Articles in Category: Security

Is it safe to let my daughter purchase online using my email address?

Sharing an email address may seem like a good idea, as long as you’ve considered all the ramifications.

How does website or VPN encryption work?

Using a bunch of mathematical magic, a key pair is generated. But that’s just where the fun starts.

Why Are Sites Making It Difficult for Password Managers?

Long passwords are your top-line of defense in internet security. Don’t let any trends steer you in the other direction.

Can My Computer Be Hacked if I’m Offline at an Internet Café?

Internet café hackers can get at you in a number of different ways, but how much do you really need to worry?

Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

Recently statements were made by a Microsoft spokesperson that some interpreted as implying that Microsoft was giving up on Microsoft Security Essentials. I went to the source and asked for clarification.

Will my internet activities of years ago come back to haunt me?

We just don’t know how long information will stay public on the internet, so it’s best to assume that it will be forever.

Can an ISP Remotely Access My Computer without My Knowledge?

Knowing who you are dealing with is the key to safe remote access. It’s not the technology that’s a problem. It’s the person on the other end of the remote access!

Why didn’t my firewall stop this malware?

Firewalls and security software are important tools to keep your computer safe. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as perfect protection from the variety of threats on the internet.

Can a flash drive that has a Linux install on it become infected?

Depending on the format of the drive, how the malware finds you, and how you access Windows, you may or may not have a problem! Does that sound vague enough for you?

Can I Be Sure My Machine Is Malware Free?

Believe it or not… you can’t prove that you don’t have malware. But when your computer slows down, it doesn’t necessarily mean malware.

How Long Does Google Keep My Account Information?

Once you delete your account, your information will be gone… but there may be backups. Ultimately, anything online or shared is completely out of your hands.

Will Someone Hacking My Router Show up on My Computer?

Router hacking is rare, but it can happen. I’ll discuss what it is.

Can a hacker get away with only my address book?

If you’ve been hacked… you’ve been hacked. That means the hacker had access to everything on your computer or in (and linked to) your email account. In either case, you need to review your security.

Should I Provide My Credit Card to Sites that Are Free?

Free services should not ask for a credit card. While this could be a scam, there are some legitimate reasons why a site may ask for a credit card number.

I’m being abused by email. What do I do?

Once something is posted online, it can remain public virtually forever. It’s important to understand how that works and take steps to protect yourself where needed.

Can Search Engines Track My Searches?

Search engines have numerous (and quite amazing) ways to gather information on people and the way they search. It’s nothing to worry about unless you have some critical need for privacy.

Why Doesn’t Malware Appear in the Add/Remove Programs List?

Malware not showing up in the Add/Remove Programs list doesn’t surprise me at all. After all, malware’s success is based on its ability to hide from you!

What’s an Exploit?

Industry experts use the term “exploit” in several ways, which makes warning messages pretty unclear. Stay safe by assuming the worst.

Do I really need to uninstall these programs to update my anti-virus?

When you install a new anti-malware tool on a machine that has similar programs already, you may see a warning about possible conflicts. Basically, you have three choices to continue.

I’m not seeing a padlock with my https site. Is it safe?

https should be safe as long as the padlock icon indicates that the certificate is correct. That proves that you’re visiting the site that you believe you are. If you don’t see it, you should be concerned.

How Do I Keep My Computer from Being Hacked at Night?

Hacking attempts happen all day long. You really need to protect yourself 24/7. Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to stay safe.

How do I check a website for malware without infecting my own machine?

This is a difficult problem to solve. Steps to protect yourself from a malicious website could mask the problem so you never see it. I can give you a few suggestions.

How Do I Remove Only My Personal Information from a Computer?

Unfortunately, there is no practical way to determine what is and what isn’t personal information. Securing a computer to give away is an all-or-nothing proposition.

Do I need to run the Malicious Software Removal tool?

Malicious Software Removal Tool is something that’s downloaded and run by automatic updates, regardless of  the anti-malware tools that you may already use, to provide a base level protection to the operating system.

Is It Safe to Leave My External Backup Drive Connected?

My fairly strong opinion is that if you’re backing up to an external drive, leave it plugged in. Otherwise you’ll be missing backups on those days you forget to plug it in.

Why am I getting security certificate errors?

If you are seeing this across a family of sites or just one site, it’s possible (in fact it’s even most likely) that it’s a problem on the server’s side. It may be a designer error. It may even be a malicious site.

How Do I Remove Ransomware?

Ransomware is often not easy to remove because it blocks you from your system. Restoring from a backup is the easiest recovery option, but I’ll look at a few more as well.

If an IP address doesn’t do it, then how does Google know my location?

Google can find your location through multiple datapoints that you probably don’t even realize you’re sharing. There’s a lively and important debate about how much data entities can and should collect and correlate.

Why is Microsoft Security Essentials constantly saying potentially unprotected?

The “potentially unprotected” warning seems fairly common in situations where you really are still protected. I’ll cover several theories as to why it might appear.

Would changing user names result in additional security?

Common wisdom is that you should change passwords periodically; so should you change user names too? My take: common wisdom is wrong from the start.

Why Do Services like Google and Microsoft Ask for a Phone Number?

Many online services request that you provide additional information such as your phone number. I’ll look at how that’s typically used and why it’s a good thing.

I Canceled a Suspicious Download. Am I Safe?

Cancelling a suspicious download in progress typically prevents any part of the download from impacting your machine. Unfortunately there are still a few problems we should look out for.

Is a Long Password of Repeating Characters Good or Not?

The problem is that we don’t know what approach hackers are using to break your password. So, to be safe, the best password is both long and complex.

Is Geotagging My Photos a Bad Thing?

When you take a picture, your camera saves “metadata”, or data about the picture. Geodata can be used to place an image in a geographical location.

What If a Password is Limited to only 8 Characters?

Some devices, sites and software use passwords that are limited to 8 characters. Today that’s often insufficient, but I’ll look at what steps you can take to increase security.

I Run No Anti-virus Software and Now Have Viruses. What Should I Do?

It’s very possible that your machine has become so infected that recovery really isn’t a possibility. If this is the case, the only practical solution is to wipe the slate clean and start over from scratch.

How do I get rid of this advertising popup that keeps coming back?

If your anti-malware tools removed the malware but this browser hijack keeps coming back, then you might be doing something to invite it back on to your system.

How Do I Create a Windows 7 Password Reset Disk, and Why Would I Want To?

Windows includes a little-known and little-used feature that allows you to reset your Windows password if you’ve lost or forgotten it. There’s only one catch: you need to prepare.

Is it safe to use a mobile banking app over an open Wi-Fi connection?

Checking that all apps are doing it right is not feasible, but I set up a sniffer to verify that Gmail was using an https secure connection. The results?

Why Can’t I Go To a URL that Avast Tells Me is Related to a Trojan Horse?

Sounds like Avast is doing its job and keeping you away from websites that are infected with a trojan.

Survey Pop Ups – Annoying Ad or Even More Annoying Spyware?

Survey’s popping up on a website could be the result of programming on that site – or something more sinister.

Should I Disable Java, and If So, How?

Another zero-day exploit has been discovered in Oracle’s Java VM; something that has many security experts suggest that you disable or uninstall Java. I’ll explain why and how.

Windows Defender Offline – Scan Your Computer for Malware Without Booting Windows

Windows Defender Offline is a free Microsoft tool to scan for malware before Windows boots or when it can’t boot at all. It’s can be a convenient approach to removing some stubborn malware.

Malwarebytes Anti-malware Removes Malware that Others Don’t

Even the best anti-virus and anti-spyware tools miss things. Malwarebytes Anti-malware has a good reputation for cleaning up some of the things that other tools don’t.

How Much of My Search History Could Be Recovered?

Web searches are stored in your browser history, but even deleting that may not be enough to prevent the discovery of what you’ve been searching for.

How can my ISP tell that I’m downloading copyrighted files?

Some ISPs are taking a more aggressive position to stop illegal file sharing. Your ISP can see a lot, including the fact that you are filesharing.

TrueCrypt – Free Open Source Industrial Strength Encryption

TrueCrypt provides a solution for encrypting sensitive data – everything from portable, mountable volumes to entire hard disks.

Can I Check a Download for Viruses before I Download It?

Files cannot be checked for viruses before being downloaded, but there are precautions you can and should take.

How Do I Create and Use Public Keys with SSH?

SSH and SFTP Public Key Authentication requires that you create a public/private key pair. We’ll look at how to create, and then use, those keys.

The best anti-spyware, anti-virus … and dancing bunnies?

The best operating system in the world can’t save you from dancing bunnies.