Ask CyberGuru: Should I add the Norton add-ons/extensions to my web browser?

Ask CyberGuru: Should I add the Norton add-ons/extensions to my web browser?

Ask CyberGuru

CyberGuru is asked, “We have recently upgraded to Norton Security Premium. When we installed it onto our computers, we received some messages about adding Norton extensions to our web browsers. Could you please advise whether or not we should add all the Norton extensions?”

In terms of the various Norton add-ons and extensions available as part of the Norton 360 and Norton Security software, previously I have generally advised against these as they slowed down computers and caused browsers to freeze or crash. However, more recently I have suggested these be added onto your browsers to help you protect you against phishing websites.

I would suggest adding the Norton Security Toolbar which provides an indication of websites that Norton believes are suspicious.

If you are often searching, you may also like to enable Norton Safe Search when you are searching using your favourite websites and as well as the Norton Safe Search as you can search with Norton as well.

If you would like to retain your passwords securely in Norton, you can use Identity Safe but I don’t usually enable this one as I am not a fan of password managers.

If you have any question you would like to ask CyberGuru, please contact us.

Ask CyberGuru – What is the difference between File History and Windows Backup?

Ask CyberGuru – What is the difference between File History and Windows Backup?

Ask CyberGuru

In the latest instalment of Ask CyberGuru, we are asked, “I’ve looked on my computer and see different types of backup programs installed. What is the difference between File History and Windows Backup?”.

There is a history and a backing up (pardon the puns) of Microsoft backup products which have been included in Microsoft Windows over the past fifteen or so years. In order to accommodate the various needs of its uses, Microsoft has two products installed on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 – File History and Windows Backup.

File History was introduced in Windows 8. Similar to Apple Time Machine, it takes a regular backup (typically hourly by default) of your desktop, documents, music, photos and videos and other files contained in your user folder. In Windows 10, it allowed access to add other folders. It allows you to easily revert to an earlier saved version of a particular copy of a file over time.

File History
Screenshot of File History

Windows Backup (also known as Windows Backup and Restore) has been included with most versions of Windows since the earliest versions of Windows. Windows Backup was removed in Windows 8 upon the introduction of File History, but then subsequently returned in Windows 8.1 as Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Along with backing up your files in your user folder, it has the ability to do system recovery, such as backup entire drives, create system images and repair discs should your computer stop working or not be able to start.

Windows Backup and Restore
Screenshot of Windows Backup and Restore

When developing a backup strategy, CyberGuru will consider your specific requirements when developing a solution for your data recovery needs, which may include Windows Backup and/or File History, along with a third-party product should your needs be further than what these products provide, such as providing the ability to backup to multiple destinations or email notifications of the success or failure of backups.

CyberGuru can work with you in determining the most optimal backup solution for your needs. If we can assist in any way, please contact us.

Protecting yourself against from WannaCry ransomware and security threats

Protecting yourself against from WannaCry ransomware and security threats

Protecting yourself against from WannaCry ransomware and security threats

On Friday 12 May, a new wave of ransomware known as “WannaCry” was identified. Whilst the ransomware has infected tens of thousands of computers worldwide, fortunately there have been limited counts reports of infections in Australia. This ransomware propagates by exploiting a Microsoft Windows vulnerability in unpatched computers.

The internet security products that CyberGuru recommend detect and block these ransomware threats. In addition, you can check you are protected against this threat through tools on the respective manufacturer’s product website.

We suggest the following tips to protect yourself against WannaCry ransomware and other security threats:

  1. Have a reputable internet security product installed and configured correctly
    We recommend you have a reputable internet security product installed and configured, scanning your computer for viruses both scheduled and as you access the various files on your local computer system as well as, network and internet. We prefer products that provide regular updates to new threats as well having the ability to detect unknown threats. In addition, such products should be installed on your mobile devices.
  2. Have regular backups in place
    Having an automated backup solution in place that back ups on a daily or weekly basis on alternative media is now an essential part of any business. One set of media should remain available onsite but you should also keep a backup in an alternative location (preferably offsite) should any issues arise in your premises. Online backup systems are useful if you have a fast and reliable internet connection. Ensure you test these on a regular basis to ensure they are working.
  3. Update your computer’s operating system and applications with the latest patches
    Microsoft Windows, Office and many third-party software (such as Adobe Reader, Java Runtime Environment, Firefox and Chrome), have updates issued by the software manufacturers on a regular basis. It is important to ensure you have these applied as soon as possible. If possible, schedule the automatic updates to occur as they are re, a schedule to ensure these updates are manually installed at least bi-monthly (if not monthly).
  4. Use caution when downloading and opening emails, files or website links from unknown or unexpected sources The most common form of receiving a virus or ransomware is now likely to be via email. These often contain attachments or website links requesting you to open these to receive. If you are not expecting to receive an email from an organisation or individual, call the sender before opening the file to confirm it is genuine. It is often best just to send the email to “junk” and “block” the sender.
  5. Educate your staff, colleagues and family on security threats As a growing number of people are online for business and personal use, it is important to be vigilant and aware of online security threats. Conduct security awareness sessions with your staff and colleagues, and speak to your family members about safe use of their equipment and make sure they too follow the steps listed above. There is no replacement for being aware and understanding the risks of security.

We trust that these tips may be of use. Please share this article with your colleagues, family and friends to protect them from such security threats also. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Five recommendations for password protection

Five recommendations for password protection

Passwords

May the fourth be with you! Today is 4 May, also known World Password Day. How do you record your passwords? Do you save them in your computer browser’s history or in sticky notes on your computer? Have you considered using a program to help you manage these?

Personally, we have over 500 passwords to manage, let along the number we manage on behalf of our clients for their servers, computers and websites. We strongly suggest a good password policy is put in place in all organisations and provide the following recommendations:

  1. Set strong passwords and use different passwords for different accounts. If this is too difficult, use different passwords for different groups of services. We don’t believe it is practical to have different passwords for every account you may have (unless it is financial or business critical)
  2. Change your passwords regularly, at every three months. Some services require you to change your password more or less often, however the more often you change your password the less chance of it getting into the wrong hands!
  3. Select ‘no’ when the computer offers to automatically remember your password. These can be accessed by password viewer that can scan and access passwords saved in your computer’s memory.
  4. Make the password complicated and not a word that can be found in the dictionary or easily guessed. Depending the service you are setting it for, the password may require more complicated, but at least choose a password that contains:
    • At least eight characters
    • Upper and lowercase letters
    • At least one number and symbol
      You can make a sentence and use the first letter of each word changing some of the letters to symbols and other characters. For example, “The Brisbane Broncos will win in 2017!” becomes TBBwwi2017!.
  5. Use a password-protected document or spreadsheet, or a program such as 1Password, LastPass or KeePass. If you have a list of passwords on your computer make sure you encrypt it. If you do decide to keep a printed copy or a password somewhere, this should be kept securely in a safe place.

As the number of devices in own possession grows and number of websites increases, so will the need to effectively manage our passwords. We trust these tips help you manage your passwords. If we can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact us for further advice.

World Backup Day – Reflecting on the importance of backing up

World Backup Day – Reflecting on the importance of backing up
Backups
Photo credit: daryl_mitchell via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

March 31 marked World Backup Day, a day to reflect on the importance of backups and the preservation of data both for personal use and historical preservation.

This year, over 60 million computers will die and over 200,000 mobile phones lost or stolen. What would happen if you were one of those? If you are “lucky” enough to have your computer die then it might be possible to restore the data, although this is a costly process and the results can be hit and miss. But if your mobile phone disappears, only a backup can save you.

At CyberGuru we have been tireless ambassadors for backing up for as long as we can remember. We understand how failing to backup can have catastrophic effects for businesses. For example, we know a photographer who permanently lost over 55 million images due to their failure to backup. Having a strategy in place for regular backups is one of the most steps a business can take to protect their digital environment.

We also understand how devastating it can be for individuals to lose cherished photos and other important documents.

A good backup strategy should schedule regular backups, test the integrity of these backups and consider having additional offsite locations for such backups. If you would like assistance with your backup strategy or the implementation please contact us today. For more information on World Backup Day visit their website.