Importance of a VPN

VPN

First let’s start by answering the question, what is a VPN? A VPN is known as a Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows us to connect to our work and have a secure tunnel connection to the office. It can also provide us with a secure way to pass traffic from our smartphone or computer while we are using public WIFI.

Why are either one of these important to us? When you are sitting at home and you are working on your office computer and you use a VPN your computer will act just as it does when you are sitting at your desk. This happens because when you connect the VPN you are basically running a network cable from your office network back to your home. But with the power of the Internet and a VPN connection we don’t need the wire, hence the Virtual Private Network. Once you connect to your office all of your traffic is going through a secure tunnel. This will keep hackers from intercepting your traffic and using it against you or your company. But even more so it allows you if you are a technology person to work on your network and bring up servers just as you would sitting at your desk.

So what can a VPN offer if you are just on your smartphone in a coffee shop? Again the VPN will provide your traffic to be secured from anyone in the coffee shop who might be scanning for Internet traffic. All of you traffic will be going out of your office or home Internet connection. Remember it will act just as if you are sitting at your desk.

Wonder if you don’t have a VPN at home to connect to? Can you still use a VPN and be safer when you are accessing your banking from a public Internet connection? There are many FREE VPN services on the Internet that you can set up an account on and connect to them for that same piece of mind. I found this site for you that has a listing of FREE VPN sites you can use. FREE VPN SITES.

Think of it this way. It will take you one extra step before you access any secure sites on the Internet such as your banking site. You will have to first connect to the VPN then open the sites you want to use. But then again wouldn’t it be easier to just open your car door and run to the mall? None of us would do this, we would first turn off the car and lock the doors. Think of the VPN and locking the door on your Internet traffic.

Network Firewalls

Firewall

Network firewalls are built to keep the bad guys out of your network while allowing your users to maintain high availability to the Internet resources they wish to use. Setting up a corporate firewall takes time and some planning. Your first objective should be to know what to allow to come into your network from the outside world. I begin with a drawing like the one above. When you allow traffic from the outside world you should only allow a direct connection from the company or service you wish to use. Next we begin to write up any static routes we might need. These items might be a mail server or maybe your web server. Also remember after you setup the static routes you then open the correct ports to that internal IP address. Remember to allow any internal traffic to go out of your network. One tip to keep in your back pocket is if you ever get a rouge machine on your network spamming emails. If you use off site email services simply deny port 25 SMTP traffic from going out of your network. Planning is everything so that you don’t run into issues using the Internet. The last word of advice is to revisit your firewall configuration at least once ever six months. Also buy a firewall large enough to pass the bandwidth that you have, you don’t want it to become a bottle neck for your Internet traffic.

Protect Your Computer

With all of this talk about the NSA or National Security Agency watching everything we do and monitoring all of our cell phone calls, don’t you want to protect your computer from prying eyes?

Okay now I don’t really believe that the government has the time of day to watch what I am doing on the Internet. But I know there are millions of hackers in this world that would like to get into everyones computers. They enjoy digging and looking for useful information.

We could talk about a thousand reasons to protect your computer, but what I teach people is that you want to protect your computer so that you can sleep at night.

The easiest way to protect your computer is to be sure you have the firewall turned on. On Windows you can find the firewall in the Control Panel then under Security. On the Mac, you will find it under Preferences and Security/Privacy.

What does a firewall do? Simply allows you to put up a virtual brick wall between your computer and the Internet. Although not non-hackable but a small brick wall is better then no wall at all. Now turn on those firewalls!

Firewall

Your Being Watched

Since I write about technology and a lot of times how it changes our lives I thought I would talk to you about what you most likely already knew.

In this world and at this time we are always being watched. Do I mean big brother with a satellite beaming down and watching us in our homes? No, what we are talking about is everywhere you go and almost every store you walk into you are on cameras. People watching our every move. Sort of, I’ll get to that in a moment.

Once my brother in-law was traveling on the turnpike and as he approached the toll booth he discovered with great horror that he had no cash for the toll. Not knowing what to do and since this is 2014 and the turnpikes still did not have a swipe and go with our credit cards, he drove through and keep going. Three to Four days later he received a ticket in the mail with a picture of his license plate. The camera caught him.

As you walk down the streets of most major cities in the USA you will find cameras hanging everywhere. This makes me feel safer because I know that the police can’t be everywhere. But for the bad guys this is like putting the law on every corner.

My thought of you really being watched all of the time. I used to work in retail theft prevention. We had cameras covering almost every corner of the store and they were all displayed on about forty monitors in the security office. We watched one at a time. So you have a 39/1 percent chance that I would miss what you might be doing.

The next time you walk around you city look above your head and see what you might see looking back at you. And when you walk into stores look around for dooms hanging from the ceilings.

Security

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2 Step Verification

Yesterday we talked about security and keeping your digital life safe and personal. Today I was digging around and learning more about 2 step verification. And I found a cool app I wanted to share with everyone.

The app is called, Google Authenticator. This app can be installed for FREE onto your IPhone or Android phone and it allows you to lock it down! I locked my GMail accounts down this morning and it only took me a few minutes.

So how does this add extra security? Easy it adds a layer of security that you are adding to only allow you to access the computer you are sitting at. How does it do this? Easy download the app and then turn to your computer. Visit: Google 2 Step Verification. Log into the site with the account you want to secure. Once you answer a few questions you will see a QR code. Scan this with the app on your phone and it will link the two together.

Once you link the app with your account you will need to authorize each computer you wish to use to access your email. You do this only once every 30 days.

So might this be a pain in the side? Sure security is not easy and it is not suppose to make life easier for you. But it will keep you safe and allow you to sleep better at night. Setup you 2 Step Verification today.

Google Lock

 

Security

Need I say more? In our line of work we see a large lack of security every where we turn. I wanted to give you some thoughts about how you control and secure your digital life.

I treat my digital security just as I treat my personal physical security. What I mean is that I always lock my house and my car when I walk away from them. I also have to always lock my computer screen before walking away from from my machines.

Passwords: Why do so many people in every work place in the world think that is okay to tell each other their passwords? Let me give you a wake up call! People get fired all the time, people leave companies all the time and people can be resentful. They might remember something you said, or you might have showed them a email or maybe they just might delete all of your working files before the hit the door? What ever the case you never ever give your password to anyone.

Now let me reflect this back to my physical items. If one of my co-workers ask me for the keys to my house, I wouldn’t hand them over. If someone in my work place I didn’t even know walk up to me and ask me for car keys, I am not handing them over to them. You need to protect your digital life in the same manner.

I know a lot of you reading this are using the same password for you work accounts that you use for your personal accounts. So go ahead and give someone your password to access your email and next thing you know your banking account is zero! You just do not know?

The bottom line is take a minute or two each day to think about protecting your digital life. And always LOCK your computer before you walk away from your computers.

Hacking

Teaching Common Sense

If you are sitting at your desk right now and your looking around do you see your password taped anywhere? Think about the last time you changed your password; don’t lie to yourself say the day and date out loud. Can’t remember right?

What about your working documents and spread sheets? How many of those do you have on your desktop so you can access those just as easy as someone walking by your computer? Before leaving your Windows computers, “Hold down the Windows Key and hit L”. This will lock your computer.

Do you use online storage, I wrote about them here in the past, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or any of the other hundreds? Do you encrypt your files using True Crypt before uploading it to those sites? Why not True Crypt is FREE and easy to use.

The great point that the IU13 team was sharing with us is that you have to care for your networks and data. You have to lock it down before someone finds a pass key into your stuff. Just how secure are your honeymoon pictures?

I will be doing a video soon on True Crypt for my You Tube channel. We need to get secure folks and I want to help everyone who follows this blog.

Crypt