Don’t be the victim of a man-in-the-middle hijack (or woman)
It’s easier to check for a “man-in-the-middle” than this discussion might suggest.
WWW is the acronym for “World Wide Web”, but it’s better to think of WWW as the “Wild, Woolly Web”. Especially if you are going to use the Internet for financial transactions. For that, I want a computer that is much less likely to be infected than my general-use computers are. Those PCs encounter countless threats that extensive, wide-range use entails. That’s why I keep an old XP-era computer to use exclusively for financial transactions. It is running Windows 8 now though.
Things could still go horribly wrong with my trusted computer even though I only visit a limited set of sites. It’s common for hackers to target financial and related websites. After all, that’s where the money is. There simply is a continuing risk over time. The computer set aside could get infected with malicious software. That malware would likely be designed to “wiretap” financial transactions, say with my bank. Later on the perpetrator could steal usernames and passwords, or even piggyback on financial sessions to initiate bandit transactions. Continue reading
Note about Windows Backup and restoring previous versions
Windows 7 Backup was one of the topics George discussed last week. One of the best features of Backup is “Previous Versions“, which makes it possible to go back in time and restore a version that has what you might otherwise have lost.
Backup is still there in Windows 8. Microsoft was too cute by half when they devised Windows 8. One of the things they did was hide things they want users to forget about and move on to the world of apps and tiles. Windows Backup is now called Windows 7 File Recovery in Windows 8. They also changed the name of Previous Versions to File History in Windows 8.
[Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Windows 7 File Recovery] Translation: Windows 7 File Recovery = Windows 8 Backup.
You access File History from the “ribbon” menu in Windows 8 (you access it from a context menu in Windows 7). The “History” item in the “Open” group on the ribbon will open File History for the file you select – “a2.txt” is selected in the snippet at the left from File Explorer (which used to be called Windows Explorer).
Windows 7 File Recovery is not turned on by default. “The Windows Club” has a nice article – Backup & Restore files using File History in Windows 8 – that explains how to turn File History on and how to use it.
Bing search tip
If Internet Explorer is your browser it’s likely that your search engine is Bing. I even use Bing from time-to-time in Firefox. Microsoft just added a useful way to quickly filter Bing so that only returns recent results. You have options to limit results to the past 24 hours, last week, or last month. Continue reading
Secure your wireless (WiFi) network
Today I showed how to secure a WiFi router. Why secure your WiFi network? “To keep other people from using your bandwidth,” is the usual answer. Yes, if they don’t have the router’s “shared-key” they can’t connect to your WiFi. That’s a good idea, but it’s probably not the most important reason for securing your WiFi.
WiFi adds an open-air hop between your computer and it’s intended connection. That short hop is highly vulnerable to attack unless the router is protected against hacking, and the data that is transferred back and forth is strongly encrypted. Traffic between your computer and your Internet connection (modem) can easily be intercepted, redirected or otherwise used for a wide range of cybercrime.
So the primary reason to secure your WiFi is to protect yourself and things that are valuable to you. Drive-by hoodlums might want to steal your financial credentials, for example. Long-range snoops might want to read your email so they can learn enough about you to be credible when they later attack you with a social engineering ploy. A leach could use your WiFi connection for criminal purposes, leaving you holding the bag when DHS or FBI agents show up at your door. Those are the things you want to prevent.
It’s relatively easy to change the settings on a router. You can take a router that typically has extremely poor security when you get it, and use it to build a highly secure wireless network.
The main links you need to get started securing your router are below. The instructions are in Steps to a secure WiFi network on the starting page. There are only five key steps that require changes. Each one is important, but all together, it’s not as hard as making Facebook secure.