This blog complements my book, The Essential Guide to Home Computer Security, to help you keep your home computers and smartphones secure.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sophos Home - security for up to 10 PCs and Macs

I don't usually promote commercial products on this blog but Sophos are giving away Sophos Home free for the whole family.
Sophos Home is a full-featured computer security product that protects up to 10 personal Mac and Windows computers from malware/viruses, malicious software, and inappropriate websites. It's good to see Mac security included.
With no credit card required and no ads. You can get it from Sophos here.
Of course for total coverage you will also need tablet and smartphone security.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

When Selling Your Used Smartphone, You Could Be Selling Your Personal Data

This has long been known as a risk, but the intriguing note in this report is that a 'factory reset' is insufficient to clear your private data on some Android phones. Wikipedia actually gets this wrong and claims "A factory reset should be performed with caution, as it destroys all data stored in the unit ".  However it also gets closer to the truth with "it is essentially the same concept as reformatting a hard drive". This does not remove the data from a hard drive, just 'hides' it from the operating system so that it can be over-written in due course. A factory reset on a smartphone will leave data on SD cards untouched.

With so many smartphones being recycled they are obviously highly vulnerable to the retrieval of passwords, personal data, banking credentials etc.

I remember writing some years ago that as mobile phones became more sophisticated we were in danger of repeating the same security mistakes as the PC era. This is just another example of that.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

BT-backed 'Internet Matters' keeps children safe

BT and other major broadband providers have put aside their competitive differences to protect children in a joint initiative known as 'Internet Matters'.
TV presenter Janet Ellis, and singer-songwriter daughter Sophie Ellis-Bextor, today launched Internet Matters to help children stay safe online. The site contains some simple things parents can do today, with a lot more tips and links to expert advice in their age guide pages.


Invaluable stuff.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Avoid Internet Explorer? Serious un-fixed vulnerability being exploited

Following the announcement on Saturday by Microsoft of a new remote code execution vulnerability, it tranpsires that, unsurprisingly, there are already active attempts by hackers to exploit it. If you click on a malicious website, or a website with a malicious advert or link, you are at risk. All Internet Explorer versions (6 to 11) are at risk for so-called 'drive-by' attacks.

The attack can give hackers the same user rights as the current user. So if you are logged in to your PC as an administrator the risk is compounded. As I point out in my book, it's best to use an admin account only where necessary, and certainly not for general web browsing.

Given that Microsoft is yet to issue a patch, a security update or a Fix it tool for closing the hole, one option being suggested is to avoid Internet Explorer.
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fake Android security app gets to top position

“Virus Shield” app became a top-selling hit, with the help of some presumably fake reviews – but does absolutely nothing. The app was apparently downloaded 10,000 times at $4 before the plug was pulled by Google. ESET have a good guide to spotting scammy apps - I particularly like the suggestion that when downloading you should think like you were shopping on eBay. And not blindly trusting 5* reviews is perhaps the hardest thought to overcome, conditioned as we are to check, and trust, reviews on sites like eBay.