30/04/15 15:10 Filed in: Tips | Security
On 8th April 2014, Windows XP reached its “End of Life”. This meant that Microsoft stopped providing security updates or technical support for Windows XP, which instantly made the system vulnerable to a huge array of new threats. Indeed, almost immediately, scams and fake software updates began to and continue to plague XP users.
Just as importantly, not only did Windows XP machines start becoming less and less compatible with newer devices, most software makers have now also stopped ensuring that their product works with Windows XP. In fact, only last week Windows XP users have been reporting that after signing out of iTunes they’re no longer able to get back in. Although as yet unconfirmed by Apple, this is probably due to an upgrade in the way the iTunes App securely communicates with the iTunes Store. Furthermore, although Google extended support for Chrome on Windows XP after Microsoft stopped issuing security patches on XP, it has been announced that this support will cease at the end of 2015.
Users who ignore the warnings and continue to run Windows XP are playing a very risky game. Unfortunately, this irresponsibility then becomes everyone else’s risk because their systems end up hosting and distributing malware and viruses. Continuing to use Windows XP on the public internet is very much like going out in public with a virus and coughing on people.
So what should you do if you are still using an XP machine? The best tip I can offer is to run as far away as you can from this insecure, creaky and obsolete operating system. There are 2 basic options for switching to a more secure and less outdated operating system: 1) upgrade your existing computer or if your existing computer is too ancient to upgrade, 2) buy a new or second hand one.
Upgrading to a Windows 8 PC is the best option however can be a little pricey for some. In which case, buying a 2nd hand Windows 7 computer is the next best option.
The advantage of upgrading your operating system or buying a new one is that later this year Microsoft will offer free upgrades to Windows 10 for Windows 8.1 users and then for Windows 7 users. (Please note that the free upgrade is only available for the first year the software is available). Although no exact date has been given, Microsoft has confirmed a summer 2015 launch for Windows 10 in the UK.
17/04/15 14:17 Filed in: Security | Virus
First thing things first, don’t trust your anti-virus program, a very odd thing to say I know, but hear me out. You can spend any where up to £60 a year on Norton or McAfee and they give you a warm fuzzy feeling that you are safe. But beware!
Anti-virus software makes you as safe as it can and for the most part does a really good job at what it is supposed to do, which is to kill viruses and improve your firewall. It does however have 2 major flaws: it is only as good as its last update and it provides you with a false sense of security.
The internet is full of fraudsters and hackers wishing to access your bank account and what we’ve found most of the time is that we’re the ones letting them in with weak passwords and the belief that we are safe in doing crazy things like installing free programs from unknown sites that get around our firewalls.
Secondly, if you're seeing extra or unusual ads on your computer, you may have an unwanted ad injector. Ad injectors are programs that insert extra ads or replace existing ads on web pages. Unfortunately, many of these ad injectors are not detected by traditional anti-viruses.
Browser add-ons (also called browser extensions) are simple little programs that add functionality to your web browser. Some, like Adblock Plus, are really good, however there are many rogue add-ons that bombard people with ads, the most malicious of which may steal login names and other valuable data. Ad injectors may be acquired through malware, deceptive advertising, browser add-ons or simply through a careless attitude towards online risks. It is essentially "unwanted software" and in some cases can be considered as malware. Not only are ad injectors intrusive, but people are often annoyed because they have been tricked into installing them in the first place.
Only last week Google announced that after analysing over 100 million visits to their sites, they had discovered more than 200 fraudulent add-ons for its Chrome browser. It concluded that as many as 1 in 20 people who visit their websites have at least 1 malicious add on and of those users, a third have four or more. Google’s research found that malicious extensions were available for every major browser.
So our advice this week is simple: check your browser to see if you have any lurgies hanging about that could inject those unwanted and possibly dangerous adverts.