Archive for the ‘Network Related’ Category

October 2015 was declared National Cyber Security Awareness Month by President Obama as a way to educate both the private and and public sectors about the importance of Cybersecurity.

What is Cybersecurity?  In a nutshell Cybersecurity is a managing cyber risks; measures taken to protect a computer or computer system against unauthorized access or attack.

In today’s interconnected world the internet is a part of almost all aspects of your daily life, whether you realize it or not.  We all have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.  Almost all of us have online banking or some sort of personal information (PI) stored online.  Perhaps, prior to a visit to a new doctors office you had to fill out a medical history in an online web portal.

At home or at your place of work you may get phishing emails asking you to click on a link to update your bank account information or to confirm your Facebook password.  You could even get a phone call from ‘Microsoft’ telling you that your personal computer has been infected with a virus and that they need remote access to help you fix the problem.

All of these and the many other ways we interact online are subject to constant attack by unscrupulous ‘hackers’.

Here are some basic rules to follow to promote good online safety habits.

Always Keep a Clean PC

  1. Keep security software up to date:  Having the latest security software, web browser and operating systems are the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  2. Automate Software updates: Many software programs can automatically update themselves to defend against known risks.  Make sure you enable these automatic updates if the option is available.
  3. Protect all devices that connect to the Internet:  Computers are not the only devices that need protection. Smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.  Make sure to regularly check with manufacturers to ensure that you have applied the latest patches and updates for each device.
  4. Plug and Scan:  USB drives, memory sticks, and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware.  Use your security software to automatically scan these devices when plugged into your computer.

Protect your Personal Information

  1. Secure your accounts: Look for multi-factor authentication.  Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.  It could be a secondary image, or a security question or even a single use token code.  If it is available make sure you enable it for additional security.
  2. Make passwords long and strong: A longer password using a seemingly random combination of capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols is more secure and harder to crack.
  3. Don’t reuse passwords: Separate passwords for every online account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  4. Keep your passwords safe: More complex passwords are easier to forget. If you must keep a list, store it in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
  5. Be responsible with your online presence:  You should always review your privacy and security settings for all online accounts.  Set the levels to a level you are comfortable with for sharing personal information.  It is far better to limit with whom you share information than to grant everyone access.

Connect Carefully

  1. When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  2. Wi-Fi hotspots and you:  When you are connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots in public places you should always limit the type of online activities and business you conduct.  Make sure the security settings on your device limit the access to your machine.
  3. Protect your finances: When shopping or banking online, check to make sure that the site is secured with a valid SSL certificate.  Make sure the web address starts with with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to encrypt your information. A web address that starts with “http://” is not secure.

Web Wisdom

  1. Back it up: Protect your valuable work, photos, music or other digital information by making sure you have a copy and storing it safely.  You could use the operating systems built in tools or third party applications to back up your computer or device and store it on another electronic medium.
  2. Think before you act:  Be wary of communications that implore you to “ACT NOW”, or offers something that sounds too good to be true.  Another red flag is anything that asks for personal information.
  3. Stay Current:  Always keep abreast of the latest security information to ensure that you know the newest ways to stay safe online.  Share this information among friends, family and colleagues.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a dedicated section on their website for Cybersecurity (DHS Cybersecurity) with sections for all sorts of different areas of focus.

Another great place for resources and tips is the website StaySafeOnline.org they have sections on personal security, as well as business resources.

By using common sense and a little ‘healthy caution’ you should be able to stay safe while being online.


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If you have children at home and you use a broadband connection, eventually they are going to want to get on the internet.  It is always a good idea to try and police their network activity and of course explain to them the dangers of the internet.  But at some point they are going to be able to get online without your direct supervision, be it an iPod, or a tablet, or even their own laptop through your WiFi.  To help protect them I suggest you use OpenDNS to provide a level of protection.  OpenDNS allows you to replace your ISP’s DNS servers with theirs and if you set up a free account online with them you’ll also be able to configure a level of protection.  You can automatically block access to questionable sites just by enabling web filtering.  They have several layers of filtering.

If you are using Verizon FIOS for your internet access here is how you go about enabling this setting.

On your home network you need to access your FIOS router.  This is done via a web browser and the ip address is usually, but check first by running IPConfig on a local computer and seeing the ‘default gateway’ address.  Once you get the logon screen up in your browser it should look like this.

Once you get logged onto the router find the My Network icon, and then click Network Connections on the left menu.

Now you will see a list of connections.  You should find the Broadband Connection (It should have a status of Connected and be in green).  One the right side of the item in the list you need to click on the icon to Edit.

You should now be in the Broadband Connection properties page.  Head to the bottom and find the Settings button.

Click that button to get in to the settings and about halfway down the page you should find a drop down box for DNS Server.  Select that drop down and change to “Use the Following DNS Server Addresses”.

Another two sections should open up to allow you to enter the ip addresses for the OpenDNS servers.

The ip addresses are and After you enter them make sure you click Apply at the bottom of the page.

After that you may need to flush the DNS Cache on your computer before it will kick in and you need to sign up with OpenDNS to take advantage of the web filtering. Now you should be taking advantage of their features and feel a bit safer when allowing your kids to browse the web.

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