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Free software is risky

There’s a saying in the IT industry that if a software is free, then the real product is you, the user. This is because the Internet’s advertising business model relies heavily on user data, such as location, age, gender, interests. As such, most free software is designed to track and then sell this type of data to advertisers.

Not only that, but free software comes with a lot of security risks such as browser hijackers and unwanted programs that might seriously slow down your PC.

What happens when you install the Top 10 Download.com apps?
You’ll never believe what happened! Well… I guess maybe you might have a good guess. Awful things. Awful things are what happens. See the article on howtogeek.com

Why would we choose Download.com? Because their policies page states clearly that they do not allow malicious software on the site, and further that they do NOT accept any software that contains the following:

Software that installs viruses, Trojan horses, malicious adware, spyware, or other malicious software at any point during or after installation.

Software that installs without notice and without the user’s consent.

Software that includes or uses surreptitious data collection.

Software that diverts or modifies end users’ default browsers, search-engine home pages, providers, security, or privacy-protection settings without the users’ permission.

Software that installs in a concealed manner or denies users an opportunity to read the license agreement and/or to knowingly consent to the installation.

Software that induces installation by making false or misleading claims about the software or the software publisher.

I mean, with all those protections in place from the trusty people over there at CNET, why would anybody worry? I mean, CNET News is a trusted source, right? Right.

Fake update notifications can easily trick even cyber savvy users and infect their devices with malware. This is the reason we decided to help you with 3 tips on how to identify them and examples to help you avoid such an attack.

How to tell if an update notification is fake?

1 – If you received an update link via email, ignore it and mark it as spam or phishing, according to the situation. Software makers will never send you links to update your apps via email.

2 – If you see an update prompt when you’re on a website, leave the website immediately and then scan your system for potential malware infections. Software makers never trigger update notifications on websites – those are infected websites trying to compromise your system and infect it with malware.

3 – If you’re infected with adware, you may see notifications like the ones below. Never click on them! Scan your computer with a trusted (and paid) antivirus or a robust anti-malware solution to get rid of it. Adware can open backdoors into your system and feed your device with additional malware.

If you want to avoid the hassle of software updates altogether, you can use Heimdal FREE to automate them. Heimdal FREE will update your applications automatically and silently (without interrupting your activities), as soon as an update is released.

All that’s left to do is to install it (it takes under 3 minutes) and you’ll be good to go!

Cyber crime has been on the rise in the UK for some time, but the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has worsened the trend significantly.

The 2020 pandemic saw a spike in cyber crime and showed how unprepared some UK businesses are to handle cyber attacks. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey shed some light on why UK businesses may have undergone so much cyber crime in the past year:

– Only 83 percent of businesses have up-to-date anti-virus software.
– 47 percent of businesses have staff using personal devices for work, but only 18 percent have a policy on how to use those personal devices at work.
– Less than a quarter of businesses (23 percent) have a cyber security policy covering home working.
– In addition to the pandemic putting stress on cyber security, the increased use of cloud technologies has also opened up vulnerability to cyber attacks in the UK.

The Five Most Vulnerable Industries

Cyber attacks have a devastating impact on UK businesses. Poor cyber security can cost a company thousands or millions of pounds if they experience a data breach. The UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey noted that where a data breach resulted in a loss of data or assets, the average cost of a cyber attack on a business is £8,460. For medium and large businesses, that figure rises to £13,400.

Although cyber crime is a risk for all businesses of any size, five particular industries tend to be targeted more often:

– Healthcare
– IT & Telecommunications
– Legal
– HR & Recruitment
– Manufacturing & Utilities

Healthcare
Healthcare industry is the most vulnerable to the risk of cyber crime in the UK because systems are outdated and there’s a fear that switching to new technology could disrupt working practices and patient care.

IT & Telecommunications
Telecoms and IT are also targets of state-sponsored cyber attacks because entire economies and businesses operate on these telecommunications structures. They’re also the gateway to other businesses; once a hacker infiltrates the telecom company’s infrastructure, they can easily intercept calls or impersonate subscribers.

Legal
Switching to remote working during the pandemic was a hard shift for many law firms, as methods for dispute resolution and transactional work didn’t support virtual methods. There’s also a lack of clear regulations surrounding data protection and security, leaving many law firms without contingency plans or a security framework to follow.

HR & Recruitment
Recruitment agencies are particularly at risk as well, because they build up lists of candidates and resources that become valuable intellectual property worth stealing. These agencies are also targets for malware because one virus can expose documents such as passport scans and visa details.

Manufacturing & Utilities
Like the healthcare industry, the manufacturing industry is reluctant to disrupt current processes and therefore operates with outdated systems. This hesitancy to update is critical, as the industry is one of the most technologically immature, having not kept up with modern security measures.

In short, a proxy is basically another computer that stands between your own computer and the destination site.

What is a proxy server?

A proxy server is basically another computer which serves as a hub through which internet requests are processed. By connecting through one of these servers, your computer sends your requests to the server which then processes your request and returns what you were wanting.

Why use a proxy server?

Proxies are used for a number of reasons such as to filter web content, to go around restrictions such as parental blocks, to screen downloads and uploads and to provide anonymity when surfing the internet. If you are wanting to surf the web anonymously then proxies can provide you with a means to hide your home IP address from the rest of the world.

There are a number of proxies that can provide you with service. Some are free and some charge a small fee, the choice is up to you but we have found that the paid services are more reliable, faster, and more secure.

Questions?
020 3637 6095
support@geekheads.co.uk

How does a password manager store your data?

What is a password manager?
A password manager is a software application which allows you to store, generate and manage all your passwords in one location. It can also store your sign-in URLs and online credentials such as usernames, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, and answers to your security questions.

How does a password manager work?
Web-based password managers store your passwords on a server—also known as “the cloud.” Unlike locally installed password managers, you can access and sync your data from different machines and devices as long as you have an internet connection, making it the most popular type of password manager. Your data is encrypted on your device before it hits the servers, so you know it’s safe and secure. Like locally installed password managers, web-based ones are also accessed using a master password.

Are password managers actually safe?
Password managers are incredibly safe to use for storing your data. Many of the most popular ones use “zero knowledge” encryption, which prevents the provider of the password manager from being able to access your data despite it being stored in the password manager itself.

To ensure the greatest level of security, password managers use military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. Many also offer two-factor authentication as an added layer of security in case someone ever happened to discover your master password.

In order for a hacker to get into your password manager account, they would have to break through all three layers of security: the encrypted data, the master password and the security key. It would be extremely difficult, if not near impossible, for even the most skilled hacker to be able to crack all three.

Lastly, password managers help you generate strong passwords using varied combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and characters. This ensures all of your passwords are unique and very difficult to guess.

Do you have any questions?
Call 020 3637 6095
Or emailsupport@geekheads.co.uk

How to enable your wireless router’s built-in firewall?

About firewalls
A firewall polices your network, it can be used to prevent traffic from entering or leaving your network. There are several different types of firewalls, both hardware and software-based. Operating systems often feature a software-based firewall, while the firewall in your router is hardware-based.

Check your router for a built-in firewall
To find out if your router has a built-in firewall, open a browser window and log in to your router’s admin console by typing in the router’s IP address. Some standard admin interface addresses used by some common wireless routers are 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 10.0.0.1 – Consult your specific router’s manual for the correct address. After you log in to your router’s admin console, look for a configuration page labeled Security or Firewall.

Enable and configure your router’s built-in firewall
1. Access your router’s configuration page.
2. Locate an entry labeled Firewall, SPI Firewall, or something similar.
3. Select Enable.
4. Select Save and then Apply.
5. After you select Apply, your router will likely state that it is going to reboot to apply the settings.
6. Configure your firewall by adding firewall rules and access control lists that meet your connectivity and security needs.

Do you have any questions?
Call 020 3637 6095
Or emailsupport@geekheads.co.uk

Adjusting your security settings for each of your email accounts is a must, but don’t stop there if you’re serious about your inboxes’ safety.

Being keen on your online safety means developing a proactive and cautious mindset. Here are 10 more things you can do to keep your inbox safe and sound:

1. Separate your email addresses
To limit the impact that a cyber threat can have on your inbox, I recommend you set up at least 2 email addresses. You can either separate them according to professional and personal use or keep one for sensitive accounts and use the other for things like newsletter subscriptions and other trivial matters.

At the same time, you’ll need at least 2 email addresses, so you can use one as an alternate. Key advice: never, ever reuse passwords and never, ever, ever set the same password for your email addresses.

2. Put a bit of effort into your password hygiene
A good password is long and complicated. It’s also difficult to remember. But password management doesn’t have to be complicated, if you know how to handle it.
Use a password manager and forget about your worries. Also, make sure you enable two-factor authentication whenever it’s available. If it’s not, maybe you should reconsider your choice of email provider.

3. Protect your smartphone
Because I mentioned two-factor authentication, I have to remind you that this security layer depends on how well you secure your smartphone.

4. Log into your email accounts from a secure browser
Securing your inbox also depends on how you access it. Make sure the browser you use is up to date and safe.

5. Don’t connect apps to your email account
If you give a third-party app full access to your inbox, this makes you vulnerable to cyber attacks. The app can be compromised and, as a consequence, cyber criminals would gain unhindered access to all your emails and their contents.

6. Stop oversharing private information
Never give away your email address to just anyone who asks for it (also, that’s why you should have multiple email addresses).

7. Don’t jump connecting to any free public Wi-Fi network
This type of temptation is the strongest during holidays. You want to just send a quick email with vacation pictures, so you connect to the cafe’s Wi-fi network. But have you stopped to think about the chance that some low-level cyber crook is manipulating the network to collect usernames and passwords?

8. Don’t store default passwords
Change your default password and delete the email, cutting the chances of a cyber criminal attack which could spread to compromise additional account.

9. Keep your eyes peeled for phishing and scams
Most successful online scams always start with an initial email sent to a potential victim. These scams rely on social engineering techniques that can tricks even the most experienced Internet users. Train yourself to spot online scams and phishing attempts, which often rely on impersonating trusted entities or people in your life to get you to give up your data.

10. Keep your software up to date
As I just mentioned, email is usually the first step in the malware infection chain. People simply don’t pay enough attention to the emails they open and what they click on once they’ve opened them. Even malware sent in spam emails still works.

Cyber criminals often use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files to deliver malware to unsuspecting victims. But if your system is up to date and protected with multiple layers of security, the chances you’ll suffer a cyber attack are significantly lower.

Do you have any questions?
Call 020 3637 6095
Or emailsupport@geekheads.co.uk

My account was hacked. Now what?

These are the critical steps you should take if you discover that one of the services you use was hacked:

1. First of all, this is not a good time to panic. Take a deep breath and keep your calm.
The opposite, not caring, nor taking any measures, isn’t an option either.

2. Log into the account of the service that was hacked as soon as you find out about the breach.
If you can’t access your account anymore, reset the password via email.

3. Change the password for that service. Use a strong, unique password.
You can use a password generator, such as Norton Identity Safe Password Generator, in order to create strong passwords.

4. If available, activate two-factor (or more) authentication.
This will add an extra layer of security, using your mobile phone. It works as a secondary authentication method, besides your password.

5. Change the password to your email or any other linked accounts.
As soon as you find out about the breach, change the password for the email you used to create the account for the service that got hacked.

6. Do a quick check-up of your computer’s security, make sure it’s clean.
Install a good antivirus and run a deep scan. Keep your software up to date and uninstall old software apps you don’t use anymore.

Do you have any questions?
Call 020 3637 6095
Or emailsupport@geekheads.co.uk