Internet Security

At a computer club meeting a few days ago we were discussing how to stay safe on the internet, receiving emails, etc. Of course there are AV and malware programs one can run, which help, but it was the consensus opinion that the biggest deterrent to getting a virus or malware is us and common sense.

One of the items discussed was the use of shortened URL links, and how they possibly could contain malware, or direct one to a malicious website. It's possible for one's email address to be hijacked and emails sent out under your name and which contain a malicious link. For example, you might receive something like this: "take a look at oogle news here". Although it says "Google News" you don't know where clicking that shortened URL will take you. Before clicking it you should put the cursor on the link and at the bottom of the screen it will show you where the link actually goes.

Another approach is to simply use almost the full URL like this:

ctually, here is the full URL:  ne can simply delete all the verbage starting with the ? mark and to the right. This will simplify a long URL.

Just something to think about if you receive emails with shortened URLs. And be cautious of what you click, either on a website on in an email.

Jim Hamm

App Security Protection

If you use Facebook, Twitter or Google apps, here is an article you may want to read about improving your security. There is a section discussing how to do a security checkup, which I found interesting. Out of curiosity, I clicked the Google checkup and, voila!, I was surprised at the info on me that came up.

Remember, Google knows everything and never forgets. Time for you to do your security checkup.

Jim Hamm

Security for a Smart Home

If you have, say, a smart home and several smart devices lying around, perhaps you have read of the possible hacking of your home or devices.  If you are concerned and would like additional security protection, here's an article reviewing three security devices: CUJO, Dojo and Keezel.

If you're really, really geeky, here is another article with a review of one of the devices: CUJO. 

After reading both articles I've concluded I want none of the devices. I don't have a smart home, and I'll protect my computers and smart devices another way.

Jim Hamm

Security and the Internet of Things

Should you have an interest in reading it, here is a somewhat-lengthy blog discussing the security aspects of hackers being able to access so many electronic devices via the internet, and the security danger therein.

He likens many devices as to really being a computer with just another function -- like a Nest thermostat or an Amazon Echo, for example -- and easily controlled remotely -- by you or a hacker.

As he mentions, we -- collectively -- have left security to the market place, for better or worse. We all get security updates and patches to our computers, tablets and smartphones. All with the intent to improve security. But how about all the other electronic devices we own? How often, if ever, is a security update given to those devices, or the software program contained therein? Never?

Jim Hamm

The Ultimate Comparison of Nearly Every VPN on the Market

If a VPN might be in your future, here is an article that may/may not be of help. I found all the data to be a bit confusing, and to be more useful the headings need to be repeated every 5 lines or so in order for one to know what he/she is looking at in all the details. When on a public wifi network I do use a VPN. This way, I don't have to worry about someone 'listening' in on my wifi transmissions.

Jim Hamm

Avast Presentation

Recently a gentleman gave a presentation at a PC Club in Prescott on installing the Avast Antivirus program. Although the presentation was oriented for PCs, most of his presentation applies to Macs as well. For your possible interest, I've included a link to his presentation. As a side note (and I've mentioned this previously), I use the free Avast AV program on my Mac and PC, and have done so for many years. For a free AV program, I think it is a fine program.  Read about it here . Jim Hamm

AntiVirus Test Results

Following is an article describing the results of an independent lab testing various AV programs and recently publishing the results. You can see the rankings and comments for both Mac and Windows AV programs. I'm a believer in using an AV program -- just in case.

Jim Hamm

PCWorld: Google Chrome will flag deceptive download buttons in ads as a security threat

Here is another reason why Jim Hamm uses Chrome as his browser of choice. He rarely downloads anything from the internet, but when he does, this feature will be helpful.Google Chrome will flag deceptive download buttons in ads as a security threat PCWorld

Google is taking another aggressive step towards correcting deceptive practices on the web. The company recently announced Chrome will throw up a warning page if it detects a user heading to a webpage with deceptive download buttons attached to an ad. The new warning is in line with the company’s social engineering policy announced in November, Google said in a blog post. Google "An example of a deceptive download button contained in an ad". To read this article in full or to leave a comment, Read the full story Shared from Apple News

Avast Antivirus

For your possible interest, here is a current review of the Avast Antivirus program. Jim Hamm has used the free version of Avast for years on both his PC and Mac. He likes it, but it does occasionally do a popup, asking you something, or possibly to upgrade to the paid version. Often enough to be noticeable, but not aggravating -- at least for him. Whether one needs to run an AV program or not, especially on a Mac, certainly has proponents both ways. For Jim, the possible added protection is desirable. Your mileage may vary.

7 Free Anti-Virus Tools For Your Browser: Scan Links Before You Click

We all want to avoid getting a virus on our computer, and practice safe 'surfing' on the 'net. But, if you want to add another layer of protection to your browsing, read the following article:

I use Safari on my iPad, but prefer the Chrome browser on my computer. One other security tip I use is, if I get an email -- even from a friend -- that only has a web link but no message, I don't click it. If, say, my friend's email has been hijacked, the hackers send out nefarious links to all the email addresses in my friend's contacts, but they don't include any message, like, hey, Jim, take a look at this article on blah blah.

I'll probably use the extension for Chrome referenced in the article, just to see how it works. I'm not paranoid about internet security, but do prefer to be cautious.

Jim Hamm

There is a NEW Sophos for Mac

Sophos Home includes all the features of Free Mac AV with a sleek new user interface that allows you to protect all computers in your home (Mac and Windows) from a single interface. And yes, it’s still free. When downloaded and installed, this new interface, called Sophos Home, replaces the existing Sophos Antivirus application.

There is a totally new interface, in fact, two new interfaces. One is an app that runs on the computer and the other is a web interface accessed at for which you are required to create a free account. Both will allow you to run a scan on the computer, but the web app is where you define or configure how Sophos checks for trouble.

From the computer app, you can only scan the computer or turn on or off a protection. From the Web interface, you have complete control of how each of your computers are protected.

There are three kinds of protection. These are Automatic Virus Protection and Web Protection. The virus protection can also check for Potentially Unwanted Applications in real time and prevent them from being installed - and you an override this if you really want to install an app that you are sure will cause your computer no harm.

In the web protection, there are three categories. These are General InterestSocial Networking & Computing, and Adult & Potentially Inappropriate. For each category there are numerous items to select one of three levels of protection for each item. These are AllowWarn, and Block.

It is still recommended to do a full scan after installing just to let Sophos know it has done that at least once. Thereafter, it may not be needed to do another full scan since the system is being protected in real time.

The only caveat that I might mention here is that blocking some items can result in your not being able to view attached images that someone sends you. Tinkering is allowed.

John Carter

Acronis True Image 2016

For your possible interest, here is a special offer to purchase the subject computer backup program at a special price: one for $25 or four for $60. The Acronis program is available for a PC or a Mac. This would make a nice Christmas gift for someone. I've used Acronis for years on my PC (and it works fine) but haven't tried it yet on my Mac. I've used Super Duper for an image backup on my Mac, but may give Acronis a try. The pricing is certainly great.

I've known Gene Barlow for years, and he and his wife are very reputable and nice people, so have no concern in ordering from them. I'm not on any commission or remuneration basis with Gene (he doesn't know I'm sending this out). I'm just referring this offer to you since I think it is a good deal, and a good way to backup your computer -- which, I think, is a very good idea.

Jim Hamm

Pure VPN

For your possible interest, and as a follow-on to my discussion of VPNs (Virtual Private Network) last Wednesday at the Az-Apple meeting, I recently purchased PureVPN for $69 for a "lifetime" subscription. Details here. Although it says "lifetime", the initial subscription is for 5 years; then, presumably, one can renew for another 5 years free. One can use PureVPN on 5 devices. I've installed it on two iPads, a MacBook Air, and a PC running Windows 10. So far it seems to be working fine, and, in theory, will protect me from snoopers when I'm on a public wifi network -- which I use frequently when we travel.

I'm not necessarily recommending PureVPN -- I'm only letting you know about a VPN service that is reasonably priced, and seems to work well -- at least so far. A review of PureVPN can be read here.

Initially I had some difficulty getting it installed on my Mac (first installation) due to a password problem. Ultimately found out that I needed two sets of passwords -- one to get the program and another set (different) to use the program. With this knowledge, installing it on my PC (last installation) was dead simple -- and I'm using PureVPN as I type this on my PC..

The first set will be your email address and a password, and the second set will be a username and password you will need to actually log in and start using the VPN service. Keep this in mind and you should have no problem. PureVPN has a 24/7 live chat service, and from them I found out my password problem. This chat service was helpful.

If you only use wifi at home on a secure network, you probably don't need a VPN service. But, if you use public wifi, the use of a VPN may protect you from snoopers. If you use cellular on your iPad or tablet, then you won't need a VPN as a cellular connection is considered reasonably secure from snooping.

Here's a short video from David Pogue ( Editor for Yahoo Tech) that will show how exposed your computer might be in a coffee shop on public wifi.

Jim Hamm