Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Know your Computer?

February 2, 2011

Think you’ve heard of all the ways that hackers try to get at your info? Well the folks over at LifeHacker have an interesting article today on attacks you’ve never hear of. Check it out, it’s an interesting read.

Do You Need Protection from Anti-virus???

April 16, 2010

Yep that’s right, Anti-virus. It’s not a typo and I don’t mean protecting yourself from viruses either. According to a post on Google’s Online Security Blog, fake anti-virus scams are becoming a big threat.

What does that mean? These are programs that give you a “warning” that your computer has been infected with a virus and “click here” to remove it/install an anti-virus program to get rid of it. Instead of getting rid of it you’re now infected and there goes all your personal information. Or your computer is now a zombie and part of a huge network of hacked computer being used for nefarious purposes. Yikes!

You can check out the Google Blog post here. It’s a sneak peak of a more complete study that they’ll be releasing soon.

But what can you do to make sure you’re safe? Install a legitimate Anti-virus program to start. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend big bucks on McAfee or Symantec either. If you don’t already have Anti-virus software (shame on you! or you have a Mac) then pop over to www.cnet.com. Every year they review the top Anti-virus programs and give recommendations. And every year (that I’ve read their review) at least one of the top 3 is a free program.

And keep in mind that your Anti-virus program isn’t worth a grain of salt if you don’t keep it up-to-date.

Do You Change Your Passwords?

April 14, 2010

I don’t know about you but my IT department makes me change my computer password on the regular basis. And generally it’s been a standard practice to do so in many organizations. Computer experts for years have been recommending it also. It’s a security thing, right?

Well not so fast. Turns out that in a study by Microsoft, they found that changing your password regularly didn’t make any difference in thwarting cyberattacks.

Huh? you might ask. Well think about it. If someone hacks your “account” they’re not going to sit on it, waiting for you to change your password. They’ll use it immediately, probably changing your password first so you can’t access your account. And it looks like changing your password on a regular basis may have a detrimental effect in that more people will write down their passwords if they have to change them frequently. Makes sense, it can be harder to remember them if you’re constantly changing them.

I’ll be honest, I don’t change mine unless I have too. I have gotten a little smarter about it over the last couple of years.

  1. I steer away from easy to guess passwords, using a combination of letters, symbols and numbers that don’t mean anything
  2. Use a program to keep track of my passwords instead of writing them down. Yes this means that I used to do that, I had a printed sheet right next to my computer with all my login’s & passwords.

#2 has been fantastic! I have a Mac at home and an iPhone. So I use 1Password, it can keep track of all my information but requires that I type in a Master password before it’ll give me that information. The desktop version integrates with my browser, so it will automatically put my login and password into a site I’m logging into. After I put in my Master password that is. Nice, huh?

I highly recommend looking into a similar program for your use if you don’t already have one.

For more information on the study and it’s results, check out the article on Yahoo! News http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_wguy/20100413/tc_ytech_wguy/ytech_wguy_tc1590

Windows & Support

February 9, 2010

So what version of Windows are you running? Most people I know are either on Windows XP or Windows 7. Only a few, myself included, have Vista. But even if you have those, you should pay attention. Microsoft is going to stop supporting certain versions of their operating systems.  Big deal you might think, I never call them anyway. But that also means no more updates and that’s a big deal. Let’s face it, no operating system is perfect. There has already been plenty of new (and bashing) around vulnerabilities & security breaches in Windows. The updates that Microsoft releases go a long way to minimize your risk by fixing (some) of these.

So no updates = no fixes and you will be at significant risk from hackers and such.

What’s no longer going to be supported?

  • Windows 2000 – Support for this operating system ends on July 13, 2010. And for God’s sake, why are you still running this???
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 – Support for this operating system ends on July 13th also. So you should upgrade your version of XP to Service Pack 3.  Although Microsoft encourages you (of course) to upgrade to Windows 7
  • Windows Vista RTM – This is the original version of Vista that would have come pre-installed on a new computer. Service for this version ends on April 13, 2010. Yikes! Upgrade to Service Pack 1 for Vista and you get support until July 12, 2011 or Service Pack 2 and you get even longer support.

And really, you should have the latest service pack installed anyway, just to be safe. Now I know that sometimes the service packs cause more problems than they seem to solve and many of us don’t want to rush out and be the first ones on the block to install them. So it’s ok to wait a little while to do so but not forever. And at this time, they’ve all been out long enough for most of the kinks to be worked out.

You can check out the security blog here for more information.