Windows 10 Privacy settings

You just got your new computer running Windows 10.  You open your browser to search for a place to grab lunch, and Bing already knows your location. You notice that all the banner ads are geared toward your secret knitting hobby. And when you open Cortana to ask what’s going on, she knows your name and the embarrassing nickname your mother calls you.

This may seems like a stretch, but you’d be surprised by the amount of personal information Windows 10 collects from its users—information including phone numbers, GPS location, credit card numbers, and even video and audio messages. Of course, Microsoft’s privacy statement outlines all the data that is collected, and you agreed to this when you downloaded Windows 10 and checked the terms of service.

In this Age of the Unread Terms of Service Agreement, it’s important to, well, read the ToS. It’s too easy for our technologies to gather personal information without our realizing it. Microsoft is far from the only perpetrator, but since it just delivered us an exciting new operating system, it’s time to dig into those settings.

If you purchased your new computer from Cochrane Computers, all these settings have been set for you.

Turning Off the Tracking

First things first: Head to your privacy settings. Hit Start, then finding Settings, then clicking Privacy. From the Privacy menu you can alter how your computer uses the information from your location, microphone, camera and so on. While in the Privacy menu, you’ll want to click Feedback & Diagnostics and change the Feedback Frequency to “never” and Diagnostic and Usage Data to “basic.” Doing this will help prevent Microsoft from gathering random information.

Guard Your Browser History

Edge sends your Internet browsing history to Microsoft in order to “help Cortana personalize your experience.” You can turn this off by clicking on the ellipsis button in the top right corner of Edge, then go to Settings > Advanced Settings > View Advanced Settings, and under Privacy and Services turn off “Have Cortana Assist Me in Microsoft Edge.” And while you’re in the Privacy and Services menu, make sure you turn off “use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better” (which is an incredible title for a default setting).  Personally, I don’t use edge. If Cochrane Computers setup your system you will have the choice of Internet Explorer or Chrome installed. Edge will be hidden.

Don’t Get Tricked Into Creating a Microsoft Account

Windows 10 also prompts you by default to create a Microsoft account, but you should probably skip this if you are concerned about your private information. Not creating an account will keep your activity and information local to your computer, while having an account will create a link for Microsoft to piece all of the metadata it gathers back to your identity. Before creating a Microsoft account, be sure to read up on its privacy policy.

In order to delete or manage your Microsoft account go to Settings > Accounts > Your Account. From here you can change from a Microsoft account to a local account.

Tips to Prevent Phishing Attacks

As you know, phishing is a technique that involves tricking the user to steal confidential information , passwords, etc,. They try making you think you are on a confidential site.

So far the hackers have used emails to launch this type of attack, but with the widespread use of social media networks and smartphones with internet access, the types of attacking are multiplying.

These emails include a link that takes the user to site known to have a confidential website, but they’re mere mimics with zero confidentiality.

Thus, overconfident users who do not have adequate antivirus protection, could be involved in attacks that are aimed to steal personal data.

And because of the economic crisis which is unfortunately affecting several countries, phishing attacks attracting people with the promise of a great job or an easy way to get money.

The question is … How can we prevent this type of phishing attack? 

10 Tips to Prevent Phishing Attacks

1. Learn to Identify Suspected Phishing Emails

There are some qualities that identify an attack through an email:

  • They duplicate the image of a real company.
  • Copy the name of a company or an actual employee of the company.
  • Include sites that are visually similar to a real business.
  • Promote gifts, or the loss of an existing account.

2. Check the Source of Information From Incoming Mail

Your bank will never ask you to send your passwords or personal information by mail. Never respond to these questions, and if you have the slightest doubt, call your bank directly for clarification.

3. Never Go to Your Bank’s Website by Clicking on Links Included in Emails

Do not click on hyperlinks or links attached in the email, as it might direct you to a fraudulent website.

Type in the URL directly into your browser or use bookmarks / favorites if you want to go faster.

4. Enhance the Security of Your Computer

Common sense and good judgement is as vital as keeping your computer protected with a good antivirus to block this type of attack.

In addition, you should always have the most recent update on your operating system and web browsers.

5. Enter Your Sensitive Data in Secure Websites Only

In order for a site to be ‘safe’, it must begin with ‘https://’ and your browser should show an icon of a closed lock.

6. Periodically Check Your Accounts

It never hurts to check your bank accounts periodically to be aware of any irregularities in your online transactions.

7. Phishing Doesn’t Only Pertain to Online Banking

Most phishing attacks are against banks, but can also use any popular website to steal personal data such as eBay, Facebook, PayPal, etc.

8. Phishing Knows All Languages

Phishing knows no boundaries, and can reach you in any language. In general, they’re poorly written or translated, so this may be another indicator that something is wrong.

If you never you go to the Spanish website of your bank, why should your statements now be in this language?

9. Have the Slightest Doubt, Do Not Risk It

The best way to prevent phishing is to consistently reject any email or news that asks you to provide confidential data.

Delete these emails and call your bank to clarify any doubts.

Article Courtesy of Panda Security

How to Avoid Malware

Malware is a term used to describe a broad category of damaging software that includes viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, and adware. The effects of malware range from brief annoyance to computer crashes and identity theft. Malware is easier to avoid than it is to remove. Avoiding malware involves a two-part strategy. Follow these guidelines for staying safe.

Prevent Malware With Smart Online Behavior

The single biggest factor in preventing a malware infection on your PC is you. You don’t need expert knowledge or special training. You just need vigilance to avoid downloading and installing anything you do not understand or trust, no matter how tempting, from the following sources:

From a website: If you are unsure, leave the site and research the software you are being asked to install. If it is OK, you can always come back to site and install it. If it is not OK, you will avoid a malware headache.

From e-mail: Do not trust anything associated with a spam e-mail. Approach e-mail from people you know with caution when the message contains links or attachments. If you are suspicious of what you are being asked to view or install, don’t do it.

From physical media: Your friends, family, and associates may unknowingly give you a disc or flash drive with an infected file on it. Don’t blindly accept these files; scan them with security software. If you are still unsure, do not accept the files.

From a pop-up window: Some pop-up windows or boxes will attempt to corner you into downloading software or accepting a free “system scan” of some type. Often these pop-ups will employ scare tactics to make you believe you need what they are offering in order to be safe. Close the pop-up without clicking anything inside it (including the X in the corner). Close the window via Windows Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete).

From another piece of software: Some programs attempt to install malware as a part of their own installation process. When installing software, pay close attention to the message boxes before clicking Next, OK, or I Agree. Scan the user agreement for anything that suggests malware may be a part of the installation. If you are unsure, cancel the installation, check up on the program, and run the installation again if you determine it is safe.

From illegal file-sharing services: You’re on your own if you enter this realm. There is little quality control in the world of illegal software, and it is easy for an attacker to name a piece of malware after a popular movie, album, or program to tempt you into downloading it.

Remove Malware With the Right Software

Chances are that no matter how careful you are, you will be infected some day. That’s because malware is designed to sneak onto your computer in ways you can’t possibly foresee. Enlist the help of the following software:

An updated operating system: Use Windows Update. Take advantage of its ability to automatically notify you of updates, or better yet, to automatically download and install updates.

An updated browser: No matter which browser you use, keeping it current is vital to preventing infection. Take advantage of your browser’s pop-up blocking, download screening, and automatic update features.

Antivirus software: You must run an antivirus program to be safe. Keep it updated, turned on, and schedule a scan to run at least once a month. (Don’t run two antivirus programs; they will interfere with one another.)

Anti-malware: Also called anti-spyware, many antivirus applications include an anti-malware component. If yours does not, install and use a standalone anti-malware program that does not conflict with your antivirus program. Keep it updated.

Firewall: If you aren’t running a third-party firewall, use Windows Firewall. (Don’t run two firewalls at once; they will interfere with one another.)

Spam filter: If your e-mail program is not adequately filtering spam from your in-box, consider additional spam filtering software. If your security software is a security suite, spam filtering may be a feature that you need to switch on.

Article Courtesy of www.pcworld.com

Telephone tech support scams. What you need to know

Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories, so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a legitimate website (such as www.ammyy.com) to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information are vulnerable.

Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information.

Scam Pop-Ups: What You Need to Know

Another well-known trick is the website pop-up, that little browser window that sometimes appears while you’re searching the Web. Cybercriminals set up websites with scam pop-ups with messages and phone numbers. These pop-ups usually are not easy to close.

While some pop-ups are useful and important, others are traps that attempt to mislead you into revealing sensitive personal or financial information, paying for fake anti-virus software, or even installing malware and viruses onto your device.

Do not call the number in the pop-up. Microsoft’s error and warning messages never include a phone number.

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

How to report tech support scams

Article courtesy of Microsoft.com