DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

January 23, 2018

PIN or Password

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

From emails I hear many got new Windows 10 computers for Christmas and it is encouraging you do use a Pin and not a Password to secure it. Is a four-digit pin a good idea to use over your either character password? Microsoft says it is a very good security feature for your computer. I say it may be after reviewing their thoughts.

When you first log onto a new W10 system it will ask you to log in with your Microsoft user account. If you do not have a MS account, i.e., Outlook.com, Hotmail.com or Live.com, it will encourage you to create one in Outlook.com.

After you are done logging in with your MS account (also called a linked account), you can use that email address and password to log into W10. You could also create a local account on your W10 PC and log in with that username and password.

If you are unsure of how MS/linked accounts differ from a local one check one of my previous articles, “Windows 10, Part 2” (rd.dblclx.com/LocalAcct). Microsoft also has a site telling you the pros and cons of each, (rd.dblclx.com/localvslinked).

It is easy to set up a pin. When logged into your computer click the Windows button on your keyboard. Type, “sign in options” and when you see it, click it.

Sign-in options

Scroll down to “PIN” and follow the directions.

Setup PIN

So, if you use your password for your login it should be long and cumbersome to keep others out. If you decide to use a pin, the default setting if a four-digit pin just like your bankcard uses. To me that seems too simple if someone really wants to hack your PC.

Here are some of the reasons MS says it is a good idea. One is that your pin is local to that PC. This means that you can set up different pins on each computer you own or use. It is tied to the hardware of that specific computer so if someone were wise enough to get it they would not have your Microsoft Account password too. That would keep other things like your email safe.

This makes good sense to me but since we are humans do we want to have to remember the various pins for each of your systems? Also, if like me you use an application to check your email all you have to do it start the app and there your email is, you do not need to enter a password. If bad guys get on your computer they have your email already. Even if you check your email online, like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc. I am willing to bet that you allow your browser to “memorize” your password for you so you do not have to type it in each time. Again, the hacker has you.

MS also says that you can make your pin more complicated. To do so start at the same “Sign in Options” window and scroll to PIN. Now click create or change pin, next click the checkbox by “Include letters and symbols.” Finally, you may click “Pin requirements” to see how hard you can make it, then create one.

Setup more complex PIN

But wait! If I already had a good strong complicated password for my original login why do I need to create another one that is hard to remember?

That is why I said it “may be” a good idea but I just do not see it from what I have learned. I use it because my four-digit pin is easy and quick but maybe not the most secure…what do you think?

December 12, 2017

Tunnels on the Internet

At a recent speaking engagement, I was talking to the group about security.  This discussion was centered on Virtual Private Networks or VPNs.  Since 1996 when a Microsoft employee created a secure tunneling system for computers, VPNs have been around.  It was not as we know a VPN today; however, it certainly set the process in motion.

Basically, a VPN is a “tunnel” through the internet that connects a specific group of computers.  This network keeps out anyone who does not have the proper keys to work with the others.  Businesses first started using VPNs to connect their data networks between different locations around the globe.

A VPN keeps out the bad guys, or not even bad but just people you do not want looking at your data.  In more recent times VPN usage has been encouraged for individuals too.  This statement may lead you to ask, “Why?”

The reason is security.

If you go into a local coffee shop and check your spam email you may be fine.  But if you have private email which you are sending and you do not want others to see, a VPN may be needed.

When you are in a coffee shop, or any public Wi-Fi for that matter, it is most likely an open connection.  That means anyone walking by can access the internet through that business’s network without a username or password.  They may even require usernames and passwords but you do not own that connection.  You do not know who else is there in the background.  You consider that a nice feature, which it is; however, there could be nefarious people nearby lurking about seeking your information.

If you have a VPN connection on your device, you log in with your own username and password to a server at another location.  It is similar to “drilling” a tunnel through the local internet Wi-Fi connection you are on.  That stops anyone from seeing what you are sending or receiving, keeping your information private.   This includes your login and all transactions on your bank account if you use it while there.  All banks use “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure,” you know the URL that starts with “https.”  That “S” means that it is secure but again someone may be digitally looking at your keystrokes while in the open and recording them for their use.  If you use a VPN they should be stopped dead in their tracks from getting your info.

The VPN encrypts the information you send to be unencrypted only by the person/organization to whom it is meant to be delivered.

Check the short video below to see how a VPN works. 
Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words.

Also, many people use VPN for a location setting.  If they were to want to watch a TV show in a foreign country but it was not allowed out of that country, you could use VPN.  It would camouflage their actual location and appear to be in that country.  But they could actually be on the other side of the earth.  What if someone is in a county that will not allow free speech but wants to blog about the injustices or issues there?  With VPN they could do so and not be discovered by their governments.

This is only a high-altitude flyover of what a VPN is and how it can be used.  If you are interested look for more information online.  Remember, a VPN that you pay nothing for may be exactly what it is worth.  Shop around and read reviews as a good one will cost a little.

January 31, 2017

Facebook Safety, Part 2

A long time ago (on the “feels like index”) last year we looked at some Facebook security settings you should check on your account.  If you need a refresher on what I said go here, rd.dblclx.com/2hVbumC, to take a look again.

Today we will take a look at some of the personal things you need to think about before sharing.  First, I will mention your kids, grandkids, you know those little people in your family.  I cannot encourage you enough to not post many pictures of your kids.  You may think they are innocuous and cute but you may be giving away a lot of information. Especially over time.  Take the family whose young son was kidnapped.  They had only posted pictures about him on FB and other sites for his first few years of growing up.  The first day to school.  Many little league shots.  They mentioned a couple of his great teachers in elementary school.  Mom talked about how Wednesdays she had worked out at the local gym with pics of her friends and herself. Over time the kidnapper found out, even though it was never specifically mentioned, the boy’s school, his grade level, what position he played on the team, what days/times he practiced, his friends, his mom and her friends and where he was supposed to go on Wednesdays after school.  Put it together and you know how that worked.  Be very, very careful what you are posting.

Next, do not accept friends you do not know.  Many people are just selling you stuff on FB and will blanket as many people as they can for friend requests.  When you accept, you and all of your friends can be blasted with offers.  Use common sense, if you do not know or remember their names they are not quite up to being a "friend" anyway.  If the guy is from Gondwanaland and you do not know anyone there – ignore him, you will not hurt his feelings.

Keep in mind that if you secure your Facebook site to not allow anyone but friends to see your posts that is good.  However, their friends can see their comments on your posts and their friends can see theirs and on-and-on.  Your posts can end up anywhere.

Now time for one of the biggest no-nos.  Never, never post pictures or talk about your vacation until you are back.  Why?  Because there are sites out there that just look for people talking about  being away from home so that the nefarious bunch out there can remove your TVs, motorcycles or anything else in your home while you are away.  At one time, there was a site, "PleaseRobMe" that had a search going on Twitter and Yelp, letting burglars know what houses were empty.

The last concern is not just limited to what you post on FB, Twitter and Yelp.  Think about when you are out and publicly post about a great restaurant you are at, or how you are meeting some old friends for bowling…or whatever.  You are letting the world know you are out and where you are.  Be safe out there, would you? 

December 20, 2016

Facebook Safety – Part 1

I have a few suggestions this week of a few steps you may want to take to make your Facebook account a little more secure.  Just think if someone took over your Facebook account which has been known to happen to people in recent times.  To your friends, it may appear that you have starting posting very inappropriate comments and/or pictures on your account. 

First, I will be giving these settings as they are on a computer.  Yes, you may also get to these settings from a tablet or phone.  However, it is my belief that it is much easier to make settings and entries from a larger screen, the choice is yours.  Also, note that some of these settings may be slightly different on different devices.

Privacy ShortcutsGo ahead and open up Facebook in your browser of choice.  In the upper right corner look for the lock with three lines next to it.  When you hover over it you will see "Privacy Shortcuts." Click it.   There are basically three settings you can work with under "Privacy Checkup." 

Privacy Checkup

First, Posts.  Here you should choose who you want to be able to view your posts.  You can easily choose between the Public, your Friends (you have friended in FB) and Only yourself.  Why you would choose only you could see your posts I have no idea, but it is available.  Next, are Apps.  If you have ever used FB to log into a game it will be listed here. So, if you stopped playing a particular game or no longer wanted to be associated with it you can again choose who can see your scores.  I set it for just me or the "Only Me" option. 

Privacy Checkup Options

The next option is for your Profile which is very important.  Here you can decide who to allow to see very personal things.  First your phone number may be listed here if you gave it to FB when you set up the account.  If you did add your number here you can choose who can see it.  Again, that is either the public, your friends on FB or yourself…yeah go figure on that last one.  As with  all of the choices you can customize it to allow separate groups to see your information, not just the general three choices.  Other items in your Profile area are Email, Birthday and Hometown and who gets to see them. 

Last you can click either Finish Up which is self-explanatory or My About Page.  Clicking on the My About Page link will show you what people can see from your Profile in Facebook.  You can make other adjustments from there if you see changes that need to be edited. 

More next week and have a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

October 11, 2016

Ron’s Favorite Add-on Apps, Part 2

Last week we looked at several programs I recommend to be good additions to a Windows system.  They are either better than what comes on a PC or those applications may not usually be found on a new computer.  Of course, the apps are free…you know me. From the responses I have received you want more.  So here are some additional applications for you.

You need a good cleaner and CCleaner (piriform.com) is great.  I have previously written about it in length so go check those older articles.   CCleaner can speed up a slow computer and get it to start faster while cleaning up unneeded files. Well worth the $0.00’s. 

ccleaner

Oh boy, now a biggie…antivirus software.  There are several good ones to pick from. Avast (avast.com) and AVG (avg.com) always come to my mind first.  They are closely followed by Avira (avira.com), Bitdefender (bitdefender.com) and Panda (pandasecurity.com).  Take your pick.  They are good and all have a free and paid version.  You may even choose to stick with "Windows Defender" which comes pre-installed on your computer.  It is really pretty good.  Just make sure you run one of them, but only one at a time or they can interfere with each other.  

Avast! site          AVG logo          Avira logo     

Bitdefender logo          Panda logo

Another good protection app you need is Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.com) which takes care of threats.  The free version needs to be run manually by you; whereas, the paid version runs automatically.

Malwarebytes logo

How about the best video/audio player?  There is only one and it will run on most anything you own, PC, iPhone, Android, etc. and that is VLC (videolan.org).  The great thing about this app other than dependability and quality is that it can play every video or audio format you can put on it.  That includes DVDs as well as Blu-Ray discs. 

VideoLAN (VLC) logo
 
Now to online storage or cloud storage.  There is really only one name in this area that I prefer, Dropbox (dropbox.com).  It is solid, works flawlessly and also allows for quite a bit of storage space.  There are others but for free, Dropbox does it for me.  You have files that are important to you and Dropbox is dependable, enough said.

Dropbox logo

Now email apps.  I personally like online email, mainly Gmail; however, you as well as a large percentage of people like an app to take care of email.  Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) from Mozilla, the Firefox browser people is excellent.  It is reliable, high quality and easy to set up if you pay attention to the instructions.  I would also say the built in email program in Windows 10 is a good basic email app but there are not many advanced features.  Also, with the Windows app you will be on your own setting up your email. 

Thunderbird logo

Next week a few more. 

January 18, 2016

2016-01-18 Show Notes

Welcome back to the show notes from this morning.  The podcast should be ready tomorrow and I will post it here when I know that it is ready.

I hope you had a chance to listen but if not here is a list of a few of the things we mentioned today.

Tech News
Two great online weather apps, in Jim’s and my opinions.  At the least two of the better ones available today.

AccuWeather

WeatherSpark


Judge says Facebook tagging violates protective orders

You don’t have to physically get close to a person or to call and text them to end up violating a protection order. According to Acting Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Susan Capeci, tagging the victim, which sends them a notification, is enough to breach the order and ultimately land the perpetrator in jail. Capeci made the ruling for a case filed against a woman named Maria Gonzalez who was prohibited by law from contacting her sister-in-law. While she didn’t blow up the sister-in-law’s phone or show up uninvited to her house, she reportedly created a Facebook account and tagged her on some status updates.

One called the sister-in-law, Maribel Calderon, "stupid," and the other allegedly read: "You and your family are sad…You guys have to come stronger than that!! I’m way over you guys but I guess not in ya agenda." Protection or protective orders, by the way, are sometimes used interchangeably with restraining orders. There is a distinct difference between the two, though: protective orders are the maximum protection the law can grant to victims of family violence.

Gonzalez has been charged with second-degree criminal contempt for the status updates, which could land her in prison. Her side tried to argue that she wasn’t explicitly banned from contacting Calderon via Facebook. The judge, however, pointed out that Gonzalez was ordered not to contact Calderon via "electronic or any other means."

Continue…


Do I stay or do I go now? Google Maps can tell you.

Now Google can even tell you where to go…and when.

Well, Google Maps has good news for you. If you use Google Maps you can find out whether you should hit the road or put in some gym time while you wait out the grid lock. Get information like ETAs, traffic updates, nearby gas prices and quickest routes to familiar places–like home, work and recently searched destinations–all without entering a destination.

If like me you have preset home and work locations along with having location history enabled you will see ETAs at times when you’re likely to be heading to these destinations. These suggestions are based on location data, time of day and day of week. And if you’re logged in, it will suggest destinations based on recent Google Maps and Google searches when you are in the driving.


Stay Safer Online
Ron’s preference for keeping your computer safe beyond anti-virus applications. 
Malwarebytes
 

A caller also recommended "SpyBot Search and Destroy" which is also excellent for the same purpose. Thanks to Dave (I believe, please correct me if I am wrong) for that tidbit!  
SpyBot Search and Destroy


That is it until next month, February 15, 2016.

Have a great time computing!

Ron Doyle, Double Click

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: