Top Ten Tips To Stay Safe Online

Are you worried about staying safe while using the Internet?

Then check out our great tips on how to stay online by clicking the link below.

The articles go through the following topics:

  • Secure you device.
  • Shop safely with trusted sellers
  • Learn the markers of a secure site.
  • Use a safe and protective payment method
  • Think before you share
  • How to tighten privacy settings
  • What to use a a passphrase
  • How to check the senders email address
  • Check the URL.
  • How to outsmart fishing attempts..

Click the link below to access our easy to print PDF with the tips.

Top 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online Guide

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

Should I Pay For Antivirus Software?

Its the age old question that I regularly hear – is free antivirus software as good as a paid for solution?

In a perfect world the best way to avoid a computer virus is by using common sense – but that doesn’t always work with even the most careful users finding themselves infected in an instant. This is why antivirus software exists to help us not get infected – but should you choose free or paid antivirus? Here we list some of the differences between the two:

Advertising: Much like a free game making its fortune with advertising and in-app purchases, free antivirus software will push you for payment. Expect popup boxes pestering you to sign up to the paid version. Some free options will also try to change your browser home page and default search engine, an inconvenience you may be stuck with. Paid options are more respectful and largely invisible unless they have detected a problem.

Effectiveness: It is fair to expect your antivirus to detect malware, and testing shows that in a head-to-head battle free and paid are roughly equal at catching known infections. Generally free antivirus needs to have recorded a virus to its library before it can detect it. Paid antivirus is more likely to identify and stop new viruses – they can detect suspicious behavior, source and attributes and are a far more effective method of detection.

Features: Free antivirus is usually a cut down version of a paid version. In a paid version you can expect advanced features like spam filters, firewalls, parental controls and secure web browsing. Some paid antivirus packages also update your other software applications, forming a more secure protection against attack.

Support: Free antivirus options are very popular because they are free! This means there is generally no support available. If there’s a problem or conflict with another program, you may find yourself without protection until it can be resolved. Paid antivirus options usually include telephone suppor and other forms of support, ready to help with problems ranging from installation to system diagnostics.

Ease of use: Free antivirus packages are generally easy to install and use, but are  limited in their flexibility. They come as-is, meaning you can’t pick and choose what it monitors or how it reacts. For example, users occasionally find it necessary to disable ALL protections in order to install a network game. Paid versions are more likely to allow you to adapt the way it runs, switching features on and off as required.

In summary free antivirus software is fine for very basic protection, those on a budget or with an older PC – in these cases, something is always better than nothing. But we generally recommend you go with a paid antivirus solution to defend you from the new attacks that are released daily and to ensure you have solid protection that will make a real difference to your digital safety.

Talk to us about upgrading to the best security options for your needs.

Will Clicking That Link Cost You Thousands?

Ransomware has been a huge security threat in 2016. No-one was safe. Hackers targeted everyone and everything – including office networks and home PCs. In fact anything connected to the Internet (including smart TV’s and surveillance cameras) was fair game for them. They were very successful, with reports of upwards of $US846million reported just from incidents in the US. With this sort of monetary gain business is booming for hackers, with thousands of attacks each day bringing in an average of $US640 per target. Even more alarmingly is that the cost to the end user is on the rise with hackers demanding more and more money each time.

Some hackers even offer to help and rescue you from the issue that they caused – for a fee of course! One method is to trick you into thinking you have a virus or malware issue that will spread rapidly if you don’t pay them money to remove it. Another scarier method is that they pretend to be from a law enforcement agency (ie the Federal Police, FBI or a similar type of organisation) and say your computer was involved in a crime (anything from money laundering to child pornography). If you pay them a certain amount of money quickly you can avoid going to prison.

The real bad malware that is spreading rapidly at the moment are the crypto range of viruses. These viruses cause users to be locked out of their own data by encrypting files on users computers and servers. Folders of business documents, pictures, photos, music and even financial records are all held hostage until a ransom is paid. The encryption is such that it is unbreakable and unless you have a good backup paying the ransom is often seen to be the only solution.

The way these evil hackers get into your computer is deviously simple. They convince users to click on an email attachment/link or pop-up. For example you receive an email or pop up that:

  • supposedly tracks an undeliverable package.
  • is a bill or credit from a utility company.
  • alerts you to a virus that was found and needs to be removed.
  • an invoice from a company you have never heard of and / or for goods you never ordered.
  • advises you of a recent traffic or some other type of fine.

They make the message so tempting to click through for more details (this is what the hackers count on). Their messages and pop-ups aren’t obvious threats and so can easily slip under our radar and through various spam and virus filters.

Paying the hackers to solve or unencrypt your files is not recommended as they are not the most trustworthy bunch. That one payment may lead to demands of more and more money with no solution in sight.

To make things worse, the malware can encrypt your backups too. Having a backup is very important in any situation, but in cases like this, the right backup is needed – with several other backup copies not connected to your network and stored safely offsite. An online backup is also recommended. Before restoring your backup remember to check that the malware isn’t lurking in the background, ready to not just re-infect your restored files but also the backup drive itself.

To avoid finding yourself dealing with ransom demands we recommend being wary of all email attachments. Even if they are from business associates, friends and family – if you are not sure what the file is don’t click it. The sender may not have sent that email intentionally and their compromised system may be automatically emailing everyone in their address book.

You should also be wary with any popups that appear out of place, especially ones that try to make you panic or do something you are wary of doing. If the message doesn’t sound or look right then don’t click it. Ransomware is just too dangerous to risk.

Also make sure your backups are working correctly and regularly test your backups.

Call us on 08 8326 4364 to set your computer up with protections against ransomware / malware / viruses, and put backups in place that will keep your important files safe.

Six Quick Security Tips To Keep Your Business Safe

securityEvery employee shares one inescapable flaw that is putting businesses at risk – they are human.

Up to 59% of data breaches can be traced back to something an employee did or didn’t do, which helped create a security incident or cyber-attack.

To help prevent security issues build security awareness and respect into your company culture, so that maintaining digital security becomes as simple as making a cup of coffee.

Use complex passwords: Every employee, including management and owners, need to use an alphanumeric password that they haven’t used before. Password managers can assist with making sure they’re never forgotten.

Verify unknown identities: Not familiar with ‘Jenny from Accounting’ who has called to ask for sensitive information? Double check the callers identity and access permissions before releasing any information. Hackers love to play on our desire to help other people.

Encrypt by default: People regularly transfer data to a laptop, USB drive or smartphone so they can work offsite. Unfortunately this equipment can be easily stolen or lost. Set operating systems to encrypt data by default, so that it becomes useless in the wrong hands.

Protect portable devices: Laptops, mobile phones and other portable devices should always require a password and be set to auto-lock after a short period of time. Never leave them unattended in cars, buses, restrooms etc, and if travelling by plane take them on-board as carry-on luggage.

Set personal usage rules: Many businesses block productivity-vacuums such as Facebook and other websites but what are the rules regarding games, video streaming or shopping? Can users install their own software? When business devices are used for personal usage, security tends to slide which results in unintentional malware installation. Also don’t let the employees spouse or children use any company device.

Educate often: People often fall into the “it won’t happen to me” mindset. As security threats change regularly have a quick five minute discussion once a month to remind staff that you always need to be vigilant.

Some things to discuss with staff are:

  • Links in emails – Hackers often send emails that look like they are from your bank, phone company or similar. Be sure to check the link by hovering over it with your mouse. This method of attack is known as ‘phishing’.
  • Tech scam popups – Be on the lookout for popups advising that your computer is infected and you need to call a phone number or download software.
  • Email attachments – Never open an unknown attachment and even from people you know and trust. If you are not expeciting an attachment from the sender always contact them to confirm and scan for malware before opening.

If you need help implementing better security practices in your business, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au

How To Spot A Tech Scam

Scammers swindle millions from people every day.

If your computer had a security problem, you’d want to know about it ASAP, right?

Before your important files are corrupted, your photos lost and your digital life destroyed. Even thinking about gives me the shivers.

Tech scammers know we’d be lost without our computers, and that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen – which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.

The scam goes like this:

ScamsOne day out of the blue you receive a phone call from someone with a heavy accent (usually Indian) saying they’re from Microsoft (or some other company) or worrying pop-up appears on your screen, saying your system has been infected with a virus.

To fix the problem, the caller or the pop up says you to download some support software, which they’ll give you a special link for.

A technician then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is riddled with viruses. Flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by, fabricated errors…they’ll do or say anything to make you panic. They’ll even go as far as claiming your system has been infected with illegal content and if not corrected you will face criminal charges.

Demands for credit card information follow soon after. Once the card details are provided, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a ongoing paid subscription for ongoing protection.

What To Do If You’re Targeted By A Tech Scam

1. Don’t taunt them. Just hang up. Right now you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next – if you give them cause to target you personally, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.

The real Microsoft will never randomly call people like this. Ever.

2. If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number.

What To Do If You’ve Already Been Scammed

It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected.

Call your financial institution and have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers.

Then give us a call on 08 8326 4364 (or support@dpcomputing.com.au) and we’ll make sure they no longer have access to your computer.