Archive for Mobile Devices

Too Many Passwords? Try a Password Manager

Keep your computer secure from scammers

One of the regular things we see is customers struggling with the number of passwords they need to remember – so many login details are needed these days. As we have advised previously, it is not a good idea to have just one password for everything so how can you keep track of all of them?

You can try using a Password Manager – this is a program or browser extension that allows you to store passwords in an encrypted form on your device, but also do much more. The bonus is that all you need is one Master password to manage it.

The passwords are saved in an encrypted password ‘vault’ and when you go to a specific website, the Password Manager inputs the password for you. Whilst many browsers already do this for you, a Password Manager does it in a more secure way.

Some Password Managers advise you as to how secure your passwords are – preferably using a mixture of letters, numbers, capitals and special characters. Some can automatically change passwords for you and as well as set up two-factor authentication – this is where you can open the password vault with your Master password, but you also use some form of verification (such as getting a code texted to your phone), which you type in to prove that you are authorised to access those important password details.

The main point is that you would not need to remember large numbers of passwords, which means that you can easily keep your online accounts as secure as possible.

There are a many Password Managers – here is a selection of the best known ones: –

LastPass

This is one of the original Password Managers and installs a browser extension or mobile app. With one master password you can access the password vault and manage passwords for all websites that you log into. It can even generate secure passwords for you.

At the moment the browser extension is free to use and more services are available in the premium version.

True Key

Intel has produced a Password Manager that is free to use for 15 passwords, which is enough for many people, and also a premium version which allows more and extra services. As well as the usual encrypted password facility, it allows multiple ways to access the password vault – master password, second device, email or even facial recognition.

Dashlane

As well as storing your passwords securely, this product helps you by providing a rating of your password security strength. The premium version also allows synching across multiple devices as well as two-factor authentication.

These are just three of the many Password Managers out there but whatever one you choose, do make sure that it is from a reputable company. If using a search engine, take particular care checking the website address the download is coming from as it needs to come from the company itself and not an address that is only similar.

Also you need to remember that whilst Password Managers help you keep track of your password security, you still need to maintain effective security software and keep a cautious eye on what you download from the internet.

If you would like help with password security, call us on 01455 209505.

Share..Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestPrint this pageEmail this to someone

4 Simple Tips to Help Keep Your Internet Banking Safe

Online Banking precautions

Online banking has boomed in the past few years – branches are fewer and apps are in. Half the time when you visit a branch, you’re steered towards a computer for a DIY transaction – with optional assistance. But is internet banking really safe?

You’re always told to keep your financial details private, but the good news is you CAN bank more safely online with a few simple precautions.

Always type in the website address

Many attackers will attempt to trick you into clicking a fake link to your bank website. Usually sent as a ‘phishing email’, they’ll claim that there’s a problem and ask you to click through to your bank and correct it asap. The link points to a fake website that looks almost exactly like your real bank site and is recording your private account info.

You can avoid scams like this simply by accessing your bank by manually typing in the website or using a bookmark – never a link.

Avoid public computers and networks

Jumping onto a PC at the library or other public place might seem like a quick and easy way to check your account, but public computers are often targeted by scammers. In just a few moments, they can install keyloggers (programs that record usernames, passwords and other private data), then sit back as all future user details are emailed to them.

The same problem applies with free, unsecured Wi-Fi.

You’re better off using an ATM or a data-enabled smartphone, preferably one with a security app.

Use a strong password with 2-factor authentication

Create a unique password for your online banking, something you’ve never used anywhere else. Mix up words, numbers and symbols to create a complex password that can’t be guessed easily. Avoid giving attackers a head start with data they can find on Facebook, like childrens names, pet names, birthdates, etc and really think outside the box.

And of course, never write it down anywhere near your wallet, phone or computer.

If remembering is likely to be an issue, you might like to consider a secure password manager app. Many banks will also help boost your security with two-factor authentication, sending random codes to your phone (or a special LCD device that they provide) to verify any activity.

Check page security before entering data

Finally, take a second to spot the small padlock icon at the top before you enter any data. You’re looking for a padlock appearing as part of the browser itself, not just an image on the webpage. It will be either in the bottom corner or next to the URL. The address will also start with https:// instead of http://. If you don’t see these things, the page is NOT secure and you shouldn’t log in.

We have many customers that never use online banking, but for the majority of people who do, these simple steps will help keep your transactions a little bit safer.

Need some help securing your system against scammers? We can help. Call us on 01455 209505.

Share..Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestPrint this pageEmail this to someone

Surface Laptop – no more Repairs?

Surface motherboard showing integrated parts

For some time now, many technology products have been produced which have severely restricted upgrade and repair options – when something goes wrong it’s usually straight back to the manufacturer. Whether its cost cutting during the manufacturing process or for some other reason, manufacturers have deliberately been producing devices that have fewer repairability options compared to previous devices.

One well-known example is Apple products which are notoriously difficult to repair anywhere other than at an Apple store (and in many cases they just send the device back to the manufacturer anyway) – third party repairers are not exactly welcomed. Whether it’s a special glue that holds the glass screen in place, special tools being required or for some other reason, the ability to repair and also to upgrade is becoming much more controlled, but not by the user.

It now looks as though Microsoft are following suit, as their Surface laptop has been given a lower repairability rating than the previous version – it simply isn’t meant to be repaired.

Starting with no screws, the case needs to be pried apart and the external fabric has a high chance of being torn in the process.

Once inside, things like battery and keyboard are glued to the case. There are a number of thermal pads attached to the internal circuit board (motherboard) which are likely be damaged and needing replacement due to opening. Upgradeability is pretty much nil, as the CPU (processor), RAM (memory) and storage are all soldered to the motherboard, unlike in the past when customers could increase performance and storage by replacing them.

Some may say that this makes sure that repairs are controlled by the manufacturer, which is a fair point. However the other side of the coin is that in the past you could, for example, get a laptop keyboard replaced fairly easily, but even this basic option is no longer available on many devices.

Similarly, upgrading to more RAM has been fairly easy to do for many years and short of replacing the CPU, is the second best way to speed up performance – but if you can no longer do this, then replacing the whole unit is more likely.

Whether or not you agree with restricting customer options, the fact is that this trend is likely to continue. So when purchasing, you need to bear in mind that any repairs (if at all possible) would need to be done back at the manufacturers or their “authorised partners”, which means that the device needs to be sent away and you will not have it for some time, it will certainly be out of your hands longer than a local repairer.

Alternatively you may just get a replacement instead of a repair, which is okay so long as it isn’t a refurbished device that you get back or that in the process you no longer have important files that were on the old device – so backups are vital.

Share..Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestPrint this pageEmail this to someone

How Many Good Battery Habits Do You Have?

Extending your battery life

Batteries are rarely talked about – until they’re drained – then we’ll tell everyone as we beg desperately for a charger, hoping to get enough juice to last the day. The truth is, they’re a miracle of engineering that gets taken for granted and cursed when flat.

When repairing customer laptops we often hear the phrase “the battery died after a year or so” and that was certainly the case with the older type batteries. Luckily battery technology has gone a lot further and Lithium-Ion batteries are the main battery of choice today, together with longer lifespan and longer useful working charge.

If it feels like your battery is running out faster, you might be right. But it’s not because of ‘battery memory’ and needing to be cycled (that’s an older battery type called NiMh), it’s because the modern Lithium-Ion batteries in phones and laptops just simply wear out over time or get affected by heat. Fortunately, extending your battery life is easier than you think!

Which of the following GOOD battery habits do you have?

Charge whenever you can:

Lithium-ion batteries don’t like being charged all the way up and then drained all the way down. No wonder, it even sounds exhausting. Give them a little charge here and there, and they’ll be happy.

Leave your laptop plugged in:

You are very unlikely to over-charge the modern battery, it will just sit there waiting to be used. The laptop also helps out by cutting the flow of power when the battery registers as fully charged.

Watch for overheating:

Your laptop battery won’t overcharge, but it may overheat. You might also consider removing the battery if you’re using your laptop plugged in all the time. Yes, you might lose data if there’s a power outage, but overheating is a far more common occurrence and it’s been proven to degrade battery life considerably. Check your vents are clear with good airflow, and if necessary, help it out with a cooling laptop stand.

Leave your phone plugged in all night:

Just like your laptop, your charger knows to stop when the battery is full. Those chargers do generate heat though, so make sure you have enough airflow around both charger and phone, and never cover them up with anything.

Charge batteries before storing:

If you’re one of the lucky few with backup batteries, make sure to give them a half charge before storing. They’ll naturally discharge and age over time, so this gives them a fighting chance to still be viable when you need them.

Keep your cool:

We know to avoid water with our phones, but we’re less careful about exposing it to heat. This includes leaving it in your car all day, placing it on top of your PC, or even in a sunny spot by the window.

Wireless and rapid chargers can also be an issue, as the amount of heat they generate will affect your battery.

Keeping your Lithium-Ion battery happy is easier than you think. Your battery will wear out over time, but you can push that day a few years into the future if you remember to keep it charged and keep it cool.

Having battery issues? We can help! Call us at 01455 209505.

Share..Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestPrint this pageEmail this to someone

Security – 4 Ways to Travel Safe for Your Business

or aMobile Security for your Business

Working from anywhere is now as simple as accessing the internet on any number of devices. Managers, owners, and employees are all embracing the flexibility of working while travelling, making it the new norm.

But while you were in the office, you were protected by professionally designed firewalls, security infrastructure, and robust software. As soon as you step away from the building, those protections disappear, leaving your device and the data inside at greater risk.

Cyber attackers love to collect any data they can obtain, often preferring to hack first, assess value later. It doesn’t help that almost all data can be sold, including your personal details, those of your clients and suppliers, as well as your proprietary business data. These days, the information stored on your device is usually worth much more than the device itself.

Here are 3 ways a hacker will attack:

Making use of Opportunity – getting hold of the device

Whether an employee left their laptop at a café or a thief stole the phone from their pocket, the outcome is the same – that device is gone. Hackers will take advantage of any opportunity to gain access to a device, including taking them from hotel rooms and even asking to ‘borrow’ them for a few minutes to install spyware, before handing it back.

Have you ever handed your smartphone to a stranger, asking them to take a photo for you?

Spoofing a Wi-Fi Hotspot

We’ve all come to expect free Wi-Fi networks wherever we go – we can even create them ourselves using smartphones. Hackers will take advantage of this trust to create their own free, insecure network, just waiting for a traveller to check a quick email.

When they do, they can monitor traffic and if your device is not secured, hackers can obtain all sorts of information.

Intercepting an Insecure Network

Hackers don’t need to own the Wi-Fi network to steal content from it. Data travelling across an insecure genuine network is visible and available to anyone with the right software.

Taking these four precautions will help to increase cyber safety and help to protect your business data while on the move: –

1.    Make a backup before you travel: In the event that your device is lost or damaged, you’ll be able to replace the device with a new one and quickly restore all the data from a backup, all with minimal downtime. (Also bear in mind that many devices have a remote delete or lock function in the event of a theft – if yours does you may want to consider it).

2.    Don’t use public Wi-Fi: Wait until you have access to a secure network before going online – even just to check email.

3.    Use passwords and encryption: At a minimum, make sure you have a password on your device, or even better, have full drive encryption. That way, even if your data storage is removed from the device, the contents are inaccessible.

4.    Act fast after loss: If your device is lost or stolen, immediately notify the appropriate people. This might include your IT provider so they can change passwords, your bank so they can lock down accounts, and any staff or colleagues who need to be aware of the breach, so they aren’t tricked into allowing further breaches.

So much personal, financial and business information is now held on our mobile devices that they are a potential goldmine for the wrong people. Think objectively and try to minimise the risk now, because a cyber breach is happening to someone else whilst you are reading this – don’t let it be you.

Need help with mobile cyber security? Call us at 01455 209505.

Share..Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestPrint this pageEmail this to someone