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AndroPedia Tech Library
As part of our service, it is important to keep our client-partners well informed on IT developments, news, and best practices. Here is just a sampling of typical items from our AndroPediaSM library archive:
5 Ways To Keep Cyber Criminals At Bay This Holiday Dec 04, 2017
The holidays are a magical time. Snow covered trees, festive lights decorating houses, time with family, parties . . . and an incredible increase in cybercrime and cyber criminals.
Didn’t see that one coming did you?
The cyber criminals think and hope so too.
While people hit the web to shop for holiday gifts, deals and plane tickets to visit loved ones, hackers are doing their best to steal your data and use it for their own purposes.
In the spirit of giving, check out these 5 quick tips to keep cyber criminals and hackers at bay during the holiday!
5 quick tips to keep cyber criminals and hackers at bay during the holiday
1. Make sure that you do your shopping at secure websites
Any time you are purchasing something online you want to make sure you are doing so from a secure website. A secure website will encrypt your information. The means that only the authorized parties (the seller) receives that information and it can’t fall into the hands of hackers or criminals.
You can tell if a website is secure by looking at the URL. If the URL begins with https:// that means it is secure. Specifically you are looking for the S after the http portion. You may also see a lock symbol. Make sure that you never enter information into a website without this. Look out for locks with warning symbols like question marks or red lines – this signals that the site is only partially encrypted and you should never trust it. Buy your stuff somewhere else.
2. Use Credit Cards instead of Debit Cards online – and probably in general where possible
There are so many different ways scammers attack your data. Think back to the big breaches of the last few years – Target, Home Depot etc. Your data can get stolen both online and at brick and mortar locations.
The most secure thing – aside from cash which obviously cannot be used for shopping online – is to shop with a credit card. Credit card companies are required to protect you from fraudulent purchases, if your account number is stolen or even if you purchase something online and it is never delivered.
The protections a consumer is guaranteed by credit cards far outweighs protections offered with debit cards and obviously, if your info is stolen, you’d much rather have that happen on a credit card than having your bank account liquidated.
3. Sign up for alerts
There are many options out there for alert programs and applications. Some let you know any time your social security number is used, some monitor your credit score and other vital information.
In regard to your credit cards and bank accounts specifically, you can have alerts sent to your email or your smartphone via text for activity. For example, you can have any purchase made on your bank card/credit card alert your phone. If that seems a bit overboard, you can set it up to alert you to purchases over a specific threshold.
Additionally, you want to make sure you are checking your bank account every day or so just to make sure nothing strange is occurring. That goes for holiday season and the rest of the year.
4. Check out third party payment systems
You’ve probably heard of PayPal but have you ever looked into why using a third party payment system like PayPal is beneficial for both the buyer and the seller?
Systems like these are middle men that help protect both sides of a transaction. The seller knows that the funds are verified but the seller also gets NO ACCESS to your account information. This is a great benefit to you. Instead of using your card and spreading your information from site to site and exposing your information to different destinations, your information is shared with one company.
Another benefit is that these third party payment options are readily available at most stores online and even at brick and mortar locations these days.
Some popular options are PayPal as mentioned, Apple Pay, Amazon Payments, Venmo, Samsung Pay and more.
5. Check Reviews and beware of the “Too Good To Be True”
It is the season for deals without a doubt. But be smart when you see an offer for something that is well below the market value.
That new iPhone isn’t going to retail for $200 no matter how great a deal they are giving you. Hate to say it but there is no free lunch and one of the best ways for criminals to get you on their sites is by advertising an incredible price for a product.
Even Amazon isn’t immune to this. Bogus retailers will advertise products that are never delivered or that have no resemblance to the pictures online. Pretty sure we have all fallen victim to that, holiday season or not.
But this time of year, make sure you read reviews. Do your research and take all the steps available to you to ensure you are protected.
We hope you have a great end of year and that you start 2018 without any personal stories about how cybercrime impacted your holidays.
If you have any further questions, feel free to reach our team and shop safe!
The post 5 Ways To Keep Cyber Criminals At Bay This Holiday appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Holy Big Brother! Google Location History: An All Knowing Function You Probably Didn’t Know You’ve Enabled Jul 31, 2017
Technology has changed our world forever. What’s the first thing you do before you get out of bed in the morning? Chances are it has something to do with your smartphone. These items open up worlds of possibilities but they can also bring issues and privacy conflicts with them. For this month’s IT article we bring you an article from our President and CEO Jeff Borello on the intersection of instant access (google) and user privacy (location sharing) – focusing on something called: Google Location History. Without further ado . . .
Holy Big Brother
Have you ever heard of Google Location History?
Yeah, me neither.
Let me start by saying I am not a guy that cares about intrusions on my privacy. I don’t care if the government is listening to my phone calls or reading my Emails. I figure I am not doing anything wrong – so if they are interested in my boring life – so be it. Especially if it helps them catch some bad guys.
Now, with that said, even I was a little freaked out when I discovered how much Google and my Google App know about my daily movements.
These days, almost everyone has a Google login and is quite often signed into their account – especially from a mobile device.
So, let’s play a little game. Where were you on January 17th at 4pm? You probably don’t remember, but if you have location services enabled on your device . . . Google does.
Google Location History is a comprehensive (and by that I mean every detail imaginable) history of places you have visited as tracked and logged by your smartphone’s GPS function. Besides being comprehensive, it also has a very long memory – like years.
Give this a try to see if Google Location History is enabled on your phone.
- From a desktop browser, go to Maps.google.com (from your phone you need to open the Google Maps App)
- Sign in to your Google account (if you aren’t already). Top right-hand corner will either show a Letter (first letter of your login) or a Sign In button.
- Click the 3-bar menu in the top left corner and select “Your Timeline”
- If you see some bar graph data there, click the bar for a given day shown from the last month.
- How long did it take you to get to work that day?
- Where did you have lunch?
- Did you walk anywhere during the day?
- Did you take any pictures? (Yes, those might be logged in there as well)
See a screenshot below of my recent trip to Nashville. Yep, lunch at Monell’s (great place BTW) from 12:25 to 2:06 and dinner at 9:14 at the Peg Leg Porker BBQ
Walking, driving, flying. It knows and records those differently.
So, the obvious question is why on earth would you want something this invasive turned on? The answer is convenience. As often is the case, to gain some convenience you need to give up some privacy.
It is this information that Google uses to help you throughout your day. It will inform you of traffic issues based on your travel habits and places you may visit often. The more information the system has on you, the more helpful an AI-powered app (Google Assistant) can be.
Okay, I have Google Location History turned on. Now what?
The good news is you do have control over this. If you aren’t comfortable being tracked, you can turn this feature off. From the Timeline there is an option to Pause that feature, which in effect disables it until you turn it back on. You can also delete your entire location history as well, or just delete individual entries if you wish.
Of course, as long as the GPS is enabled on your phone, there are still plenty of apps out there that could be tracking you. Only truly private solution is to disable the GPS completely (which probably causes you more issues than you think) or just leave your phone at home (yeah, right).
Is Google Location History too much an invasion on your privacy? That is for you to decide but at least now you’re aware you are under the microscope.
The post Holy Big Brother! Google Location History: An All Knowing Function You Probably Didn’t Know You’ve Enabled appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Embedded Sound Waves Could Damage Your Computer Jun 13, 2018
It seems like a new attack vector emerges on a weekly basis, and this week is no exception.� The latest threat:� Emails containing specialized audio files whose acoustic vibrations can damage your computer's hard drive. This is possibly damaging to the point of causing system failure, data corruption, and making it impossible to successfully reboot your machine.
As the researchers point out, "Intentional acoustic interference causes unusual errors in the mechanics of magnetic hard disk drives in desktop and laptop computers, leading to damage to integrity and availability in both hardware and software such as file system corruption and operating system reboots.� An adversary without any special-purpose equipment can co-opt built-in speakers or nearby emitters to cause persistent errors."
It should be noted that as scary as this type of attack sounds, in practice, it is of limited value.� An increasing percentage of laptops and desktop PCs sold today come with SSDs for storage, which are not vulnerable to this type of attack.
In addition to that, not just "any" sound will do.� For the attack to be successful, the acoustic vibrations have to be strong enough to do real harm, and quiet enough that the attack is difficult to detect, lest it be aborted immediately.� The combination of those two factors make it unlikely that this one will gain widespread attention from the hacking community.� Nonetheless, it pays to be both mindful and vigilant, especially if you have an older PC or work in an office with older equipment.
The research team who discovered the new attack vector have created a new sensor fusion model that could be delivered through a firmware update.� Once updated, it would prevent unnecessary head parking in the hard drive, thus limiting the potential damage the attack could cause.� So far, there has been no word that PC manufacturers are considering making the necessary changes to their firmware.� Time will tell.