For the last two years, the FBI has repeatedly claimed that thousands of phones linked to criminal investigations were inaccessible due to locks and encryption. Last year FBI Director Christopher Wray said it had failed to access 7,800 mobile devices…
This week, ZDNet reported that a Comcast website used to activate Xfinity routers was leaking personal data, including a person's home address, the name of the Wi-Fi network and password. This bug was first uncovered by two researchers, Karan Saini a…
Mark Zuckerberg is visiting European Parliament today and you can watch the livestream right here. The broadcast starts at around 12:20 PM ET, with EU officials holding a press conference roughly an hour later to discuss the meeting's events. Zuckerb…
A group of lawmakers has penned a letter asking Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services to explain (PDF) how they respond to accusations of sexual violence against their drivers. The lawmakers are seeking answers in light of a CNN report published…
Tonight Politico reports that the President is using mobile devices in ways that could increase his risk of being hacked. According to "senior administration officials" Donald Trump relies on at least two iPhones — one to make phone calls and one fo…
Intel said it was scrambling to find more Spectre-like processor security flaws, and unfortunately it just found one. The company (along with Google and Microsoft) has disclosed a fourth exploit (simply titled Variant 4) that once again uses specula…
After refusing to speak with UK parliament twice, there was doubt over whether Mark Zuckerberg could be coaxed into discussing the Cambridge Analytica fiasco again. But recent efforts from Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, ind…
There are plenty of ways your browser can compromise your privacy, but there are a few precautions you can take when using popular mobile browsers on the go.
While none of these precautions are completely foolproof, they do offer a little more control over how sites track you and what information is saved on your phone.
To adjust your privacy settings in Safari go to Settings > Safari. Scrolling down to Privacy & Security, you’ll find the following settings you can toggle on and off:
- Prevent cross-site tracking: This will prevent sites from tracking where you go and what you look at when go to other site.
- Block all cookies: Cookies are created when you visit a site and can be helpful when loading sites you frequently visit. If you prefer, Safari allows you to block cookies completely.
- Ask websites not to track me: This lets sites know you don’t want to be tracked across the internet. In reality however, sites are free to decide if they want to respect your do not track request.
- Fraudulent website warning: With this feature enabled, Safari will let you know if the site you’re visiting is known for phishing scams.
- Camera & microphone access: Keep this setting turned off if you don’t want to automatically grant any web apps access to your camera and mic.
- Check for Apple Pay: Keep this setting turned off if you don’t want to use Touch ID or Face ID for browser purchases when using Safari.
If you don’t want Safari to save your history on your phone, you’ll need to browse in private mode. You can do this by opening Safari, tapping the tabs button in the bottom right corner, and tapping Private.
To wipe your browsing history, go to Settings > Safari and tap Clear history and website data.
To adjust your privacy settings in Chrome, open the app and go to Settings > Privacy. You’ll want to adjust the following settings:
- Safe browsing: With this feature enabled, Chrome will let you know if the site you’re visiting is known for phishing scams.
- Do not track: This lets sites know you don’t want to be tracked across the internet. In reality however, sites are free to decide if they want to respect your do not track request.
To browse in private mode, you’ll need to open Chrome, tap the menu button (three dots) and tap New incognito tab.
If you want to clear your search history, go to Settings > Privacy > Clear browsing data. You can delete your browsing history; cookies, and site data; and cached images and files.
To adjust your privacy settings in Firefox, open the app, and go to the Menu (three dots) and tap Settings > Privacy.
You can adjust the following settings:
- Do not track: This lets sites know you don’t want to be tracked across the internet. In reality however, sites are free to decide if they want to respect your do not track request.
- Tracking protection: By default, this is enabled in private browsing only, but you can enable it for regular browsing as well. Firefox explains, “When you visit a web page with trackers, a shield icon tracking protection icon will appear in the address bar to let you know that Firefox is actively blocking trackers on that page.”
- Clear private data on exit: Firefox will automatically clear your data when you quit the app. You can selectively choose from a long list of data including open tabs, browsing history, search history, downloads, saved logins and more.
- Remember logins: If you don’t want Firefox to save your login info, you can turn this feature off.
DuckDuckGo automatically does the following:
- Blocks hidden trackers.
- Forces sites to use an encrypted connection where available.
- It defaults to DuckDuckGo as the search engine. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track any of your search history, unlike popular alternatives like Google.
- You can clear all your tabs and browsing history with the Fire Button.
- The browser will also offer a Privacy Grade rating for sites from A to F, letting you know how much a site is trying to track you.
If you still haven’t decided which browser to use on the go, take a look at this guide to choosing the best mobile browser for you.
Parents understandably pour a lot of trust into apps that monitor their kids' activity. That makes it all the more painful when there's a lapse in security, and that's unfortunately the case today. Security researcher Robert Wiggins discovered that…
By Rachel Cericola and Grant Clauser This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here…
When Android malware slips into the Google Play Store, it's usually there to push unwanted ads or perpetuate a scam. McAfee researchers, however, have discovered something more sinister. A North Korean group nicknamed Sun Team recently posted three…
With well over half of all websites now encrypted, it’s time to think of HTTPS as the default option rather than the exception. That is, at least, according to Google, which is changing the way Chrome handles secure vs. non-secure web pages. And about time too.
Over the last year there has been a push to switch all websites to use HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure). Google has been especially keen for sites to make the switch, and with more sites complying, it’s time to change the way we view the web.
Switching From HTTP to HTTPS
At the moment, sites that aren’t secure don’t have any special labels attached. As far as Chrome is concerned they’re considered the standard. On the flipside, sites which have HTTPS switched on get a green “Secure” label with a lock symbol attached.
However, this is all set to change over the next few months. As outlined on the Chromium Blog, with the release of Chrome 69 in September, the “Secure” label will disappear. And then at some point in the future, Google will remove the lock symbol as well.
Since HTTPS should be the default, Chrome will remove the "Secure" indicator for HTTPS sites. It's the new default. Insecure sites (HTTP) will be called out. https://t.co/JW6Bms0APV pic.twitter.com/kXq7x7FAsk
— /dev/eloper (@mattiasgeniar) May 18, 2018
In addition to this, with the release of Chrome 70 in October, standard HTTP pages will be labelled with a “Not Secure” warning with a red triangle attached. In other words, Google is turning everything on its head and labelling HTTP rather than HTTPS.
Google’s reasoning for making this change is that “users should expect that the web is safe by default”. So, rather than having HTTP as the standard to be expected and HTTPS as a rare beast to be celebrated, HTTPS becomes the standard and HTTP is vilified.
Google Ups the HTTPS Ante
This actually makes a lot of sense. Thanks to companies such as Google, more of the web is now encrypted, which means that’s the default. Unfortunately for sites which still haven’t made the switch from HTTP to HTTPS this just piles the pressure on.
It’s shocking it has taken this long for most of the web to switch to HTTPS. We were explaining what HTTPS means back in 2011, and it has taken seven years to get to this point. Still that was before we understood quite how much we’re all being surveilled.
Image Credit: Stephen Shankland/Flickr
Not even a full day after phone tracking firm LocationSmart reportedly leaked location data on its website, the FCC is getting involved. As originally reported by Reuters, the matter is being referred to the FCC's enforcement bureau. An FCC spokesper…
Picture the scene: John Bolton stands proudly against a backdrop of an American flag, smiling beneath his pruriently confrontative mustache, dusting his hands off as befits a man who's just completed a task of wistfully virile middle-management. Joh…
Employees from AeroVironment allegedly brought a drone with explosives attached to it in a carry-on bag, on a Delta flight in April 2015. As Bloomberg reports, the flight had 230 passengers and when another employee, Mark Anderson, discovered this an…
Got your data security sorted? Reckon there’s no way anyone can steal data from your computer or network devices? Great! That must mean you’ve solved the worst security problem plaguing corporations around the world.
In truth, data security is complex and difficult. If you think you’re completely secure, it probably means there are vulnerabilities you just aren’t aware of. That’s why it’s important to know the following ways data can be stolen from your PC or network drives.
1. USB Stick
For instance, they can be lost or stolen. Giving one away that you think might be totally empty could result in secrets being uncovered with recovery software. There is USB-specific malware that delivers worms and Trojans to host computers, just waiting to steal login information and sensitive data.
USB sticks are also easily confused with each other. It’s not uncommon, in a work environment, to take the wrong stick home.
As long as your PC is unlocked, anyone with a USB stick can steal data from it. They simply plug it in, move the data across, remove it, and leave. It’s that easy; far simpler than stealing physical documents.
Tech giant IBM applied a new security policy in 2018: a total ban on USB storage devices. Unfortunately, this seems far too late.
2. Smartphone or Tablet
While they’ve banned USB storage devices, IBM has not announced any limits to that other popular portable storage medium: a smartphone. When set to mass storage mode, a smartphone can appear as a portable hard disk or USB drive to your PC.
Tablets and old MP3 players are recognised in a similar way. For IBM users, this affords an instant answer to their problem of being unable to use USB sticks. Perhaps the company recognises that they can detect what data was transferred to what device, knowing that phones can be associated with people in a way that USB sticks cannot.
Either way, anyone can copy data on an unlocked, unattended computer using just a phone and a USB cable.
3. Flash Memory Card
Smaller than a USB stick, flash memory can be surreptitiously to steal data. Many devices these days feature card readers, often enabling the inserted media to sit flush with the edge of the reader. They can be seemingly invisible.
As with a USB flash device, these little memory cards can be easily pocketed, but rely on an unlocked and unattended computer. Picture this: a friend uses your computer to look through the photos on their camera’s memory card. While they might not have the intention of stealing data themselves, malware can be introduced from the card onto your computer.
All of the risks of USB sticks apply here.
4. Portable HDD or NAS Device
Other risks to your PC’s data exist from portable hard disk drives (HDD). Again, these can be easily connected via USB. But there is another type of HDD that can put your data at risk.
Network Attached Storage is increasingly popular as a means for storing data on a local network, usually at home. NAS boxes are affordable, and can offer data resilience… you could even build your own using a Raspberry Pi.
The thing is, if you’re storing all of your vital data on a NAS box, it’s at immediate risk. Far smaller than a personal computer, a NAS box can be effortlessly connected from your home network, and taken.
Fortunately, you have a solution here: keep your NAS box located out of reach, preferably in a locked environment.
5. Other Removable Storage Media
We’ve looked at the most common compact storage media so far, but there are others that you should be aware of. Writable CDs and DVDs are perhaps the most obvious, although ZIP disks and REV disks (from Iomega) are still used in some organizations. These are smaller (REV disks are essentially hard disk drive cassettes), and therefore easier to conceal.
Meanwhile, although unlikely to get into the hands of most users, tape media is used for mass storage, backup and data recovery in many businesses, and on some home servers. These of course need to be held securely, as they typically hold a copy of the entire contents of a server.
Leaving tapes where they can be picked up and taken would mean losing data from an entire server!
How to Secure and Protect Your Data
So, what data do you have on your computer? Video games? Art work? An in-progress novel? Or something more valuable: customer data, commercially sensitive information, something that will cost you your job if lost?
Whether you’re concerned about data being stolen from your home PC or your work laptop, it is vital that you understand how it could happen. Your data is under physical risk in five ways that you should now be able to recognise:
- USB sticks.
- Smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players (connected over USB).
- Flash memory cards.
- Portable HDD and NAS devices.
- Removable media: optical disks, removable hard disk drives, tapes.
Understanding which devices can be used to pocket data on your computer is important. Don’t let it cloud what is useful, however. For instance, USB sticks can be turned into keys that unlock your PC.
If you’re concerned about the security of the data you’re using, consider using disk encryption. Using a work computer? If your employer expects you to work remotely on data stored centrally, ask them about setting up a VPN. This will improve data security considerably.
One last thing: although these devices can be used to steal data from your computer, they can also be used to introduce Trojans and malware. Ensure your internet security and antivirus apps are up to date!
Image Credit: BrianAJackson/Depositphotos
These days, WhatsApp is no longer the only show in town. You have a number of high-quality instant messaging apps to choose from. And while I’m a massive fan of Telegram if you’re looking for a WhatsApp replacement, Signal continues to grow on me with every passing day.
It’s one of most secure messaging apps around. End-to-end encryption is standard, the app offers tools to verify the identity of people in chat groups and the integrity of the data channel, and it doubles as an SMS client.
Except, there’s a security problem. Or at least, there’s a security problem for Mac users.
What’s the Issue With Signal Messages?
Quite simply, messages which are supposed to disappear and leave no trace are leaving a very noticeable trace. Two traces, in fact.
One of the traces is caused by the Notification Center. By default, the Notification Center will show the content of a message along with the sender’s name. This information will persist long after Signal’s copy of the message has self-destructed.
In a worst-case scenario, a hacker could gain control of your machine and see what’s being said. It’s a nightmare if you use Signal to send sensitive data.
The second trace is a database-level copy of every self-destruction message that someone with sufficient computing knowledge could easily access. As we said, not very secure.
How to Ensure Signal Messages Really Disappear
To remedy the notification center issue, you need to tweak some settings in the Signal app.
Go to Preferences > Notifications and select Neither name nor message. Hit Save when you’ve made the changes.
The database issue is more problematic. If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy a project, you can follow Patrick Wardle’s somewhat complicated walkthrough. If that’s all a bit beyond you, you could run his script to see what data has been secretly stored.
And remember, if these revelations have soured Signal in your mind, there are plenty of other secure messaging apps out there.
The Chrome browser's upcoming versions will focus on highlighting its negative security indicators, even going as far as sunsetting its positive ones. Chrome Security Product Manager Emily Schechter has announced that Chrome 69, which will be availab…
It's starting to feel like everyone in charge of our sensitive data might be incompetent. It's only been a day since Securus, the company that helps police track phones, was apparently hacked. Now, according to security site KrebsOnSecurity, tracking…
Being a parent is tough. No matter if you’re raising a toddler or a teenager, there are times when you really need to have eyes behind your head.
Thankfully, a new generation of wireless cameras can help parents keep a closer eye on their children.
1. Monitoring If Teens Made Their Curfew
Keeping an eye on your kids doesn’t mean “big brother” style surveillance or that you don’t trust them. It’s simply automating a part of parenting. There’s very little sense in staying up until midnight waiting to make sure your teen makes curfew, when you can let technology do the staying up for you.
Installing a surveillance camera at the front and rear entrance of your home not only helps you beef up home security, but it also provides a convenient log of when your teen leaves or arrives home.
If you purchase the right outdoor wi-fi surveillance camera, you can configure it to send you an email any time there’s motion detected at that entrance. Many of these cameras also offer night vision, so you can get a very clear picture even if it’s midnight and there’s no moonlight at all.
One excellent security camera that offers all of the features you need for this is the ReoLink Argus.
This camera requires no wiring for power, since it can be charged with a solar panel (sold separately). It offers night vision, motion sensing, and alert emails to multiple recipients.
Now you can go to bed early and get some rest for work. In the morning you can check your email to ensure that your teenager arrived home when they promised they would. Not only that, but it provides solid evidence if they didn’t.
2. Dash Cams and Teen Drivers
It’s scary enough sending your child out on the road for the first time. Now that there are so many distractions for teens like smartphones or other friends in the car, things are even scarier.
Just look at a few examples of what can happen to new drivers who aren’t fully aware yet how quickly distractions can turn into disaster.
All you need to do is install an inexpensive dash cam in your car to ensure your new teen driver is driving responsibly.
There are lots of options for these on the market. Just ensure you’re purchasing a dash cam that offers both front and rear (inside the car) cameras. For example, the ITrue X9D is highly rated by users and offers Wi-Fi access.
Wi-Fi lets you access the video wirelessly with a smartphone app. Also, cameras like these take an SD or micro-SD card, so make sure to purchase a card that’s large enough so that the looping video recording can capture a large enough amount of time.
The nice thing about using a dash cam is that it’s not just about keeping an eye on whether your teen driver is behaving. It’s a great way to capture important video in the case of an accident.
Video evidence can help your insurer prove the accident was caused by the other driver. This will keep your insurance costs from getting hiked. This is especially helpful since having a teen driver in your household leads to high insurance premiums as it is.
3. Making Sure Kids Are Doing Chores
For younger children, teaching them the value of contributing to a household is not an easy task. Kids will sometimes tell you they’ve done their chores when they haven’t.
And confirming whether they’ve done their chores is even more difficult if both parents are working outside the home. Thankfully a carefully placed wireless camera in the home can serve as a nanny when you’re away.
In most homes, brooms, vacuums and other cleaning tools are usually stored in the same place.
If the chore is to sweep the floor or vacuum, just keep the camera in an inconspicuous place, and make sure motion detection recording is enabled.
Every time your child goes to get the broom or vacuum to clean, your camera will send you a text or email notification.
A good option is a D-Link Wi-Fi camera, because it has night vision and you can easily configure it for motion detection email alerts.
These notifications will give you the time and date that your child did their chores.
D-Link’s Connected Home Series will work for the purpose described here. For all of the examples in this article though, we’ve used D-Link’s HD Wi-Fi Security Camera because it’s so inexpensive, requires no smart home hub, and captures very high quality video and images.
Using such a camera for keeping an eye on chores is a great way to make sure your kids are doing what they promised they would do. And if they don’t, you have the evidence to support a grounding!
4. Watch Out for “Parties” When You’re Away
It can be very tempting for teens to invite their friends over when you’re away from home for a few days. It’s something parents often worry about, not to mention the safety and security of their teenager alone at home.
It’s such a frequent event that you can even find videos on YouTube aimed at teens, explaining how to effectively clean up the house after a party so your parents don’t know about it!
Don’t be one of those parents. This is another great reason to install an outdoor wireless security camera, like those mentioned at the start of this article, at both front and back entrances of your home.
Not only do they insure that you’ll get notified instantly if a stranger is at the door, trying to get in. You’ll also know immediately if there are a bunch of teenagers arriving at the house throughout the night.
5. Keep a Watchful Eye on Drugs and Alcohol
Nearly every household has family members who need to take prescription drugs.
Many parents don’t realize that even some drugs you would think are safe to have in the home, can be abused by teenagers looking for an easy high if the drugs are taken at a high dosage.
The responsible thing to do as a parent is to always make sure all prescription drugs are stored in a lockbox that only the parents know the combination to. This way parents can distribute a daily or weekly supply, and keep the remaining prescription stored safely away.
The problem is that if a teen is intent on getting access to prescription drugs, they can figure out a way to get a hold of the combination. They may even figure out how the lockbox you use can be “hacked” or broken into.
Don’t gamble by trusting the lockbox completely. It’s very easy to install a Wi-Fi camera in a hidden location, keeping a watchful eye on the prescription supply.
A wireless camera with a heavy base provides easy mounting to walls or ceilings. This lets you position the unit in a hidden location, monitoring your lockbox without anyone knowing.
The same dangers are true with alcohol. If you’ve raised your kids right, the odds are pretty good they’d never get into your stash of alcohol.
But you can’t be entirely sure that their friends were raised the same way. So mount a wireless camera somewhere in the corner of your pantry or wherever you store your alcohol. Point the camera toward those bottles.
You’ll want to make sure you’ve purchased a Wi-Fi camera that has night vision, because the odds are good that whoever goes into your pantry looking for alcohol may not turn on the lights to do so.
Luckily, most high-quality Wi-Fi cameras on the market feature night vision.
Installing these cameras doesn’t mean you don’t trust your kids. But anyone under 18 years old statistically has a much higher probability of making a bad decision.
You can’t be everywhere at once. Setting up cameras like this allows you to have parental eyes everywhere you need them, even when you’re not home. It’s just the responsible thing to do.
6. Always Use a Babysitter Cam
If you have an infant, leaving it at home with a babysitter can be a nerve-racking experience.
Many parents try to alleviate this stress by only hiring a babysitter from the family, or someone they know very well. Still, it’s scary leaving a helpless baby with someone else. This is where Wi-Fi cameras can really provide new parents with peace of mind.
In fact, babysitter cameras have caught some terrible situations before they could have led to serious injury or worse.
We won’t show any of the terrible nanny-cam videos that have caught abusive babysitters in the act. And hopefully, in your case, your camera won’t capture anything bad happening. Instead, let’s hope it only catches wonderful moments between siblings, like this one.
You don’t have to feel bad about using a nanny-cam. You’re just being a responsible parent.
In this use case, you’ll want to make sure you install a good size SD card in the camera and enable sensitive motion detection so that the camera can record many hours of activity while you’re away.
7. Keep Those Tots in Bed
The funniest experience I had as a new father (although I didn’t find it funny at the time), was all of the tactics my daughter would take in order to avoid sleeping.
Once she got old enough to crawl out of her crib, she started escaping so she could run across the room and sneak books or toys back into her crib. We only realized this one day because she fell once while making her crib escape and started crying.
You would be surprised at the antics children will get up to in order to avoid staying in their crib!
If the technology was around back then for us to install a Wi-Fi camera in the baby’s room, we would have. That would have showed us on the very first night that our innocent little child was escaping her crib and staying up all night.
A Wi-Fi camera in the toddlers room is a very powerful tool for parents to keep an eye on their child, even when they’re sleeping! Because if your toddler makes an escape attempt, you can have the camera send you an email or a text alert that’ll wake you up so you can put that little rascal back to bed.
Just remember that when you’re setting up a camera in your child’s bedroom, you need to take the security of that camera setup seriously.
Using Wi-Fi Cameras for Parenting
Now, this doesn’t mean cameras should ever be used as a replacement for parenting. You know perfectly well, as a parent, that you need to be present with your children as much as possible.
But there are lots of demands placed on parents that you can’t control. Sometimes, you just can’t keep an eye on everything.
Let technology help you be a super-parent. Install cameras everywhere you need to keep an eye on. You’ll find that it’ll reduce stress, and you’ll sleep better at night.
Image Credit: bvb1981/Depositphotos
You probably know that your online security is important. But are you using the right tools? Various online attacks target computers every minute of the day, and while standard antivirus tools are good, they’re not designed to cover every base.
The following free security tools will help you to improve your system and network security. You’ve probably never heard of them, but they’re vital to your ongoing online security.
Why Haven’t I Heard of These Tools?
You’re probably thinking, “I have an online security suite installed already, why do I need these tools?”
The answer is simple: online security suites can’t look after every single element of your computer’s security. Sure, they can deal with viruses, malware, firewalls, sometimes even ransomware, but overall, these tools are jacks of all trades, and master of none.
Whether you use an all-encompassing online security suite or nothing at all, it’s worth installing these tools and seeing how they can help you:
- InSpectre: Checks your PC for the Spectre bug.
- Angry IP Scanner: Checks your network for unauthorized access and bandwidth hogs.
- Cybereason RansomFree: Scans your PC for ransomware activity.
- Disconnect: Monitors incoming connections to your browser.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit: Removes dangerous rootkits, and repairs the damage they cause.
Here’s what you need to know about each of these important tools and why you should be using them in addition to whatever security tools you’re already using.
You may have already heard about the Spectre and Meltdown bugs, which are CPU-level vulnerabilities with exploits that currently remain theoretical. Not many computers are immune to these bugs, and patches and updates for your operating system can only cause things to slow down.
In short, it’s a mess. While Microsoft has released its own tool for checking Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities, it’s a bit of a pain to use. That’s where InSpectre comes in, which was “designed to clarify every system’s current situation so that appropriate measures can be taken to update the system’s hardware and software for maximum security and performance.”
InSpectre is simple to use, and will tell you straight away if your CPU is vulnerable to either of the CPU bugs. Additionally, InSpectre informs you if the problem has been patched, or if an update is available. You can even disable protection, although that would seem to be unwise unless your system is suffering from particular performance issues. If disabling helps, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware.
2. Angry IP Scanner
With over 23 million downloads and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Angry IP Scanner is a must-have tool if you have a router in your home.
Free and open source, Angry IP Scanner will scan local networks, using an IP range that you specify. IP addresses are then pinged, and data gathered about each responding device. The results of a scan can be output to a text file (as well as XML and CSV), which may prove useful later.
For instance, it will tell you what devices are on your network. If you suspect a neighbor of “wardriving“, you’ll have the evidence. After all, it isn’t too difficult for a neighbor to pop around and sneak a look at your network key…
Note that Angry IP Scanner runs on Java, so make sure your installation of Java is up-to-date if you’re going to run this tool regularly. Java has its own security issues, which only regular updates can deal with.
Download: Angry IP Scanner
3. Cybereason RansomFree
You’ve heard of ransomware, right? It’s a nasty type of malware that locks your system, encrypts your data, and forces you to pay money if you want access to it again. This puts everything on your computer (and perhaps your cloud storage data too) out of your reach. It can be potentially disastrous, particularly for anyone who has important documents or photos on their computer.
In many cases, paying the ransom will actually unlock your data as promised, but scammers don’t always play fair. While some ransomware strains have been defeated with ransomware removal tools, not all of them have—so it’s vital to stay ahead of the game.
RansomFree from Cybereason “protects against 99 percent of ransomware strains,” according to the website. These include Bad Rabbit, NotPetya, and WannaCry. Available for Windows 7 and later, RansomFree creates “canary” files which detect ransomware behavior. These are placed in areas where ransomware usually starts, and blocks ransomware from encrypting your data. Happily, it is designed to work alongside other security software.
When you’re browsing the web, it isn’t only the sites you visit that attempt to communicate with your browser. Adverts, analytics, social networks, and more are also tracking you. With the Disconnect browser add-on, you can find out what is tracking you, and act upon it.
By visualizing and blocking sites that track you, Disconnect can make your browser 44 percent faster. More importantly, it can help you become more secure online. While we wouldn’t encourage that you block any adverts, Disconnect can block invisible trackers that aren’t affiliated with ad networks or social networks. These are the ones you need to beware of.
Disconnect features a graphical whitelisting option to ensure the content you want to see can still be downloaded. The same screen lets you block social network, and anonymous trackers.
5. Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit
Rootkits can be extremely dangerous: powerful malware that can close antivirus software, give an attacker admin privileges and complete control of your system, rootkits work at the hardware level.
This means that they can take control of your system BIOS, as well as the operating system. Few solutions are available to deal with rootkits, but of those that can help, you should always start with Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit (MBAR). After installation, MBAR will scan your computer and find threats. The Cleanup button will instruct the tool to deal with any threats, which will take place while the computer reboots.
Currently listed as beta software, Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit isn’t yet fully supported by the developers. However, if you’re concerned about rootkits, this is the place to start.
Download: Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit
Now That You Know of These Tools, Use Them!
Are you truly as secure as you think you are? Your home network has vulnerabilities you don’t know about. The Spectre bug could hit your devices unexpectedly. And online activity always comes with a risk of contracting malware. It’s overwhelming!
These tools are free, straightforward to use, and can save you a lot of trouble. Install them alongside an effective VPN (such as ExpressVPN or CyberGhost) and a high-quality security suite (such as Bitdefender Internet Security) to really maximize your online security.
Image Credit: olly18/Depositphotos
Civilian surveillance in China has seen a boom in recent times, with facial recognition leading the charge in the technologies used to keep tabs on the population. Police are scanning travelers with facial recognition glasses, authorities are using t…
Securus is known for allegedly helping prisons violate Sixth Amendment protections by recording "at least" 14,000 phone calls between inmates and lawyers. There was also a report at The New York Times that a former sheriff in Mississippi County used…
HoweyCoin, a new digital currency, was launched today through a pre-initial coin offering and the team behind it said it would be "the cryptocurrency standard for the travel industry." The HoweyCoin website offers a number of investment levels as wel…
The government of the German state of Bavaria has just passed a new law that will give police much more leeway when it comes to using DNA to track down a suspect, Science reports. Until now, law enforcement in the region have only been allowed to use…
When you’re going about your internet activity and suddenly alerted with a warning from your browser or operating system, you would be right to be concerned. It’s vital to take action right away. Examples of such alerts include:
- “The site ahead contains malware”
- “There is a problem with this website’s security certificate”
- “Windows Firewall has blocked some features of this app”
- “Turn on virus protection”
They pop up from time to time when you’re browsing the web, playing online games, or installing internet-based software. But what are you supposed to do when such alerts pop up? What do those internet security alerts really mean?
It’s time to find out why you should never ignore these four alerts and what you need to do when you encounter them. Take immediate action. Your online security depends upon it!
1. “The Site Ahead Contains Malware”
Ever searched browsed the web, clicked a link, and been faced with this on Google Chrome? Thanks to Chrome’s Safe Browsing tool (a built-in feature of the popular browser), this message is clear: the site you’re about to visit could be infected with malware. Rather than proceed, close the browser tab and look elsewhere for a safer site.
If you’re using a different browser, you may see “This website has been reported as unsafe” (Internet Explorer and Edge browsers), or “Deceptive site ahead” (Mozilla Firefox) or “Reported attack page” (older versions of Mozilla Firefox).
Alerts like this are intended to stop you from visiting sites that serve malware. This might be anything from a virus or Trojan, to ransomware. Staying safe online also means avoiding phishing sites, so also look out for messages like “The site ahead contains harmful programs” or “This page is trying to load scripts from an unauthenticated source.”
Whatever the case, use any displayed option to go back to a safe site. Unless you absolutely know what you’re doing, avoid proceeding (in Chrome, you’ll find “visit this unsafe site” under Details).
2. “There Is a Problem With This Website’s Security Certificate”
If a website’s security certificate has expired, you’ll see this message (specifically Internet Explorer and Edge). “The server’s security certificate is not yet trusted/yet valid” (Chrome) might also appear. Issues can occur if the security certificate cannot be validated.
These errors will occur on any site using HTTPS rather than HTTP.
Don’t think it’s a problem? Think again: sites that require secure login include social networks, online banking, and online shopping. If you encounter these errors, then it is possible the site has been hijacked. Alternatively, the website might not be the one you think it is. Has a phishing attempt sent you to a spoof website, perhaps?
Note that if you’re seeing this error often, check the time on your PC and see if it’s properly synced. If this is incorrect, then the security certificate will not validate.
3. “Windows Firewall Has Blocked Some Features of This App”
Obviously this is limited to Windows systems, but it isn’t limited to the Windows Firewall. Any firewall can display a message like this, which occurs when a program tries to gain unauthorized access to the internet.
Usually, the application will be a new one that isn’t yet on your firewall’s built-in whitelist. (This is a list of safe apps and games). However, the alert might also be referring the activities of malware on your computer, or a hacker attempting steal data.
To find out what is happening, check the details. The alert should display the name of the software trying to gain online access (although this can be meaningless). You should also be able to discern the name of the software publisher.
Use your favorite search engine to find out more; if you still don’t like it, run a virus scan before letting the program online. If it seems safe, allow access to the application through your firewall.
4. “Turn On Virus Protection”
If you’ve ever seen this alert on Microsoft Windows, then you’ll know that it means your antivirus software has been disabled. Sometimes this can be accidental (perhaps you’ve just uninstalled a third-party antivirus, and need to re-enable Windows Defender) but if you’re not expecting it, beware.
This could be an indication of a malware infection.
To deal with this, re-enable Windows Defender. Click Start, and type “defender”. In the results, click Windows Defender Security Center, and look for Virus & threat protection. If it is accompanied by a red cross, click Turn on. Whether you’re using a third-party tool or not it will then be enabled. Note that the Windows Defender Security Center will display third-party security tools.
If your antivirus software cannot be re-enabled, it probably means that an infection is blocking it. Immediately run a scan for malware using a competent tool like Malwarebytes Antimalware.
Keep Your Browser and Security Tools Up-to-Date
Now that you know what to do with these alerts, it’s important that you understand the importance of having a secure browser. Without regular updates, your browser is vulnerable to exploits. Keeping it updated will protect your computer and your data.
Similarly, ensure you’re using the best online security tools. This might be anything from an all-encompassing security suite (with firewall, antivirus, ransomware protection, etc.) to something more specific (individual programs that each provide their own protections).
Don’t Just Dismiss Alerts: Read Them!
The click-click habit of browsing the web tends to lull us into a false sense of security. Something you don’t want to read? Fine, ignore it… Unfortunately, it then becomes difficult to distinguish important messages from the ones you should be reading.
So, familiarize yourself with these messages. Recognize them when they appear, and take the time understand them. Read and understand everything before you click OK, and if you’re suspicious, find background information for the message on your preferred search engine.
Still concerned? The least you can do is ensure you’re using the most secure web browser.
Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Depositphotos
Today, Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, announced that Mark Zuckerberg will meet with representatives of the European Parliament. "The founder and CEO of Facebook has accepted our invitation and will be in Brussels as soon as…
Although Cambridge Analytica (CA) is preparing to shut down, US Congress isn't done trying to get answers about the firm's tactics to harvest online user data for political research. Today, in the latest chapter of a matter that has affected up to 87…
Today, Alphabet announced that Project Shield is widening its scope. The free service is now expanding to include protecting any registered political organization from DDoS attacks. This includes candidates, political action committees and campaigns.
Last year WikiLeaks published a ton of secret documents about the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) hacking capabilities. The breach — the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history — revealed its far-reaching abilities to snoop…