Four Tips for Improving Your Computer’s Security

Hackers, as you know, never rest. They spend countless hours looking for holes in our computers’ security so they can steal data, commandeer devices to generate cryptocurrency revenue or use them for other nefarious purposes.

Here are some ways to beef up your security:

Check Your Various Settings

The best way to do this is to use the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA), a free scan tool that performs local or remote scans of Windows systems.

It scans for missing security updates, rollups and service packs using Microsoft Update technologies. However, MBSA does not scan or report missing non-security updates, tools or drivers.

The latest version, MBSA 2.3, runs on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP systems.

Keep Your Browser(s) Updated

Keeping your browser updated is fundamental to your computer’s security. But making sure you have the latest versions of browser plug-ins is equally as important. An outdated plug-in leaves your browser and your computer vulnerable, even if the browser is up-to-date.

Regardless of which browser you use for your home or business, each gives you options to disable cookies and to block security risks such as malware that can sneak in through, infected pop-ups, plug-ins and extensions. To learn more, click here.

Make Sure Your Firewall is Rock-solid

A firewall is a hardware device or piece of software that controls the flow of information between your computer and the Internet. Most modern operating systems and routers include a software firewall. The best antivirus solutions, such as VIPRE, come with firewall protection.

Once your firewall is enabled, consult the user guide to learn how to configure the security settings and set a strong password to protect it against unwanted changes.

RePosted from VIPRE

Are You Revealing Too Much Personal Information on Facebook?

Sharing basic personal information on Facebook can give fraudsters all they need to steal your identity.

 

The bad guys don’t need to know much about you to steal your identity. A full name, date of birth and address are often enough for stealing an identity, draining bank accounts, taking out loans, making major purchases, applying for credit cards and on and on and on.

Recent YouGov research from Equifax in the United Kingdom has revealed that a high proportion of social media users risk identity theft by giving fraudsters easy access to personal information.

The survey found that almost 30 percent of adults with a social media account include their full name and date of birth on their profile pages, notes a blog post on ActionFraud.

Younger people are more likely to display this information.

The survey revealed that 48 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds divulge this information on social media sites compared to 28 percent of those between 35 and 44.

The Bad Guys Can Find Information Easily

Even if you don’t publicly show your age on your Facebook profile, fraudsters can still find it if your friends post birthday messages that mention your age. Once they have your date of birth, they can find out your phone number and where you live. The process is really quite easy.

The bad guys can fill in the missing pieces of information by using online directories, noted an article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. These directories hold huge quantities of information, from addresses, phone numbers and even a list of your past and present housemates.

ActionFraud quoted John Marsden, head of ID and fraud at Equifax UK: “People must act now to protect their finances for the long term. More adults in the UK are engaging with social media than ever before, especially on their smartphones, and a high number are readily sharing their personal information on these platforms.

Fraudsters get hold of this type of information so they can impersonate an individual, either by setting up accounts in their name or accessing existing accounts and stealing from them. The extent of damage can run to thousands of pounds worth of debt being racked up in your name. My advice to consumers is to be social savvy; avoid unnecessarily sharing personal details and risking your identity on platforms that can so easily be exploited. It’s always nice to receive well wishes on your birthday – but is it worth the risk?”

What Can You Do?

You should review your Facebook privacy settings and ensure you are not revealing too much. For detailed help, consider using some or all of this advice from Trusted Reviews.

When it comes to personal information, maybe a simple adage should be trusted: “When in doubt, leave it out!”

Posted by VIPRE

FBI Issues Security Warning About Internet of Things Toys

IoT toys have the potential to violate children’s privacy and safety, given the amount of pertinent information the toys can collect and store, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned this week in an advisory.

The sensors, microphones, data storage capabilities, cameras and other features of Internet of Things (IoT) toys are able to vacuum up extensive details about a child’s name, school, activities and even their physical location.

And if those toys are hacked, criminals could use the stolen information to harm a child, the FBI warned.

What Makes IoT Toys Vulnerable?

Data collected from interactions or conversations between children and toys are typically sent and stored by the manufacturer or developer via a server or a cloud service. In some cases, data are also collected by third-party companies that manage the voice recognition software used in the toys.

Voice recordings, toy Web application passwords, home addresses, Wi-Fi information, and sensitive personal data could be exposed if the security of the data is not sufficiently protected with the proper use of digital certificates and encryption when it is being transmitted or stored.

Smart toys connect to the Internet either directly, through WiFi to an Internet-connected wireless access point; or indirectly, via Bluetooth to an Android or iOS device that is connected to the Internet.

Key factors affecting the user’s security include: the cyber security features, the toy’s partner applications and the WiFi network through which the toy connects.

Superior communications connections — where data is encrypted between the toy, WiFi access points, and Internet servers that store data or interact with the toy — are crucial to mitigate the risk of hackers exploiting the toy or eavesdropping on conversations or audio messages.

The FBI notes that Bluetooth-connected toys that do not have authentication requirements (such as PINs or passwords) pose risks for unauthorized access, enabling criminals to communicate with children.

What You Can Do To Protect Your Child

  • Choose IoT toys very carefully by doing lots of research. Look for any known reported security issues regarding a toy.
  • Find out if a toy can receive firmware and/or software updates and security patches — and ensure the toy is running on the latest version.
  • Closely monitor your child’s activities with each toy through the toy’s parent application, if such a capability exists.
  • Ensure the toy is turned off when it is not in use.
  • Create a strong and unique login password when establishing a user account. For example, use lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Provide only what is minimally required for creating a user account.

As always, stay vigilant!

Microsoft issues ‘highly unusual’ Windows XP patch to prevent massive ransomware attack

Update regarding WannaCry Ransomware Outbreak

We are following news reports today of a ransomware strain that has – so far – hit 74 countries around the globe.

•          Notify your users to be extra cautious right now – even clicking on a suspicious attachment could instigate a ransomware attack

URL for patch for all Microsoft Systems:

http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Search.aspx?q=KB4012598

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