Windows XP updates

5 things to do if you’re going to keep using Windows XP after April 8, 2014

If you’re still a Windows XP user, you’re probably singing a sad song knowing that after 12 long years Microsoft will end its support for the world’s second most popular operating system on April 8, 2014.

Microsoft warns you that if you continue to use its OS first introduced before the iPhone even existed “your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.” And if that isn’t enough to encourage you to upgrade or get a computer, maybe the fact that “you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP” will.

But given the millions of PCs running the OS and the scarce amount of time and resources many people have, some people will certainly be XP users well after its “expiration date.” If you’re going to be one of these daredevils, our Security Advisor Sean Sullivan has some suggestions.

“Folks that continue to use XP at home can do so with some reasonable amount of safety, but they absolutely need to review their Internet and computing habits as April draws near,” he told us. And he broke down 7 ways to avoid the trouble from the criminals who will surely be targeting these unsupported systems.

1)      Install an alternative browser — not Internet Explorer.

2)      Review the third-party software you’ve installed and uninstall anything that isn’t needed.

3)      For the third-party software that you keep – consider disabling or uninstalling the browser plugins. Or at least set the browser to “always ask” what to do about things such as PDF files. (Personally, I always download PDFs to my desktop and open them from there. I don’t want the PDF viewer plugin installed, and I don’t like being in the habit of opening certain file types in my browser’s window.)

4)      Have an up-to-date security product with antivirus and firewall installed.

5)      Keep your XP computer connected to a NAT router, which will act as a hardware firewall. (Practically speaking, this means you shouldn’t be roaming around outside of your home with an XP computer. Don’t plug into a university network for connectivity – keep your computer at home on a trusted network.)

As you can see, living in the past may not make life easy. But if it’s your only option, you should at least try to stay as safe as possible.

Cheers,

Sandra

[Image via Patrick Hoesly via Flickr.com]

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child protection, parental controls

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UK child protection charity the NSPCC this week published research into children’s online porn-viewing habits. The results are shocking. One in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn. This goes beyond children stumbling across inappropriate content, though could be how the addiction started. Tackling the issue head-on, the NSPCC has published advice for parents and calls on the government to educate children in the dangers of online porn. It notes that its discussion forums on the subject get 18,000 hits per month. You can see its advice here. There is no silver bullet to tackling this issue. Your approach will depend on your child. A two-way conversation with them to educate them to the dangers is as important as using technology to limit the risks. So, from a technical perspective, what can you do to protect your children from online porn? The simplest measure is to activate parental controls on your internet security software. This will take two minutes, but will protect your child for years. How do parental controls work? Parental controls are a very useful way to adapt a smartphone, tablet or computer’s settings to only allow content and usage which you, as a parent, feel are appropriate. Suitable content F-Secure’s parental controls start with giving parents the option to choose settings which are appropriate for either a teenager or a younger child. These allow different categories content. For example, it’s unlikely you would want a child of any age viewing information about dating, gambling, drugs, violence or porn – so these are blocked by default (but can be unblocked if you wish). However, teens are not automatically blocked from using email and social networking. Time-limits Time-limits are a very useful tool to curb the amount of time a child spends on different applications on their smartphone or tablet each day. You may choose to only allow an hour of time of Facebook, compared to unlimited access to Wikipedia. On our desktop version, you can also set homework time, by only allowing access to educational sites during certain times of the day when you know your child should be working and are worried about online distractions. There is also the capability to set the amount of time the child can spend online for that week – a particularly useful tool during school holidays. Call blocking For mobile phones, call blocker is a handy tool for parents of children who are being bullied. Incoming calls from specific phones numbers can be blocked, meaning the dialler will receive an engaged tone and then disconnection, with no option to leave a message. Numbers can be added to this blacklist from the incoming call register or the contacts database. Parents can also gain access to the list of blocked calls which have been received. Locate, lock and wipe Our anti-theft feature means a phone can be located when lost – or when a parent wants to check on their child’s location. Of course, this should form part of an open discussion with the child, so they are aware of the phone’s capability. It also means that, should a phone be stolen or lost, the phone can be locked and the data deleted remotely, meaning it can’t fall into the wrong hands. Our parental controls are password-based, which means they can’t be circumvented by a tech-savvy child. Of course, the password needs to be strong for this to work, but that’s another blog post!

Apr 1, 2015
Facebook, I love you, newsfeed

5 ways to take control of Facebook’s News Feed so don’t feel ‘unloved’

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Online Surfing in Different Countries

POLL: What country do you want to use for your online surfing?

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