How to secure your internet

How to secure your internet

More and more these days, we are becoming more aware of the need for security on our computers, and for our entire internet experience. But how do you keep things safe in a world full of hackers and cyber attacks? No method is 100% secure or foolproof, but you can certainly take steps to make your experience much safer.   Why do I need to secure my connection? You should secure your connection regardless of what you actually use your internet for. The reason for this is that most of us manage some sort of accounts online, including bank accounts. For many banks, the security of your online account can hinge on the security of your email account, and if your email account is compromised, then everything you do online could be compromised.   So how do hackers get access to your stuff? There are a lot of different ways this can be done, and I won’t go into detail about all of them, but I will explain the basics. One method is very simple, and it basically involves a hacker “sniffing” the traffic on a wireless network. Even if you’re only using your home network, wireless network security is very insecure, and is easily broken, so you cannot rely on your routers security settings to keep you safe. Always assume that other people could be on your network, and see what you’re doing. Once a wireless network has been accessed, an attacker can use a program like WireShark to capture all the traffic. Applications like WireShark, called packet sniffers, are able to capture and save all the traffic on your network, which means an attacker can read your user name and password. This is often protected by SSL (secure socket layer) encryption, but if it is intercepted before encryption takes place, this doesn’t do you any good.   Other methods may include malware on your system, which can log everything you type, as you type it, which compromises everything. Most antivirus programs will catch most of these rogue programs, but there is never any guarantee. Running Windows as an operating system is risky for web browsing, especially if you use Internet Explorer. If you are using Internet Explorer, please stop it now, and go download Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Internet Explorer is a bad idea because the browser itself is tied into the operating system, and if the browser is compromised (very common for Internet Explorer) then your entire system is compromised. The first step is using a better browser. Now, let’s explore some options to keep you more secure.   Securing your connection   Using a VPN What is a VPN? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. When you are connected to a VPN, all network traffic is encrypted, and routed through a VPN server. The VPN server then communicates with the internet on behalf of...

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Computer Tips & Tricks Everyone Should Know

Computer Tips & Tricks Everyone Should Know

Many hardcore computer users might think themselves above learning new tricks, but there’s always new things to learn that will help improve your skills. Our bet: you will find at least one useful thing here that you didn’t know before. Inspired and with the help of this AskReddit discussion, we’ve compiled some of the most handy computer tricks you might not be taking advantage of. Our ultimate goal is to help you become more productive by shaving valuable seconds off your workflow. Of course, you can always pass along these tips to your not-so-savvy friends and family members to help them become better PC users as well.   General Tricks   Windows hidden “god mode” folder Windows offers a centralized Control Panel for all of the OS settings, which makes it easy for users to tweak everything from desktop background to setting up a VPN. To enter this mode, create a new folder with this exact name (copy and paste it): God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}. The folder icon will change to a Control Panel-style icon, and you will be able to jump in and change all kinds of settings. Note: Don’t try this on Windows Vista 64-bit as it’s known to cause a reboot loop. Use Problem Steps Recorder This handy tool automatically records any mouse clicks and takes screenshots for you. If you need tech assistance with your computer, go to Run by typing Windows + R, and then type “psr.” Use the tool and by the time you are finished, you can send this information, neatly compiled automatically, to the person helping you with the issue. It will make the process of finding the problem much easier for them, which means you will be able to get your system up and running faster. Find/Delete large files wasting space A handy tool called WinDirStat (Windows Directory Statistics) can be used to easily find which files and folders are taking up the most space on your drive. From there, you can delete them and open up a ton of storage space.   Reduce the number of programs running at startup If your PC is taking too long to boot, it’s probably because you have far too many programs running at startup. Reducing this is easy, it will make your PC launch noticeably faster and lighter upon first load. To change the items running at startup, go to Run using the hotkey Windows key + R, and type “msconfig.” A small window will appear (see the screenshot below), select the Startup tab. From here you will be able to turn off many startup programs, which can shave several seconds (or minutes) off your boot time. (Note Windows 8 has moved this functionality to the Task Manager). Try to make sure you research what you are turning off as some processes might be needed by third party programs or drivers you have installed.   Cloud backup important files If you’re working on a critical paper for...

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Computer cleaning tips

Computer cleaning tips

Introduction   Cleaning your computer and your computer components and peripherals helps keep the components and computer in good working condition and helps keep the computers from spreading germs. In the above picture, is a good example of how dirty the inside of your computer case can get. In this example, its obvious that all the dirt build up will prevent proper air flow and may even prevent the fan from working. Depending on the environment that your computer operates in determines how often you should clean your computer case. The below list is our recommendation and may change depending upon your computer’s environment.   General cleaning Tips   Below is a listing of general tips that should be taken when cleaning any of the components or peripherals of a computer as well as tips to help keep a computer clean. Never spray or squirt any liquid onto any computer component. If a spray is needed, spray the liquid onto a cloth and then use that cloth to rub down the component. You can use a vacuum to suck up dirt, dust, or hair around the computer on the outside case. However, do not use a vacuum for the inside of your computer as it generates a lot of static electricity that can damage the internal components of your computer. If you need to use a vacuum to clean the inside of your computer, use a portable battery powered vacuum designed to do this job or try using compressed air. When cleaning a component or the computer, turn it off before cleaning. Be cautious when using any cleaning solvents; some individuals may have allergic reactions to chemicals in cleaning solvents and some solvents can even damage the case. Try to always use water or a highly diluted solvent. When cleaning, be careful not to accidentally adjust any knobs or controls. In addition, when cleaning the back of the computer, if anything is plugged in, make sure not to disconnect any of the plugs. When cleaning fans, especially the smaller fans within a portable computer or laptop it’s suggested that you either hold the fan or place something in-between the fan blades to prevent it from spinning. Spraying compressed air into a fan or cleaning a fan with a vacuum may cause damage or back voltage to be generated. Never eat or drink around the computer. Limit smoking around the computer. Cleaning tools   Although many companies have created products to help improve the process of cleaning your computer and peripherals, users can also use household items to clean their computers and peripherals. Below is a listing of items you may need or want to use while cleaning your computer or computer peripherals. Keep in mind that some components in your computer may only be able to be cleaned using a product designed for cleaning that component; if this is the case, it...

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