How to Protect Your New PC, Tablet or Phone

mypreciousphoneIf you’re like me, whenever I get new PC, smartphone or tablet, the box is open and the screen is coming to life as soon as I get a chance.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get off to a safe start from the moment you’ve got your system up and running.

PC–Laptop or Desktop

1. Make sure you’re running the most up to date software.
There have likely been several system updates since your hardware was packaged and you opened it. Hopefully your system updated itself or prompted you to update as you installed. But it’s always a good idea to double check. You can do go to Windows Update for your Windows machine. On a Mac, just click on the apple in the top left of your desktop and select, Software Update. You also want to make sure your other software is current and isn’t leaving some hole that can be exploited by an online criminal. You can update each program one-by-one or use our free Health Check.

2. Install security software.
Of course, as company that’s been protecting computers for 25 years, we believe security software including anti-virus is crucial. But don’t just take our word for it. Most, if not all, law enforcement agencies, governments and experts agree that you need security software if you’re planning to use the Internet. So if you aren’t going to use our award-winning Internet Security–which we invite you to try for free–please use another.

3. Choose a backup.Yes, we’re also in the backup business because we believe it’s essential to safe, smart computing. But if you aren’t going to use our Online Backup, you can use an external hard drive, DVDs or some other backup solution. But as our Mikko Hypponen demonstrated in his TED Talk, a reliable backup can save the day.

You may also want to: Uninstall all the programs that came on your PC as promotions if you know you won’t be using them. If you’re super security conscious, you should also disable all your Java plug-ins or make sure they never get enabled–unless you need them.

Smartphone or Tablet

After you’ve registered your accounts and synced your phone when possible, your mobile device is a lot like your PC.

1. Install mobile security.
We also offer Mobile Security for Android that protects your smartphone and tablet from bad apps and scams that are even more tricky on mobile browsers. Some say Android is replacing Windows as the number one target of online criminals–if that happens, it will be the result of too many people not protecting their phones.

Sorry, there’s no iPhone mobile security available yet because Apple isn’t allowing anyone to develop such apps and is relying on keeping bad guys out with its well-policed app store. But if you do not jailbreak your iPhone, it will likely be safe from bad apps.

2. Choose a backup.
You can choose from a variety of backup services for your smartphone, which as you know soon fills up with irreplaceable content. You can also backup by dragging and dropping your content to your backed up PC whenever you dock your phone.  Set up your Android to save your settings regardless of what happens to your device. Just go to Settings > Privacy, and make sure that “Back up my settings” and “Automatic restore” are checked off.

3. Install Anti-Theft.
It just makes sense that you’re more likely to misplace your phone or tablet than your PC. But it’s also simple to track your device and protect your data if it falls out of your hands. We offer free Anti-Theft. Apple offers a Find My iPhone app for free.

4. Stick to Official App Stores.
If you get your apps from the official Google Play or ITunes store, you will likely never deal with a malicious app. Be sure to check user reviews and stick with software that has a proven record.

Enjoy your new toy!


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April 28, 2016
Spring clean your PC and Android devices

Why Buy A New Device When You Can Spring Clean Your Old One?

The sun is out, the days are longer, and flowers are blooming. Spring has sprung - and with it, the perfect inspiration for cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of clutter. Whether or not you tackle your home this spring, at least take care of cleaning your PC and mobile devices - they need it too. Over time, computers and devices get bogged down by use and cluttered up with files you don't really need. This built-up junk makes them slow and unstable. Often people think they need to go buy a new device, when actually they just need a tune-up. With a little optimizing, you can get your old device running like new again. Here are the top three ways a good spring cleaning will help you get more out of the life of your device. 1. More space Are you running low on space on your device? No matter how much disk space a device has when it's new, over time it starts to run out. Apps, app data, large media files, downloads, and other unused user data start to litter your device. You might find your device is out of space for your photos, or you can't install any more apps. Cleaning up this excess junk will free up space for the content that you really want. 2. Faster performance Is it taking too long for your PC or phone to boot up? Too many processes running in the background that are dragging down your gaming or media experience? If your device is running slow or if apps are taking too long to start up, you could use an optimization for faster start-up times, browsing, file operations, and making your apps run smoother. 3. Better battery life Wouldn't it be nice if your batter would last a little longer? Your device's battery gets consumed by unnecessary apps and processes. By closing those out, you can extend your battery life so you don't need to plug in as often. Now, for the cleanup. There are some easy things you can do to get a cleaner, faster, more efficient device that's got space for the content you care about. Here are some easy steps: Photos and videos are some of the biggest space takers. You can free up a lot of space just by going through and individually deleting out the photos you don't want or need anymore from your gallery. Or you can back all of them up to another hard drive or cloud service, then remove them from your device altogether. Uninstall apps you don't use (Be strong! If you really need it down the road, you can always install it again). Open your Downloads folder and check what's there - chances are there's a lot of stuff you don't need anymore that you can delete. Clear your cached data from apps and browsers. This data is saved to enable quicker processing, but over time it all adds up and bogs your system down. Tip: Aside from the photos and videos, the quickest, easiest way to take care of the above items is to run a free cleaning with F-Secure Booster. It will get rid of all the old trashed files, temporary and log files and unused user data, to free up space for the stuff that really matters. The PC version of F-Secure Booster even has a software update tool to make sure all critical software and driver updates are taken care of. Ah, the beauty of spring...when everything old is new again!  

April 19, 2016

WhatsApp is now secure by default – Why is it so important?

WhatsApp is not just any messaging app. It’s a quite unique combination of popularity and security. Many people know it as “the” messaging app. A natural choice that all your friends are using already, so it’s a no-brainer for you to use it too. But WhatsApp is also committed to provide a secure solution. They have been working with Whisper Systems for a long time and gradually integrated their security technology. This work reached an important milestone yesterday when WhatsApp announced that all communications now are end-to-end encrypted, if the parties use the latest version. This level of encryption has previously been available in some situations, but now they have reached full coverage. This is actually a very important milestone for all of us. Not only for the WhatsApp users who really care about security. Let’s take a look at what this means. What is end-to-end encryption? This means that the message is encrypted during the whole path from sender to receiver. The end-point devices handle encryption and decryption and the message is not readable in transit or when stored on the vendor's server. The vendor does not have a key to the encryption and can’t read the messages, nor reveal them to authorities. Is it hard to use? No. WhatsApp’s encryption is fully integrated and automatic. It’s enabled by default and you do not need to do anything. Except make sure that all communicating parties have the latest version of WhatsApp, but that will eventually happen anyway when people upgrade their apps. Why is this important? WhatsApp is a leader is what we call secure by default. This is a very important trend as it helps us all stay secure. There will always be secure ways to communicate, even if strong end-to-end encryption would be banned in some countries. But using security tools that aren’t mainstream will always make you look suspect. There’s a lot of ways to detect them using network surveillance. Outsiders will not be able to read what you write, but authorities may still conclude that you have something to hide and start keeping an eye on you. Even if your business is perfectly legit and honorable. This is why secure by default is important. If the norm is to use a secure communication channel, then nobody can claim you are suspect because you use one. The masses who don’t care about security are actually helping those who really need it. Other examples of secure by default are Apple’s iMessage and mail traffic that to an increasing degree default to protected connections using SSL or TLS. Is WhatsApp really secure enough? They are definitively serious about providing a secure solution. But we should always keep in mind that there are flaws in every existing system. Vulnerabilities will no doubt be discovered, and fixed promptly. But WhatsApp should anyway have sufficient security at least for people with low to medium needs. If you have a serious need for security, then you should investigate your needs thoroughly and carefully select what tools and methods you use. Consult professionals and keep in mind that security is a broad concept. Selecting the right tool is not enough. You also need to have good op-sec. You need to mind what you say and do, and how you handle data. Isn’t WhatsApp helping terrorists by doing this? No, not really. Properly encrypted communications is no doubt an obstacle for investigating authorities. But there are so many other tools they can use instead. Like tapping phones and locations. Searching facilities. Tracking persons and vehicles. And using spying implants on devices. As WhatsApp puts it in the announcement: “No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.” So yes. They could have included “Not investigating authorities” too, and that is a minor disadvantage in cases where we are dealing with terrorism and other kinds of sever criminality. But the overall picture is perfectly clear. The benefits of end-to-end encryption and secure by default clearly outweighs the disadvantages. Kudos to WhatsApp for showing the way.   Safe messaging, Micke     Public domain image from Pixabay

April 6, 2016