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Understanding why Online Security is important

[This a guest blog post from my colleague & dear friend, Rauf]

Understanding why Online Security is important

I could dive into the usual do’s and don’ts of security but within 5 minutes  most of you would have switched off or started to think about what to watch on YouTube so let’s try a different approach.

How many of you have a front door?  Pretty much all of you, in fact some of you will have more than one if you live in flats or apartment complexes.  You wouldn’t leave your front door open and expose yourself and your family to an increased level of risk now would you?

So what about your mobile assets?  Many of you drive cars and again, you wouldn’t leave your nice expensive car unlocked, or even your beaten up little runabout for that matter if it had your SatNav, your laptop, phone etc. in it, would you?

These attitudes to our own and our family’s personal safety are not in built into us at birth.  For many of our grandparents security was not as big a priority as it is for us.  We’ve all heard, even if anecdotally, that there was a time when people used to leave their doors open and unlocked.  I’m
sure there are still places in the world like that but they are the exception and are becoming rarer every day.  The world has changed, dramatically, as we move more and more of our lives online we are creating a wealth of personal capital there as well.  We are still learning that we need locks in our digital world in the same way as our physical.

For those of us who have been there since the early days of the internet it was a time of freedom and exploration, but those days are gone and there are many people and organisations out there who are ready, willing and eager to take and exploit our personal information.  We have not yet realised the value of our digital lives and possessions and they do have a value.  Data is constantly being traded by companies and organisations (both legitimate and not) around the world.  That data is not a bunch of abstract ones and zeros, it’s information about you and I, when we were born, are we married, where we shop, etc.  We don’t realise how valuable this information is in much the same way we don’t realise how valuable our TV’s and laptops are until we lose them or have to insure them.

Obviously some information is more important but have we really thought about how important all our information is.  We would not walk around with our bank account number inked on our arm or leave the key to our safety deposit box lying around on our desk at work.  They may not be enough to let some-one walk away with our life savings but why take the risk, yet we do the online equivalent every day, sometimes every single time we go online.  We leave digital trails whenever we wonder through the internet, we give websites permission to track our movements, scripts run and gather information from our computers malware potentially lurks on any unfamiliar website (and sometimes on the familiar ones).  For the most part we are unaware of these things happening in the background.

But how many of us run up to date anti-virus, and anti-spyware?

How many of us protect our browsers where we spend most of our online time?

Let me leave you with this thought, our online security is every bit as important as our physical security and increasingly more so.  If your car was stolen you can replace it fairly quickly, if your identity is stolen and your credit record trashed it could take you years to rebuild it.

It wouldn’t be fair to encourage you to improve your online security without providing a few links to some tools to help you do that.  There are many anti-virus applications out there, some free, some commercial.  In some countries the larger banks will provide their online users with free anti-virus so worth checking.

There are fewer anti-spyware apps and even less programs that provide complete protection, this is an area where a little research and preparation can pay dividends in the long run.

In no particular order you can try the following (these are not personal recommendations, just a few of the more well known applications that you may wish to try out).  Remember that some applications may not play nice with each other, for example running 2 anti-virus programs can cause problems and will make your computer run much slower.

Anti-Virus

http://www.360totalsecurity.com/

https://www.avast.com/en-gb/index

http://free.avg.com/gb-en/homepage

http://www.avira.com/en/avira-free-antivirus

http://www.pandasecurity.com/uk/homeusers/solutions/free-antivirus/

Anti-Spyware/Malware

http://www.malwarebytes.org/

http://www.superantispyware.com/

http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_free.php?

https://www.safer-networking.org/

Phone security and tracking

Here in the good old UK we have a web service for registering our ‘goods’, so in the event they are lost/stolen and subsequently retreived by Law Enfocrement then they have a means of returning them to you. The website is pretty cool as you can register a large number of items, it is:

https://www.immobilise.com

Also known as the ‘UK National Property Register

But beyond that, how can I track my new expensive Galaxy S5 in the event is goes wandering? Well, first off go to Settings > Security > Device administrators and activate ‘Android Device Manager‘. Once you have done that AND enable Location services on your phone (yeah, yeah, i know!) then you can track it thanks to the magic of Google using this link (assuming you are signed into the same Google account as on the phone):

https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager

Android Device Manager
Android Device Manager

What can you do? Simple really, TRACK it or if you want RING, LOCK or ERASE aka Remote Wipe (careful of the last one, deletes ALL data).

I’ll be looking for 3rd party Android apps that provide some better functionality that do not rely upon Location Services. If you know of any please do leave a comment with suggestions.

Protected PDFs

An annoyance of mine, PDFs that you cannot print. OR ones that are locked to a timeframe, usually by embedded Javascript. I had a time restricted one, I wasn’t able to print it during the period i was able to open it so had to go searching for a solution to be able to open it…and here it is:

http://www.thepdf.com/unlock-pdf.html

I’ve used it a few times now and it works very well. Do let me know if the link breaks!

PDFs
PDFs

I fully understand why certain documents need to be protected from print, copy or need a time restriction. There are legitimate reasons to do so, however in this instance there really was no need. It was more of an annoyance as when I went to open the file it told me my 7 days were up….but ermmm…i had not even opened you during the 7 day grace period. Now I need you! So i sought a solution, and found one!

World War Z…

World War Zulf. That’s what happened after I watched the movie that makes up the title of this post. I was angry.

Having read, and being a hug fan of, the book by Monsieur Brooks I was stunned to watch through a big screen version of it that bore little relation to its pages of narrative. Forget the ‘fast’ zombies for a minute, I suppose I could live with that concept (not happy mind, just can deal with it).

You see, the book reads like a diary or a journal. It is made up of a collection of post ‘World War Z’ stories from very different individuals around the world who have survived. I read the book a while ago so I might miss some points, but here-in is a list of my biggest problem with the movie adaptation:

  • No mention of the morale sapping defeat at Yonkers, then the subsequent stand-off to offense from the west coast
  • No real mention of patient zero and how it all started
  • Not even a credit to General Raj Singh (most disappointing)
  • Not a utterance of the South African ‘Redeker’plan or its horrific designs
  • No mention of the nuclear war between Iran & Pakistan
  • No mention of the false rabies vaccine
  • The survival concept of many of the characters, one whose own voice helps her and another is a blind Japanese swordsman
  • …and where’s the Lobo???!!!

World War Z

What was completely wrong in the movie is thus

  • Fast zombies – what the heck? Only in 28 days later…
  • South Korea? Why? did they mistake it for South Africa?
  • Israel over-run so easily, don’t think so
  • Zombies on the plane, *yawn* so boring
  • The WHO in bloomin Cardiff? Who’d have thought?!
  • Errr….and the solution, inject yourself with a deadly virus or bacteria – and the Zeds ignore you? wth? Never saw that coming

The movie was largely pathetic, someone needs to re-make it. It would have to be an epic 3-parter much like LOTR.

  1. Part 1 – Origin story, initial spread, The Great Panic, World War Z starts
  2. Part 2 – Morale sapping defeats, surviving humans consolidate, Redeker & the Gen. Raj Singh Sq kicks in
  3. Part 3 – USofA goes on the offensive, Radio Free World, the clean-up starts, humans rebuild starting in Cuba

That would be ace, but it won’t happen. At least there is no way (I hope) that they can make a sequel to this aforementioned drivel!

 

Actually, it is a wonderful country!

Thanks to this article for promoting the good stuff

http://www.walkaboutfilms.tv/vid/sub_links/projects.php

also see the following

http://www.walkaboutfilms.tv/vid/sub_links/projects.php

Pakistan, you don’t know it till you go there. It is a stunning country, up in the northern regions at the foothills of the himalayas it truly is wonderful. With peaks like Nanga Parbat and K2 (Ketu), the mighty Indus and the amazing people (yes, amazing) it totally destroys the tarnished image Pakistan has in the media-managed world.

Go and explore, I recommend it. Until you do, you won’t know any difference between hype and reality!

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