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Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access keeps no VPN logs. You can use the service with complete confidence that your IP address and activity is not being monitored, stored, or linked back to you.

What is Private Internet Access?

Essentially a high-speed VPN service. It works by providing multi-layered security at the kernel level, which means all of your apps will be secured, not just your web browser.

What is kernel level?

It’s the heart of your devices operating system, running processes, managing hardware such as the hard disks.

Do I really need Private Internet Access ( PIA )?

The answer really depends on your internet habits and your security preferences. PIA claim to unlock any geographic restrictions such streaming Netflix while abroad while also boasting ‘largest network capacity across the globe to provide the highest speeds and most encryption’. These are big claims and we yet to test them fully here at Geekheads.

How much does Private Internet Access cost?

Pricing starts currently from £2.32 p/m but its worth checking out the different package options.

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While voice assistants like Alexa are remarkably helpful, you should keep in mind that like most modern technology, you leave a footprint wherever you go.

When does Alexa listen?

It’s important to differentiate between listening and recording. The microphones in these smart speakers are always listening, but, by default, they are only listening for the ‘wake word’ or the activation keyword.” Since the whole purpose behind the device is to instantly respond to users’ requests, it makes sense that Alexa is constantly scanning audio for its wake word, which can either be “Alexa,” “Computer,” or “Echo.” However, this does not mean that Alexa is always recording.

When does Alexa record?

Amazon’s list of frequently asked questions says that Alexa only begins recording your conversation upon hearing the device’s wake word. So, when you say ‘Hey, Alexa,’ all of the audio gets analyzed and is being listened to by the microphones on the device, and only if the keyword ‘Alexa’ is detected, then everything that you say after that gets recorded. After the device records, it uploads the audio to Amazon’s cloud, where they have algorithms in the server that analyze the speech pattern and try to detect and identify the words you are saying. While Alexa’s response may seem instantaneous, it actually has to work with Amazon’s cloud to comprehend varying accents, speech clarity, and vocabularies. This means that each time you wake up Alexa, the smart speaker is recording your conversations, creating an automated transcript of what you are saying, and using that to fulfill your request.

How can I delete my Alexa recordings?

Open up the Alexa app, and sign in using your Amazon account password if necessary. When you arrive at the home screen, look in the upper left-hand corner, and select the icon that looks like dashed lines, or the main Menu. Look down to the bottom of the menu, and select the option that says Settings. Select Alexa Account and at the bottom you should see an option that says Alexa Privacy. Select this to begin. Go to Review Voice History.

How can I stop Alexa sending my voice clips to strangers?

Go to Alexa Privacy and then select Manage Your Alexa Data. Amazon warns you that turning the setting off will mean new features may not work well but if you’d rather not be spied on then turn it off.

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A form of phishing, smishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them your private information via a text or SMS message.

Put simply, smishing is any kind of phishing that involves a text message. Often times, this form of phishing involves a text message in an SMS or a phone number. Smishing is particularly scary because sometimes people tend to be more inclined to trust a text message than an email. Most people are aware of the security risks involved with clicking on links in emails. This is less true when it comes to text messages.

How to know if you’re being smished?

In general, you don’t want to reply to text messages from people you don’t know. That’s the best way to remain safe. This is especially true when the SMS comes from a phone number that doesn’t look like a phone number, such as “5000” phone number. This is a sign that the text message is actually just an email sent to a phone.

Exercise precautions when using your phone: Don’t click on links you get on your phone unless you know the person they’re coming from. Even if you get a text message with a link from a friend, consider verifying they meant to send the link before clicking on it. A full Internet security suite isn’t just for laptops and desktops. It also makes sense for your mobile phone.

A VPN is also an advisable option for your mobile devices. This will secure and encrypt any communication taking place between your mobile and the Internet on the other end.

Never install apps from text messages. Any apps you install on your device should come straight from the official app store. These programs have vigorous testing procedures to go through before they’re allowed in the marketplace.

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We’re in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and many of us are concerned about what will happen next. Coronavirus has created the perfect environment for fraudsters to thrive using a range of tactics.

How to spot and avoid Coronavirus Scams?

Things to watch out for in emails and other messages are:

Unsolicited emails and texts: be careful of anything you weren’t expecting that claims to be from an organisation such as a bank, BT, Sky, PayPal, Microsoft, the BBC and other large, trusted organisations. And at the moment, particularly watch out for unsolicited emails claiming to come from health bodies such as the NHS, the WHO and the CDC.

An urgent tone: phishing and smishing messages are designed to scare you into clicking on their links.

Grammar and spelling: the phishing email claiming to come from the WHO is clumsily written and has typos such no spaces after commas.

No name: Legitimate emails from services you have accounts with will always address you by name. Phishing emails and smishing texts usually start with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Customer’.

Fake domains: Scammers often set up website addresses that look legitimate in order to trick you. Security researchers Digital Shadows says that more than 1,400 domains linked to the Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus have been registered in the past three months. While many of those may well be legitimate, others will almost certainly be used to trick anxious consumers into thinking they’re genuine.

The latest email and text phishing scams:

Fake lockdown fines: People have been warned not to fall for a bogus text message saying they have been fined for stepping outside during the coronavirus lockdown. The scam message claims to be from the Government, telling the recipient their movements have been monitored through their phone and they must pay a fine or face a more severe penalty.

HMRC goodwill payment: The MET police are warning of a fake message designed to steal your account details that says ‘As part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19 virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment’.

Free school meals: The Department for Education has issued warnings about a scam email designed to steal your bank details saying: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported.’

WhatsApp request to forward your code: A recent scam could grant hackers full access to your WhatsApp messages, photos and videos. Someone who knows your phone number could request to register your WhatsApp on a different device, and when a verification code is sent to you, the hacker will then message you to try and coax you into forwarding this on to them. They could then target your contacts with requests for money.

Source: Which?

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Want to work from home and don’t want to change the existing office network?

Keep your current office network

Add a router in your LAN to work as VPN server.

1. Connect Vigor Router’s WAN port to DMZ port on your company gateway router (or setup port forwarding for VPN to pass to Vigor Rotuer, e,g., port 443 for SSL VPN).

2. Download Smart VPN Client on your device. Select VPN type, and either add your office network to “more route” or enable Change Default Route.

3. Done, start working from home.


Traffic arrives on the WAN interface, gets encrypted, and sent out through the same WAN interface. A solution is to add VPN compatibility to the network without replacing the Internet gateway.

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With so much of our lives happening on mobile devices and laptops, it’s no wonder our digital accounts have become a magnet for criminals.

What is 2FA (two-factor authentication)?

2FA is an extra layer of security used to make sure that people trying to gain access to an online account are who they say they are. That can be typing in a code sent to you by SMS or generated by an app on your phone; it can be plugging in a security key – a special USB stick – to confirm your identity to the website you’re logging into, or it can be confirming that it’s you with a fingerprint or a scan of your face.

Why should I enable 2FA from my online accounts?

It will stop most hacking attempts in their tracks, because the second factor depends on something being with you: your phone, your fingerprint or your security key. When it comes to online banking, from March 2020 banks will need to have introduced a multi-layered approach to logging in, as part of new ‘strong customer authentication’ regulations. Some banks have been doing this for a while, while others have been lagging shamefully behind.

Can I enable 2FA on every website or online account?

Unfortunately not. We think that well-known brands with millions of customers, such as Deliveroo and Netflix, which currently don’t offer 2FA, should do so. Websites that have stored your card details, and email and social media accounts which likely contain a treasure trove of personal data, should be a priority.

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When the internet was first being pieced together, there wasn’t much thought given to security or privacy. If anything, the focus was on openness, not defense.

How does a VPN work?

Simply put, a Virtual Private Network ( VPN ) creates a virtual encrypted tunnel between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. All your internet traffic is routed through this tunnel and your computer appears to have the IP address of the VPN server, masking your identity and location.

Do I really need a VPN at home?

There are lots of good reasons why a home VPN might be a valuable addition to your online security, but what’s most important is whether you will use it. If you find yourself too frustrated with reduced internet speeds, or juggling streaming devices, don’t use a VPN at home. An unused security feature isn’t useful to anyone.

Understanding the value of a VPN:

Consider a public Wi-Fi network, perhaps at a coffee shop or airport. Normally, you might connect without a second thought. But do you know who might be watching the traffic on that network? Can you even be sure the Wi-Fi network is legit, or might it operated by a thief who’s after your personal data? Think about the passwords, banking data, credit card numbers, and just plain private information that you transmit every time you go online.

What a VPN won’t do:

There are multiple ways your behavior can be tracked online even with a VPN, things like cookies allow web services ( Amazon, Google, Facebook ) to track your internet usage even after you’ve left their sites.

A VPN can only go so far to render your online activities anonymous. If you really want to completely browse the internet anonymously, you’ll want to use Tor. Unlike a VPN, Tor bounces your traffic through several server nodes, making it much harder to trace. It’s also managed by a non-profit organization and distributed for free.

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Tips & Best Practices for Improving Wi-Fi Security

Hide the Wi-Fi Network

Routers and access points don’t have to broadcast the SSID. If you block your router from sending out its identifier the Wi-Fi becomes a hidden network. Those devices that already have connection data stored will still be able to connect, but passers-by won’t see it. Without knowing the name of the network, it is impossible to connect to it.

Update Firmware

Routers and access points run software called firmware which essentially controls everything they do. It sets the security standards for your Wi-Fi network and defines the rules about which devices can connect, and so on. Keeping firmware up to date means you’ve got the latest bug fixes and security patches and are protected against whatever exploits have just been discovered.


VLANs serve as a useful tool for providing security to Wi-Fi clients by isolating traffic from the different users based on which SSID they connect to. This kind of setup is very common when you want to have a guest network which is completely separate from the company’s private network.

Need help improving your Wi-Fi?

Contact us to find out how Geekheads can help you.