Should I use two anti-virus programs?

May 6th, 2011 Paul Wallbank Posted in A/V, security, Windows 7, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Vista, Windows XP 1 Comment »

Hi can you help me regarding internet security? I have McAfee security and also Microsoft Security Essentials? Do I need both and if not which one is best?

You don’t need two Internet security programs, one will be fine and having two or more security programs running on your system runs the risk of them interfering with each other.

On balance, we’d recommend the Microsoft program simply because it uses a lot less of your computer’s resources than McAfee’s Internet security and anti-virus programs. The computer security companies also have the habit of stinging you with expensive upgrades every year or so.

We have a list of the free internet security programs available on our Four Free Anti-Virus Programs post. All of these software packages are fine for home use.

Who owns copyright on my emails?

March 10th, 2011 Paul Wallbank Posted in email, Internet, security No Comments »

This isn’t a tech question, but rather one of copyright.  When I send a private email message, who holds the copyright to that?  Do I? – in which case my permission needs to be sought before forwarding it.  Or does the recipient have the legal right to do anything he/she likes with whatever drops into his/her inbox? – Lesley

That’s a great question, Lesley and being a legal question it doesn’t have a straight answer. A strict reading of the various copyright statues indicate the original writer of a letter or email does have copyright protection. Although lawyers advise you should have a disclaimer asserting copyright at the end of your emails.

Of course this doesn’t prevent “fair use” of your email’s contents, so key parts of it still could be still distributed if the extracts meet the criteria that determines fair use.

Copyright law is a pretty blunt tool to use when it comes to email contents, it may well be there are various privacy laws, employment conditions or other legal restrictions depending on where you live and whether the emails relate to business or private matters.

Generally it’s good manners to ask permission before forwarding an email containing sensitive information, however given the ease of copying of distributing digital communications, you should be wary of sending anything electronically that could embarrass or damage you. Some ideas on email etiquette are available on the PC Rescue site.

Overall though, no-one has a “right” to do anything they like with emails they receive, there are both moral and legal issues with passing on any private information they come across, whether it’s by a letter, email or any other way.

Note this is not legal advice and it is essential to seek guidance from a professional legal practitioner on your specific circumstances.

Which alternative to Internet Explorer should I use?

February 2nd, 2011 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet, security No Comments »

I’m really worried about the latest warnings about Internet Explorer. What should I use instead of it?

You’re right to be worried about using Internet Explorer, the program has shown itself over the years to have some serious security flaws. We’ve recommended for a long time that users should use alternative programs.

Previously we’ve posted a list of the four main alternatives to Internet Explorer. These options include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Apple Chrome.

Of the choices, Firefox is the most popular while Chrome is gaining fans because of its speed. The other two have their advantages as well and its best to download one and see if it meets your needs.

Don’t try to remove Internet Explorer as it is an important part of the Windows operating system and there’s quite a few sites that will only work properly on Internet Explorer.

So save IE for the sites that require it and use alternatives for your day-to-day web surfing.

Securing your Facebook profile

January 24th, 2011 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet, security No Comments »

Social networks are great way of keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues. With 500 million users, none is a more effective tool than Facebook.

Keeping in touch with friends and relatives though does have a downside, sometimes you might give away more than you intend to. When you share with friends on a social service, everyone in your network can see what you are doing.

To make things worse, many social media businesses will give away their customers’ private information to make a few dollars as the controversy over Facebook’s recent changes to their privacy settings and the company’s subsequent backdown shows .

Because this information is valuable, organisations are prepared to pay for it and the bad guys are eager to trick it out of you. Given the risks of identity theft, stalkers or all manner of Internet crazies finding you online, it’s important to guard this information.

Facebook don’t make it easy to protect yourself, but you can hide key information.

Take off personal data
The first, simple step to protecting yourself is to move as much data as possible off your profile – home address, phone number, relationships, sexual orientation, birth year – are a few things that simply don’t need to be online. Take off everything that could potentially cause problems, you may need to use some judgement on what you’re comfortable sharing with your online contacts.

Birthdays are a good example of where you should use that judgement. Facebook’s quite a good tool for reminding you of birthdays, but your birth date is also an important part of identity theft. If you do want to share a birthday, never put your birth year in – your relatives and friends have a good idea of how old you are – and you might want to consider putting the date a day or two earlier than the real day.

To change your Facebook profile information, click on the Profile link on the right hand side of your Facebook home page, you can edit all your details from there as shown below. Remember to click Save Changes after making each change and move between the different categories to ensure you’re only sharing what you’ve comfortable with.

Changing your Facebook profile information

Set your privacy
Facebook makes assumptions about what you want to share with your network of friends. This is not always in your interests and you should regularly review what your settings are as Facebook have a habit of changing how the privacy settings work.

To enter the privacy settings, click Account and Privacy Settings as shown below. Once you’re in the Privacy Settings, click on Custom option and Customise Settings. You can then set your details to only be accessible to you or your friends. The following example shows a recommended configuration which may be suitable for you.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Choose your friends
Many people treat Facebook and other social media services as a competition to gain as many friends, connections or followers as possible. This isn’t the point and on Facebook in particular it opens you up to a number of risks.

Once someone is your Facebook friend, they are privy to any information you choose to share and much of what your other friends post on your wall. The main risk is that new Internet is not quite as stable or honest as you thought. By accepting friend requests from people you don’t know you increase the risk of letting risky individuals into your life, your family and your group of friends.

Another danger lies in the Facebook places feature which allows your friends to check you into locations. A malicious “friend” or a practical joke could see you being advertised as having checked into a place you really don’t want to be associated with.

If you decide that is an acceptable risk, then revise the above recommendations on your profile information. If you are promiscuous in who you befriend online then be very careful about the information shared with them.

Be careful which applications can see you
Facebook applications are one of the reasons for it’s success. These applications – or mini-programs – allow you to play games, enter competitions and sign up with other services quickly.

The proposed change in January 2011 to the information Facebook gives out to application owners would have allowed a lot of your personal information to be shared with third party developers. As it is quite a few of these applications “scrape” information from the various services you subscribe to. A good example is with Twitter where private, non-public, messages can be seen by some of these services.

You should only allow applications to use your Facebook connection details if you absolutely trust them; right now, there are few services people can or should trust.

If you have been allowing Facebook to connect your subscriptions to other websites, then you may want to review who you’ve given trust to. To do this, click Account then select Privacy as shown above. In the Privacy page click Apps and Websites and the page shown below will appear. By clicking Edit Settings you can then delete applications or change what they are allowed to do on your profile.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Despite the risks of stalkers, identity theft and various privacy issues, Facebook is a valuable tool for millions of people who want to keep up to date with their friends, relatives and colleagues. By being sensible in choosing your online friends and what you share with them, it is a great website for keeping in touch with people you might otherwise lose track of.

What passwords should I use?

December 15th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet, security No Comments »

I’ve seen the Gawker website has given away over a hundred thousand user passwords. Should I trust passwords to these sites?

Passwords are a difficult issue and given we are required to use them for many purposes – from adding comment on websites like Gawker through to accessing our work computers and bank accounts – we need to be careful with how we use them.

It’s best to take a layered approach to passwords with a complex password for your critical accounts, a mildly difficult one for sensitive sites and a “disposable” one for sites that don’t really matter.

Disposable sites
These are sites like Gawker that don’t really matter. If you have to create a password protected account to make a comment or access a page, something trivial like 123456 is fine.

Just keep in mind it’s probably best not to use your real name on the account unless you’re happy for some idiot to post blog comments under your name.

Sensitive sites
If you aren’t posting anonymously, then you should treat the site a little more carefully. Sensitive sites include sites where you are logged in under your own name and services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and social media platforms where you would be embarrassed should your account be hacked.

These sites should have stronger passwords which have a combination of words and numbers.

Critical sites
Sites considered critical and those which would have serious consequences should they be compromised. These include your bank accounts, work computer and administrative accounts for business activities.

These should be a strong combination of words, letters and symbols mixed with upper and lower case changes.

Password Ideas
Here are some ways you can develop stronger passwords;

  • Use your street number, followed by suburb or street name, followed by post code. For instance 700Harris2007.
  • Choose the date and location of your last, or next, holiday. Eg; 25May03Surfers
  • Use your grandmother maiden initials followed by her birthyear, followed by your mothers maiden initials and her birthyear followed by yours (e.g. db21ds43sw66).
  • You could substitute numbers for letters. You substitute 3 for e, 0 or o, 1 for i or l, etc. So the password Doris becomes D0r1s.
  • Another technique is to use a phrase or rhyme you’ll remember. It could be the initials of your school motto with the year you left. You could use years your football team won the premiership and initials of the captains.

There are all sorts of possibilities. Be creative, and keep in mind you have to remember them.

The most secure way is to use a randomly generated password. We’ve put some links to password generating sites below. But be warned, you have to remember them!

Once you’ve created a strong password you’ll need to save it somewhere. Remember that the secure passwords are very valuable and should be treated accordingly.

Turning on System Restore

December 8th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in security, Windows 7, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Vista, Windows XP No Comments »

How can I use system restore option. It is in “off” mode in my computer?

On your computer click the Start button, usually found in the bottom left corner then right-click My Computer, and  click Properties.

The System Properties box will open, then click the System Restore tab.

Either take the tick off the Turn off System Restore check box or click the Turn off System Restore on all drives box to turn it back on. Click the OK button and system restore will be back when you restart the computer.

If you haven’t turned system restore off, you should also check your computer for viruses as a common trick for malware is to turn of Windows’ System Restore function.

Which free anti virus is best?

December 6th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in security No Comments »

Hi there, im getting a new dell xps L501X, it comes preloaded with McAfee and i hear that McAfree is useless and resource hungry. I’m looking for a good free antivirus program: I’ve narrowed it down to four:

Microsoft Security Essentials
Avira Antivir

Any advice would be helpful, i dont want something that will reduce my boot times or interfere with the gaming capabilities…basically I don’t want it to slow down the computer too much.

That’s a fair summary of the four main free anti virus programs available. Of them, each has their own benefits and downsides and it’s difficult to recommend to any particular one.

Our recommendation is to try one, say start at the top with the Microsoft Security Essentials, see how it goes. If you find it does slow your system or interfere with your games then move to the next one.

Of the four, AVG and Avast! are probably the most customisable free anti virus programs so if your games need specific settings to run well, you may find they are best.

When you do uninstall McAfee, make sure you run their removal tool as we describe in our post on removing the McAfee Service Centre after you’ve uninstalled the security program through Add/Remove programs as the McAfee uninstaller doesn’t always work as well as it should.

How do I set an iPhone access code?

December 1st, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Apple, mobile phone, security No Comments »

I have an iPhone and I want to set a lock on it so only I can use it. How do I set this up?

Apple call this the passcode and to set it up you need to go into Settings, General and Passcode Lock

Once in the Passcode Lock settings your can turn the feature on and set your code as well as choose how long the phone should wait before locking itself again.

Some of the advanced features on the iPhone passcode lock include telling the phone to wipe your data after ten unsuccessful access attempts (not recommended if you have kids) and to set up a complex passcode consisting of a proper password rather than a four digit number.

The latter isn’t a bad idea but can be cumbersome if you want to use the phone in a hurry.

All of these features also work on the iPad and iPod too.

Free antivirus programs

July 14th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in A/V, security, Windows 7, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Vista, Windows XP No Comments »

please list current free anti virus software downloads that are thorough and efficient for windows 7 home?

The free anti virus programs we’d suggest for Windows 7 Home users are the following;

Microsoft Security Essentials: Microsot’s free anti-virus program for Windows XP, Vista and 7.
: Will offer to give you the Premium edition for free as well, but we don’t like the sign up process
AVG Free: The sign up will also try to steer you towards the paid for package
Avast!: Avast is one of the longest standing free products

While AVG pushes their paid for version the hardest during the download process, all of the free versions are loss leaders for their paid versions.

The paid versions are good value for money compared to the bigger brand name products and give you more features than the free version and tech support for when there are problems.

We’d recommend the paid versions of all of these programs as well.

Note that all of these programs, with the exception of Microsoft Security Essentials, are free only for personal use; if you want to use them in a business you have to shell out for the paid versions.

Backing up email folders

June 21st, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Disaster recovery, email, Outlook, Outlook Express, security, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP No Comments »

Hi, I need to reinstall my Win XP OS to get rid of all the junk I’ve accumulated;  I’ve burnt a DVD with my documents on it, but will my emails be there as well ?  if not, how do I preserve them ?

Your emails probably won’t be in My Documents unless you’ve specifically told your system to save them there.

Finding your emails on a Windows system is particularly irritating as the different programs dump them into different folders. In Outlook Express and Windows Mail the address books are also saved in a completely different location.

The best thing is to back up your entire profile, this sits in the Documents and Settings folder on your C: drive and the profile will be either your log in name or something close to it.

By backing up this entire folder, you’ll save your My Documents folder, desktop, web browser bookmarks, address books and email. Just take care that your email folder isn’t so big it won’t fit on a single DVD.