Antivirus, Chromebook, Internet Security

Do I need an antivirus for my Chromebook?

If you are a proud owner of a Chromebook or are in the hunt of buying one, you might have…

If you are a proud owner of a Chromebook or are in the hunt of buying one, you might have heard some praising reviews of how well it is optimized for the internet. The Chromebook runs on a Linux-based operating system called the Chrome OS.

While the system software is relatively new, rumours about its security have already surfaced on the internet that were enough to create panic and confusion amongst its users. So, since the question of whether Chromebooks need an antivirus or not, still remains unanswered for many, we would like to keep the answer short an simple – NO, you do not need an antivirus for Chromebook.

In reality, you would actually have a hard time finding one anywhere and if you do, it probably is just generic security software. As a matter of fact, this is one of the biggest reasons, coupled with its price why many choose the Chromebook over a Windows based laptop.

Why doesn’t the Chromebook need any security?

The Chromebook was designed specifically for having a better browsing and internet experience, predominantly utilizing the Google Chrome browser. In order to achieve that, one of the most vital factors Google had to look into, was protecting it from malware and other malignant threats.

While Google Chrome itself is a genuinely secure and stable browser on all platforms, the tech giant took an extra step in ensuring it was designed to safeguard itself properly from any exploitation. One of the ways Google was able to achieve that, was by adding a security feature called process isolation. It works something like this. A cyber attacker tries to exploit a device through a web page the user is visiting.

Once he is successful, he can jump and access an adjacent tab where there might be some sensitive data to capitalize on. With process isolation, even if one tab somehow gets compromised, it wouldn’t be possible to latch on the next, making it impossible to see anything else on the computer.

If however, cyber criminals do find an exploit in the future, how is it going to affect the Chromebook?

As of now, Chrome OS is protected from viruses, trojans, malware and ransomware. If however, in the future, a loophole is found there is less of a worry than if the same would have happened on a PC or a Mac. The reason is obvious – all your files and important data are always automatically backed up to the cloud. Unless there is someone who can exploit that, you can be assured your data is well secured.

Even if a Chromebook, somehow in the future does get infected by a virus, all you would have to do is reset it back to its factory settings and recover all your data through the cloud.

I feel there is something wrong with my Chromebook. Can I be assured it is not a virus?

No matter how safe and secure Chromebooks happen to be, it wouldn’t be right to part ways with caution so early. It is apparently next to impossible that your device could be affected by a virus. If you feel your Chromebook is acting strange, it is possibly due to one of the following 2 reasons:

  1. Malicious Extensions:
    Though very rare, if however, your Chromebook starts to behave unusually, its likely that it has been targeted by a malicious Google Chrome browser extension. Even though extensions are seriously monitored for suspicious behavior, it is advisable not to install one if you are not familiar with the source.

    In fact, before installing, you should check what permissions and rights the extension requires. If somehow you feel that an extension is responsible for your Chromebook’s strange behavior, all you have to do is turn off extension syncing in the settings and reset your Chromebook.

  2. Browser Hijack:
    Browser Hijack is rather a cunning scam where fraudsters try to gain control over the browser you are using by locking it. They then convince you to pay in order to continue using it. If this or something similar ever happens to you, remember one thing – DO NOT PAY ANYTHING!

    Google doesn’t charge its users for access to the browser. If by some means you enter a website that tries to hijack your browser, all that is required is resetting your device. However, keep in mind not to restore Google Chrome to its previous configuration when launching it again.

Does that mean apart from couple of potential minor threats my Chromebook is well secured?

Although we believe you don’t need antivirus for Chromebook, We did mention it is still too early to part ways with caution, didn’t we? Well, we haven’t finished saying that yet. Just because your Chromebook cannot be infected by a virus, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions against having your data stolen. There are scammers and hackers all around the internet looking to trap naive users.

Spam emails are the biggest security concerns we haven’t still been able to defeat, the most common being phishing emails. The idea is really simple. Cyber culprits design a clone copy of a popular website convincing you to believe that nothing wrong is happening while you enter your username and password to register or log in. Once you click the ‘login’ or ‘sign up’ button, we have a rewarded culprit and an oblivious victim.

The information you entered thinking you are signing up or logging in are now in the hands of someone you would not want it to be. One of the most common tasks users perform on the internet is online banking and shopping. If you have extensions installed and are worried that one or more of them might be devious, carry out such operations in incognito mode. This may be helpful as it disables all extensions by default. For more information on what to look out for see our article – What internet security threats to look out for in 2018?

Keep your passwords strong, use a password manager and never click on emails that look spam or are not familiar to you. Your computer is already a profoundly sophisticated machine when it comes to stability and security. All that is required is a little common sense and precaution while operating it; as the biggest security worries of today are not the computer, but the user itself.

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Internet Security, Social Media

8 Tips to Protect Your Browsing Privacy

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing…

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing users data. Although the news stories are highlighting to people just how much Facebook knows about them, they are not the only company that keeps track of things you do online!

Virtually every interaction that takes place in a web browser is tracked in some way. There are many ways in which you are tracked online, IP address, browser cookies, HTTP referrer headers, browser fingerprints and user agents. All of these things make it possible to trace everything you do online.

Unfortunately, the majority of people are happy to hand out way too much information about themselves too – their location, their relationships and much more online.

For some users, browsing privacy is only just becoming a priority when they are online. Fortunately, we have compiled some tips, add-ons/browser extensions to try and minimize the amount of information available about you and your browsing habits.

 

Stop oversharing – Take your browsing privacy seriously

 

Our first and most obvious tip, stop oversharing your information online willingly! Whenever you disclose information online it is there forever. Whether this is on facebook, twitter or other social media try to simply not share information that is not relevant.

Simply customizing your social media settings to restrict who can see what you share is a good starting place.

Turning off location tracking in apps and your google account settings should be your next step.

Unfortunately, information shared willingly only scratches the surface of data that is stored about you online.

 

“Do Not Track”

 

All modern web browsers have the ability to toggle on a “do not track” option. This option is a W3C standard that tells websites, when enabled, to stop their user-tracking and disable cross-site user tracking.

An example of this would be targeted adverts. If you have ever been browsing for an item, an electric toothbrush, for example, you may have noticed that for weeks after you see lots of adverts or more electric toothbrushes. This example would not happen if a user had the “do not track” option enabled in their browser.

 

Ad Blockers

 

To avoid seeing adverts and many user tracking scripts at all you can simply install an ad blocker. There are many options available to you, common and powerful choices are Ad Block Plus (https://adblockplus.org/) and uBlock Origin (https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock).

 

Disable browser scripts

 

A slightly more aggressive way of blocking user tracking scripts is to install a browser add-on/extension that disables them all by default. No Script (https://noscript.net/) and ScriptSafe (https://www.andryou.com/scriptsafe/) are the most common options available.

By default, these extensions will block all Java, JavaScript, Flash and other tracking scripts generated by the site you are visiting. This “white list” approach can break some website until you enable certain scripts but it does give you the freedom and security of having everything off by default.

 

Become an online ghost with Ghostery – https://www.ghostery.com

 

Ghostery is a browser extensions/add-on that provides a safer way to browse online. It offers a wide range of features such as enhanced ad-blocking, enhanced anti-tracking, and smart blocking. By default, it blocks thousands of known user tracking scripts. Ghostery offers control over your browsing privacy by allowing you to run individual tracking scripts if for some reason you need them.

 

HTTPS Everywhere – https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

 

HTTPS Everywhere is another browser extension/add-on that encrypts your data sent to many major websites.

Although most communication to websites nowadays is done through HTTPS, some information you send may sneak through in an unsecured, un-encrypted form. This is where HTTPS Everywhere steps in – It steps in and takes these unsecured HTTP requests and encrypts them.

 

Mozilla Facebook container – https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/facebook-container/

 

Following on from recent news stories, the Mozilla foundation has launched their Facebook container. When installed it will delete all of your previous Facebook cookies and ask you to log in using the container tab. It acts like a normal browser tab but with one important difference – Any Facebook activities are isolated from other browser activity.

Any websites with embedded Facebook widgets, such as like or share buttons will not work as your account login is contained inside the Facebook container tab. This makes it so that Facebook loses the ability to track your browsing activity outside of Facebook. A simple yet efficient way of restoring some browsing privacy to your daily Facebook session!

 

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

 

In one of our previous articles – Do I need a VPN for 2018 We discussed the pros of a VPN for the average user. The main point that we took from the article was that by having a VPN you are ensuring that all your online browsing information is invisible to your ISP.

A VPN will stop your ISP spying on your online browsing activities but is not a golden bullet to online browsing privacy. Using a (reputable!) VPN in conjunction with some of the add-ons/extensions mentioned in this article would be a very powerful combination to stay safe online.

 

 

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Android, Antivirus, Apple, Chromebook, Enterprise, Internet Security, Microsoft, Mobile, OS X, Windows

Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary?

Let’s address the elephant in the room – malware and viruses do exist! Devices are not immune so we have…

Let’s address the elephant in the room – malware and viruses do exist! Devices are not immune so we have to ask “Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary?”! It is worth noting that if your phone, tablet or computer is invulnerable to internet threats today, it isn’t a guarantee it will stay so forever.

Having said that, let’s discuss why viruses are immensely prevalent on some platforms while on others they are almost non-existent.

First and foremost, we need to understand that cybercrime is a lucrative business. Hackers are always in search of ways to sneak in into users’ systems and capitalize on sensitive information.

While most vulnerabilities till now have been centered around the Windows OS, other system software like that of Apple’s isn’t as protected either as it once used to be.

It’s not that there are issues with Apple’s inbuilt security system, but rather, cyber culprits have found new ways of slipping through advanced defense systems. The reason why they have started out so late is that they were pretty content targeting the much easier and larger number of Windows and Android users till now.

Though Apple’s security is pretty impressive, it isn’t completely immune. For cybercriminals exploiting the system, it is just a matter of time.

As of now, Apple doesn’t really have antivirus software for the iOS and the same goes for Google’s Chrome OS, one of the most secure systems to date.

The few apps that claim to protect devices running on these operating systems are probably Security Software. So, for the time being, we will focus our attention on Windows, OS X, and Android systems.

 

Windows PCs and Laptops

 

Before progressing any further, let’s answer the simpler stuff first – Is buying antivirus software necessary for windows 7 or older?

The answer is simple and straightforward – YES, IT IS!

Now back to what’s more popular: What about Windows 8 and Windows 10?

While Windows 8 and above have had some significant improvements in their security system, especially after the introduction of Windows 10 with which Windows Defender Antivirus (a step-up to the Microsoft Security Essentials) comes included, the everlasting question whether one needs an additional antivirus software or not still remains unanswered.

Before passing any judgment, it must be noted that Windows Defender switches off gracefully once it detects a third-party program to avoid any interference. Hence, you once an antivirus software is installed and running the Windows Defender isn’t going to work any longer. Unless you are confident with your antivirus software, it is best letting Microsoft’s default defender do the job.

While Windows Defender if good, it certainly isn’t the best! According to AV-TEST, Microsoft’s inbuilt security program score a 4.5 out of 6. Of course, it isn’t bad but not as capable as Avira’s or Avast’s antivirus software that topped the list in December 2017.

 

Mac OS X Desktop Computers and Laptops

 

For a long time, Mac OS X was incredibly safe. Apple’s intelligently designed sandbox OS made it extremely difficult for criminals to hack Apple devices.

As a matter of fact, if a few years ago a Mac user would install an antivirus software, the only purpose it would solve was preventing it from passing to other devices on the same network. However, Macs have been cracked and have lately been more vulnerable to threats like never before.

For now, home users are pretty safe from being affected by a malware or a virus. Even though not many Mac users have been affected by a virus, it wouldn’t be right to forget that the risks are there.

To be on the safer side, it wouldn’t be a bad idea investing in an antivirus. Just like for the Windows, antivirus software from Kaspersky, Symantec and Avast do an impressive job of protecting Apple devices.

 

Android Phones and Tablets

 

It wouldn’t be safe to say that Android viruses do not exist at all. However, as long as one refrains from downloading apps from external sources, it is almost impossible your device to be infected by a virus or malware.

While, by default, Google doesn’t allow its Android users to installs apps from third-party source, this can be easily modified through a few steps in the settings. If you regularly install apps from unknown sources or are one of those courageous users who fiddle with their devices by gaining root access, having an antivirus installed wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It must be noted, that the Android threats known till now aren’t as malicious as the ones affecting Windows PCs and Laptops. This is mainly because it isn’t as easy to exploit an Android device and there isn’t much reason to do so as most of the sensitive information that hackers are in the hunt for is one computer.

As of now, there hasn’t been an Android malware that has caused booting issues for a device. Even if one feels his Android phone or tablet has been affected by a virus, all he has to do is back up his data and run a factory reset.

While having an antivirus might seem something optional, one might not regret having a security software instead installed on his Android.

What is important to keep in mind is that Android runs on devices that have a tendency to get stolen. Losing a phone or a tablet is quite daunting indeed. But giving away sensitive information is even worse. And, that is where security software plays a crucial role.

 

Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary or will a free version suffice?

 

While free antivirus software today, like the Sophos Antivirus, protect devices from threats to a good degree, they are obviously nowhere near to what the paid ones are capable of doing.

Whether or not to pay for an antivirus or whether even having one is required is a highly personal opinion and there are certain things that are to be considered while making such a decision. If of course, you have important data on your device, something you cannot afford lose an inexpensive antivirus is worth adding to the expense.

For some suggestions on which antivirus to pick, check our article – Top 5 Antivirus programs for 2018

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Antivirus, Apple, Chromebook, Enterprise, Internet Security, Microsoft, OS X, Windows

5 Reasons to keep your operating system up to date

Many users have developed the bad habit of delaying or ignoring operating systems updates. They see the little pop up…

Many users have developed the bad habit of delaying or ignoring operating systems updates. They see the little pop up reminders and simply hit “postpone” without a second thought. That is until they experience their first major problem with their shiny new PC or laptop!

Instead of putting off important updates, which we all know inevitably pop up at the least opportune times, users should prioritise them. This is not only to keep yourself secure but also it has benefits relating to your computers performance speed.

So, why is it so important to keep your system updated?

 

Security vulnerability fixes

 

The very first reason why new updates constantly appear is to fix security holes. The thing is, no matter how secure an operating system is designed to be, hackers more often than not find ways to exploit systems. Most malicious threats are caused by security flaws that remain unfixed due to a not up-to-date OS.

By ignoring updates, this is the digital equivalent of leaving your doors unlocked and open!

 

Better Functionality

 

An OS update will usually provide its users with new and enhanced features. This might also include processing speed improvements. So, the next time you feel your computer isn’t functioning as good as it used to a few weeks back, all you might have to do is wait for an update!

Other functionality features can include improved web browsers or built in security features such as fingerprint ID or face recognition logins.

 

Bug fixes

 

All software providers, including your OS provider, carry out meticulous checks before selling their products. However, it is only after some time that faults in the source code starts to appear. That is where updates come into play.

By not updating and having these bugs in play, many bad things can potentially happen on your PC. From software simply not working to an entire OS failure at the extreme end of the spectrum!

 

Improvement of Hardware performance

 

OS updates very often bring along driver updates. A driver is a piece of software that allows the operating system to interact with hardware. Depending on the hardware connected to a computer, driver updates might increase the overall performance of your machine, especially when it comes to gaming and connecting to the Wi-Fi.

Although many hardware manufacturers provide driver update capabilities separately, OS providers have improved leaps and bounds in recent years as far as seamlessly providing driver updates is concerned.

 

Avoiding passing a virus to other computers

 

While your computer’s operating system might be relatively immune to different malware, it doesn’t necessarily mean it cannot spread to other devices that are on the same network you are on.

For instance, your Macintosh should be quite safe from cyber attacks however you may easily pass a threat to your friends or colleagues who are on a Windows device if you are sharing a common network.

While an update might not be able to completely prevent such a scenario, it definitely can reduce the risks associated with it.

As well as updating your operating system, make sure you have an anti-virus installed to protect yourself. For more information check our article – Top 5 Antivirus programs for 2018

 

No excuses – Keep your Operating System up to date!

 

Don’t forget, system updates are designed to protect their users from cyber attacks and provide the best performance. Ignoring them might prove critical to the functioning of your device. If you want to ensure best user experience, there really shouldn’t be an excuse to not keep your operating system up to date!

 

 

 

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Enterprise, Internet Security

How do companies protect against a security breach?

It is no secret that any criminal will have his eyes on the biggest piece of cake he can acquire….

It is no secret that any criminal will have his eyes on the biggest piece of cake he can acquire. It is no different when it comes to cybercriminals. And for them, their favorite desserts are the big tech companies. That is why it is so important for every company to do what they can to protect against a security breach.

With huge amounts of sensitive/customer data around, exploiting just one company can give access to information worth millions of dollars!

No matter how protected business databases tend to be, hackers have very often been able to effectively slip through corporate security defense systems.

One recent example is the Petya Ransomware, a cyber attack predominantly targeted on Ukraine that caused havoc all across Europe and various other parts of the world with an estimated damage of more than $300 million to businesses – most of them being government organizations.

While large tech-companies invest millions of dollars on advanced defense systems, they are often defeated by stronger players in the wilds of the internet. It’s events like these that have pushed tech companies in stepping up their cybersecurity game like never before.

 

So, what do companies do to protect against a security breach?

 

Identity and access management (IAM) systems

Traditionally, identity management has been broadly defined as the set of policies, processes, and technologies used for managing access to information systems through the right individuals. It is the core network responsible for safeguarding digital data while effectively tracking system activities.

Even though the system itself is quite complex, the concept is simple – enhancing the privacy of data by limiting the various associated attributes to certain interactions.

 

Restricting use of unnecessary hardware and software

The higher the number of software or hardware connected to the network- the higher the number of possible exploits. Even though, software companies that sell their products to various IT firms make sure they are immune to cyber attacks, using a redundant program just isn’t worth taking the risk.

More often than not, giant tech firms make sure that different departments of their organization have devices connected to different servers, so that, even if one gets breached, the rest stay secured.

 

Background checks and constant monitoring

While IT firms carefully monitor for possible malware trying to attack their systems, there have been a good number of instances of intrusion from inside the network. No matter how high-caliber cybersecurity a company has, nothing can stop sensitive data from being stolen if it is operated by someone having a different purpose.

Lately, tech-firms have started resorting to serious background checks and screenings before giving access to important information to their employees.

 

IT training

Tech-firms and hackers, both, are well aware of each others’ goals! What that means is hackers know that their potential targets have taken the mandatory measures to try to keep them at bay from attacking their servers. Cyber culprits, however, have more than a dozen ways of sneaking into systems which they successfully achieve by capitalizing on human error.

Tech-firms have paid significant attention on developing a corporate culture focusing on security training programs aimed at teaching their employees the risks of negligent use of networks, phishing content, careless password management and improper disposal of information.

 

Encrypting Data

While having sensitive data stolen is a nightmare itself, things get a lot worse when this stolen data can be used for the wrong purposes. One way to keep data safer is by converting it into a code which can be decoded only by the entity with the decryption key. This doesn’t mean hackers might not have a solution of converting encoded information into a readable form. However, it certainly makes things harder for someone trying to obtain unauthorized access.

 

Strong Passwords and Password Managers

Using strong usernames and passwords should be a no-brainer. However, what is more important is properly storing them and that is where a password manager comes to play.

Password managers are software that saves usernames/passwords and keeps them encrypted. However, the risk here is the software itself as it is the master program containing all the passkeys. A security issue with it is enough to create a potential security risk.

 

Having information stolen is the last thing any organization would want to happen, especially if it is that of their clients. Not only it is a matter of reputation, a company might face serious legal issues for not being able to protect their customer’s information.

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