost iPhone or iPad.

  1. Click on Settings > Privacy > Location service
  2. Tap Find My iPad and click it to On
  3. Open the App Store and Find My iPhone. Install the app.

Open the Find My iPhone app on an iPad or iPhone and log in to see where all your devices are. Note that this service can also be accessed from Apple’s iCloud website.

Saving password details in Safari

The iPad can be used to save your passwords and credit card details. Before doing this it is considered advisable to set up a passcode first, as an additional security measure.

To set up Safari to save passwords follow these steps:

  1. Tap on Settings and Safari
  2. Tap Passwords & Autofill
  3. Tap the Names and Passwords button to turn it on (green)

When you next visit a website in Safari, and enter your name and password, a popup will appear asking if you want to save the password. Tap on Save Password and the password will be stored locally in the iPad.

  1. Tap Simple Passcode to Off
  2. Enter a password (a combination of numbers and letters)

To access password details in Safari

  1. Tap on Settings and Safari
  2. Tap Passwords and Autofill
  3. Tap on Saved Passwords
  4. Tap on a password entry and enter your Passcode

You can now view the Website, Username and Password details on the iPad.

To delete a password from Safari

  1. Tap on Settings and Safari
  2. Tap on Passwords and Autofill
  3. Tap Edit
  4. Tap the selection circle next to the password you want to delete
  5. Tap Delete and Delete again in the pop-up window
  6. Enter your passcode

iCloud Keychain

If you have several Apple devices and want to use Safari to save your passwords, then you can use iCloud Keychain to synchronise your passwords from one device to another. So if you enter a password into a website on your iPhone, it will automatically be added to your iPad.

You must have your passcode activated to use iCloud Keychain. Follow these steps to turn on iCloud Keychain

  1. Tap on Settings and iCloud
  2. Tap on Keychain and turn on the button next to iCloud Keychain
  3. Enter your iCloud password and tap on OK
  4. Move to another computer or device using the same iCloud. On the Mac open System Preferences and iCloud and details next to iCloud
  5. Enter your Apple ID and Password and click on Allow

Your iPad or iPhone will now have all the usernames and passwords that have been stored on your Mac (and vice versa). You can also do the same thing with your iPhone to sync between all your devices. If you don’t have a Mac you can use an iPhone to authorise the iPad or vice versa, just follow the Notification pop-up and enter your Apple ID and Password on the device.

 

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

UK Launches a National Cyber Emergency Team

Back in December 2012, the Government announced that, as a key element of its £650m cyber security strategy, it would launch the first national computer emergency response team – CERT-UK.

Finally, it’s gone live and is designed to raise national awareness of cyber incidents and improve response capabilities.

CERT-UK is the single point of contact for UK business and other national CERTs on cyber security issues, plus it has responsibility for national cyber incident management and developing and sharing cyber threat situational awareness. Although UK industry remains responsible for its own cyber security, CERT-UK is there to step in where incidents are cross-sectoral and need a concerted national response.

It will work with government departmental and local CERTS that have been set up by industry sectors such as financial services and universities. Plus, as UK government‘s Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) delivers a key component of the UK national cyber security strategy in facilitating information sharing on cyber threats, it has been integrated into CERT-UK.

CERT-UK plans to use the information-sharing portal to help develop its situational awareness capabilities and so help UK businesses improve their cyber awareness and increase their ability to help themselves.

Within its first year, the CISP has grown to around 1,000 members representing about 400 companies. CERT-UK plans to grow membership even further in the coming months.

The idea behind the scheme is that by bringing situational awareness and incident response teams together, CERT-UK will be able to provide businesses with the most useful information on how to tackle the threats they face.

The official launch marks the start of the first phase of CERT-UK that is aimed at bringing all of the UK’s cyber security stakeholders under a single umbrella organisation. It is hoped that, by the end of the year, CERT-UK will move on to phase two, expanding its existing structures, consolidating relations with international and local CERTS, and growing membership of the CISP.

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