How to Stay Safe While Being Social
People happily share their private information online, building robust libraries that can easily become a one-stop goldmine for fraudsters.
It’s not exactly the intention everyone has when they sign up, as the whole point of Facebook is to share your life with your friends. It hooks us into a global community and the experience does depend on us making certain privacy sacrifices.
So how do you balance being social with staying safe?
On Facebook alone, the average person shares 13 pieces of personal information ranging from a fairly innocent name/email combo, all the way to mothers maiden name and home address.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but those 13 pieces have the power to unravel your life within minutes.
Even checking in at home or a favorite location has become the norm, helping to create a multi-dimensional online identity. The details are available to anyone who cares to look, whether they’re a friend keeping in the loop, or someone with a much darker agenda.
The problem is, you just don’t know who’s looking at your profile or why.
For example, someone could try accessing your email account by clicking the ‘Forgot password’ link. The email service follows its security rules and asks identifying questions like ‘which high school did you go to? What is your pet’s name?’
Unfortunately, the most common identifying checks and answers are probably available on Facebook.
Once your email address is compromised, hackers can use that to break into other services and go through, clicking ‘Reset Password’ on site after site, account after account – they have full access to your email, so there’s nothing stopping them from emptying your bank accounts – or worse.
7 Ways To Secure Your Facebook Without Missing Out on the Fun
.Loving your External Hard Drive
External hard drives free up storage, offer portability, and provide a lifeline in case of computer disaster. It pays to take good care of these compact, convenient devices.
Here are some helpful strategies.
1. Don’t knock the drive.
Depending on the type of drive you have, impact could damage it. The hard drive’s mechanical drives work a little like a record player. Envision a spinning platter and a needle reading it. Note, you don’t have to worry about this with a Solid State Drive (SSD) as there are no moving parts.
2. Don’t pull.
You can damage the drive port with a hard or sideways yank on its USB plug. Remove the device cable with a gentle pull. It’s best to unplug the drive cable when it’s not in use. Then, when you are reconnecting the external drive, inspect the connector before plugging the cable back in. Look for any damage, debris, or corrosion to help maximize the device’s lifespan.
3. Don’t skip steps.
You may be in a hurry, but always take the time to remove the hard drive from your desktop before physically unplugging it. On Windows, you’ll usually right click on the drive and press Eject. For Macs, you can drag the drive icon to the recycle bin (which changes to an eject button). Never unplug the drive while moving data to or from the hard drive unless you want to risk data corruption.
4. Don’t suffocate the drive.
Ever put your hand on the hard drive after prolonged use? It’s hot. Don’t immediately store it away in a bag or tight space. Give it some time to cool off first.
When it’s out, and in use, keep the drive’s vents clear of other objects so that it has some airflow. Set it on a flat, level surface. Avoid placing it on paper, towels, or other cloth items that could add to its heat levels.
5. Don’t take the drive swimming.
OK, you’re probably not going to do that. Yet it’s our way of reminding you that condensation is an enemy to your hard drive. Hard drive failures can be caused by environmental factors such as temperature and air quality too.
6. Don’t expect immortality or invincibility.
A hard drive isn’t going to last forever. They aren’t built for that. They can also get lost or stolen. Don’t let one external hard drive be the only place you are backing up your data.
Have a backup on your computer, on the drive, and a copy in the cloud. Then, you’ll always be ready to move on to a new drive that you will love with the same care and consideration outlined above.
We have external hard drives for sale in our online store. Click here to start shopping.
There are many moments in life when we would like to travel through time. One common instance is when an important document disappears from our computer screen. Making things worse, we forgot to save it! That’s hours of work lost. Fortunately, Apple users have Time Machine’s built-in backup feature for added protection.
This software automatically backs up apps, music, photos, email, documents, and system files. You can backup to
It’s simple. Connect your Mac to an external drive, then Open Time Machine to select your backup destination. You can select when backups happen and what gets backed up, and you’ll also have the option of encrypting your backup, which is a good idea.
Time Machine keeps hourly backups for 24 hours, daily backups for a month, and weekly backups for previous months until full. The oldest backups get deleted when space is needed.
All you need to do to restore your original files is turn on and connect the Time Machine backup disk. Then, you can use the timeline on the Time Machine screen to find the items to restore.
We recommend all Mac users set up Time Machine to backup to at least an external drive, and Apple makes it easy to setup this minimum level of backup. With the local device, you’ll have a first line of defense close at hand if you need to recover or restore your computer.
However, this basic backup does limit your options. To amplify your protection, consider these alternatives.
Gaining More Control of Your Backup
Third-party software offers additional layers of protection. You gain detailed control of what is backed up and when, and what happens afterwards (perhaps you’ll want the software to eject the external device or shut down). You can also find software that backups operating systems and settings too. This could prove useful if your Mac gets stolen or damaged.
You’ll be able to move to another device and quickly get all your data and applications configured as they were.
Another alternative for enhanced backup is the cloud. Time Machine and third-party software solutions require a local device to hold the backup. But if your computer is stolen, the thief is likely to have taken your backup too. Or, if your laptop is damaged in a flood or fire, the backup is probably also destroyed.
You’re also at risk of ransomware with Time Machine and third-party software. If malicious software compromises a device (yes, Macs are vulnerable too), it’s going to spread to connected or networked devices. So, the USB backup drive or NAS is as susceptible to encryption as the main Mac device.
Cloud backup provides a solution that helps avoid all these issues. Your backup data is stored in a datacenter that the thief, fire, flood, or ransomware can’t touch. Most cloud backup providers boast rigorous security protocols.
Eventually, all hard drives will fail. Backing up important data to one device leaves you at risk of a single point of failure. Cloud backup removes the fear that the one backup drive isn’t going to be working when you need it.
Need help setting up Time Machine, a third-party backup, or configuring your cloud backup? Let our computer experts help! We don’t want anyone to go without the safety and security of a reliable backup.
Ever seen a thriller in which someone asks, “is this a secure line?” The good guys or villains want to be sure their conversations can’t be overhead. When you get a VPN to connect to the Internet, you’re signing up for the online equivalent of a secure line.
VPN stands for virtual private network. Put simply, a VPN connects your computer, smartphone, or tablet to a shared or public network as if you're connecting to a private network. Banks, governments, and companies use VPNs to connect to their networks remotely. Now, it’s becoming more common for the general public to use VPNs. After all, we’re doing online shopping or banking and exchanging sensitive data. We don’t want others to be able to access or track what we do online.
A VPN is an encrypted connection to the internet. It’s your own secure and private internet connection that you can take with you outside of your home.
Benefits of a VPN
There are many advantages to having a VPN. For instance, your VPN also encrypts your online activity. Every internet user has a unique IP address assigned by their internet provider. It’s sort of the technological equivalent of your fingerprint.
When you connect to the internet using a VPN, your IP address is masked. The address used is that of your VPN provider. So, you look like them rather than your home connection. You might think of the VPN as wearing gloves that prevent you from leaving fingerprints when you move around online.
Your search history isn't logged. You don’t have to worry about bad actors or advertisers tracking your activity. If you want to check social media at work or on a school campus that blocks certain sites, your VPN lets you do so.
You can use the VPN to access a business network securely, too. So, you can use the technology to be more efficient when working remotely.
A VPN can also help you avoid geo-blocking. What’s geo-blocking? It’s a technology that restricts your access to services based on your location. For example, if you were trying to stream a Netflix show from your home country from overseas, you would be geo-blocked. But if Netflix can’t see you’re out of the country, it will let you in to catch up on your favorites.
You could also save money. When your location isn’t known, you can benefit from price disparities – the cost for the same product varies in different regions. The wealthier areas are charged more because sellers can get away with the price markup.
Who can use a VPN?
Anyone can connect to a VPN. You can connect your computers, phones, or tablets to a VPN. It’s a flexible solution that doesn’t need you to switch internet provider or buy any new equipment.
You can also work with a VPN provider. Some are free, but paid VPN providers tend to offer proven security and greater networking speeds.
Why Your Updates Are More Important Than Ever
Stories about hackers and virus attacks seem to be making the news almost every day, and many of these news stories include tips on how you can avoid becoming a victim. One common theme among these tips is making sure your Windows operating system up to date.
Every day hackers are trying to figure out new ways to break into Microsoft Windows and once they do find a weakness, they try and find a way to spread it. This could be through a malicious email attachment or even something that spreads without your involvement.
Whenever Microsoft discovers a potential flaw, they push out a small piece of software to all Windows computers running a supported version. If set correctly, your computer will check if there’s any updates or patches and install them automatically. In new versions, this usually happens when you’re shutting down or starting up, and doesn’t impact your experience at all. Unfortunately, some users will manually disable or delay their updates, creating a risky situation.
The update may include security patches, drivers or a simple tweak to address bugs or issues with Windows. Sometimes, they even include new features or applications to improve the stability of your operating system. They’re a good thing!
Not All Versions Get Updates
Some older operating systems are no longer supported, which means unless there are extenuating circumstances, Microsoft won’t issue any new updates. Not a single one – generally, if cyber criminals discover a flaw after support ends, they’re free to exploit it. For example, Windows XP support ended in 2014, and Windows Vista just ended in April this year. The moment an operating system is retired it becomes a playground for cyber-criminals.
It’s not just Microsoft walking away from these old versions either. Third party software like the Google Chrome browser will still work, but they’ve also stopped supporting old versions with crucial updates and patches. It might seem like everything is working fine because your anti-virus isn’t pinging in alarm, but it just becomes a case of risk, upon risk, upon risk.
What to do with older Windows
As much as you’re comfortable with your older version of Windows, each time you boot up you’re exposing your system, important files and entire network. It only takes one weak entry point in the chain to allow malware into all connected devices. That could mean your photo storage, media center or even smart appliances. It’s not worth it - if you’re running Windows XP or Vista (or older), you need to update to a more modern operating system ASAP. Give us a call to upgrade your computer.
We can also monitor your system remotely and apply your Windows updates with our Pro+Tech Managed Services packages, ensuring you are always up to date and protected. Give us a call at 218-240-8802 or check our Pro+Tech service on our website.
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