Surf Smarter To Stay Secure Online

August 30th, 2013

Smart surfer

Protecting your security and keeping your privacy online is possible. It takes more of a commitment than just keeping your antivirus software updated, however.

John Okoye, of Techopedia, suggests that your own browsing habits have as much to do with security as your security software. Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself.

  • Understand Your Browser

Do a little research and discover how the internet browser you’re using stores your data. It may be tracking your history and selling it to advertisers without your knowledge. However, many browsers have options to surf privately without saving your history or data. 

  • Proper Spam Techniques

Even if you are extremely careful about who you give your email address out to, you’ll still receive your fair share of spam emails. When one appears in your inbox, don’t respond. That includes following the ‘unsubscribe’ link. Once spammers learn that your email is active, you’ll actually receive more spam than before. Also, be sure to mark the email as spam, rather than just deleting. it. If you find that more spam emails are making through your spam filter, consider adding additional rules, or changing email providers. 

  • Be Careful With Social Networks

Social media profiles are a resource for hackers. By learning your birthday, address, phone number and email address, they can intelligently hack into other accounts, or send you phishing scams. Be sure to take advantage of security options to keep your information private and don’t over share. There’s usually no reason to include a phone number on your Facebook page. 

  • Be Smart About Email

Do some research and find an secure email provider. One that protects you from spam and doesn’t save your emails in a log. Your email should also be encrypted to ensure that no one but the intended recipient is reading them. You may also consider having multiple email accounts. That way, when registering for accounts on ecommerce sites or anywhere that you don’t want to have your primary or business email, you can use a secondary account. 

These are just some of the ways you can take action to stay safer and more secure online. To beef up the security for your home PC or your business network, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Understand Phishing Attacks To Avoid Being A Victim

August 29th, 2013

Phishing attack

The instances of phishing attacks is on an aggressive rise. Over the past 12-months, the number of users who have experienced a phishing attack has risen 87-percent, from 19.9-million to 37.3-million.

During that time, there have also been multiple high-profile attacks, whose victims have included Twitter and the New York Times. Anyone can be a victim to a phishing attack and the rise in victims seems to indicate an increase in the number of threats online. It also suggests that more users need to understand the risks and how to avoid them.

Brian Clark Howard delved into this topic for National Geographic to help educate users so they may be able to avoid phishing attacks in the future.

A phishing attack refers specifically to an online scam use social engineering to coerce users in giving up personal information like social security numbers, bank account information and phone numbers. The most common means of phishing comes through spam emails. These emails are sent to hundreds or thousands of recipients and made to look like official correspondence from banks, service providers or even government agencies. Some include the threat of termination of service, while others will promise money or deals.

Spear phishing is an attack specifically targeting an individual or organization. By using information gleaned from other places, a hacker will put together an email that seems more legitimate because it will include information about you that a random person shouldn’t know.

This is usually how large-scale enterprises get hacked. They’re specifically targeted and employees are tricked into giving out their log in information, which opens the door for hackers to access the company’s network.

Anyone using email is at risk of a phishing scam. Trusting your spam filters helps to avoid many of the lazier phishing attempts, but you’ll also need to be wary of unsolicited emails asking for information you wouldn’t feel comfortable giving out to just anyone. Attachments, links, misspelled words and bad grammar are all signs that the email isn’t legitimate. In nearly every case, it’s better to contact a company by phone instead of replying to an email with personal information.

If you do fall for a phishing scam, you should immediately take action to change your passwords and monitor accounts closely for strange activity.

For help keeping your email secure and beefing up spam filters, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We’ll help keep hackers out and your information secure.

You’ve Been Hacked, Now What Do You Do?

August 28th, 2013

Angry Hacking Victim

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.

  • Change your password

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. 

  • Check log-in details

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. 

  • Check settings

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.

How Many People Knowingly Open Spam?

August 23rd, 2013

Spam email frustration

When spam email arrives in your inbox, it’s easy to ignore it, delete it and forget about it, right? Well, maybe not so easy for many of us.

As Chris Matyszczyk, of CNet, reports, a recent study found that about 30-percent of people knowingly, willingly opened an email that they knew, or at least strongly suspected, was spam. Why? Sometimes, the promise of something too good to be true is too good to pass up.

To make matters worse, about 9-percent of people willingly downloaded attachments included in the spam email. So, they thought it was spam, opened it anyway and downloaded the attachment. Sometimes, we make it too easy for the hackers.

Those hackers, however, don’t make it easy for users. It’s because of the social engineering they employ that it’s so enticing to open messages we know we shouldn’t. The most popular tactics are the promise of money, sex or a new friend.

This behavior is why having antivirus software installed on your computer isn’t enough to keep you fully secure. It is this human error that often causes viruses and malware to infect your PC and steal your data.

These tempting spam attacks extend beyond your email inbox, as well. You’ll see similar tactics used on social media and in text messages. You’ve likely already received a text from an unknown number informing you that you’ve won some money or are entitled to a free gift card. When those arrive on our smartphones, it’s easy to identify them as spam, but sometimes it’s much more difficult to delete them and move on.

If you’d like to improve the security on your email, or need to clean and fix a device that’s infected with malware, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We understand spam is tricky, but we will fix whatever harm has been done.

Avoid Identity Theft With These Tips

August 6th, 2013

ID Theft

There are about 12-million people who are the victims of identity theft each year. In the US alone, identity theft costs about $18-billion. What can you do to avoid having your identity stolen?

As Abigail Wang, of PC Mag, points out, the key to staying safe is taking precautions offline, as well as online.

Shredding documents, especially mail like bank or credit card statements, that contain personal identifiable information is vital in keeping your identity safe. Even address labels that include your name could be harmful. Before you throw out junk mail, be sure to shred it. When mailing checks, drop them off at the post-office instead of leaving them for the mailman.

Online, it gets trickier to make sure you’re safe. Installing robust antivirus software is a necessary precaution and goes a long way to protect your security. You’ll need to keep that software up to date at all times.

In your email, trust your spam filter. If an email looks suspicious, don’t click any links contained in it and avoid opening at all if possible. Deleting old emails containing account information is also a good idea in case a hacker gains access to your inbox.

On social media, use privacy controls so that people you don’t know can’t see your personal information. It’s amazing how much someone with some expertise can do with just your birthday and hometown.

To keep your email and computer safe, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We install state of the art security software that locks out hackers. Every three seconds, someone’s identity is stolen. Don’t let yourself be a victim.

 

Follow These Tips To Keep Your Company’s Data Secure

July 22nd, 2013

Security Camera

Nearly every day, we hear about another catastrophic leak of data suffered by some of the world’s top companies. Either information vital to the way the company does business is intercepted, or customer’s personal identifiable information is. Both are crippling to the success of the company.

You need to take precautions in order to be as protected as possible against these devastating attacks. At the Up and Running blog, Emily Green has some suggestions for how to protect your company’s most important information.

  • Change Your Passwords- You shouldn’t wait until your system is hacked to decide your passwords need to be strengthened. Make sure your passwords are as strong as possible and change them regularly to something equally strong. Changing user names is a good practice as well.
  • Learn About Your ISP- When choosing an internet service provider, you may only consider the price and the speed of your connection. Your ISP should provide an extra measure of security, however, and if it doesn’t, it’s time to find a new one.
  • Utilize Antivirus Software- Quality antivirus software keeps out viruses, malware, spyware and protects email from spam and phishing attacks. It also provides a firewall to further protect you. It is only effective, however, if you keep it updated.
  • Use Encryption- Whatever data your company keeps, someone may find it valuable. Keeping it encrypted ensures that even if your network is compromised, your important data is still safe.
  • Block Sites- Many times, the biggest threat to your security is your own employees. Unfortunately, human error results in most of the virus, malware and spam infections. Blocking potentially dangerous sites erases these possibilities.

To get the most protected, secure network available, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We tailor a security infrastructure to your business and help keep your software updated and ready. Ask about our exclusive Safety Net service for the best in security solutions. 

Chrome Extension To Protect Gmail

July 19th, 2013

Encrypted

For most of us, email is lacking in security. Your inbox is susceptible to spam, phishing and malware. While there are a number of security options to help protect you, it’s harder to protect valuable data you’re sending in a message. If you’re a Google Chrome user with a Gmail account, extension “SecureGmail” encrypts your message and locks it with a password to protect your information.

Alan Henry, of Lifehacker, notes that the password to unencrypt your message should be shared face-to-face if possible. This Chrome extension is easy to install and use. It adds an icon to your inbox, which gives you the option to lock messages you’re sending. It also prevents those messages from saving as drafts, so there will be no unencrypted version of it anywhere.

There are other tools available to protect messages in case you use another webmail provider, like Yahoo. If you’re truly concerned about the lack of security for your email, however, talk to the experts at Geek Rescue. They explain how you’re currently vulnerable and give you options to shore up weaknesses in your security. They offer Exchange mail for your business and have a variety of solutions for your personal email. Call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 today before your valuable data falls into the wrong hands.

Spam Email as a Distraction

July 17th, 2013

Spam email attack

Have you heard of a Distributed Spam Distraction or DSD? It refers to the use of a flood of spam emails overwhelming your inbox to distract you from important emails detailing a cybercriminals real actions. John P. Mello details the dangers of a DSD attack for CIO.

Though still fairly rare, there’s been a spike in the number of DSD occurrences since the beginning of the year. The attack can last up to 24 hours and send a deluge of 60-thousand messages to your inbox. The spam is difficult to filter since it contains no malicious links or malware. The criminals make messages as simple as possible because their purpose is just to distract you.

If you experience a DSD attack, someone has obtained not only your specific email address, but also account information and passwords for an important site. While you’re sorting through a ridiculous amount of emails, usually filled with random quotes from books, criminals make changes to your online accounts, possibly transferring money or making purchases. Since these actions automatically send an email to your inbox, the spam is used to cover them and keep you unaware.

It’s important to change passwords and stay diligent in combing through spam emails when experience a DSD attack. Contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 immediately for help. They help you deal with the attack and protect you from future attempts to steal your data.