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Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

Computer security is a fickle thing. It’s convoluted and difficult to understand and it’s so much so that even professionals have problems simplifying the information. Thanks to the constant and ever-changing stream of information, there are a lot of myths about computer security. Here is the truth about some of them.

1. No one wants to hack me, I have nothing worth taking

This is so not true. Believe it or not, hackers don’t select people based on what they have or who they are. Websites store passwords in big, giant databases. Don’t worry, they don’t store the actual password. What they do is encrypt the passwords. The encrypted passwords are what gets stored. When hackers steal passwords, they grab a giant batch of those encrypted passwords from the database and then use a mixture of software and hardware to decrypt them. That means when a hacker gets your password, it’s a stroke of bad luck and not generally a targeted attack.

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Once they hack you, they can use your computer a number of different ways. They can use your hard drive to store questionable files, use your computer and your network as slave computers in a cyber attack (typically a DDOS), or even root around your temporary internet files looking for passwords to other websites like your bank. Just because you have nothing special doesn’t mean a hacker can’t use you and it doesn’t mean you’ll never be targeted.

2. Using a VPN and secure web browsers like Tor help me remain anonymous online

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    Friends, let me tell you the bottom line, ultimate truth about the internet. If you’re on the internet, there is a way to find out who you are and where you are. Granted, with VPNs (virtual private network) and Tor it makes it much harder for people to find out who you are and where you are. However, none of it is foolproof and if they try hard enough, government agencies and law enforcement can still find you. If you don’t believe me, just ask the world’s highest profile hacker group, ironically called Anonymous who used the latest in protection and still got caught.

    3. Incognito Mode hides my privacy

    We’ve all been there before. You want to look up something on the internet without leaving a trace so you use Incognito Mode. You check your internet history afterward and it all looks good. You’ve browsed the web without leaving a trace, right? Wrong! Incognito Mode wipes any traces of your browsing history but only from your computer. Your ISP will still know you went to those websites, the websites themselves will still have a record of your IP address, and trackers will still see that you’re there. Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode FAQ says so and so does does Firefox.

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    4. I don’t need malware protection because I don’t do anything risky

    Just because you don’t go surfing around on porn sites, torrent sites, or other risky websites doesn’t mean that you’re free from malware risk. The reason why is because of advertisements. Some advertisements are from shady companies and infect your computer if you go to a page where ads are present. Since about 90% of the internet are supported by advertisements, that means pretty much everywhere (including Facebook and YouTube) can be a potential threat. In fact, YouTube has actually had this happen to them before. If you want to be the most protected, you’ll have anti-malware installed. It won’t protect from 100% of threats but it’s better than walking around unprotected!

    5. My installed software is totally safe

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      Every single Java and Adobe Flash update ever proves this wrong immediately. All software has security exploits and when software companies update their software, they’re not just improving performance and fixing bugs but they’re also plugging up those security holes to make it harder for hackers to exploit them. Thus, you should always make sure to install updates to your software because they are not always totally safe. In fact, they’re never totally safe. When you update them, they become safer but eventually there will be other updates you’ll need to install.

       

      No matter what you do, you’ll never be truly anonymous or safe on the internet. That statement isn’t meant to scare you but simply give you a perspective on how things really are. If you change your passwords, update your software, keep some anti-malware and anti-virus software around, and just be safe then you should be okay. However, you should always be prepared for the worst case scenario because as soon as you think you’re invincible, that’s when the bad things happen.

      Featured photo credit: Open The Fridge via openthefridge.net

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      Published on September 20, 2018

      11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

      11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

      In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

      Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

      In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

      Minimizing Tabs

      Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

      Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

      Incognito Mode

      Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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      1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
      2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
      3. Download extension New Incognito Window

      This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

      Save Webpages as PDF Files

      Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

      Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

      Open Recently-closed Tabs

      Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

      One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

      The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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      Solve Mathematical Problems

      Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

      For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

      Play Media Files

      Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

      In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

      Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

      With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

      Stay Focus(e)d

      Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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      Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

      With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

      This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

      Grammarly for Editing

      Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

      You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

      Loom

      There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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      There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

      With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

      Chrome Calendar Extension

      No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

      Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

      Final Thoughts

      Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

      Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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