Category Archives: Privacy

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.

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.

Tips for Safely Banking and Shopping Online

Identity theft and other crimes are growing in numbers for Internet users. More than 12 million people fall victim to various types of identity theft, according to statistics provided by the Statistics Brain Research Institute. Online banking and online shopping are extremely convenient for busy consumers. However, they can be dangerous for consumers who are unaware of all the predators that sneak around the Internet. The following are some helpful tips for consumers who shop or bank online:

Use Anti-Virus and Malware Software

The first step in protecting oneself during any Internet shopping experience is installing anti-virus software or malware software. A wide variety of companies makes software that helps consumers to combat computer viruses. Many of them offer free trial periods, as well. Interested persons can search the web for the best products and services for their protection.

Change Browser Settings

Another thing that a consumer can do to stop hackers and ID thieves from getting their information is change browser settings. Some browser settings keep personal information like passwords in their databases. Such information is not good to have in any database except the user’s mind.

Do Not Save Credit Card Information

Some shopping websites offer consumers the opportunity to save their credit card information to the website to save them time during future transactions. The feature is dangerous because a hacker can steal the consumer’s personal information by hacking into the company’s computer. Consumers should always turn down the opportunity to save credit card information on a website.

Shop on Secure Sites

Another way that a consumer can protect his or her wallet is by shopping on secure sites only. Secure sites have a few distinguishing characteristics about them. One is the address. The address of a secure site will always start with an https:// to signify its encryption. Secure sites usually advertise their security with icons, accolades and information so that visitors will feel safe, as well.

Erase History

Lastly, consumers should erase their browsing history or browse anonymously whenever possible. It helps to cut down on IP tracking and Internet stalking. Firefox and some other browsers allow their users to surf the Internet and travel about the Internet in an incognito fashion.

Consumers and Internet users can protect themselves and avoid being victims of identity theft and bank account hacking. All they need to do is be careful and uses some of the aforementioned tips.

How to Combat Hackers

Hacking is one of those cyber crimes that can devastate a person to the core. The definition of hacking is breaching someone’s computer security. Such a breach can be caused by a number of factors and strategies. Hackers have various reasons for doing the things they do, but one of the most common reasons is boredom. Sometimes hackers are malicious and they want to hurt people intentionally. Other times, hackers want to prove to themselves that they are intelligent. Millions of people suffer because of it. The following is some information on hacking and what people can do to prevent it:

How Hackers Hack

Hackers have several ways by which they can access someone’s account. One method that hackers like to use is the virus method. They may send people malicious software that gives them remote access to computers that are not theirs. They may send friends and family members emails that entice them to go to a site that steals some of their personal information. Hackers could also use special software to crack passwords and get into people’s accounts. Almost all types of social media accounts have been affected by hacking. Hackers wreak havoc on people under other peoples’ names sometimes.

How One Can Prevent Hacking

A computer users can partake in several anti-hacking strategies. The simplest way to prevent oneself from being hacked is to buy anti-virus or anti-hacking software. Next, the user will want to create elaborate passwords so that no one can get in and tamper with the account. The person should conduct a password change at least once every six months. A three-month change would be ideal. Another way that a person can prevent hacking is by using a firewall. Firewalls can prevent some ugly things from getting in when people do not want them to get in.

Do Frequent Software Updates

Many people fall victim to hackers because they do not conduct the software updates that their computers suggest they conduct. A computer user should be very careful to partake in any process that the computer tells him or her to partake in. Failure to conduct a software update can cause a wealth of security problems with hacking being at the top of the list. A computer user will want to pay close attention to the previously stated tips and follow them while using the computer to prevent hacking.

Tips for Safe Online Shopping and Surfing

Surfing the Internet is fun, and shopping online is quite convenient. However, modern computer users have to exercise extreme caution when they are using the Internet. More than 16 million people fall victim to identity theft each year, and more than 12 million people are victims to computer virus attacks. Computer users have to be smart in their online endeavors. The following are some tips on being safe during online surfing:

Use Private Browsing

Private browsing is a safe option that most browsers offer Internet users. The private browsing option allows Internet users to safely browse the Internet without exposing their IP address to any browser tracking programs. Firefox offers that option, and users can activate it by stopping by clicking on the upper right corner of their browser and then clicking on the mask that signifies the private browsing experience.

Purchase Internet Security

Several of the top Internet security companies offer suites that people can purchase for their online browsing experiences. McAfee and Norton are two of the top providers of Internet security suites. The suites offer real-time protection against viruses, hackers, phishing attempts and more.

Only Use Secure Shopping Sites

Another way that Internet users can protect themselves is by ensuring that they are only shopping on secure sites. Secure sites have web addresses that start with https:// as opposed to http://. The https:// at the beginning of the web address signifies that the information on a website is encrypted. A hacker cannot decipher the personal information that is encrypted on a website.

Make Passwords Long and Complex

Another strategy that one can use while he or she is online is creating long and complex passwords for all websites. Passwords should be more than six characters long, and they should consist of a healthy combination of letters and numbers. Additionally, the person will want to change the passwords at least once every three months.

Delete History and Passwords

An Internet user can perform a few cleaning tasks to ensure that he or she stays safe while using the computer. One cleaning task that the person can perform is deleting history. The other task the person can perform is clearing the cache. Finally, the Internet user can clear passwords. All such tasks can be performed under the browser options menu.

Staying safe can keep a computer user free of unnecessary losses and nuisances. The previously mentioned tips provide an excellent start to a life of safe browsing.

2105 Review: Top Computer Privacy Programs

Being able to use one’s computer privately and with little risk is the goal of almost every computer user. As Internet crimes are occurring more frequently, computer owners are being forced to search for programs that can provide them with the protection they need. The following are three privacy software suggestions for people who want to maintain peace of mind when they use their computers:

History Clean

History Clean was rated as one of the top privacy software items of 2015. The program is best for consumers who are trying to keep an eye on their budgets. History Clean comes with a wealth of features that protect users from fraud and tracking. Some of the features that come with the program are cookie cleaning, download cleaning, temp file cleaning, cleanup scheduling and more.

Cyberscrub

The Cyberscrub program is much more expensive than the History Clean program is. However, Cyberscrub offers a wide variety of features that History Clean does not have. One feature that the program offers is the option to hide one’s IP address. Private browsing is the desire of many computer owners who wish to keep their activities to themselves. Cyberscrub offers additional features such as email cleaning options, free space wiping, instant messenger cleaning and more. Consumers rated Cyberscrub with 9.63 out of 10 points.

Norton Internet Security

Norton Internet Security has the other contenders beat when it comes to high pricing. However, Norton Internet Security was rated the top performer for support and assistance. Norton users rated the program 100 percent effective in areas such as usability and protection. The repair grade was slightly lower, at 67 percent. Some of the features that come with Norton Internet Security include anti-spam and anti-malware, safe browsing, anti-phishing, firewall, social network protection, bootable rescue CDs, and 24/7 customer support. The program works on a number of devices including devices that have Windows Vista, 7 and 8. Norton Internet Security is $79.99 per year for up to five devices. The program comes with the option to backup the computer, as well.

Some of the best privacy programs have free trial offers so that users can get a feel for them before they commit their earnings to them. Many trial offers do not require consumers to furnish their credit card information or any other information. They can just download the program and provide a credit card number if they want to continue service after the trial.