Articles in Category: Security

How Do I Remove Myself from a Machine?

Although there’s no way to remove all traces of yourself from a machine, there certainly are ways to remove as much as you can.

It Pays to Be Skeptical

If we would all be a little more skeptical, we’d be safer and the internet would be a more trustworthy place.

What Can We Learn from Mat Honan?

Mat Honan is a reporter for Wired magazine whose digital life was effectively destroyed due to account hacks and lax security policies. There are important lessons here.

Is Wi-Fi Provided by My Landlord Safe?

Connectivity is becoming an added “perk” in some housing situations. Make sure you know the risks and alternatives when someone else provides your internet connection.

What Happens When I Die?

If you’re not around to unlock all the digital data you take such care to secure, who will be able to access it, and how?

Why Is It So Important to Use a Different Password on Every Site?

Using different passwords on different sites is not only good practice; it’s necessary to keep your accounts safe. I’ll review why, and how best to handle a plethora of passwords.

Is a Periodic Password Change a Good Thing?

Changing passwords periodically is conventional wisdom. I disagree, and then discuss whether periodic password change can even happen reliably.

Online Shopping: Just How Safe Is It?

Online shopping is ubiquitous, and yet some avoid it completely. Why are some people afraid to shop online when it’s arguably safer than offline?

Do I Need More than One Anti-malware Tool?

It’s tempting to think more is better when it comes to anti-spyware and anti-virus software and firewalls. In reality, too many can cause trouble.

How Do I Find Who Hacked My Email Account?

It’s natural to want to find out who hacked your email and why. Begin by recovering and securing your account. I’ll review what steps you can take after that, and their chances of success.

Does Whole-disk Encryption Impact Computer Performance?

Whole-disk encryption has only minimal impact on the performance of modern computers and hard drives. I’ll review why that’s the case and outline something more important: your ability to access the data when something goes wrong.

Are Password Managers Safe?

Password management utilities are great tools to manage your passwords and be more secure about how you use them.

Why Is It Important to Have Different Passwords on Different Accounts?

Using a different password for every login is an important part of overall security — and it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Why that “Unimportant” Account Matters

Regardless of your initial thoughts, every account is important, and you and I are all targets.

Why ANY Two-Factor Is Better than No Two-Factor at All

Headlines are proclaiming that two-factor authentication has been hacked. That in no way means you shouldn’t use it. Your account is still much safer with two-factor enabled.

Why Password Vault Bugs Make Me Cringe

In those rare cases where an issue is discovered with any mature password vault, I cringe — but not because of the issue.

How Can I Securely Delete Everything Except the Operating System?

Before giving away a machine or returning a loaner, it’s important to remove personal information from it. That may be both harder and easier than you think.

Yes, You Should Give Google Your Mobile Number

Google will use your mobile phone number for verification if you lose access to your account. Some people don’t want to provide that information to Google.

How Do I Choose a Good Password?

With occasional security breaches at service providers and rampant email account theft, password security has never been more important. Make sure you choose and use secure passwords.

How Do Password Vaults Enter Passwords?

Detecting and filling in sign-in forms is a password vault’s most basic feature. I’ll look at how that works, and what to do when it fails.

What’s the Best Anti-Malware Tool to Keep Me Safe?

Over the years, your choices when it comes to anti-malware tools have become simpler, yet frustratingly imprecise.

How to Choose Good Security Questions

Security questions are a cornerstone of much internet security. I’ll look at what they are, how they fail, why you should avoid them, and what to do if you can’t.

Crank Your Password Strength Up to 11!

The results are in for last year’s most common passwords. The implications are depressing, but important.

Two-Factor Authentication Keeps the Hackers Out

Two-factor authentication is a great way to keep your accounts secure from hackers – even those who manage to get your password.

How to Protect Your Cloud Storage and Backups from Ransomware

There are now additional protections for your data if your machine becomes infected with a form of malware known as ransomware.

Can My ISP Monitor My Internet Usage?

Your ISP controls your internet connection, and it’s easy for them to monitor the data you send and receive. The question is, why would anyone monitor your internet?

Computers at a library

How to Keep Information on a Shared Computer Private

When using a shared computer, it’s too easy for others to see your data or history. If you must use a shared computer, you need to protect yourself.

What Can a Technician with Remote Access Do?

Several current scams center around gaining remote access to your computer, often in the guise of fixing problems. There’s no way to know what was done, but we do know one thing: it’s a trap!

Is Online Banking Safe?

You can bank online safely, as long as you know what to look for and what steps to take.

How to Avoid Ransomware

Avoid ransomware the same way you avoid any malware. A full backup will save you not only from ransomware, but from a host of other problems as well.

Why Do People Think a Phone is More Secure than Email?

Even though digital communications are generally safer than their old analog counterparts, many people still mistrust them.

Can My School Tell I’m Using Tor?

Your school (or whoever provides your internet connection) can see what you’re connecting to. Do they? There’s no way to know.

How Do I Know a Web Address is Safe?

Domain names are simple in concept, yet can be constructed in ways that might fool you. I’ll look at some examples, and discuss what’s important.

What Happened to TrueCrypt and What Do I Use Instead?

The TrueCrypt project was suddenly and without warning shut down. I’ll look at a little of the history and what you should use instead.

How to Remove PUPs, Foistware, Drive-bys, Toolbars, and Other Annoying Things

Casually installing one download may result in several other things being installed as well. I’ll review the steps to remove these pesky, problematic, painful, Potentially Unwanted Programs, or PUPs.

My Computer Is Infected with Malware. Should I Just Throw It Out?

Malware is just software. It doesn’t destroy your computer’s hardware in any way. Some work — albeit significant work — will get you back up and running without needing to destroy anything.

Are the Bad Guys Winning?

Media hype makes it seem like the bad guys are winning. They’re always in the lead – but don’t believe the hype.

I Run Anti-virus Software. Why Do I Still Sometimes Get Infected?

It seems like even the most up-to-date anti-malware package isn’t always enough. It’s frustrating, because you’d think it would be.

Which Files Were Affected by a Hack or Malware?

After a hack or malware infection, you’ll want to know you’ve cleaned up the resulting mess. The news is not good.

Can My Mobile Provider Track What I Do Online?

Your mobile provider is indeed your ISP when you use their data services, and that means they can see a lot of your activity.

Recovering an Existing Online Account Password

Trying to recover the existing password for an online account is usually an exercise in frustration. There’s one possible straw to grasp at.

Is an Up-to-Date Browser Secure on an Out-of-Date OS?

An up-to-date web browser is important, but it’s not the whole picture, by far.

How Is it Possible to Change a Password Without Re-encrypting an Encrypted Disk?

If your password is used to encrypt your hard disk, how can you change your password and still be able to decrypt your disk?

How Do I Remove Malware?

Trying to remove malware? I’ll walk you through the steps and options, from simple to hard, including the only approach that’s guaranteed to work.

How Can I Tell If a Download is Safe?

Checking whether a download is safe before you download it is nearly impossible. Your best defense is your own skepticism plus anti-malware tools to check what you choose to download.

The State of Passwords in 2019

Password are here to stay, at least for a while longer. Until they die, here’s quick review of how to make sure yours are as secure as possible.

Can Everything I Do Online Be Monitored at My Router?

While it’s not typically easy, your internet traffic can be monitored at or near your router. I’ll look at how this might be done.

Is Changing My Password Enough?

Changing your password is a common response to account hacks. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough.

How Do I Get Rid of Ask.com?

You should be able to remove any toolbars or browser settings that have been added to your computer.

What Security Software Do You Recommend?

I have recommendations for specific security software and techniques in various places on the site. Here’s a short summary.