Archive for : May, 2015

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Protect yourself with a VPN

In my last article, I talked about spyware and how easy it is to get caught and accidentally install these insidious applications on your computer.  No worries, it does happen to the best of us.

In the next article, I will talk about how to test your system for spyware and also how to get rid of it.  But this time, I want to talk about adding to your online security with the aid of a good VPN or virtual private network.

First off, I have to say that not everyone is going to need nor want to go to this degree of using a VPN.  But a lot of people – for many different reasons – are using a good VPN service, or at least should be.

So what does a VPN do for my security?  Well, the focus of this site is talking about spyware, malware, adware and the like.  And a VPN will not stop these apps from being installed.  Only being vigilant and using the right set of tools will stop that.  A VPN can give you piece of mind in a different way – it will cover your tracks while on the internet, essentially hiding your viewing habits from prying eyes outside of your control.

Using a good VPN service like Expressvpn or Torguard in conjunction with your ‘incognito’ (Chrome) or ‘private’ (Firefox) window will make your browsing invisible not only to people within your household or business but also to outside eyes like the NSA or other government agencies.  It also stops sites like Google and many other from tracking your browsing habits and serving you up ads based on your browsing history.

A lot of people, even if they are not doing anything ‘wrong’ still like to know that they are secure and not being watched, even if being watched is only by computers wanting to serve you up annoying ads.  Don’t kid yourself – every single mouseclick and keystroke you perform on the internet is recorded to one degree or another.  That is not to say that these companies or agencies will know every single step you take, but they can and will know enough about you to guess your age, sex, marital status, shopping habits and will also know exactly where you live.  Not down to the street address mind you, but close enough for discomfort.  They will know far more about you than you are likely comfortable with and definitely a lot more than you know about them.

By using one of these VPN services along with an incognito window allows you the freedom to do basically anything you want on the internet without fear of being tracked.  With most VPN services you can choose from a massive list of servers all over the world, so you can choose to appear as if you are browsing from Saudi Arabia or Germany  or Australia all with a couple of clicks of the mouse.  No one – not even you internet provider – can or will know what you are doing.  For a lot of people this is well worth the small monthly or annual cost for the piece of mind.  I know for myself, I have been using a VPN service for a couple of years now and while I don’t use it all the time, I love the fact that when I am using it I am totally anonymous.

In this article, I have focused on the security aspects of using a VPN.  In future articles, I will talk about other great benefits of using a VPN such as P2P sharing and online services like Netflix and Hulu.  In the meantime, please feel free to start a discussion by leaving a comment below.  I love to hear from my readers and welcome all comments.

I will try to update this site as often as I can.  With a wife and children and a job and a house and all those other things, sometimes I have less time than other times.  But I will do my best to get an article written here on a regular basis so please stop back or even better bookmark my site!

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Protect yourself from Spyware

Hello and welcome to my site!  I’ve long been interested in protecting myself online, after a server I used to run got hacked by some Russian thugs.  That hack ended up costing me a lot of money and they seemingly did it for no reason other than they could.

It made me mad and it made me realize how vulnerable we all are on the internet.

Now I’m not here to talk about securing servers, that is a lot more complicated and technical than I want to get into and quite frankly I don’t have the expertise to give good advice on that issue.

But personal security is something that we can all do relatively easily and inexpensively.  And believe me, it IS important.  I know a lot of you will read this and think “well, I don’t do anything online that would get me into trouble”.  I guess that may be true if the only sites you visit are top sites like Amazon, Ebay, etc.  But chances are you like everyone else and do web searches to answer questions or find out information about products.

And that’s where you can get yourself into trouble.  You don’t know what’s on the other end when you click that link in your favorite search engine.  That site, knowingly or not could be infected with all kinds of nasty viruses that can find their way onto your system.

Another simple way to get spyware or malware installed on your computer is by downloading software.  Most web-savvy people know better than to download software that isn’t from a trusted site like Cnet.  But did you realize that even software downloaded from trusted sites often contains other programs like search toolbars and shopping programs that hijack your clicks?  The reason being is that many of these programs you download are free from the author.  And yet the author wants or needs (understandably) to make some money from their efforts, so they add these third party programs in during the installation process and from those they make some income.

I’d personally rather pay an author $5 or $10 for a little app that will make my life easier than to have this spyware garbage added to my computer.  But more often than not, they don’t give you that option – they know that most people won’t pay them money and many people won’t notice or care that they added unwanted software into their system.

The good news is, that nine times out of ten in these situations, it is easy to not install this extra software.  And this is how you do it:  Almost all install apps have an ‘express’ install or a ‘custom’ install.  All install apps like this will always default to ‘express’.  This is often easier because you don’t have to answer extra questions.  BUT by choosing ‘express’ you are bypassing the install program asking you about installing these extra pieces of software.  Just choose ‘custom install’ and when it prompts you about installing something that has nothing to do with the program you are trying to install, just say no to that part of the installation.  Simple.  Then just carry on and the program you wanted in the first place will be installed without all the extra garbage.  I’ve had programs in the past that wanted to install up to three and four extra spyware programs!  So be careful, but it is pretty simple to catch.

In my next article, I will be talking about using a VPN or Virtual Private Network to enhance your online security.  Until then, thanks for visiting and have a great day!