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5 Helpful F Key Functions

By Anthony Farina

Have you ever noticed those F keys in the top row of your keyboard? Did you know that they can do some useful things? I’ll be explaining what some of the most useful features of these buttons are so that you can use your computer more efficiently!

  1. F1 – Help (Universal)
    Just about every program has a help program. F1 can be pressed to bring up a help window for the active program running. You can type in a question about the topic you need help with and it will be able to assist you.
  2. F2 – Rename (Windows)
    The F2 key will allow you to rename a file, folder, or shortcut. First, select the item you want to rename and then click F2. The item’s name should appear to be highlighted blue. Start typing the new name and then press enter when you are done.
  3. F3 – Find on page (Browser)
    The find feature of Internet browsers is very useful when trying to identify key words on a long webpage. F3 is a quick way of bringing up the find tool. Once pulled up, type in the keyword you want to search for and the word will be highlighted throughout the page.
  4. F5 – Find and Replace (Word)
    Find and replace is helpful for finding a word you’ve used over and over again in a document and replacing it with another word. You can use the F5 button, go to the “Replace” tab, type the word you want to replace into the “Find what:” tab, type in the replacing word in the “Replace with:” field, and click the “Replace all” button.
  5. F5 – Refresh page (Browser)
    Sometimes refreshing the page in a browser is important to update changing information displayed. Press F5 the next time you need to refresh a website. This is faster than manually clicking the refresh button on the toolbar of the browser.

Hopefully now you can fully appreciate the functionality of the function keys. They help keep your fingers on the keyboard so you don’t have to use your mouse and navigate the screen. This often takes longer to do; keeping your hands on the keyboard and knowing these shortcuts will help you be more efficient in using your computer!

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Ways to Protect Your PC Against Malware

By Zachary Longo

As the number of internet users continues to rise, so does the probability of hackers entering one’s computer to take advantage of their personal information. In today’s world of information technology, anti-virus software has become the best defense for personal users and companies alike. However, there are even greater ways to prevent viruses from destroying your PC even with this software. These are some of the useful tips to further protect yourself from malware:

Keep Your System Updated
One of the risks of being attacked by malware is cluttered outdated software that is no longer necessary for users and businesses to install. This is possible for malware to enter the system because the outdated software may not have the critical security measures to defend against malware. To prevent this, be sure that your software, which includes your OS, web browsers, anti-virus software, plugins, and more.

Avoid Suspicious Email
Another common cause for malware-infected software is emails containing harmful malware through links or images to unknown sources. In most cases, this would be spam, but there are times where these emails could contain malware. The best way to tackle this is by marking the unrecognized email address as spam using a spam filter, that way your email application can mark it as spam.

Be Wary of Pop-Up Windows
There are times when you surf the internet that you will see a pop-up window saying that your computer has been infected by a virus and you need to download software for that. This is actually a trap and should be ignored to prevent the possibility of malware.

Keep Your File Sharing Limited
Some sites or applications allow you to share files to other users you may already know. However, many of these sites have little protection against malware for the files the user sends. Make sure that you remain cautious of malware when sharing files or downloading them from other sites or applications.

Use Anti-Virus Software
Most PC users already know that one of the first things to download and install in their new computer is anti-virus software. This software actually come installed with the OS most of the time. Their main purpose is to scan and protect against any kind of malware, whether it’s on your personal PC or on the internet. It is highly recommended that you install anti-virus software provided by IT service provider for your personal protection.

Utilize Safe Browsing
There are times when malware often spoofs widely used websites. The best way to avoid this is by practicing safe browsing. One of the best methods of using safe browsing is by going onto a secure website, which can be distinguished in the URL as “https” rather than just “http”. Another good method is applying strong passwords for various websites along with a password manager. Passwords are a common method of personal information protection, but the same password is not often repeated for different websites. So, the password manager can help remember and encrypt some of those forgetful passwords to save the hassle. Lastly, do not forget to log out of a website after you’re done using it, especially on a public website.

It’s good to have anti-virus protection software to protect your computer and personal information from malware, but it is also more comprehensive to implement the suggestions above to further guard your PC before malware can even have a chance to try and access your hardware. Doing so can save you or your company a ton load of money worth of damage malware can cause. In short, try to be more proactive and more secure of your personal information by taking malware seriously.

If you have any questions regarding malware protection, feel free to email us at support@trinityww.com or call us at 732-780-8615 to get better information or even schedule an appointment for one of our trained professionals!

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Why You Should Take Advantage of Firefox Send

By Jonathan Heitz

What is Firefox Send?

Firefox send is a new service from Mozilla that allows anyone to share files with the click of a button. You can share files up to 1GB in size if you decide not to sign in to a Mozilla account. If you sign in, you can send files up to 2.5GB.

How do I access Firefox Send?

It’s easy! To access Firefox Send, simply go to send.firefox.com on your web browser. Once you’re there, you can upload a file, and then you’ll get a link which you can share to friends or coworkers.

There you go! We hope you take advantage of this convenient new free service from Mozilla. it’s perfect if you do not have access to your email or cloud storage service. Check it out!

Posted in: E-mail, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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5 Efficient “Ctrl” Keyboard Commands

Do you ever feel like there should be a faster way to navigate on your computer?

Maybe you’re trying to find a certain word in a webpage, but it takes forever to skim through the whole thing. Or maybe you want to switch between tabs on your internet browser without using the mouse. This article will list 5 keyboard commands that can solve these problems and more!

1.Ctrl+F (Find) [Universal Command]

When you use the search command, a small text box will
appear. You can type any keyword you want to find in the document and it will
let you scroll through every instance where that keyword is within the
document.

2. Ctrl+S (Save) [Universal Command]

The save command automatically saves the document to the current directory the file is saved in. If the file you’re working in has not been saved yet, it will prompt you to select a destination. Once the destination is set, using the Ctrl+S command will automatically save all your work.

3.Ctrl+Z / Ctrl+Y (Undo / Redo) [Universal Command]3

Use the undo keyboard command to quickly undo the last
action that was performed. Type Ctrl+Z to undo actions. Alternatively, if you
want to redo what you just undid, you can use the redo command by typing
Ctrl+Y.

4. Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, … (Switch tabs) [Web Browser Command]

When you have multiple tabs open in your internet browser, there are tabs that can be accessed from left to right. The left-most tab can be accessed by pressing Ctrl+1, the second with Ctrl+2, and so on. You can access up to the first 9 tabs using Ctrl+(1-9) on the keyboard.

5. Ctrl+D (Delete / Move to Recycle Bin) [Windows 10 Command]

If you want to quickly delete a file or folder, select what
you want to delete with your mouse and then type Ctrl+D. Don’t forget to empty
your recycling bin every so often to keep your hard drive space clear!

I hope you’ve found these tips useful and will keep them in mind when you’re on your computer. These commands will save lots of your time if used effectively by reducing your mouse strokes. If you’re interested to find out more useful commands for your day-to-day computing tasks, check out this Microsoft link that includes most of the commands that Windows 10 supports!

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12445

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7 Steps to Prolong Battery Life in Windows 10

by Jonathan Heitz

There are many reasons why you may need to preserve your laptop’s battery.  Perhaps you will be on a trip where you will lack access to power; maybe you are going to a conference where you need to use your laptop for an extended time or, maybe your laptop’s battery drains faster than you would like. Whatever the case may be, taking advantage of these tips will significantly increase your laptop’s battery life if you are running Windows 10.

1. Take advantage of “Battery Saver”

Windows 10 includes a feature called “Battery Saver”, which adjusts various system settings and background tasks to greatly improve battery life until the next charge. To access this feature, click the battery icon as circled in the graphic below.

2. Adjust wireless communication settings.

Having things like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled, when you don’t need to, takes an unnecessary toll on your battery. You can disable them from the taskbar as shown below.

3. Disable background processes.

Background processes can also have a large influence on battery life. Applications like instant messaging programs, antivirus, and cloud storage software typically run in the background. It is ideal to not have too many of these applications installed on your computer in order to maintain optimal performance and battery life. Windows Update is another battery-hungry process. You can adjust your preferred update window in settings as shown below.

4.     Disconnect any unneeded peripherals

USB devices like keyboards, mice, and flash drives
require power. With no other place to draw power from, these devices will drain
your battery when plugged in, even if not in use. USB is not the only culprit,
however. Using any port on your laptop will drain battery, although other ports
might not drain it as much as USB.

5.     Lower speaker volume

Speakers also take a toll on your battery. Keeping
them at a low volume, or off, will drastically improve your battery life.

6.     Minimize multitasking

While it may be convenient to keep things like
your email or music open while you’re working on something else, it is also a
huge waste of battery. Windowed applications use more battery than background
applications, especially if you have your email sending/receiving every minute,
or your music player streaming music. Any application which you do not need to
be running at a given time should not be running while trying to maximize
battery life.

7.     Lower your brightness

As you may have heard more than anything else in this list, lowering your brightness is key to preserving battery life. Your laptop’s display draws a lot of power, and keeping it at full brightness will not help.

The number of these tips you decide to utilize is up to you. The more you take advantage of, the more battery you’ll save.

We’d love to hear from you. So, let us know by leaving a comment below if you find these helpful!

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Prevent Phone Hacking

Traditionally a headache reserved for celebrities, smartphone-hacking concerns have crossed the VIP vs. everyone else blood-brain barrier and are now a legitimate concern for anyone who owns a cell phone.

The Security Risks of Phone Hacking

But is this really a serious problem for us regular folks? Are our voicemail messages so interesting that someone would invade our privacy to listen in? Before we go barking up the narcissism tree, it’s best to examine what phone hacking is and whether you really need to worry about it.

There are many types of phone hacking methods, ranging from hacking into a live conversation or into someone’s voicemail, and to hacking into data stored on one’s smartphone. While the fear of the unknown can keep anyone on edge, the person most likely to hack into your live conversation or voicemail will be someone that you already know, and in today’s mobile world, phone hacking continually grows as a security issue. As people increasingly store sensitive data on their mobile devices, the opportunity to exploit privacy weaknesses becomes more tempting to unscrupulous frenemies, exes or the occasional stranger.

The Security Risks of Phone Hacking

There is a cottage industry of phone hacking software, ostensibly developed for legal uses, but that can be easily abused by anyone (password crackers aptly named John the Ripper and Cain and Abel are two examples). Opportunistic hackers can wreak havoc with data deletion or install malicious software that gathers bank account logins and confidential business emails. So, how can you make things tougher for hackers?

How to Secure Your Phone From Hackers

If you want to be proactive, there are several measures you can take to protect yourself against phone hacking, most of which involve common sense. In addition, there are advanced methods to ensure that your phone is as secure as possible (without losing its full functionality). For example:

Basic Phone Security Tips

For casual phone users, adhering to the basics is a great place to start when it comes to blocking simple hacking efforts:

  • Never leave your phone unattended. Keeping your phone with you at all times while in a public place is the first, best rule to follow.
  • Change your phone’s default passcode. Your phone likely comes with a simple, predictable default password, and those who know can use this to their advantage. Change your code to something more complex, and resist the usual “1234,” “0000” and “2580” codes that are commonly used.
  • Manage your Bluetooth Security. Avoid using unprotected Bluetooth networks and turn off your Bluetooth service when you aren’t using it.
  • Protect your PIN and Credit Card data. Use a protected app to store PIN numbers and credit cards, or better yet, don’t store them in your phone at all.

Advanced Ways to Prevent Phone Hacking

If you’re still worried about hacking, there are further steps you can take to protect yourself. However, taking things too far will defeat the purpose of having a smartphone at all.

  • Avoid unsecured public WiFi. Hackers often target important locations such as bank accounts via public WiFi that can often be unsecured due to relaxed safety standards or even none at all.
  • Turn off your autocomplete feature. By doing this, you can prevent stored critical personal data from being accessed.
  • Regularly delete your browsing history, cookies, and cache. Removing your virtual footprint is important in minimizing the amount of data that can be harvested by prying eyes.
  • Have an iPhone? Enable Find My iPhone. By turning the feature on in your settings, you’ll be able to locate your phone if you misplace it before the hackers can lay their paws on it.
  • Use a security app that increases protection. For Android owners, Webroot offers the all-in-one Mobile Security for Android app that provides antivirus protection and allows you to remotely locate, lock up and wipe your phone in the event you lose track of it. For iOS users, Webroot also offers a free secure web browser for increased mobile security on your iPhone and iPad.

Remember—if the thought of hacking has you tossing and turning at night, you can just turn the phone off, remove the battery and hide it under your pillow for some sweet lithium-ion induced dreams. Or, you can double down on securing your mobile devices with mobile security solutions offering secure web browsing and real-time defense against phishing attacks.

Webroot Smarter Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Education Resources, Tips/Articles

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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6 Tech Mistakes Every Growing Business Should Avoid

We count down some all-too-common tech mistakes – the kind that can damage a growing business, and even stunt its growth for good.

Buying tech for your business is pretty exciting. It’s a chance to drive faster growth and innovation. To do more, in cooler, smarter ways.

That said, it’s also absolutely terrifying. There’s the purchase cost, the hassle of implementation, the new security concerns – and the knowledge that if you make one big mistake, it could have a devastating effect on your bottom line.

So, be forewarned and forearmed.

Here are 7 tech mistakes too many growing businesses make…

1. Not taking security seriously.

These days, every business is a potential target. So, make sure your firewalls are in place, your antivirus is up to date, your data and files are in a secure location and you’ve the power to shut down compromised devices at any time.

A security breach could bring your business to a halt, stunting your growth And even more damaging, if customer data is compromised, it could irreparably harm the relationships and reputation you’re working so hard to build.

When talking IT in the cloud, there’s a common misperception that it’s not secure because you can’t physically see where your data being stored. Don’t be fooled. One of the biggest benefits of cloud IT is that companies (think Google and Microsoft) can use world-class security experts (the kind only companies like this can hire) to protect their apps and servers.

2. Not keeping backups.

A burglary, a fire, a computer crash… any one of these is a headache for your business – but if you lose data that’s not backed up, it’s a potential catastrophe.

Whatever your size, it pays to pay attention to disaster recovery. Work out an efficient way of backing up your critical data before you need it. Better yet, consider cloud storage to make your data available on any device and ensure it will still be there if a disaster happens. Servers usually don’t survive floods or fires.

3. Not planning for the future.

Your set of Excel spreadsheets might seem like a fine way of tracking customers now, but what about in a year’s time when your customer base soars?

For the smaller business, not thinking about scalability is a big mistake. Whether it’s your business voice service, productivity apps, customer relationship management tools, wireless plans – whatever – you need to know your tech will grow with you, simply, quickly and without harsh penalties or capital investment.

4. Not doing your research.

There’s speed, and there’s carelessness. However agile your business aspires to be, research is a crucial stage in any tech investment.

Spend a little time analyzing exactly what you need, and exactly what each competing product or service will deliver – you’ll almost certainly save yourself a lot more time (and money) somewhere further down the line.

When budgets are tight, tech upgrades can be the first casualty. Witness the number of businesses still on Windows XP – which retained an 11% market share in 2015, despite Microsoft dropping support for the operating system a year before, leaving it unpatched and vulnerable to new security threats.

5. Not upgrading when you should.

Upgrading your tech may be a hassle, but it’s a whole lot easier than dealing with the fallout of a security breach. And that’s just one example. Eking more life out of any aging software and infrastructure than it’s designed for is a fast track to inefficiency and cost.

6. Trying to go it alone.

As you try to deliver the tech your growing business needs, it’s easy to grow a whole new department – which needs to be housed, equipped and paid.

But today – thanks to the cloud and managed services – there’s another option. You can outsource some or all of your tech burden to an expert partner, helping you keep your own business lean, even as its revenues swell.

How to avoid the mistakes – a handy recap…

1. Think Cloud and as-a-Service.

2. Take security seriously.

3. Backup. Backup. Backup.

4. Plan to scale.

5. Don’t skimp on the research.

6. Upgrade when you should.

7. Ask for help.

That’s it.

Watch out for these mistakes, and equipping your business with the technology it needs should at least be a little less scary – but no less exciting.

Have questions? Not a problem. We are happy to help!

We can have one of our professional engineers meet with you to strategize and execute the best solution to suit your business needs. Email us at support@trinityww.com or give us a call at 732-780-8615 to get more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals today!

Posted in: Cloud Computing, Computer Maintenance, Disaster Recovery, IT Support, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Phishing Scam Poses as Office 365 Alert

A new phishing campaign is underway pretending to be from the “Office 365 team,” warning recipients that there has been an unusual amount of file deletions occurring in their account.

The phishing scam, shown below, pretends to be a warning from the Office 365 service that states a medium-severity alert has been triggered. It then goes on to say that there has been high amount of file deletions occurring in their Office 365 account and they should review the alerts.

Office 365 Phishing Email

If you click on the “View alert details” link you will be brought to a, very real looking, fake Microsoft account login page that prompts you to login.

Since this page is hosted on Azure the site is secured with a certificate signed by Microsoft. This adds legitimacy to the scheme by making it appear as a Microsoft-sanctions URL. Azure is increasingly being used by scammers for this purpose.

When you enter your password the email address and password is sent to a web page that is controlled by the attackers. This page saves the credentials and the phisher later retrieves them.

Once you login with your credentials you will be redirected to a legitimate Microsoft Portal where you will be prompted to login again.

In the past we have advised users to closely examine phishing landing pages for suspicious domains. Scammers are now getting even trickier by hosting pages on Azure.

For Microsoft accounts and Outlook.com logins it’s important to remember that the login forms will be coming ONLY from:

  • microsoft.com
  • live.com
  • microsoftonline.com
  • outlook.com

If you are presented with a Microsoft login form from any other URL – avoid it!

Abrams, Lawrence. “Phishing Emails Pretend to be Office 35 ‘File Deletion’ Alerts” Bleeping Computer May 2019

Approximately 1 MILLION CYBERATTACKS are attempted a day and on average compromised credentials aren’t reported until 15 months after a breach.

Be careful. Be educated! We offer tools that monitor your credentials and raise awareness so that you and your employees will learn to avoid the pitfalls that put your company credentials at risk.

Give us a call to further discuss how we can help in protecting your business against cybersecurity threats, and how we can make technology work for your business.

Call 732.780.8615 or email support@trinityww.com

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Dont Use Public Charging Stations

The port that you use to charge your smartphone is the same one that you can use to transfer data. Hackers know this and have devised ways to steal data from travelers looking to charge their phones and tablets at free charging stations in public spaces like airports, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies.

Called juice jacking, hackers modify charging stations with hardware designed to install malware on your phone or tablet. Just plugging into a compromised charging station can infect your phone.

Both charging ports and charging cables can be used to deliver malware. So it’s not your lucky day when you find a power adapter left behind in an outlet or a cable dangling from a public charging port. While that cable or power adapter may have been left by an absentminded traveler, it may also be a lure set by a hacker. And once a hacker has access to your phone, he or she can control it without your knowledge and steal your data.

4 Ways to Prevent Juice Hacking

Fortunately, it’s really easy to protect yourself from this type of hack.

  1. Use a data blocking adapter: If you use a data blocking adapter, like the PortaPow 3rd Gen Data Blocker ($6.99, check price on Amazon), you can plug into public USB ports with your existing cable.
  2. Use the electric outlet, not the USB port: Always use the electric outlet and your charger rather than the USB port at charging stations.
  3. Invest in a portable charger: Skip the public charging stations and use a portable charger, like the Anker PowerCore II Slim 10000 ($35.99, check price on Amazon).
  4. Make sure you don’t give data access to an unknown device: When an iphone connects to a computer or other device that wants to access data, you’ll get a pop up asking if you want to “Trust This Computer?” If you select “Don’t Trust,” you an charge and your settings and data won’t be accessible. If you’re concerned that you may have inadvertently given access to an untrusted device and want a clean slate, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy. For Android phones, you’ll get a pop up or a notification that says “Charging this device via USB.” Under “Use USB for,” make sure you’ve selected “Supply Power.”

    The hazards of plugging into a rental car

    When you rent a car these days, it’s likely that it will come equipped with an infotainment system that will interface with your phone for calls, texts, music, navigation and more. Once you’ve connected, these cars may store your personal information.

    The data collected may include your phone number, call and message logs, streaming music service account information, locations you visited using the navigation system, and more. Simply unplugging your phone won’t delete the data stored in the car. You’ll have to delete it manually.

    When you return your car, make sure you upair your device.  Find the System Settings and/or the Bluetooth Setup menu and delete your device. Then, find the factory reset option and perform a factory reset on the infotainment system.

    Kantra, Suzanne. “Why You Should Never Use Public USB Charging Stations” Techlicious/Travel, Phones and Mobile, Tips & How to’s: May 2019

    Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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11 Secrets That Will Make You More Secure on the Internet (Part 2)

Hacked accounts in the news, endless robocalls, online ads that eerily seem to read your mind. Do I hear Alexa and Siri gossiping about your secrets? It almost feels like paranoia is a totally appropriate reaction.

Last month we posted the first 5 tips that will help make you more secure. Here, we will post items 6 through 11. Let us know if you have any questions about how to keep yourself and your data safe. We are always here to help! Read on…

6. Stock Browsers are Bad Browsers

At least if you’re very serious about privacy. Safari sends data to Apple and you better believe Chrome sends info to Google. If this is part of your threat model, ditch them both and go with Firefox, which is the most secure of the mainstream browsers.

For super-duper security and privacy, here are some recommended extensions:

  • HTTPS everywhere: This is a must for everyone. Forces sites to encrypt your connection whenever possible.
  • Ublock Origin: Great, customizable ad-blocker. Do not install if you love ads.
  • Cookie Autodelete: Prevents tracking. Not for everyone. Very secure, not-so-convenient.
  • Multi-Account Container: This makes each tab operate as if it was a separate browser, preventing those eerie recommendations that seem to read your mind. Not for everyone.
  • Track Me Not: It runs random Google searches in the background to bury your real searches in a haystack of noise. Only needed if you’re very privacy conscious and have a puckish sense of humor.

For your smartphone, it’s Firefox again, unless you want super-security and don’t mind a convenience hit; then go with Firefox Focus.

And at the super-extreme outer edge we have the “Deluxe Snowden Package.” You’ll need Qubes and Tor (Pro tip: be careful with those exit nodes.) And you cannot afford to be tracked by your phone. Get a Faraday bag — or put it in a martini shaker. Yes, seriously.

Browser secured. But that’s not going to help much when the data leaves your computer and heads out there into the big bad internet. How do you keep your online activities secure and private when they’re out of your hands?

7. Dig a Tunnel

Your ISP can see every site you visit when you’re online at home. And so can the marketers they sell that info to. If a connection isn’t secure, hackers can intercept your traffic and mess with you. And using public WiFi is like making your poor little phone have unprotected sex with very unattractive strangers. How the heck do we stay safe from all these prying eyes and barbarians at the digital gate?

It’s called a VPN and I’ll go so far as to say everyone should have one. Basically, it creates an encrypted “tunnel” between you and your VPN provider, protecting your internet activities from visibility and attacks. Your ISP now only knows you’re connected to the VPN, and nothing more. Hackers can’t break through the encryption to monkey with your data. And public WiFi gets a much-needed condom.

Note that some sites don’t play well with VPNs, because many bad guys use them. VPNs are pretty cheap (roughly $5 a month) and they’re simple to set up on both computers and smartphones. PIA and NordVPN are recommended providers.

So far we’ve discussed a lot of attack scenarios you’re probably familiar with. But here’s one most people aren’t. And if you’re not protected, it could lead to someone emptying your bank account…

8. The Phone Number is the New Social Security Number

What do you do whenever you get a new phone? Call your cellular provider and have them move your number to the new device. Easy peasy. But what if I called your cellular carrier and pretended I’m you? They move your phone service to my phone. And when I log in to Bank of America with your password, guess who gets the text with that 2FA code? Yup, moi. Shopping spree time. (Hacking the password was easy; it’s was “123456”, right?)

This is called “SIM swapping.” These days people are signing up for 2FA more often, so SIM swapping is happening more often. If you’re doing 2FA with an app like Authy or a hardware token, you’re covered. But some sites (*cough*, *cough*, Bank of America) only offer 2FA by SMS. Ugh. What to do?

Many of the phone companies are now offering to secure your account with a password, so go to their site or call them to get one. People won’t be able to port your number without the code.

And what’s the ultimate-privacy-Jason-Bourne-level-security-tinfoil-hat-conspiracy-theory solution? That’s easy: make sure nobody knows your phone number — not even you. This will prevent both SIM swapping attacks and shady dudes from selling your GPS location. But how the heck do you do it?

Move your current phone number to Google Voice. (You can do that here for $10. Instructions here.) Sign up for a pre-paid mobile plan. (Mint Mobile is dirt cheap and reliable. Join here.) They’ll give you a new SIM card with a new number. You now get all your calls, texts and voicemail through the Google Voice app. And you never give the new SIM card number out to anyone. Yes, this works. You can’t be SIM swapped, you can’t be tracked… and anyone you tell about it will probably assume you’re a fugitive, a drug dealer or utterly insane.

While we’re driving down paranoia lane, SMS text messaging is fundamentally insecure. Switch to an encrypted free app like Signal. But the people you’re contacting need to have it as well. So now you’re an insane fugitive drug dealer who is also having an affair. Remember what I said about security vs convenience..?

We’ve covered a lot of technical stuff, but one of the most important things to do when dealing with online security threats is to change your attitude…

9. Be More Skeptical
Phishing
 attacks don’t always come in the obvious form of emails from Nigerian royalty. Increasingly, these attacks appear to come from close friends, leading you to click links without hesitation. Using a site like this I can send you an email that appears to be from, well, anyone. And this site lets me do the equivalent with my phone, spoofing my caller ID. Yes, it’s that easy.

Don’t log in to anything important using a public computer or public WiFi without a VPN. Turn WiFi off on your phone to avoid being tracked in retail stores. And sign up for notifications here to find out if any of your personal information has popped up in data breaches.

If giving out personal info is an overwhelming concern for you (everybody say it with me now: threat model) you might want to check out MySudo. Ever wanted a secret identity? MySudo offers you multiple “aliases” — each with their own working phone number and email address. For when you have to give the hotel a number but don’t want marketing calls, when you’re not sure about that person on Tinder, when buying things online, or if you just want to pretend you’re Stringer Bell from “The Wire” carrying a burner phone.

10. Be Wary Of The Cloud And Social Media

Most of us see free iCloud backup as an awesome service. And it is… but also look at it through your security lens: any time you backup in the cloud you are putting all of your data on a computer you do not control. 

The cloud is great for convenience and data loss protection but anything you put on someone else’s computer is subject to data breaches or nosy employees. For most people, the cloud is probably fine. But if you plan on becoming a political dissident or an international celebrity (no, I’m not going to link to the hacked nudes of Jennifer Lawrence but I can’t stop you from Googling them) keep your data on your devices. There’s also a middle path: encrypt files before uploading them.

11. Convinced “They” Are Watching You? Set Traps.

If you’ve got a stalker, an abusive spouse, or live in a country where having unpopular political opinions tends to make people vanish, you’ve got a legit extreme threat model. And I’m here to help.

Whether it’s a despotic government, your boss, or the henchmen of the Illuminati, how do you know if someone already has access to your computer? What if you had a “canary in the coal mine” to warn you?

Canary Tokens allows you to create, for free, files that send you an email when they’ve been opened, along with the IP address of the intruder. Throw one on your desktop with a too-good-not-to-click-on name like “passwords”, “finances” or my personal favorite, “stuff to discuss with therapist” and then never touch them. If you get an email from Canary Tokens, somebody’s looking at your stuff — and it ain’t you.

Barker, Eric. “11 Secrets That Will Make You More Secure on the Internet” Barking up the Wrong Tree – Blog March 2019

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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