Thursday, September 24, 2015

Protecting Yourself From Microsoft - Windows 10 Privacy

In July 2015 Microsoft released Windows 10, the latest version of their operating system. Windows 10 is a significant improvement from Windows 8.1 and if you haven't already, you should upgrade to Windows 10. However, there are some privacy settings you should change immediately after upgrading. This post describes the Windows 10 privacy settings and how to change them.

Customize Settings

1) Under Browser and Protection, turn off "use page prediction...". Yes, this does speed up your browsing but with this enabled you are sending all your browsing data to Microsoft.

2) Under Connectivity and Error Reporting, turn off both options. These options will automatically connect your device to open hotspots and networks shared by your contacts. These network connections may not be secure and could compromise your device. Additionally, you are sending this data to Microsoft.

Privacy Settings

1) Open your Settings menu and go to the Privacy settings. Click on the General tab on the left and turn all the options off. These settings are the most intrusive because they allow Microsoft to share your data with third-parties AND allows Microsoft to collect your keystrokes meaning every key you press on your keyboard is logged and sent to Microsoft (i.e., keylogger).

2) Click on the Location tab on the left side. In Windows 10, location tracking is enabled by default. If you do not want Microsoft tracking your every movement, turn this off by clicking the Change button under "Location for this device is on".  Next, just below the previous setting, flip the "Location" button to off.

3) Now, click on the Speech, Inking, and Typing tab on the left. This is another location where you can allow or disallow Microsoft to collect your keystrokes and personal information. Click Stop Getting To Know Me to turn this off.

Wi-Fi Sense Settings

1) Click on the Start Menu and search "wifi". You should see "Change Wi-Fi Settings" somewhere in there, click on it. Under Wi-Fi Sense, change both settings to off. These settings will share your wifi settings with all of your contacts and connect you to open hotspots. Both are dangerous situations if not managed properly. 

Microsoft has provided a good operating system with Windows 10 but with this new operating system, they introduced several new or improved features that can steal your data and invade your privacy. Always review your settings when you get a new device or operating system because the default settings are usually invasive and not what you want.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Securing Your iPhone or iPad - iOS 9

iOS 9 has finally been released by Apple and includes a wide range of changes that boost security and privacy. Here are some settings you need to check, and change if necessary, to take advantage of these new features.

1) Update Your Passcode! 

Until now, passcodes were limited to just 4 digits. iOS 9 allows you to create passcodes up to 6 digits which is far more secure than a 4 digit code.

2) Enable TouchID 

To add an additional layer of security, enable fingerprint authentication. This can easily be done in the Settings. Make sure you have enabled the "Phone Unlock" setting.

3) Change your Hotspot Password

Though the default password is stronger in iOS 9 than it used to be, you should change the default password to a stronger one of your choosing. The default password can be found on the internet and would allow anyone who knows that password to be able to connect to your hotspot. Changing the default password is a common best practice.

4) Require Password for Every Purchase

With this enabled, you will be prompted to enter your password or TouchID for every purchase in the App Store and iTunes. This prevents unauthorized purchases and adds an additional layer of security in the event your device is lost or stolen. When you see the prompt below, choose "Always Require".

5) App Privacy

Apps have become quite good at sneaking permissions that impose on your privacy such as location tracking and information gathering. When you install an app and receive a prompt such like the one seen below, select "Don't Allow". It is common for an app to track your location in the background, even when you are not using the app. You may also want to go through your apps that are already installed and disable location tracking in them too.

6) App Permissions

When you are downloading apps, take the time to go over the permissions the app is requesting from your device. It is common for apps to request permissions they do not need and many of these permissions can be used to steal data from you such as your contacts or other private information. If an app wants any of these imposing permissions, you will see the prompt below. Always select "Don't Allow". For apps that are already installed, you can manually go through them and change the privacy settings to "Off".

7) Enable "Find My iPhone"

Time and time again, the "Find My iPhone" feature has assisted the police with locating stolen devices. If you are concerned with locating your device if it has been lost or stolen, enable this feature in your Settings. But please note, by enabling this feature you are allowing Apple to track your device. 

If you must use a mobile device, securing your mobile device is critically important. More and more attackers are targeting mobile devices and this will only increase as time goes by. Do what you can, with what you have. 

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