Posts Tagged ‘Security’

Is your network secure?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Google has recently been accused of gathering personal information gained from their Street View cars whilst gathering WiFi hotspot information for the software. This information was only gained via unsecured and open networks which could have been accessed by anyone with a limited amount of IT knowledge. So how can you be sure that your network is safe and secure?

You should ensure that your wireless network is secured using the latest technology available on your device such as a WPA or WPA2 key. This is a strong form of encryption which prevents people without the key accessing the network.

You can hide your wireless network from being discovered by other wireless devices, although this is easily circumvented and can cause problems if you regularly connect different devices. If you don’t want to hide your network then give it an obscure name that does not relate it to you or your property. Older security technologies such as mac addressing and WEP are more easily cracked and should be avoided.

On most modern routers the wireless security key is printed on a sticker on the router along with the SSID or network name. It is a good idea to log into your router and change the default information such as the administration password, SSID and key so that they cannot be known by anyone but you. Just remember to keep a note of them for future reference!

When you are out and about with your laptop and do not want to use wireless or Bluetooth, turn off these services. This will prevent people finding and connecting to your machine. There should be a switch somewhere on the laptop for these services or possibly one of the Function keys on the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

When connecting to unsecured networks such as hotspots make sure your anti-virus and firewall protection is enabled and up to date to prevent unwanted access. Also, avoid sharing drives on your computer. Although this may be convenient when you are at home, if you are out and about and connected to Public networks your data could be available to everyone!

Finally, if you need any help setting up or securing your network please contact us on 01628 819515 or email help@athomeit.co.uk.

Do you know what you’re downloading?

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

We all download software, tools and utilities from the Internet. Maybe you need to do something as a one-off, want to trial some software or find a free tool that might be useful.

But do you know exactly what you are downloading and where it is coming from?  Is the site reputable?  Are there other things that might be included in your download apart from the particular item you require?

There are a few hints and tips you can use to check your downloads are not going to catch you out!

Check the reputation of the site

Use a free web browser security tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor which will stop you inadvertently going to a site known for viruses, spam, malware and other nasties.  As well as blocking known dodgy sites it will also display symbols next to your search results showing which links are safe to follow and which you should treat with caution.

What are you downloading?

It’s easy to get distracted by the wonderful advertising and wording on some sites.  If you are downloading something which is supposed to be free, be wary of entering any payment details or too much personal information.  You may find yourself subscribing to a service you don’t want and which is difficult to cancel.  Sometimes you can find yourself following 2 or 3 links before you finally think you’ve found your download link only to find it’s for something else, so double check before clicking the download button.

Check the small print

Read through the license agreements and any small print before clicking the ‘Agree’ button.  Check what any information you enter will be used for and the license terms for the software or downloads.  There are lots of things which can be downloaded and used for personal use but not for commercial purposes for example.

Only install what you need

When you’ve found your file, on a reputable site, and it’s been downloaded you may think you’re home and dry, but there are still some things to look out for.  Read the installation instructions carefully.  Watch out for tick boxes that relate to other items such as unrelated toolbars, security products and search tools.  These items are generally not related to the software you are installing and can use up resources on the PC.

Finally…

If there is a piece of software or a utility that you want and it’s not available free of charge then you are unlikely to find a copy or a key code on the Internet.  There are crack-sites out there offering serial numbers or free downloads of games and software but normally all you’ll end up with are viruses, malware and spam.  Most software manufacturers are wise to the trade in illegitimate software and keycodes.  Most applications need to be authenticated online before they will work and once the key has been used once or twice it won’t work again without speaking to the manufacturer and providing proof of purchase.

On the plus side there are lots of open source and free applications available to download from reputable websites and as long as you take care over which sites you visit and what you download then have fun experimenting with some new applications!