Protecting our Beloved Children

Do you have school-age kids in your life? Perhaps you have grandchildren. Or maybe you have friends who have kids or grandkids you care about.

They’re back in school, and connecting with their friends. Maybe they are making new friends. In any case, they are communicating, and they are doing it online…. and with their phones.

When we were growing up, we connected face-to-face, or sometimes by phone. When the phone rang, we knew the person we were talking with. Of course, a stranger might call, or someone might even call under false pretenses. But we didn’t immediately become friends when a stranger called. Continue reading “Protecting our Beloved Children”

Bonus Tip – What’s Next?

We have just gone through a month of focusing on CyberSecurity. We have discussed some scary things in the world of cyberspace. Now that National Cyber Security Awareness Month is over, where do we go from here?

Today is All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day. Yesterday was All Hallows’ Eve (i.e., All Hallow’s Evening, or HallowE’en’). I want to use the transition from Hallowe’en to All Saints’ Day as an illustration.

As we move from a day characterized by scary creatures and acts of mischief to a day of Saints whose lives are characterized by good deeds, it seems appropriate to move from the world of scary cyber stuff to one where we can support the good of technology and banish the bad.

Yesterday, I talked about how computers and other devices can be turned into zombies to do the bidding of cybercriminals when they get infected and come under the control of a Command and Control server. I mentioned how they can disrupt our ability to use the Internet and can even affect our health and safety in the physical world. I emphasized the need to be responsible and take measures to prevent our own computers and other devices from coming under the control of these cybercriminals.

 

It is one thing to say we should take security precautions, but quite another to be able to do it. There are so many things to be watchful of and measures to take. It can be confusing to know where to start, much less to know what measures we can take.

But we need to start somewhere. That “somewhere” is to become better informed. We need to become informed about the threats and how to avoid becoming victims. We need to learn what measures are most effective to keep us and our information safe. And we need to learn how to actually apply those measures. That cannot be done overnight. It must be an ongoing effort. But it doesn’t have to be hard (although it usually tends to be, unless you have someone to guide you).

The point of today’s post is to say:
You need to become better informed about security.

The reason I have started this web site is to begin providing guidance so you can become better informed, without having to wade through many years of study, reading books, attending lectures and seminars, going through a great deal of trial and error, and so forth. Over time, I will be providing ongoing training through courses, workshops, webinars, calls, etc.

The advantage of learning from me is that I can condense years of study and make your learning much easier, and can make even those things that are difficult to understand much easier to understand.

Over the last month, I have hurried through the infomation for these daily tips and have not been able to go into as much detail or to be as simple as I would like, due to the space and time constraints of this past month’s effort. With future programs, I expect to expand on each subject more, to take more time with each topic, and to allow opportunities for questions and interaction.

 

You don’t have to learn this from me. But I believe it is essential that you learn it from someone. If you choose not to join me for this, please find someone or some way to learn it yourself.

As we saw yesterday, those who are unaware of this information become pawns of the cyber criminals. Those who are not informed have their systems used as weapons of the cyber criminals to attack others.

Please take this seriously and learn all you can. Join the side of the Saints to be a good citizen of the Internet community and help fight cybercrime by protecting yourself, your systems, and your information.

 

Please make a personal decision now. Please decide that you will take at least some time and effort to learn something new about security every month. If you learn a couple things each month, you will find that, over time, you will become much better able to protect yourself and your information. You will also be much less likely to become one of those whose computers or other devices are used to disrupt the Internet or other critical systems.

If you have learned something over the last month, please keep coming back. There is much more to come, some on this blog and much through other material I will make available. I know you are busy and that it is easy to “forget” to come back due to the many demands on our time. If you haven’t already signed up for the notification list, why not do that now? It will give you reminders to come back as new material is released on this blog or to find out about additional materials or events as I make them available. You will find the sign-up form near the top, on the right side of the page.

Thanks for joining me this past month. Be CyberSafe!

Daily Tip 31 – The Zombie Apocalypse

Halloween. We love to decorate our houses, dress up, have fun.

Goblins, witches, even zombies.

But what if our computers join in the fun. Then, it’s no longer so much fun.

A computer can become a zombie. When it does, it can attack us, and even affect our physical world. That has happened in the last couple weeks.

Daily Tip 30 – Back Up Your Data

You’ve undoubtedly heard that you should back up your computer. Have you done it? If you’re like most people, the answer is “No.”

But a good backup could save you a lot of distress and also a good amount of money if your data are ever lost. Unfortunately, that happens too often.

Some data loss may not matter much. But most people have something that is important.

A backup is a copy. A backup can even be a paper print-out of information. Or it can be done “electronically.”

If it is important, you should have a backup.

Daily Tip 29 – Don’t Get Rid of that Computer Yet

So, your computer has died and you are getting rid of it. Or you are replacing it with a newer one. A lot of people will throw it out or give it away. But, before you do, there’s something you should know.

Your computer probably still has a lot of information on it that someone else can get. Even if you think you got rid of everything.

There are files you have saved, possibly financial and medical information, letters you’ve written, and pictures you’ve stored. There is probably a significant amount of information about places you have visited on the Internet, searches you have done, and possibly even copies of the pages you have visited. Even if you deleted all these files and emptied the recycle bin, the chances are good that there is information on that computer that you haven’t been able to get rid of.

In fact, a lot of the techniques that people use to try to get rid of their data are not nearly as effective as they think they are.

So, before you get rid of it, make sure your data isn’t falling into someone else’s hands.

Daily Tip 28 – Surf at Your Own Risk

What kind of web sites can infect your computer?

a) Sites that provide up-to-date news stories

b) Sites about the hottest celebrities

c) Porn sites

d) Sites where professionals go to keep up-to-date on developments in their field

e) Sports sites

f) All of the above

Hint: The answer is not the one that is probably your first guess

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Answer: F) All of the above

Daily Tip 27 – Unknown links

We are told to be careful of clicking on links. There are some you should not click on, like those that say there is a problem with your account and that say you should click on the link to fix it.

But there are others that look strange or that don’t seem to go where you think you want to end up, but they are actually perfectly OK. There are legitimate reasons for using these. On the other hand, they could also be used for malicious purposes.

The lesson is that you can never be sure where a link is going to take you. You need to exercise caution.

It is hard to tell if a link is safe. But context and whether or not you trust the person providing the link can help.

Daily Tip 26 – Breaking the Rules

Security is not just about rules. It is not just about risks. But to understand how to keep safe and protect yourself and your information, you need to understand the risks and the rules and practices that can keep you safe.

Blindly following the rules, even security rules, will not keep you safe. Relying on rules to keep you safe will backfire.

You must be informed. That is why I am providing this information. You must be able to recognize when there is a problem and when you might be at risk. Rules alone will not do that for you.

Today’s extended tip talks about True Security. That may even mean not following the rules. Read about it HERE

Daily Tip 25 – Settings to make e-mail safer

Default settings on e-mail programs often put your computer at risk. Changing some of those settings can protect you.

Some of the settings you should consider changing are:
       View e-mail as “text” and not as “html”
       Turn off the “preview” function
       Don’t display external images
       Don’t allow executables to run

Details on these settings and why they are important, as well as the drawbacks, are discussed in the extended tip. Ongoing access to the extended tips will be made available in a few days.

Daily Tip 24 – Don’t use Administrator Accounts for Normal Use

Don’t use your computer logged in as an administrator. Make your account a standard user (“Limited” user) and use that account for your daily operation. Only use administrative-level access when you are setting up your computer, installing new software or hardware, and the like. Then return to a limited account for your regular use.

If you get prompts about making changes to your computer, be especially careful. Clicking “Yes” may allow a malicious program to do something destructive to your system.