Cultivate Self-Defense

Cyber crime is not a new word for most of us. However, netizens continue to risk their identities and become vulnerable to cyber crimes. This includes children as young as one or two. Despite these issues are becoming an urgent problem in the cyber world, there are many who overlook these bad signs and incidents that occur around them. Unknowingly, there are threats lurking behind every face of some Facebook account and are difficult to track even with enough resources.

A number of activists and internet experts have surveyed and have stated that these issues are increasing over the years. It is a pressing situation where even as security is being dispatched; the cyber criminals are also improving their skills at hacking and other trickery. To top it all, the consumers are not very cautious about their online safety and are being subjected to sexual, emotional, physical, and financial abuse. To ensure that the users take up their safety as a responsibility, here are some tips that might help to keep such threats at bay.

 

# 1 Password safety

Passwords are usually the most personal prerogative that a person can have. Set passwords that are strong and unique, but not the obvious. Crete one with a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, symbols and special characters. Do not keep the same passwords for multiple accounts. Change them regularly and do not share any of them with anyone not concerned with you in any way. Use the help of a Password Manager to help you with it. There are many such tools available.

 

# 2 Protect your Devices while Online

While online (or offline), ensure that whatever devices you use, are protected with a trustworthy security software. Update yourself with the latest threats and software that appears in the market.

 

# 3 Manage Network-related Devices

Since most devices are connected with each other, there are high chances that confidential and personal data can be transferred or passed on. So while installing a new network, ensure that the default passwords are changed immediately. Disable any unused devices and set a strong Wi-Fi encryption to prevent anyone else from accessing your devices and network.

 

# 4 Guard yourself against Phishing Activities

No matter how good you are at tracking fake e-mails or websites, there seems to always be someone smarter than you are. Be cautious and double-check your e-mails and links that you receive before clicking on them (especially when you do not know the sender). Many of these emails or links come from sources that are illegal or fake. They appear to be legitimate but may easily gain access to your system or act

# 5 Beware of public Wi-Fi Networks

Be careful while logging in or passing on your personal information to make some expenses through an outside source, like unprotected public Wi-Fi networks. Sharing your personal details and transferring data through unknown devices or unknown networks may make you more vulnerable.

 

Now that you know these simple tips that can be used in your everyday life, make it a point that you will protect yourself from unknown network sources and devices. Refrain from sharing your personal details with unauthorized organizations or individuals. Enjoy your online experiences with a little caution.

Creators Update Ensures your Control over Privacy Settings

Although Windows 10 Creators Update has hit the cyber community with all its swanky features and updates, privacy seems to be of highest priority always. Launched a few months ago, this fairly new feature of Windows 10 has been frowned upon by many regarding its safety measures.

Windows Update comes with the prominent tool, Cortana – the virtual, personal Windows assistant. It functions with the help of a cloud service that is convenient yet minimally unsafe. Nevertheless, keeping aside its flaws, the Creators Update has added a few settings will make the user turn his frown upside-down.

These settings are a blow to the previous Windows versions’ privacy settings, which were complicated to use. They help in safeguarding the user’s Microsoft Account. Here are those settings that Microsoft has released based on web-based privacy measures:

 

The Settings App

In the Settings App in Windows 10 Creators Update, each of the privacy screens has a tab – Know your privacy options & a link – Learn more, placed. Clicking on the tab will display details regarding privacy settings while clicking on the link, the user will be taken to Microsoft’s online privacy pages. Each of the options that you find there are neatly explained with a description.

The Background apps section, another side of the privacy sections, is provided with a universal “off” button. When clicked on, all the background apps will be turned off at once. This will save the user, time and effort instead of manually turning off each background app one at a time.

 

Microsoft Account Dashboard

This web-based privacy dashboard comes along with the Creators Update, contains items of the user’s browsing history, search history, location data, and Cortana Notebook from Microsoft Edge (the updated form of Internet Explorer).

This privacy dashboard can be accessed and logged in through:

account.microsoft.com/privacy

Here is an example from the dashboard options – the location option. It is a single-click procedure. Go to Location Settings and click on Clear Location Activity button, placed on the right-hand side. The location details will be erased.

 

Basic and Full diagnostic data

Diagnostic tools often bear private information, as they have to maintain the system’s health through constant scanning and diagnosis of any errors or corruptions. Therefore, Microsoft has assured their customers through the transparency of these tools. The data saved is marked as full by default. It fluctuates as the user goes into the feedback section. It is to be noted that the user would have sent a minimal amount of data irrespective of which option is chosen. The Basic and Full data diagnostic tools can be looked up online at Microsoft’s TechNet website, to access more detailed explanation.

Although these settings do not really affect the privacy settings on a larger perspective, these options provide the users a consolation that their data can be accessed easily and quickly understood. The user is given more control over their privacy and settings.

Protect your Outlook Data File with a Password

Passwords have become the sole solution to maintain your privacy, at least from those prying users who share your system. Privacy is in everything, including work. Emails from clients and important confidential details relating to your team art some of the data that you want to protect. Your Outlook account makes work-life convenient, but if you want to keep your details under cover, read on. Here is a set of simple steps to ensure your Outlook files are not leaked out.

A word of caution: If you forget the password you set to protect your Outlook data file or account, it cannot be traced again. Microsoft does not promise to retrieve your lost password once set. Therefore, it is recommended that you store it elsewhere for a rainy day.

 

How to Password Protect my Outlook Data File?

  • In your Outlook Account window, click on File option, located at the top-left corner of the page
  • Select Account Settings. From the drop-down menu, select Account Settings
  • .A window will appear that contains a line of tabs placed at the top. Select the Data Files option
  • Choose Settings. Select Change Password.
  • If you have a password already set, type it in the Old Password blank space
  • If not, proceed and type in your new password in the New Password and Verify Password blank spaces. Make sure that your password is only 15 or less in characters
  • Click on OK. Your Outlook Data File is now password-protected.

 

Now that you have password-protected your Outlook Data File, you can be assured that your work details are safe from unwanted visitors to your system.

Fb says no to “bogus” news

Freedom of Speech has many netizens to “share” news on their Facebook timelines in succession. However, it is unfortunate that a major portion of the Fb users is spreading news and rumors without verifying them. This is quite an issue, as people seem to be abusing this right to speech. In addition, many are being offended by this irresponsible expression. Nevertheless, before discussing that, let us see what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has initiated on the social site in response to this.

Zuckerberg had declared in the month of December 2016 that the social site would allow users to report to the authorities if they suspect any untrue news on the social site. This reported information would then be checked for authenticity by third-party fact-checking organizations like Snopes and Politifact. They look for any presence of inaccuracy in the content. If the posts were found to be fabricated or bogus, they would be labeled as “disputed”. A link navigating to the fact-checking sites will also be provided so the users can explore the reasons behind that label.

After being reported, it takes time for the post to undergo scrutiny thereby, delaying the entire process of labeling the post as disputed. In addition, this requires at least two fact-checking organizations to authorize before the post is labeled as disputed. Those posts that are labeled as “disputed” do not seem to be deleted or removed from the website. In addition, the post may be authentic losing out the purpose of being circulated.

However, who validates these fact-checking sites’ research? The sites should be committed to the Code of Principles laid down by the well-known journalism non-profit Poynter. Although this is progress, some are not very convinced by this initiative as being effective.

Word Zero-day Vulnerability is now curbed

Here is good news for those who are fretting over zero-day vulnerabilities crashing their system. The flaw is now taken out from and is being trashed, thanks to the updates that Microsoft has rolled out a few days back. This critical flaw has been one of the three most critical flaws. Here are some terms for you to familiarize with before going on.

Zero-Day Vulnerability

A zero-day vulnerability refers to a previous vulnerability software that is unknown to the system. It is called zero-day as the developer does not get enough time to fix this unknown bug; lesser than a day’s time. When the bug is left undealt with, it causes an opportunity for hackers and other cyber criminals to exploit the bug to attack a target system.

A Vulnerability is a bug that is found in the operating system, which can be used by an outsider to execute unsafe command onto the system. The hackers use a code execution or an Exploit to access to this private area and harness the bug for hacking purposes. A code execution is used to describe the ability of the hacker to execute any command on the target system and enter into it.

Using the Word Zero-Day software, one can creep into you word documents and infect them with a malware called Dridex. After extracting the bug, one can also install malware into other systems and devices. Two of this malware are Godzilla and Latenbot. Even when your system is well updated, there are chances that it may get infected with the bug.

How do I protect my system against the Word Zero-Day Vulnerability?

To protect your system against zero-day attacks, you can use software and tools that are available. A good suggestion for such a tool is the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit. Recently, Microsoft has launched 15 updates to fix many individual flaws in the software that includes Windows operating system, Exchange server, and Adobe Flash. It is recommended that updates of any kind have to be installed at the earliest. This is a general suggestion to dealing with other processes too.

Now that you are aware of how you can protect your system from malware attacks, it is important to be alert and be careful while installing, downloading programs and click on unknown links.

Protecting your Home Devices

Safety is a need in every aspect of our lives. Long gone are the days when we left our homes with a huge lock on the door latch and carried the key, believing that our home is safe and secure. Today, we have technologies that are exclusively created for securing our homes from unwanted intruders. Many security devices, through the internet, are paired with our personal gadgets like our phones that help us control safety settings with the touch of a button or a voice command. They also help us by informing updates and keep track of the status at home.

However, hackers are also smart enough to break in (home devices) and steal your personal details and private information. Although these devices are safe, there is still a chance of being plundered. If you want to install a self-controlled security device at home, here are some things to keep in mind while you make your choices.

Do your research

It is important to know about the different brands and their profile when you want to buy their product. In this age of the internet, this is quite an easy task. Skim through all the brands you are considering and run through their history and achievements. Ask a friend who has used any of their products. Choose trusted and well-known brands that have been in the market for a considerable period.

Read updates of the brands to know their latest ways of troubleshooting and dealing with possible insecure scenarios. Also, be skeptical about the brand themselves to make sure that you are not taken for a ride (being duped). Ask them questions and take time to decide to trust them. It is possible that the company themselves can threaten your privacy.

Use your Wi-Fi smartly

By connecting your home devices and personal devices with two different Wi-Fi networks, you can reduce chances of endangering one set of devices from the other, if they were all on the same network. If one network is hacked, the other network, which is protected by another set of passwords, will be difficult to hack into. Some of the home devices can be the amazon Echo, Nest Thermostat and Philips Hue Smart lights. Some of the personal devices can be your smartphone and tablet.

This can be achieved by enabling a guest network apart from the primary network. The guest network will have a different username and password. Many Wi-Fi routers these days offer this option. Here is an example Wi-Fi – TP Link’s Archer C7. You can even disable the network name from being visible if you want to.

Strong Passwords = Strong Security

Strong passwords are a necessity that should not be neglected. Try to create strong passwords with a mixture of random numbers and characters to make it complicated. This might give a hard time to hackers trying to break in. Even if you are not able to remember your passwords, you can write them down and store it in a safe place. Use the help of password-managing apps to help generate strong and better passwords.

Monitor the security devices regularly

This is very important. Keep a constant check on the security devices to keep track of any updates regarding the safety features and the software. Upgrade any updates that you are find listed immediately. In addition, your devices or your internet-connected devices would usually try to grab your attention using blinking lights. Chances are that you might not catch the signal, so it is recommended that you check for updates frequently.

Go Mute

It is a common remedy to put a tape over the webcam to prevent being filmed by a hacker. Similarly, in products like amazon Echo and Google Home, provide a mute button that can switched off the microphone on your device. This may put off the hackers from listening to your conversations and therefore protect your privacy.

 

These are some of the tips that you can use to get the right kind of security for your home devices. It is quite an opportunity to be able to monitor your privacy with the movement of a finger. So use the best brands and keep yourself updated regularly.

Safeguard your data from Border Searches

It is a common act to take measures to protect your data and confidential information from the wrong hands like hackers, cyber criminals and unknown sources. You install many apps and software to keep your gadgets safe; your details stored in them. However, what do you do if legal authorities all allowed to frisk you and endanger your right to privacy?

It is a known fact that the customs officers of most countries do have the permission to do this. Border searching is a procedure according to a country’s (any country) criminal law, in which the customs officials have the permission (even without a warrant) to search travelers and their belongings to maintain safety and security of the country. If under suspicion, they can avoid any illegal or unauthorized entry of people ort things across the border. This is done by most nations and most people across the world are requested to abide by these laws.

Now, this need not mean that you have to yield your personal information to random officials. In most places, it is your right to remain silent when you are asked to reveal your passwords or security PIN. Even if you do not, your devices can be detained right there at the border and may or may not be turned back to you. These devices can be taken into custody for forensic investigation, and your data can still be retrieved from them.

Here is where you can take up some smartness lessons and pass them on to your friends as well. The following are some of the precautions that you can use to protect your privacy without having to explain yourself to anyone.

 

How can I safeguard my data from border searches?

  1. Get an alternative device

If you are travelling out far, it is wise to leave behind your costly and original gadgets that has all your confidential matter; be it work stuff or personal photos or files. Instead, you can carry a less used and cheaper device that holds only what you need for the trip or journey. Get hold of a few less expensive phones and laptops that are compatible with multiple, global SIM cards and has basic features that you can survive with. Therefore, even if your devices are confiscated or probed, there is not much to worry about. 

  1. Set complicated and lengthy passwords

Most software advice you to set passwords that are strong and that you can memorize easily to benefit you.  However, here are some password management apps that help you to create very “strong” (pun intended) and lengthy passwords. These passwords can be stored under a master password that can be stored on a cloud service account that can be accessed later, upon reaching your destination.

  1. Two-step verification

When the two-step verification option is enabled and you type in your password, you will automatically receive an OTP (One Time Password) to your primary device through a text message. Make sure that your primary device is left behind in safety so that the customs officials cannot access to it. When you type in this OTP, which you can retrieve from a trusted friend who has access to your primary device, you can access to your account or device.

  1. Disable you fingerprint settings

As already mentioned, you have the right to stay silent when you are asked to reveal your passwords. You are entitled to not share it with anyone. Nevertheless, it is possible that you can be forced to use your fingerprint password against your will. For such situations, it is best to disable your fingerprint sensor on your devices before you take leave to another place.

  1. Encrypting devices should help

Encrypt your devices and leave behind the key with a trusted friend. Encrypting your device will scatter your data that can be retrieved only with the correct key. Some tools assist you in encrypting your data. This method is usually very safe as nobody can decipher the data without the appropriate key, which means that the officials cannot disclose your private data.

  1. Cloud back-up

A very good option is to save a copy of all your data from your devices onto a cloud service that can be accessed later from anywhere and at any time. Once a copy of your data is stored on the cloud, you can delete the copy on your device. Now you need not be worried about your data when you are forced to hand over or reveal your private information.

 

A very simple way to keep your data safe is to store a copy of your data or the password that secure your data, elsewhere for backup purposes. In addition, it is recommended that you use some free tools that help you in protecting your data. Keep more than one cloud to have a backup cloud, in case one cloud crashes. These are some of the method that you can use to protect your data from legal (or illegal) sources.

How do I Disable “Remember Password” option in my Browser?

The “Remember Password” is a very common option that appears in most browsers, when you have to provide personal information in websites. It was introduced to ease the user’s access into frequently visited sites and accounts. When the user wants to log in into a website or account, the browser asks if they want to “remember password” so they do not have to repeat the process. It saves time too. This option is often used at workplaces and home computers.

But today, this option has assisted the occurrences of many cybercrimes. Entering into accounts with the already saved passwords is now a piece of cake for intruders and other users. This has done more harm than help and many prefer to log in or sign in without having to save the passwords.

However, how do you clear out already saved passwords? If your passwords are already saved and you want to delete them from the browser’s memory, follow these steps. Steps to disable that option is also given here. These steps are only with respect to two major browsers; Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

 

How do I disable “Remember Password” option in Chrome?

  • Click on the vertical “three dots” located at the top, right-hand corner of the browser
  • From the drop-down menu, select Settings
  • Scroll down and click on Show Advanced Settings
  • Scroll down to Passwords and Forms and uncheck Offer to Save your web Passwords
  • To delete already saved passwords, click on the Manage Passwords on the left of the previous option
  • From the list that appears, hover over across the website, whose password you want to delete and click on the X mark you find on the right end
  • If you want to delete all of them, just press Ctrl + A and then Delete on your keyboard
  • When you are done, click on Done and the list of all the saved passwords is cleared

How do I Disable “Remember Password” option in Firefox?

  • Click on the horizontal “three dots” located at the top, right-hand corner of the browser
  • From the drop-down menu, select Settings
  • Scroll down to Advanced Settings and click on View Advanced Settings
  • Scroll down to Privacy and Services and uncheck Offer to Save Passwords
  • To delete already saved passwords, click on Manage my saved passwords
  • From the list that appears, hover across the website, whose password you want to delete and click on the X mark you find at the right end
  • If you want to delete all of them, just press Ctrl + A and then Delete on your keyboard

These simple steps are easy to follow and takes a fraction of a second to process. Now that you have disabled the “remember passwords” option and deleted previously saved passwords, you can relax and be assured that your privacy is taken care of. However, if you want to change your mind and save the passwords, you just have to enable the “remember passwords” option.

How to sign out of Gmail safely?

One of the nightmares of the online world is to leave your account susceptible to cybercrime. Sometimes, in a hurry or absent-mindedly, you may leave your Gmail account without logging out. It could be because of either sharing your system with another user, in a cyber café or just plain forgetfulness. Whatever it is, your privacy is at stake and sometimes it might be too late to secure it.

Keeping in mind the hassles the user might get into, Gmail provides a tiny option located at the corner of your mailbox to log out and save you from potential danger. Using this feature, you can close down all your active sessions in a single click. Here is how you can enable it:

 

  • Login to the desired Gmail account from any web browser
  • At the bottom of your inbox, you will find a section called the Last Account Activity with the option Details
  • Click on Details which will open a new window
  • In the window, you will find a list of all the recent activities displayed with a button to close all sessions
  • Select it and your recent activity will terminate

 

Once you have the list of the recent sessions, you can read through to find any specific session or app you want to close. This way, you are logged out in a single click. The first column that says Access Type will display all the details of the recent sessions that include device, application and the mail server through which you accessed into Gmail. If a particular session is not in the list, chances are that your account has been visited by a stranger. It is recommended that you change your password immediately to prevent further intrusions.

If you Authorized Applications in the list, click on Show Details, followed by Manage Account Access. A complete list of all the applications that you have provided access to Gmail for will be displayed. Details regarding the date of access and the which app will also be provided. A button to invalidate the authorization, present on the page can be used.

This option is exclusive to Gmail accounts. If there are any further security issues, a third-party software’s interruption may be required. But this method can guarantee safety of your personal details if used before it is too late.

Block out political posts on facebook in just a few clicks

Surfing through Facebook is an enjoyable experience. One can endlessly scroll through new posts to read news feeds and posts that are written on your timeline. But not everything that appears on the ‘News Feed’ is pleasant. People’s tastes are different especially when it comes to politics. So, there might be those ugly attitudes and comments someone throws on political issues that you might not agree with. Then, how do you get rid of them?

Most of the established web browsers provide add-ons or plugins that can be used in blocking unwanted posts and matters preferred by the users. But these are very minimal in their performance. Here are some well-known filters that will help you tweak your settings so that you can regularly experience irk-free browsing on Facebook

Hide or Unfollow a post or profile –  If there are any posts that you dislike coming across on your Facebook account, you can simply use the Hide option to “hide” those similar posts that keep appearing on your news feed. When you “hide” a particular type of post, a notification is sent to Facebook that says that you do not want similar posts pop up in your news feed.

Unfollow a profile or friend will keep your account free of that friend’s posts and shares. This option is used when you do not want to see a particular friend’s posts. However, you are still “friends” with that person. A disadvantage is that once you unfollow your friend, you may not receive almost any of their posts.

Remove all Politics from Facebook – This is a simple Chrome add-on that by default avoids posts with the use of keywords that are picked from the user’s recent activity. This option, however, is present and the user cannot choose the settings.

Leech Block – blocks certain unwanted sites by barring your access to them. There are up to 6 domains that can be chosen for the same. The sites can be blocked for a time span accordingly so you are not disturbed often. This keeps you away from wasting your time and gives accessibility to the site only when you want.

Social Fixer –  This is a customized option that helps you manage what you want to filter. You can find this option on the Facebook toolbar. It also helps in eliminating sponsored advertisements and spoilers. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and Safari are a few of the browsers that support this option. You can “create a new filter” and select particular posts, political party, persons or issue that you want to hide.

News Feed Eradicator for Facebook – Some filters cannot block certain memes and some tricky posters’ way of expressing their thoughts. This add-on will remove the user’s live ticker and news feeds. A feature of this add-on that you can’t find in the others is that it replaces those removed matters with interesting quotes. You can also add in your own quotes and messages.