Category Archives: Internet Security

Expert opinion: How to spot and prevent common computer privacy mistakes

Ask any random computer owner or someone who feels as thought they have identity theft totally figured out about how safe they are with their pertinent information, and a majority of time you’ll be met with confidence in their keen ability.

But the reality is most people make all too common and repetitive mistakes when it comes to computer privacy, and thus take their would be iron clad system and approach and dispel it rather quickly. As much as we want to believe we’re safe with our computer and information we shouldn’t be sharing, the truth is we’re still making doing the same thing over and over again wrong, and thus leading to even more widespread concern about hacking, compromised computers and information of yours being shared with the masses.

Easily the most obvious yet ignored is using a WiFi network that isn’t protected to do anything that should be secure, such as banking, emails or shopping online. Your penchant for wanting to check your banking balance is all well and good, but you can’t go against logic and good judgment as it relates to waiting to use a network that is password protected. Some experts also agree totally that passwords also are the root of all that is evil online as far as privacy is concerned.

You might believe that a complex or complicated password isn’t all that important, but those who pay attention to the little things or suggestions they’re given, such as making your password difficult with numbers, symbols, etc., are the ones who are avoiding their privacy being put in jeopardy. And that includes your propensity to want to reuse passwords that have already been in your rotation.

Just because you are familiar with certain passwords or you use the same one for other accounts doesn’t mean you should get in the habit of recycling them. Even some rely on password manager functions, which create random, difficult to figure out passwords for you, particularly good for those devoid of creativity when it comes to coming up with their own unique combinations.

You also can’t, under any circumstances, under appreciate just how smart hackers are in today’s world. Underestimating an opponent is something you hear a lot in sports, but you can’t assume or take on the “it won’t happen to me” approach when you consider just how random and ridiculously out of control things can get when you lose control of passwords. Knowing the types of common mistakes that lead to computer privacy is one thing but implementation and consistency is another, two of many characteristics you’ll need to stave off this cyber security warfare.

Basic Instinct: Are you doing simple things to protect PC privacy?

Protecting your personal security when using your computer is something that we all know needs to be done.  With identity theft being as prevalent an issue as it is, you would think we all know the basics on how to prevent it from happening.  But are you as up to speed as you think you might be?

This may sound basic, but the first thing you should always have on your computer is a firewall.  A firewall blocks unauthorized access to your computer while you’re accessing the Internet.

Using an antivirus program, again, might seem like something obvious.  But it is often overlooked.  Antivirus programs help to prevent and remove viruses and other malware and spyware.  There are plenty to choose from that are both free and available for purchase.  Along with an antivirus program, spyware-blocking software is very important as well.

Another common overlook is installing updates to your operating system.  Use automatic updates to make sure your system is up to date and all of the latest patches are installed.  Turn on the automatic updates in your settings to make sure this is covered without you having to do it manually and leaving your system vulnerable to attack.

Passwords are another basic function that can be often overlooked when it comes to security.  Make sure to use a strong password.  A general rule is to use at least six characters that include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a non-alphabetic character.  Changing your passwords at least every 60 to 90 days is recommended as well (30 days is a bit much, honestly). You should also password protect all guest accounts and use encryption too.  Encryption scrambles the text so it can’t be read without decrypting it.

Another easy security option that is often overlooked is increasing your browser security settings.  This is a simple step that allows you to select your security level.

And of the easiest ways to protect yourself is using common sense.  Don’t open any emails that are from unknown senders. Unknown email attachments carry viruses and Trojan horses, so make sure that if you don’t know the source, you don’t open the email and/or attachment.

Following these suggestions should keep you safe and secure and prevent viruses from damaging or destroying your computer.  It should also prevent hackers from accessing your personal information, even if they’re on the cusp of the latest technology that allows them to do that.

You can fight the proverbial good fight and do what needs done on your end to, at the very least, keep them guessing and sending them right back to the drawing board.

Password Protected: Computer privacy starts with smart choices

Despite all the stories of computer privacy, hackers, stolen credit cards or debt cards or just about anything you can conjure up when you’re talking about the subject of protecting yourself from fraud, you still manage to run into those who believe there’s really nothing to worry about at the moment.

Or ever.

If you’re someone who has had this happen, you’re all over any tips or tricks you can use to have your identity protected and make sure what’s happening on your computer is just specific to you and no one else.

As much as you want to be super specific and try to do everything possible and then five more things, you really can spend the majority of your time focusing on two key elements of identity theft, preventing it and making sure you’re not a victim in that regard.

The first seems simple, but yet overlooked. You’re probably used to always changing your password at work, perhaps as often as every 30 or 60 days. Your company is making sure your password is kept fresh and unique, and you should take that to heart when it comes to your own computer.

That goes for the password to not only get on to your computer, but also email as well, particularly paramount if your email contains receipts or other pertinent information. Passwords should be difficult, and if you can’t remember it, then write it down and put it somewhere safe. Surprisingly, the most popular password still is 123456, but you should get in the habit of not going with the safe choice and instead something that is familiar but not so easy to figure out by a hacker.

Beyond the password, you still find individuals using WiFi that is public, meaning that it isn’t password protected (although thankfully that trend is going away with most locations that offer this as an added service). There isn’t so much an issue with using public WiFi if you’re checking sports scores or news in general, but steer clear of using it to check email, send email or, worse yet, navigating your bank account, making transfers.

This also includes paying bills online as those account numbers are out and for anyone to see. If you begin to underestimate those who hack into accounts, you’ll be the one left to pick up the pieces, and that means calling credit card companies, your bank or even Gmail or Yahoo to let

Changing Landscape: How hackers are infiltrating more than just traditional computers

When you think of the word “smart” in relationship to technology and gadgets, you immediately conjure up the image of your phone, right?

Of course, that’s because the term “smart phone” has revolutionized not just the phones themselves but how they’re marketed and perceived by the general public. More than 90 percent of the population has a cell phone and about 70 percent of that is comprised of smart phones, suggesting that they’re more popular than ever, even amongst the 50 and older demographic despite the thinking that a flip phone or even a landline would suffice.

But “smart” technology has come a long way since the Apple iPhone first gave way to smart phones. You have all kinds of electronics that have been labeled “smart,” including those at home appliances that feed off your Wifi connection and allow you to do things that you hadn’t thought possible with a refrigerator but certainly can now.

The same could be said for your home security system or even how you monitor or control your temperature, also running off wireless internet, and you certainly can’t look past the more traditional devices, such as your laptop and that aforementioned smart phone.

What this creates is the perfect store for hackers to be able to gain access to your personal information and continue to wreak havoc when it comes to identity theft and fraud, only now than them having a few portals to do so, they have more avenues now that technology is so “smart” that we didn’t realize we opened up another can of proverbial worms.

The good news is that you awareness is key, and doing all the same things you do with your at home computer still pertains and can be considered relevant. Granted, your refrigerator or home security, for example, don’t come with the ability to have anti virus protection, but you can keep updating your firmware in mind as you purchase these products. Updates are key to being able to get hackers at bay so that you’re constantly changing the game of getting your information or access to your devices before they can crack their own code.

And speaking of codes, the majority of “smart” home technology comes with the ability to not only password protect your devices but also add levels and layers of other means to keep hackers guessing. Some offer multiple digit codes that you can enter as backup to just having a lone password, most of which are becoming easier and easier to bypass by the smarter hackers. The more you change your password, as well, the better off you’ll be, because for most of us, that’s our only level of protection.

Having smart technology doesn’t always equate to being equally intelligent with how you use it. For those products and devices to truly live up to their name, users have to use some smart, too.

Hack Proof: Why we tend to overlook the simple when protecting computer

Computer privacy will forever be a hot topic, when you throw in not only the hackers and how they find ways new tricks to maneuver through capturing your identity or how we, as the general public, still find ways to overlook the obvious when it comes to protecting ourselves from one day to the next.

The two that easily stand out as glaring and easily avoidable are both related to online use: banking and user names and passwords.

The banking one is quite simple. You should always bank online when you’re using a secured internet connection, rather than randomly checking that account any other way (even your phone on your wireless carrier signal). Most banking missteps occur when you start doing any sort of bill paying that isn’t within the comfort of your home with your password protecting internet service.

The user names and passwords one is another that screams simplicity but often is overlooked on two levels. First, you should make it a habit to change your password on a regular basis, rather than just leaving it the same for months at a time. Furthermore, it’s imperative that you log out of accounts each time you are finished, whether that’s an email or if you’re online paying a credit card bill. Logging out might not seem like that big of a deal but it can lead to theft of credit cards, for example, or someone using your identity or card numbers to spend money that isn’t theirs and technically not yours, in the case of stolen credit cards.

The combination of staying logged in and not using a secured, encrypted network is only going to be part of the solution to protecting your computer privacy. You have to remind yourself, too, that opening unsolicited emails or clicking on links of that same ilk are equally bad for you. Anything that seems as though it’s too good to be true (make money fast scheme) or even an email from a trusted source that could be fake can lead to all kinds of password and identity issues online and also a computer break in you simply don’t want to deal with whatsoever. One of the bigger computer privacy scams comes in the form of those who are having computer issues and receiving random calls from “tech support” wanting to remote into your PC. This happens with some regularity but anyone asking for credit card information over the phone and telling you they’ll be able to help with your computer without you doing so much as a thing to get the call is a huge, monumental red flag.

As much as you want to believe that remembering a password or clicking a link is harmless, it’s the exact opposite. You’re undoubtedly putting your identity, your money and your computer at risk.

Easy Does It: Why protecting your identity is rooted in simplicity

Identity theft and protecting your computer go hand in hand, but as much as we want to turn this into a no one is safe discussion (which has merit), you must first ask yourself one very important question.

Are you doing enough to protect yourself? Furthermore, what about the simple things you can do, the day to day easy practices, that are tailor made to keep your identity and subsequently your computer safe.

We all have that friend who is constantly talking about computer viruses or having their identity stolen, and you don’t have to look (or think) for very long to realize that their bad habits have plagued them when it comes to this issue.

For starters, you should make it a point to stop filling out information online that includes all your pertinent statistics (particularly social security number and address. This goes for these so called online polls or anything that tells you to sign and get something for free (pop up ads or offers).

Quite possibly the easiest way to protect your computer is to make sure you have a password that protects anyone else logging into it or you have it set up to sleep mode rather quickly if you’re away from it. How often do you use your computer in a public setting? If you’re doing that, chances are you want to stay on top of that screen, even if you step away to grab a cup of coffee, that’s how easily someone can refresh and start going to work, or even worse if it somehow gets stolen out from underneath you completely.

Along the same lines as the password are those pesky (but relevant) security questions that help determine that the person logging into an account actually is you. Often times, you’ll have to answer at minimum one but usually three to four to be able to access anything. We tend to pick questions and answer them accordingly, but the general rule of thumb is to lie about the answers with some response that is far fetched, just in case your identity falls into the wrong hands.

There isn’t one way or an iron clad way to protect your identity, as anyone is susceptible to having their identity compromised. But if you’re just leaving it up to chance and also exhibiting habits that are detrimental and often invite hackers right into your living room so to speak, then you’re not just helping identity theft experts.

You’re practically giving your identity away.

Simple Solution: Computer privacy doesn’t have to be overly difficult

As technologically advanced as most internet hackers or those who can steal your identity seem to be, sometimes it is the easiest measure you can take to keep your computer private and your name and other valuable information and numbers quite the secret.

The other irony of computer and identity privacy is we all understand that, through the news stories and information about how easily identities can be stolen, yet we tend to overlook the simple things we can do to keep everything safe and sound.

Case in point, how many times have you used a public Wifi and done something silly on that medium? What exactly do we mean by silly?

Have you ever checked your bank statement online while you’re sitting at a coffee shop? What about logging into a credit card statement sitting at Barnes and Noble?

These are really the epitome of bad judgment as it relates to computer privacy and keeping your identity safe. You should always make it a point to do one of two things: either log in using some sort of VPN login, or make sure the Wifi is password protected. Now, if you need to log in to a public network, if it’s absolutely necessary or if you’re just looking to surf the web aimlessly to kill time, make sure you simply steer clear of punching in anything from your social security number to a credit card number.
So, no ordering shoes online at the airport while waiting for your flight.

Furthermore, what is easier than simply signing out of your computer or anything that is password related online. If you’re paying a bill, logging into your email or your computer is left alone in a public place for any period of time (then again, why would you ever do that), make sure you log off or at least, in the last example, lock your screen and PC.

Finally, your password has been the same since you’ve first had your email and your first computer. The reason your company asks you to change your password once every 30 days, they’re doing so to protect your privacy, so why wouldn’t you do that for yourself on your own computer?

Maybe your work isn’t so dense after all.

You want to change your password every 30 to 60 days, and if you can at least change your password at minimum three times per year, that should deter hackers and keep you at least safer than you were when you weren’t practicing these potentially identity and privacy saving practices.

Private eyes: Common computer mistakes plague privacy

Now more than ever, being smart about what you’re doing on your computer is paramount.

The same couldn’t be said during the infancy stages of the world wide web, mostly because it wasn’t so worldly or wide, but today’s version of the internet, along with emails, social networking and anything else you freely do online, needs to be policed, parented and paid close attention to constantly.

As an individual, you have the responsibility to use the internet wisely and to make good decisions as it relates to anything and everything you do daily online.

The world wide web is all about communication, and nothing is more convenient and preferred than email, which allows you to be a little more sincere with your comments aside from texting and is also rooted in not only personal emails but also work related items.

But what tends to put us at risk for online privacy issues is being haphazard with our emails, namely the ones we open that clearly look as though they were concocted with nothing but bad intentions in mind.

What makes that revelation even more ridiculous is when you can clearly see this looks and sounds phony, but yet you still open it up because curiosity didn’t just kill the cat, but also any chance you have of protecting yourself from an online hacker.

Scam and spam is easy to spot with two easy mentions: bad spelling and the “too good to be true” mantra that lures you into an unenviable situation. Simply put, if they can’t spell (think of a prize that you “one”) or you just won $10,000 and all you need to do is “click here” to claim it, then you’re on the cusp of having someone tap into your personal information and your PC in general.

Another easy way to avoid privacy being compromised is to not ignore how you handle and choose your passwords. You should shy away from having your PC or Mac remember your password, and also never forget to log out of an account, particularly your banking information and email. Furthermore, make sure your password that you choose has some complexity to it, and don’t ignore numbers or special characters as a means to differentiate from others that are common.

And as long as you stay away from WiFi connections that aren’t password protected (you might want to think about using your banking info or other important info on your home router), you should be well on your way to keeping your personal security just that: personal.

Private in Parts: The sum of all you do daily protects your PC

Your privacy is your privacy, no matter whether you’re talking about anything from your social security number to your bank pin code or anything else that can swept out from underneath you and used again you as far as your identity is concerned.

Computer privacy, when this discussion rises to the forefront, is almost always the center of attention and trying to mitigate exactly how safe (or unsafe) you are is pertains to keeping everything on your PC and what you use it for totally untouchable by the average hacker or someone that is a little more adept at stealing your identity.

One overlooked tip is to keep you email address away from anything that would be considered more of a sales ploy (such as mass emails or marketing lists) or anything else that you might want to do that is more flippant than your average, work related or banking related email for instance.

The better option is to pick an email address that is a throwaway account of sorts, one you use for things such as the aforementioned items and isn’t one you have connected to any sort of personal information that you might be entering into your PC.

As far as personal emails or information of that ilk, you might want to consider using your home computer more so than a work one. The work one is fine, but not if you aren’t aware of the kind of protection the server has and just how easily it can be compromised. My work, for instance, is secured through a VPN sign in that has to be done by a company employee and the WiFi is always password protected (another aspect you can’t overlook for computer privacy).

That VPN allows me to feel more comfortable using a work computer for personal information; some companies aren’t quite as secure, although the resident IT person might say otherwise. The fact remains is that if you’re not sure, then you shouldn’t be checking your bank statement or account balances online, among other things.

Finally, and the most obvious, is stop giving out your email or opening up and relying to spam accounts and emails. And you might be thinking, who in the world still pays attention to spam or even remotely entertains the idea of reading it, but you’d be surprised to find that the average person still dabbles in the decadence that is spam emails.

Your privacy is paramount, and you don’t want anything related to it compromised, but you have to look at fixing the little things, the small parts, to make an overall, large scale change to just how wide open your identity truly is.

Privacy Plan: Keeping your PC protected from hackers is all about diligence

Five words no PC owner wants to hear: “Your computer has been hacked.”

The feeling that washes over your entire body is one of fear, can range from trying to ask the question why and rehashing exactly what could have happened.

You may try to reason with yourself that you took all the steps necessary to keep this from happening, then begin wondering if you really were as safe and sound or if you had some sort of loophole in your game plan.

How exactly can you work a little harder to keep your PC safe?

A lot of it rests on that slip up of sorts when you make your PC so available because you’re too set on convenience. What exactly does that mean? Think public WiFi and how often you use it for something as simple as checking email or as complicated and ill conceived as online banking.

The latter opens you up to hackers getting bank account information, at the very least and siphoning money from accounts before you realize it or your virtual wallet or online bank realizes what has happened.

Searching your internet history hardly is the worst thing that can happen, but that history also plays into just how easily hackers can get into your account. From pop up adds to sites that are easily hacked to junk email that you shouldn’t open, plenty of us have struggled with avoiding clicking on or visiting sites that are less than desirable as far as protecting your computer.
You also have to remember that your browser isn’t a default or a decision you don’t need to make. Internet Explorer is fine
A recent report suggested that the smart PC users and computer owners in general change passwords on a consistent basis. That means the log in screen and any password that you choose to save when the dialog box pops up and asks you want to save this password for this site.

Chances are when you’re talking about your email, you’ve given the green light to save a password and lived to regret it when that email password, when you type it in, all of a sudden says your password is wrong.

Then, you’re trying to track down Yahoo or Google to switch a password that you know you didn’t forget but rather someone else found. Some invest in password generator software, which devises a password that is so complex and strong that hackers have a hard time figuring it out, especially when you’re not adept at changing them enough to be different from the last.

You don’t have to be a victim of computer privacy not working in your favor as long as you’re taking the steps necessary to prevent it over and above what you’re already doing.