Why protect your data?

Protecting your data is extremely important as more and more of our lives are going digital. Many of our daily devices can connect to the Internet such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops which could contain personal information about you. It’s important to make sure the data on these devices are secured and not shared with anyone. It’s possible to protect your data in many ways such as using a antivirus, using strong passwords and using a PIN on your smartphone however, why exactly do we need to protect all of our data?

There are many possible threats to your data, one of which is identity theft. Identity theft is a major concern in todays world. This type of crime is becoming easier to commit as more and more personal data is being stored on devices. Lets take the smartphone as a example. Your smartphone holds all sorts of information about you ranging from your web history, phone contacts, passwords, messages and more. You may even use yours for Internet banking. If any of your devices where compromised through the use of malware or other methods, this data could fall into the wrong hands and be used to impersonate you. If they have enough data and knowledge of you to do this, they could access your bank accounts and cause a massive headache.

Another reason why you should protect your data is for privacy. If someone installs malware on your computer, it’s possible they may be spying on your every move. They could be watching your browsing activities, who you talk to, what documents you type and more. They could also potentially have access to every file on your device. It’s not nice to think that someone can, or would, do this so it’s important to stay alert and prevent hackers from getting access to your device.

Speeding up your PC for free

A Windows computer can slow down for thousands of reasons however, one of the most common is because of software. Many people just assume that their computer is old and that they should buy a new one but even a 5 year old computer can be sped up considerably. This article outlines some of the best ways to help speed up your computer.

Have a look at the running processes - This is the easiest way of finding out what your computer is doing. You can view all of the running processors by right-clicking the taskbar at the bottom of your screen and selecting ‘Task Manager’ then clicking the ‘Processes’ tab. From here you can organize the list to see specific details such as what is using the most CPU or RAM. To organize it all you need to do is simply click a tab such as ‘CPU’. If a process is using a lot you can stop it by right clicking it and selecting ‘end process’. You can also uninstall the software to permanently free your PC from its resource hogging.

Windows Task Manager

Uninstall unwanted software – Have a look at all the software you have installed. If you have lots, it’s very possible to be causing at least some of the slowdown. To uninstall unwanted software in Windows go to your control panel and select ‘Uninstall a program’. From there you can uninstall every application which is on your computer. Not only may this speed up your computer but it will also free up some space on your hard drive.

Malware – Okay, malware is often not the cause of a slow PC. This is because malware creators often want it to be silent and go by unnoticed however, with any PC slow down it’s certainly worth checking. If it is malware causing this, your computer will often display other symptoms.

Clean out your computer from dust bunnies – Dust bunnies live in your computer, clogging up fans and laying ontop of components which increases heat. If your computer get too hot, it will reduce its speed to try to cool down. The easiest way to clean a computer from dust would be to use compressed air. Sadly, it’s not free but it’s convenient and cheap. If you have a desktop computer you can open it up and give it a good squirt. A laptop is more tricky to clean but you can squirt in the vents to help loosen dust and hopefully blow most of it out. A free method would be to use household tissue and gently rub the fans and case area. It’s best to avoid actual electronics with tissue because of static, which could harm your computer. Tissue won’t work for laptops, though.

Take your hardware into consideration – Some software demand lots of resources and for some computers, especially older ones, it can require too much resources for the hardware to handle. It’s worth taking into consideration especially if you are trying to play the latest game or using the latest video editor.

Reinstall Windows – This is more advanced and should really be used as a last resource. Reinstalling Windows will remove all of your data and software, replacing it with a fresh copy. This method is different for everyone as some computer manufacturers and Windows editions have different ways of reinstalling. Before you do this you should have a look at your computers manual or manufacturer’s website.

If your computer still feels slow it may be time to upgrade your computer. Overtime software can be become more advanced and use more resources. Games are a perfect example of this as they rapidly require more performance from your computer.

Can you recover deleted files?

We all know that data can be lost because of multiple reasons. It may be because your hard drive failed, because you reinstalled your operating systems, because of a malware attack or simply because you accidentally deleted it. But can you get it back?

Sometimes when a file is deleted you can recover it. It does not matter if it’s a picture, word document, video file or more there is still a possibility of getting it back even after you ‘permanently’ deleted it from your computer. Sadly there is no guarantee as to what data, if any, you can recover.

There are many ways to recover data on a hard drive or solid state drive. The easiest way would be to use software to scan your hard drive to hopefully detect and recover deleted files, even those which where emptied from the recycle or trash bin. There is many different software which can do this which are both free and paid however, I recommend using Recuva file recovery developed by Priform to recover lost files.

If you are looking to recover file(s) you should stop using that computer. The more you use a computer could mean less chance of getting the files back. Even if you simply browse the web you could reduce the chances of successfully recovering data.

Securitycroc has a step by step guide which can walk you through using Recuva to recover your files. It takes you through the basics of recovering files such as pictures, music and more. To view the guide click here.

How to spot a phishing attempt

Phishing is when someone attempts to get your personal information by pretending to be a legitimate company or website. This is most commonly in the form of an email but phishing attempts can happen through a variety of methods. But how can you spot them?

Phishers don’t use a secure (https) connection

An https connection allows you to communicate securely with the website and your computer. In most cases, phishing websites will not have this. You can tell if a website is secured by looking at your browsers address bar. If your connection is secured, there is often a padlock, green text or a clear message saying it’s secure.

Hidden links

This is a big giveaway. If you get a email, you can hover over the link and your browser/email client should tell you the exact location of the link. Phishers often put “real” links in the email which secretly lead to a different website which could be dangerous. It’s best to never click any links in the email and manually go to the website by typing in the correct domain name.

Phishers often misspell domain names

They sometimes create domain names similar to a legitimate website. If example.com was a real website, a phisher may use examp1e.com to trick you into thinking it’s the real website. Carefully read all domain names before entering any personal information.

They are generic

This is most common, and obvious, in an email. Emails which are from a legitimate company often use your name to address you, not the generic “dear sir/madam” or a simple “hello”.

If any email shows even one of these tell tale signs its best not to click any links, attachments or images and to delete it as soon as possible. If an email does not have any of the problems listed above, it’s likely to be safe but you should continue to exercise caution with the email. Even if it looks safe, you should not click any links in an email unless you are very confident that it’s ok. If you are not sure, it’s safe to type the domain name manually in your web browser.

If you do accidentally enter personal information, such as your password on a fake website, you should change all affected accounts passwords so the phisher has invalid information. If you are still concerned, you could contact the real website and explain your situation to them as they may be able to help you secure your account further.

Does an antivirus offer total protection?

Antivirus products are recommended for almost anyone who uses the internet, but do they provide total protection?

The simple answer is no. While antivirus software does protect you to some extent, there will be times when malware and hackers can bypass your protection. There are many different types of malware and more of these threats are created every day. If new threats are created every day, it’s very possible for them to bypass any kind of security software you have on your computer.

While an antivirus will not detect 100% of malware threats, it’s still a good idea to have one on your computer as it may detect malware you had no idea was running. To prevent infection you should do more than just rely on your antivirus. You should always be aware and alert of the different threats on the internet. Preventing a malware infection should act as a first line of defence and your antivirus could detect viruses you miss, which is far more effective than simply relying on your antivirus software.

To prevent a malware infection you should always keep all software up to date (often software vendors will release patches to fix security issues), avoid opening suspicious email attachments, only downloading from reputable sources and scanning everything before you open it.

Top 5 tips for staying virus free

Is your computer infected with a virus? Unfortunately it’s a common problem for computers around the world but thankfully there are ways to help reduce the risk of being infected.

Below are 5 ways to help reduce the risk of being infected with a computer virus.

1) Keep software and your antivirus up to date

If you keep all of your software (such as your internet browser and flash player) up to date you can be less vulnerable to exploits. Software developers often release updates to fix exploits and security flaws in their software so it’s important to stay up to date. You should also make sure your antivirus is downloading and installing the latest virus definitions. Having the latest virus definitions will help you stay protected from the latest threats.

2) Scan all files you download

When you download a file from the internet there is a possibility that it could be infected with a virus, even if it’s downloaded from a trusted website. To reduce the chances of becoming infected, you should scan all files you download with an up to date antivirus. Even if the antivirus says it clean, you should still take caution when opening files.

3) Try to avoid clicking popup ads

Popup ads are a common way to get a virus. Custom internet browsers such as Firefox and Google Chrome have built in popup protection which stop them from being displayed.

4) Have powerful antivirus and firewall protection

Having a good, up to date antivirus and firewall is important in everyday security. This can help stop viruses from harming your computer, stop hackers from accessing your computer and more. Thankfully, you do not need to pay for some antivirus software as there are many free alternatives if you do not wish to pay for it.

5) Be careful what websites you visit

Some websites are designed to harm your computer. They may use phishing to get personal information or may infect your computer with a virus. You should always try to avoid unknown and untrusted websites as much as possible. To reduce a risk of getting a virus from a website, you should have a powerful up to date internet browser and up to date antivirus protection.