Why Virus Hoaxes Are a Security Risk

Why Virus Hoaxes Are a Security Risk

Viruses, if left on your computer, can be detrimental to the overall performance of your computer. This is why most viruses are considered a major security risk. Is your computer operating slower than normal? Is it encountering a lot of errors when you open and close programs or documents? If so, then your computer may have a virus.

So how do you prevent viruses from infecting your computer? Install a reliable, effective virus scanner and run a scan for viruses regularly. Also, you should ensure that your virus scanner is updated and operating fully. But there are certain viruses that you can unknowingly invite into your computer.

Virus hoaxes are new and becoming more common. If you read information and articles on the Internet, then you may be aware of virus hoaxes. So what are they? Virus hoaxes are spread using emails that are designed to make you believe that your computer is infected with a virus even though it isn’t. Tricky, right?

Virus hoaxes are quite clever. They will normally tell you that your computer is infected with a virus. Not only that, the email or message will advise you that certain files need to be deleted. Usually, a list of instructions will specify how to delete this file which is essential to the optimal performance of your computer. Once these files are deleted, your computer may not turn on or function normally. Virus hoaxes work extremely well because most people are worried about viruses attacking their computer. This is how they lure you into believing the hoax.

Most of these hoaxes will expose your computer to a virus or they may tell you to download a virus scanner to help repair your computer. But they will do exactly the opposite. These virus scanners will simply add more viruses to your computer which will cause additional damage.

Delete or ignore any emails that tell you that your computer is infected. In most cases, it is a hoax virus email just waiting to infect your computer with a virus. Hoaxes can also pop up on websites that claim to scan your computer for viruses. Avoid these sites as much as possible. It is impossible for these sites to scan your computer unless you download a trusted scanner from an official website, such as McFee or Norton.

Also, if you ever receive emails telling you that you need to send the message to other people, then you will know that it is a hoax. This is called a chain letter. To ensure that virus hoaxes don’t work their way into your computer, be aware of any messages or emails that you may receive and read them very carefully. Your computer’s life depends on it.


How to Avoid Digital Identity Theft

How to Avoid Digital Identity Theft

The Internet is a place where you can do just about anything—shop, pay bills, book holidays, buy software/movies, and more. It is also a place for thieves to get a credit card in your name. Identity theft costs the Canadian economy $2.5 billion a year and the FBI calls it America’s fastest growing crime. So what should you do to avoid becoming a victim of this crime?

Purchase a paper shredder and shred all of your personal information, such as your bank statements and tax returns. Avoid placing these documents in your garbage at home or at the office as it may be easy for thieves to gather enough information about you to steal your identity.

Always be on guard. If you find an unsolicited credit card in the mail, cut it up and contact your credit card company immediately. Thieves usually apply for credit cards with stolen identities or sometimes they’ll steal your credit cards straight from your mailbox. Call credit card companies that issue credit cards on spec and tell them to take your name off their mailing list.

Avoid volunteering any information over the phone or online. There’s no such thing as a bank inspector that calls or emails you to verify how much you have in your account. Never offer your birth date, bank account number, credit card details, social insurance number, or any other details over the phone or via email unless you initiated the call. Always verify the numbers someone gives you. There are phishers that pose as collection agents and ask for your personal information to “verify they’ve got the right file.”

Be aware of where and when and how much you spend on your credit cards and debit cards. Online banking is an easy way to do this. Simply go online every week to assess your accounts and spending habits. Criminals don’t need to steal your credit cards to get your identity as they can “skim” it by accessing the devices that you use to make transactions at a store, gas station, or restaurant. Chips on cards are now helping to prevent credit card fraud.

If your computer starts acting strangely or slows down dramatically, get it checked out immediately. Your computer may have been infected with a virus that can track every site you’ve visited and record what you type. Run a virus spyware scan or take your computer to your local Future Shop, Best Buy, or Staples. Ensure that you install the latest anti-virus and spyware detection tools to prevent viruses from attacking your computer.

If you need to make purchases on the Internet, consider getting another credit card with a very small limit. Never raise that limit. That way if something ever happens, it minimizes the potential issues and mess that needs to be cleaned up afterwards.


Identity Theft vs. Identity Fraud: Is There a Difference?

Identity Theft vs. Identity Fraud: Is There a Difference?

Crime is always going to exist. Some criminals suffer the consequences of their actions, but some don’t. Despite the laws that the authorities try to enforce, criminals find ways to break them without being caught red handed.

Identity theft is on the rise. Criminals waiting to steal your personal information can easily do so via the Internet as more and more users make financial transactions online and manage their bank accounts on the Internet. Identity theft and identify fraud may seem like the same concept, but there is a difference.

Identity theft occurs when thieves access your personal information, such as your driver’s license, social security number, address, and name to impersonate you. When thieves get access to all of your personal information, stealing your identity is easy.

Once a criminal has your personal information, they can open new accounts under your name. This is called true accounts identity theft. Criminals can also access money in your existing accounts—this is called account takeover.

Identity theft is very serious. Criminals have open access to your money and can destroy your credit rating and financial future. Support groups and the authorities can help individuals who are the unsuspecting victims of this crime.

When a criminal creates fake personal information it’s called identity fraud. When referring to identity fraud, the criminal does not steal personal information or assume a real person’s identity. They use the personal information of a fictitious person. This fake person serves as a mask to commit crimes.

The criminal can make various financial transactions at different banking and credit institutions using this fictional identity. Anyone can be affected especially if they unknowingly made a financial deal with the criminal.

Identity theft and identity fraud are serious crimes. The best way to ensure that you don’t become a victim of these crimes is prevention. Keep your personal information safe and conduct background checks if you suspect that the individual may not be using his or her real identity. Most of all, keep your guard up and be aware at all times.


Securing Mobile Data

Securing Mobile Data

Securing Mobile Data

Securing your mobile data is extremely important as more corporate data is being communicated via email and mobile applications on mobile devices. Traditional security models don’t perform when considering mobile devices. The IT departments in many organizations can’t simply install applications or programs without permission first. Securing your data involves more than just control and command from one place.

1. Ensure Visibility

The ability to get access to emails on mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads usually requires turning on ActiveSync. But this means that anyone can get onto your network. Different mobile platforms offer different capabilities for security and control. Find out who is accessing your network and how they are doing so. Once you do, then you can implement control policies and block access based on hardware type, OS version, or compliance status. If you do use ActiveSync, match it with the right tools to ensure optimal network security.

2. Do the Basics

Your mobile device management and security technology should be able to handle a number of different security functions. The requirements that you need are remote lock and wipe, password policy, encryption monitoring, jailbreak and root detection, and device restrictions (e.g., password spoofers).

3. Create Clear Policies and Communicate With Staff

Regardless of whether a mobile device is owned or used by the staff or company for work purposes, there will be both corporate and personal information on each mobile device. Ensure that you communicate any and all data security policies to your employees. Consider how to decide what gets stored or archived on company servers and what gets removed if the policies are violated. Another area to keep in mind is privacy and accessibility. Everyone should be familiar with what IT tracks, monitors, and archives.

4. Ensure That You Secure Everything

Secure more than just your email. Make sure that you can see all of the applications that your staff uses and that you can remove any applications that may be a security threat.

5. Stay Flexible

Try to keep up with new devices that are being introduced to the market.  New OS releases will have new features and functionality, which means that there will be new mobile applications and data to secure. Update your security policies as new technologies emerge to secure your mobile data.


How to Evaluate Your Web Browser’s Security Settings

How to Evaluate Your Web Browser’s Security Settings


Increasing the security settings in your web browser could prevent your computer from being attacked by viruses or unwanted hackers.

Your web browser is your main connection to the rest of the Internet, multiple applications may rely on your browser, or elements within your browser to function. This makes the security settings within your browser very important.

Many web applications try to enable various types of functionality, but it may leave your computer vulnerable to attacks. Disable most of these features and enable the functionality temporarily if you think the site is trustworthy.

Remember to familiarize yourself with your browser’s security options and settings. Every browser allows you to adjust security levels, so it’s a good idea to understand how to change your settings and to be knowledgeable of certain terms.

If you use Internet Explorer as your default web browser, you can find your settings by:

  1. Clicking Tools on your menu bar
  2. Selecting Internet Options
  3. Choosing Security tab
  4. Clicking Custom Level

In Firefox, you can access your settings by:

  1. Clicking Tools on the menu bar
  2. Selecting Options
  3. Clicking the Content, Privacy, and Security tabs

To keep your computer safe, your security settings should be at the highest level possible. But this may prevent some sites from loading or functioning properly. Keep your security settings high, but only enable certain features when you need to.

Your web browser may give you the option of putting websites into different segments, or zones, and allow you to define different security restrictions for each zone. The Internet is the general zone for all public websites. The local intranet is a safe zone, but be aware of the settings on the sites that are listed.

Trusted sites are an optional zone, but may be useful if you or your business maintains multiple websites. Even if you trust these sites, apply the highest security levels to external sites. It’s in your best interest to avoid visiting sites that are restricted or that make you question if they’re safe. Visiting sites that use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in this zone allows you to verify that the site you are visiting is what it claims to be.

Some websites use web scripts, such as JavaScript to achieve a certain appearance or functionality, but these scripts may be used in attacks. Java, ActiveX controls, and Plug-ins are used to provide some functionality, but they may put your computer at risk. Before installing them, ensure that they are necessary and that the site you download them from is trustworthy.

Disabling cookies and blocking pop-up windows in your settings are also simple, yet effective ways to protect and secure your computer.


Copy Machines Are a Serious Security Risk

Man Looking Inside Photocopier

Warehouses worldwide hold thousands of used copy machines ready to be sold to unknown buyers. Nearly every copy machine that has been built since 2002 contains a hard drive similar to the one on your computer.

Your copy machine stores images of every document that you scan, email, and copy. Personal information, such as your Social Insurance Number, birth certificate, bank records and income tax forms can be found on your copy machine. This is the kind of information that identity thieves thrive on.

Retrieving images and information from copy machines is easy with a bit of computer knowledge. Too easy. Once you purchase a used machine for about $300 and turn it on, you can find out where it’s from, how many copies and prints are stored on it, and what it was used for.

It takes about 30 minutes to remove a hard drive from a copy machine. You can access thousands of documents in less than 12 hours. All you have to do is download free forensic software programs on the Internet and run a scan.

The industry fails to inform people of the potential risks of copy machines. According to a 2008 Sharp survey, 60% of Americans are unaware about the security risks of copy machines.

Some major manufacturers offer security or encryption packages on their products. There is a Sharp copy machine that automatically erases images from the hard drive, it costs $500 to install this device but most businesses are reluctant to pay for it.

Remember that your copy machine is actually a computer. If your copy machine is ready to be sold, clean up your hard drive and destroy it. This will keep your personal information safe from identity thieves. There are many low cost and free programs available to securely delete files and folders (don’t trust the Recycle Bin) and also completely wipe a hard drive when you are done with it. E.g. WipeDrive, DBAN, Eraser, SDelete, Freeraser.

Do you always wipe your data?