Data security

Worries about the latest cyberattack?
There are some simple things you can do to protect yourself from this and other future threats
1) Make sure Windows computers have all the latest updates. An up to date computer is safe from this current threat
2) Install anti virus software and keep it up to date
3) Back up everything to an external drive which is not connected to your computer all the time. This is because encryption malware can work on connected cloud drives such as dropbox so have your backup backed up.
4) If you feel comfortable doing it and want even more protection, install the vaccine.
You can find more information here https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/27/petya-ransomware-cyber-attack-who-what-why-how

Picture this! It’s a warm winter afternoon near the beach. I am showing an adult student how to turn wifi on and off on her smart phone. We are in a lovely cafe near the water and health and safety/security officer Jazzy Doodie is under the table. She’s just sent a scrub turkey on his way and is watching a gaggle of school girls in uniform arrive. The photo shows her at a different time. The wifi network is open, so I have some misgivings. Being a dog, Jazzy Doodie isn’t very interested in  technology so she doesn’t comment. I tell the student not to do anything private such as banking and we go ahead. She opens her email. Jazzy Doodie gives a tiny growl at the kids who are staring at a phone and loudly giggling. Neither of us humans take much notice.  That’s what kids do. I wonder what bothered her as she’s a very friendly dog who rarely growls at anyone human. We finish the session . However the next day tbe student discovers her email has been hacked and a very obnoxious email sent in her name without her knowledge.  It appears the kids or someone else in tbe local area snooped out her password and took control of her email. The moral of the story – never use wifi networks that are completely open without a password. Be cautious on all publuc networks. And listen to your dog, they pick up on things we ignore. If you want to find out more about wifi security,  have a look here.  http://www.pcworld.com/article/2043095/heres-what-an-eavesdropper-sees-when-you-use-an-unsecured-wi-fi-hotspot.htmlShoodle asleep on the floor

I’ve finally given in! So sick of trying to manage passwords myself. The last straw was that my ICloud backups hadn’t been working and when I lost my IPad, some files went with it. Its a very old IPad which was about to give up the ghost. Fortunately nothing critical was on it. However, I did have an encrypted file of password hints and now I can’t remember some of them. After struggling on for a few weeks, I have decided to let a password manager look after it all for me. I just installed Dashlane on my PC and will sync it with all my other devices. I’ll post further updates here as I go along. I’m happy so far, logging in on the PC is just so easy. Will be testing out other devices as time goes on.

Android device users need to take care as there are some nasty viruses and Trojans out there. Avoid installing software other than from the Play store or granting Administrator rights to an app unless you know exactly what you are allowing and why. Install security software on your device. Don’t open email or text message attachments from unknown sources. We will be publishing an animated info graphic on the subject soon.

This will be a short post. If you are considering upgrading to Windows 10, they are introducing a new feature called WifiSense, which makes it easy to share network details. However, it also enables friends of friends to share your details. If you wish to stop this happening, you need to change your Access Point name to have _optout at the end of the name. For details click here If after you have read the article, you want to disable WifiSense follow the steps below :

To change your access point name, you need to do the following
1) Go to the admin page for your modem. If you don’t know the IP address (a long number like 192.168.1.254). It is different for each make and model of router/modem so you need to look it up
2) Log in
3) Go to the wireless configuration. Update the wireless AP name and save the configuration.
4) If you used the default username and password to log on in Step 2, change the admin password for your modem/router. If you use the default password, anyone can access and change settings on your network!!!
All done!

Laptops on sale with large variety

Laptop choice

Large organisations spend a lot of money on IT security and on business continuity planning. These are both really important issues for you too. It is important to keep your computers secure by updating software and changing passwords regularly. If you use a cloud service, make sure you know their security policy and are satisfied they do enough to keep the type of information you store with them safe. If in doubt, set a password on confidential files stored in the cloud.

Business continuity planning is to do with identifying what could interrupt your business and how you could mitigate it. The most common risk is power and internet failure. In the South East Queensland region, bush fires, droughts, floods , hail storms and cyclones – yes, they can come south of Bundaberg – have all occurred during my lifetime. Cyclones are , of course, a bigger threat further north. Severe storms are the most common natural disaster in the Brisbane area. No matter how small your business, have a plan. What about criminal or terrorist acts?
What if you need to evacuate? What if you lose power? How do you keep staff informed? Can you build resiliance into your business?

It’s time to think and plan. For those of you in the South East of Queensland, storm season is here. Jacarandas are starting to flower, which herald summer, exams and storms. We will post more on thus in future. Severe weather Note that this weather map is a historical example only, not a current forecast.

New laptop

New laptop


Are you buying a new phone or shiny new laptop at the end of the financial year? If you plan sell, donate or recycle your old computer or phone, make sure not to give away your data with it. This applies to tablets, too.
For a phone or tablet, it is simple. Just go to the menu and find the Reset to Factory Default setting. Selecting this will wipe your data and it’s good to go. For a computer, it is more complicated. Just deleting data or even reformatting the hard drive is not enough. I normally use the free Eraser program from Heidi http://eraser.heidi.ie
Recently though, I encountered a Windows 7 computer which kept claiming Eraser didn’t have permission to run. After trying a few things, I decided to give the free version of CCCleaner a go. It did the job and the shiny, clean old laptop is now ready. CCCleaner is also useful for getting rid of browser histories and cookies and can be found at https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

These are two things that have been occupying me in the last week. Firstly, the Australian privacy laws and credit reporting laws change on 14 March. Where previously only businesses with a turnover of greater than 3 Million AUD had to abide by these, they never cover everyone, even clubs and not for profits. I am not a lawyer and can’t offer advice about legal aspects but I can tell you that it’s important to do the following
– make sure your Privacy Policy is up to date on your web site
– have a Privacy Procedure to show how you implement. I’ll be honest with you, I am currently a solo operator so what I decided to do was openly publish this policy. If you wish to see it, I will make it available to you.
– check your IT systems and those of your partners . Make sure your devices and computers are protected appropriately. I will be doing further research into cloud providers and implications and will be back in touch about this.

Secondly, I realised that search engines were not finding my own new web site. This was because I hadn’t properly submitted the site to them. Has your developer done this for you or is it something you would like to know more about? If people are interested, I can post the simple steps I went through for anyone else who wants to do it themself.

Screenshot of bank scam warning
I’m posting the above because FB users were having issues reading my post there. Beware and don’t respond to unsolicited contact from your bank.

The first few posts in this blog will be a guidebook to help you plan or guide you along the way on your journey through the Sea of Technology. The sea is beautiful but it is not the natural environment of humans and dangers lurk for us if we are not on our guard. So too, with the Seas of Technology. Sharks lie in wait for the unprepared and those who swim at dusk. Storms build up suddenly, with high winds, thunder, lightning and driving rain. Occasionally , slick-looking pirates without their cutlass, eye patch or parrot and hence hard to recognise, roam. Rip currents can sweep you up and quickly take you where you don’t want to go. In this post, I will discuss each of these dangers and how to avoid them.

Storm building

Sharks

Sharks in the Seas of Technology do  not have triangular fins. In fact, they are not fish at all, but humans whose behaviour is unethical and whose motivation is what is in it for them, profit at all cost. The good news is that there a simple defence against this species of shark. The following steps give excellent protection against them

1) Know exactly what you want before you buy. If you don’t know, research it until you are sure in your own mind that you do. Have a clear definition of what you need it to do  and make sure it does it.

2) Do not agree to anything unless you are sure, always compare prices and products

3) Resist any attempt to rush you if you have doubts

4) Check the reputation of sites and sellers before buying anything online. Follow your bank’s recommendations for keeping your credit card safe and consider having a prepaid card for online shopping or use Paypal.

5) If still unsure, go away and come back later. Talk to someone you trust .

6) Be very skeptical of unsolicited calls and email as there are a number of well known scams

7) Resist up-selling . You know what you want. Stick to it.

If you consistently do this, sharks should not harm you.

Storms

Storms cannot be prevented, nor can floods, bush fires, volcanoes or earthquakes. However, if you identify and prepare for the risks to your business, you will be well placed to cope with them. When purchasing technology, build resilience into your plans. Examples are buying an external drive for backup when you buy a laptop, and considering how you will charge a new phone  or tablet when on the road or if there is a lengthy interruption to power supply. In the wet season in Northern Australia, floods and cyclones have been known to cause power outages for a week or more. Thunderstorms are far more common but sudden, and frequently cause short power outages. Things to consider include

1) what if the power fails

Can I keep my business running? What would I need to do so? What about charging a mobile phone?

2) what if I have to evacuate my main place of business

Can I work from anywhere? Are the simple changes which would mean that I could (like backing files up to the cloud or to a portable drive).

For those in Brisbane, we may have major disruptions to access and transport this November with the G20 summit. We will keep you informed when we find out more about this.

3) what if there are transport disruptions

4) how to keep information secure e.g prevent theft

Keep up to date with security updates offered by your computer and device manufacturers and updates for specific software.

If there is an auto update function on your device, use it.

If it is recommended that you use antivirus or firewall software with your device, do so.

5) how to prevent accidental loss of information

Back up regularly and to more than one source! If you use a cloud provider, have a local backup as well.

Pirates

The pirates on the Seas of Technology may be disguised heavily. Piracy often  involves making copies of music, movies or programs that you don’t have a right to make under the licence agreement and often on selling them or uploading them to certain web sites. Steer clear. Not only are you breaking the law and risking the consequences but such sites may be riddled with viruses and other harmful programs, known as malware and you have no access to technical support if anything goes wrong.

The other type of pirate will try to hijack your computer for their own ends, either by sneaking into it and stealing data, stealing your broadband quota or making your computer part of an underground network sending out spam and viruses. To keep them out, make sure you install all the updates recommended for your device by subscribing to its automatic update service e.g Windows update . If recommended for your type of device ….

Rip Currents

The rip currents of Excitement and Sales Pitch pop up everywhere that technology is sold. Do jot get carried out of your depth! It is good to be excited but make sure you leave the waters if you feel things are moving too fast for you or you are in too deep. There is ALWAYS time to research prices and products and to know what you want and why. Limited time offers should not pressure you – there will most likely be a better one tomorrow . Check the reputation of the seller if buying online.

We will continue our guidebook next week!

Swim between the flags!

 

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