September 9th, 2013
Google Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are the three most popular browsers for PC users. One of the reasons for this is that each offers users security tools to keep them safer while surfing the web.
Kim LaChance Shandrow reports for Entrepreneur that 31-percent of internet attacks target businesses with fewer than 250 employees. This means that regardless of who you are, or how big or small your company is, you have a significant chance of being the victim of a cyber attack. You can’t afford to browse the internet without the proper security in place. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the security each of the top three browsers offer users.
This browser’s maker, Mozilla, is a non-profit foundation and is mostly funded by Google, who pays to have their site incorporated into the browser. It is also considered by many to have the best security features of any of the most popular browsers. “Undercover” mode and the “Do Not Track” tool both help keep your activity online invisible to others, including website who would normally track you. Firefox also warns you when you encounter a potentially malicious site. Malware, phishing scams and dummy sites are all recognized and you are given advance warning.
Google’s browser is the most used in the US and boasts the fastest performance. Privacy settings are highly customizable and the “Incognito” mode works just like Firefox’s “Undercover” to keep your activity hidden. There’s also a “Do Not Track” tool but it’s not as user friendly as Firefox’s. While Chrome does a good job protecting users from malware and dummy sites, a big flaw is that information saved, like passwords, contact and credit card information, isn’t encrypted.
Microsoft boosted their security offering in the latest version of their browser. “Enhanced Protected Mode” safeguards against malware, tracking and hacking. Internet Explorer specifically protects against cross-scripting attacks and offers “Do Not Track” and “InPrivate” modes, much like Chrome and Firefox. One security gap exists in ActiveX, which is included to make rich media like video and animations run smoother. Cyber criminals are able to use ActiveX as a hacking tool when it’s allowed to run. IE10 does allow users to disable ActiveX, however, and only use it on trustworthy sites.
Browser security is certainly improving with each new version, but a browser’s protection will likely never be enough to keep you fully secure. Antivirus and anti-malware software should be installed and regularly updated on your machine and firewalls should be in place. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible for hackers to infiltrate your device.
For help improving your security at home or the office, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a variety of security solutions to keep your data safe.
September 4th, 2013
The growing trend of BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, means that more and more employees are using their personal smartphones on company networks. The initial concern surrounding BYOD is that sensitive and valuable information will be stored on personal devices and potentially lost or stolen. But, as Sam Narisi points out for IT Manager Daily, there’s another significant threat to consider.
A security researcher for Tripwire recently demonstrated how a single compromised Android device could be used to hack into a company’s IT infrastructure. This is possible through Google apps, which many companies use for cloud computing and email.
Android uses a “single sign-on” feature, which means that users aren’t asked to continuously authenticate their Google account with a password. Instead, the Android device stores a cookie the first time you authenticate your account and remembers that your device and your account are linked.
The problem is similar to forgetting to log-out of your email or social media account on a shared computer. For example, if you’ve ever checked your Facebook page at a computer lab or library and forgotten to sign-out when you left, you probably ended up with some joke statuses on your account. College students know exactly what we’re talking about.
For this Android flaw, when an employees device is lost or stolen, their accounts remain active. Whoever holds that device has access to everything stored in Google apps, including the employee’s email account.
An intelligent hacker, however, doesn’t even need to physically hold the Android to access Google apps. If they are able to infect the device with malware, they could also gain similar access to Google accounts.
The simplest fix for this security flaw is to keep anyone from accessing corporate Google apps with their Android device. Failing that, keep from downloading any extraneous apps, especially outside of the Play Store. That will go a long way in keeping malware off your smartphone.
For more help keeping your smartphone or other device safe and secure, contact Geek Rescue ta 918-369-4335. We offer a variety of security solutions for both home and business.
August 29th, 2013
The most used mobile operating system in the world is Android. If you own an Android device, you’re also the most likely to be the victim of a malicious attack.
The BBC reports that Android users were 79-percent of attacks on mobile devices in 2012. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, suffered less than 1-percent of attacks.
The simple fact that more users are available through Android than iOS plays a role in why hackers dedicate more time to that operating system. Another reason is chalked up to Android’s very architecture. The same thing that makes Android so developer friendly and customizable also makes it susceptible to malware.
There have been many security vulnerabilities exposed in older version of Android operating systems. Since many users are still using devices with those systems installed, they are still at risk. Apple, on the other hand, reports that more than 93-percent of their users have the latest operating system installed on their device.
Two key threats have been identified as the main sources of malware infections. One, Text trojans, sends unsolicited SMS messages to users containing harmful links. The other are fake sites that appear to be the legitimate Google Play store, but actually contain harmful apps.
Although older versions of the Android operating system are most at risk, newer version have displayed vulnerabilities as well. Recently, the so-called ‘Master Key’ bug allowed hackers in China to take control of a number of Android phones.
To keep your device safe, you need a combination of security apps and smart surfing practices. To increase the security on your device, be it Android, iOS, mobile or desktop, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.
August 28th, 2013
Recognizing that an account that you use often has been hacked is fairly easy. Recovering from a hack is much more difficult.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, recently tackled this issue on his blog. As he notes, not only do you need to make sure the hacker no longer has access to any of your accounts, but you also need to safeguard for the future.
In the event that you have a hacked account, here’s what to do.
Take this opportunity to make passwords stronger using numbers, symbols and both upper and lowercase letters. If you’re changing multiple accounts, make sure you’ve secured your email address first. Otherwise, a criminal could have access to emails from other accounts informing you about your new passwords.
For Google accounts, and most email and social media accounts, you should be able to see when your account was last active. If you’re being told that someone accessed this account within the hour and it wasn’t you, you know there’s still a problem. You should also be able to find out where other users are logging in from.
For email accounts, a hacker may have set your address to forward to his. For other accounts, check to make sure your email address is still the one associated with the account.
- Consider two-factor authentication
This method is available for most accounts and requires both your log-in and password in addition to a code the website send you, usually over text message. This adds another layer of security and throws in an additional pass code that outsiders shouldn’t know.
Unfortunately, even if you’re careful you run a significant risk of a hack. Knowing how to recover quickly and re-secure your account is important so you don’t lose more than you have to.
For help with security at home or the office, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.
August 23rd, 2013
There are three main choices for an internet browser. Internet explorer from Microsoft was the top choice for quite some time, but competitors Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have taken a bite out of the market share. Chrome is now the most used browser, but many people aren’t taking advantage of extensions to use it at full capacity.
Extensions are tools you add on to your existing Chrome browser. They enhance your productivity by making tasks you already do easier. There are ad-blockers, screenshot tools, password auto-fills and social media help. Best of all, many of the top extensions are free to install.
Paul Mah, of CIO, has a list of some of the best Chrome apps currently available, but not all of his choices are free.
We’ve all had moments when a screenshot of our browser would be helpful for one reason or another. With this extension, you get to choose what area of the screen you want a shot of, and include annotations for reference.
This extension allows you to post updates to all of your social media profiles without having to navigate to each page. When you find something you want to share, just use Buffer to schedule your posts across all of your profiles. It even tracks metrics so you can see how you’re doing.
Your operating system may not have the capability to snap browser windows to each side of the screen so each is viewable. With the Dualless extension, you’ll always be able to arrange Chrome’s windows the way you need them.
Sites that still use Flash slow down your performance, but with this extension, Flash on any site is automatically blocked to keep your browsing experience fast.
When you come across a word you are unfamiliar with, just double click and this extension provides a small pop-up definition. You will have to specifically allow Chrome to open pop-ups when you double click, however.
The name is a little odd, but this extension proves to be incredibly useful. If you accidentally close a tab, you’ll have the ability to search through a list of every closed tab you’ve been through to find it again. The list is organized by when the tab was closed, but is searchable by keywords to help.
The Chrome Web Store offers thousands of options for you to customize your browser and optimize your experience. It’s available by going to the Settings page and clicking Extensions.
Should you be having trouble with your internet, or the device you use to access it, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. Our knowledgeable techs are available to fix whatever problem you may be experiencing.
August 22nd, 2013
Everyone is clamoring for an upgrade in security for their smartphone and Google has applied for a patent that seemingly will do just that.
Alex Colon, of GigaOM, writes that Google patented a “location-based security system for portable electronic devices.” So how will this help keep your smartphone safe?
You’re already letting Google know where you are all the time. Using Google Maps or just leaving location based searches on, your GPS and Google already have a close relationship.
This new technology builds off of that to change the settings on your phone based on where you currently are. For example, when you’re at home, the security settings will be set to low because there is little chance of anyone swiping your phone from your coffee table. However, when you venture outside and into public, your phone will automatically beef up security due to potentially more dangerous surroundings.
Without you having to physically change anything, your phone will demand a password to advance past the lockscreen. Other security measures may be put in place, as well.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly how Google plans to use this new patent. In the meantime, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 to discover all of your options for keeping your smartphone safe and secure. We protect devices from hacks, viruses and malware and also fix broken devices.
August 12th, 2013
Infographic via WhoIsHosting
The key to security when surfing the internet expands well beyond having the best antivirus software installed on your machine. That is extremely useful in fighting off any malware and viruses you may pick up along the way, but it doesn’t take a proactive approach to protecting your data and personal identifiable information.
We’ve talked about how to surf invisibly and the problem with storing passwords with your browser. The included infographic illustrates not only the problems with some of the most utilized web tools, but also alternatives that keep your data more secure.
Here are some of the more noteworthy revelations.
- Incognito Insecurities- In Google Chrome, even using ‘incognito mode’ doesn’t stop the browser from using cookies and tracking your search history. Chrome then uses that data to sell to advertisers, which means going incognito doesn’t help nearly as much as you’d think.
- Encryption For All- The value of encryption can’t be overstated. In order to protect your email, encryption is a much needed tool. Regardless of the type of email you use, encryption is an option and one you should be using.
- There’s Always An Alternative- No matter what you are interested in doing online, there is an alternate option that offers more security than what most people are using. For file storage, chatting, email, browsing, video viewing and more, you don’t need to stop doing it, just find a better way.
Keeping your data and information private and secure goes a long way to keep your identity and computer safe. To heighten the security around your data, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We will match your needs with security solutions to keep you safe online and help you understand how to safely surf the web.
August 7th, 2013
When you log-in to your most visited sites on the web, your internet browser will offer to store your log-in information so you don’t need to enter it every time you visit the site. Many users use this function to keep from forgetting passwords or just to make their lives that much easier.
Have you ever thought about who might have access to the passwords you store? Particularly for Chrome and Firefox users, anyone with local access to your machine also has easy access to all of your stored passwords.
Tim Scheisser, of TechSpot, reveals that in two of the most common browsers, stored passwords are not hidden behind encryption or any type of master password. Instead, they are available to anyone using the computer.
Chrome representatives say the omission of any type of security around your stored passwords was intentional. Rather than leading you to believe your passwords are safe because of encryption or other measures, they want you to understand that if anyone gains local access to your computer, all of your information is compromised.
While it’s true that someone who has access to your physical machine is hard to stop, many users would prefer more protection than Chrome and Firefox supply. Internet Explorer and Safari both provide a master password lock before granting access to stored passwords. This is certainly breakable, but at least takes some effort.
Client side protection has never been, nor will it ever be the main focus of a browser. To maximize your security, consider not using the store password function. You’ll also want to call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 and have the latest security software loaded onto your machine. With the right tools in place, you avoid devastating losses of data.
August 2nd, 2013
You may think it’s easy to avoid malware. Sketchy looking emails, not-so-subtle internet ads and downloading too good to be true files all lead to likely infections of your computer. Those are thinly veiled attempts to put malware on your machine and most internet users have learned how to stay safe. But what if those malware attempts weren’t so thinly veiled?
Jaikumar Vijayan, of ComputerWorld, reports that malware is being distributed more often from legitimate cloud services like Google Docs or Dropbox, which makes them difficult to avoid. In the past, malware usually stemmed from a site created by a hacker. That made it easy to seek out those sites and blacklist them. Naturally, hackers’ methods evolved to try to stay one step ahead.
Because the malware stems from a usually trustworthy source, the malicious files are more likely to slip past any security defenses in place. No longer can you blindly trust files simply based on where you found them.
Evidence of malware has been found in a number of online cloud services. These services allow registration without requiring much information, which means cyber criminals are able to register with fake information.
To stay safe from infection, you’ll need to be more intelligent in your web activities and have the latest security measures in place. To be sure you’re prepared for the latest malware attack, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. They clean your machine to rid it of any existing malware, and give you the tools to keep it clean.
July 25th, 2013
At the beginning of July, a vulnerability on Android phones was discovered, which allows hackers to gain access to your data or even take control of your phone. Listening to phone calls, taking photos and stealing passwords is all possible if your phone is exploited.
To their credit, Google acted quickly to try to seal up the hole in their mobile operating system’s security. The patch they released takes time to be sent out to every subscriber, which means hackers were still able to take control of phones for weeks. It takes time for updates to filter down from Google to your handset because there are so many different manufacturers making Android phones. Each manufacturer and network operator checks the update before sending them out and sometimes modifications are needed to run with customized user interfaces.
BBC News reports this delay in patching lead to the first reported cases of hackers exploiting the so-called ‘master key’ bug. A trojan virus was added to two otherwise legitimate apps in China.
Users should remember that while Google’s Play app store is monitored and apps checked for malware, any apps downloaded outside Play aren’t verified. That’s where many users come in contact with viruses and malware.
To keep your phone and your data secure, only download verified apps. For security software and other measures to make your phone as safe as possible, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.