What's a VPN? And Why You Should be Using One

These days, VPN and public WiFi are almost always used in the same sentence. Here's some basics on virtual private networks and why it's a really good idea to have one!!

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s safe to use public Wi-Fi, you are not alone. In fact, according to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, 6 in 10 consumers believe using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom. And it is. Surfing the Web or transacting on an unsecured Wi-Fi network means you’re placing your private information and anonymity at risk. That’s why a virtual private network, better known as a VPN, is a must for anyone worried about online security and privacy.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public Internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections, guaranteed to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.

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How to protect your "Digital Footprint"

The term "digital footprint" goes back to at least 2014. However, it's now become a popular term and it's something that everyone that uses the Internet for anything has. 

Your “digital footprint” includes all traces of your online activity, including your comments on news articles, posts on social media, and records of your online purchases.

When you know the boundaries of your digital footprint and take steps to contain it, you can help protect your identity and your reputation.

What is a digital footprint?

Every time you post something online, share content, or even when a website collects your information by installing cookies on your device, you are creating a digital trail. This includes your IP address, your login details, and other personal information that you reveal online. Information that is posted about you also gets added to your data trail.

What your digital footprint can say about you?

It’s a good idea to have a positive digital footprint. This information is your digital identity, and it could show up when someone searches for your name online.

Your online identity can influence different aspects of your life. For example, employers, schools, colleges, and law enforcement officials could use your digital footprint as a basis for character assessment.

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Avoiding Malicious Links

Avoiding "bad links" isn't easy. Like many of you, we constantly receive emails with hyperlinks to websites. The vast majority of what makes to our inboxes is "legit".  Our internal lines of defense primarily come from our SonicWall routers,  Mimecast eMail Security and Sophos Antivirus/Antispam software that all trap suspicious emails and links. Still, it pays to be watchful of what you're being sent. Here are some techniques that will help.

Whether it’s in reference to an interesting article or information on a great new restaurant, “send me the link” is a commonly used phrase in the internet era. This is equally true in professional circumstances, where coworkers communicate and collaborate as a part of their jobs. In today’s threat-filled environment, where large and small businesses alike are facing unprecedented cybersecurity attacks, link safety is an essential part of employee security training.

CyberEdge Group’s 2019 Cyberthreat Defense Report found that 78 percent of networks had been breached in the previous year and that malware, ransomware, and spear-phishing “cause the most headaches.” In a separate study, risk advisory firm Willis Towers Watson found that 90 percent of breaches were enabled by human error. Any seasoned IT pro worth their salt knows how to recognize malicious links, but the average employee likely does not, and one wrong click can have devastating consequences.

Basic employee security training generally involves coaching employees on picking out suspicious attachments, but that training is incomplete unless link safety is also on the agenda. Emails with malicious links are just as much of a threat as emails with malicious attachments. There are a number of tips and tricks to keep in mind when trying to determine whether a link is safe.

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Securing Your iPad

The Computing Center does NOT sell Apple iPads, however we do support them. iPads are by-far the most popular "pad" used by our clients and that's quite understandable. Many many software applications have iPad versions, developers understand the consistencies of iPads and take advantage of their many features. However, like all devices these days, iPads need to be kept secure. This article discusses how best to do just that.

iPads and other tablet computers are everywhere: in the coffee shop, at your children’s school, at your book club, at the department store. Chances are, you or someone you know uses a tablet computer regularly. But should you be worried about security? Are tablet computers like the iPad any less secure than a standard laptop?

Some dos and don’ts for keeping your iPad secure

Although iPad devices are safer than most, their popularity makes them an attractive target for would-be cybervillains. Since Apple has made a point of building a lot of privacy features into all of their devices and operating systems, why not use them to your advantage?

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$575Million Equifax Settlement Illustrates Business Security Basics

We recommend and help implement security for every one of Computing Center's clients. While totally baffling given what Equifax's business is, they apparently didn't do many of the basics. A bit of a long read, but there are many lessons to be learned here. No time to wade through the entire article...checkout the last section - what you and every business should be doing is listed there.

Patch your software. Segment your network. Monitor for intruders. According to tech experts, those are security basics for businesses of any size. But when you’re industry giant Equifax – a company in possession of staggering amounts of highly confidential information about more than 200 million Americans – it’s almost unthinkable not to implement those fundamental protections. An FTC, CFPB, and State AG settlement of at least $575 million illustrates the injury to consumers when companies ignore reasonably foreseeable (and preventable) threats to sensitive data. Read on for security tips for your business and what consumers can do to get compensation for their losses and sign up for free credit monitoring.

The Equifax data breach has been in the headlines, but what happened behind the scenes? According to the complaint, in March 2017, US-CERT – Homeland Security’s cyber experts – alerted Equifax and other companies about a critical security vulnerability in open-source software used to build Java web applications. The alert warned anyone using a vulnerable version of the software to update it immediately to a free patched version. It didn’t take long before the press reported that hackers had already started to exploit the vulnerability.

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