Thursday, February 5, 2015

How to Secure Your Information on Your PC

In a modern society that technology has enhanced so much, people access the internet in different ways. They go shopping online, read the online news, chat with friends, post on Facebook, and they even manage their bank account online. As a result, hackers have started to find more and more ways to steal your personal information from your personal devices. It seems that most people don’t have any perspective on how important it is to have a good habit using and securing their personal device.

Open clips from pixabay
There are many different efficient ways of securing your personal information. For example, you can update your operating system to the newest version from the official website. operating systems always have bugs. The insiders report bugs and the developers fix the bugs. They always work hard to find and fix bugs on newer operating systems to sell them better. Old operating systems, like Microsoft’s Windows XP, are gradually ignored by the developers because no one uses them anymore, and that has a huge impact on the user’s security. For example, according to Microsoft, “There is a sense of urgency because after April 8 2014, Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.” Any other bug found on the old operating system will not be fixed any more. This gives hackers a chance to attack your computer to steal your account info or to control your computer for illegal use. “One risk is that attackers will have the advantage over defenders who choose to run Windows XP because attackers will likely have more information about vulnerabilities in Windows XP than defenders.”

Unfortunately, there was a serious bug found right after Windows XP’s end of support which provides a good example to show how dangerous it is if people are using an out of date operating system: Heartbleed. “Heartbleed is a security vulnerability in OpenSSL software that lets a hacker access the memory of data servers. According to Netcraft, an Internet research firm, 500,000 Web sites could be affected. That means a user's sensitive personal data -- including usernames, passwords, and credit card information -- is potentially at risk of being intercepted.”  This bug is severe enough to steal all your user information, including your password of your email, and even your debit card. It involved all HTTPS websites. HTTP is not encrypted, but HTTPS is encrypted with OpenSSL. Considering the profit of the users that were still using Windows XP, Microsoft decided to fix that bug on Windows XP but it was also the last bug that was fixed by Microsoft after the end support of Windows XP. If any other severe bugs are found in the future, Microsoft will not be responsible to fix it. Therefore, it is in people’s best interest to update their system software to the newest versions available. Tech support for those is key in keeping yourself secure. And, while bugs on an operating system do affect users’ security, but what’s more harmful is a virus.

Installing an antivirus software is very important because antivirus programs fully protect the computer by scanning the entire hard drive on your personal device. It can identify almost any virus that has been seen because developers update their virus definitions regularly. “hese updates are important because new viruses are released every day, and they can go undetected if the virus scanner is not up to date.” It blocks any suspicious activity and virus before they can impact your personal device. “Antivirus programs block malicious tracking software from being downloaded to your computer. Tracking software is used to steal credit card, banking and personal information”. Antivirus software not only can provide a safe environment for your operating system, but also can scan for viruses in your cloud drive “Cloud antivirus is a technology that uses lightweight agent software on the protected computer, while offloading the majority of data analysis to the provider's infrastructure.” It exists everywhere, but sometime you don’t notice it. For example, before you download a ZIP file from Google Drive, it will automatically scan virus for you:. You really need anti virus softwares if they really "use" their computer. You can get a virus any time, when you're browsing the internet or downloading files from a thumb drive.

What you can also do to secure your information is have good habits when using your personal device. Researchers found that most Android phones have been infected with malware that send spam to the users. "The trend is only moving in one direction," In BBC. "The criminals are sharing information between themselves and they are learning about how to improve the efficiency of their attacks." Don’t forget to logout after you use the website. There’s lots of funny example of what happens if you forget to log out.

In conclusion, in order to secure our personal information, we have to upgrade our OS, install an antivirus software and have a good habit using your device.

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Updated on Mar 5 2015

Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring comments!

After going through your commons, a few of you mentioned about the internet being controlled or verified by someone to make us safe on the internet. Those are great points, but just like I said, If the internet is controlled by the government, our freedom on the internet will decrease. Just like North Korea. The government will post whatever their opinions are and you won't be able to see a variety of websites. We should have the ability to protect our selves. Though internet shouldn't be controlled by the government, young kids still shouldn't be exposed to too many websites, especially those which requires to register and might sell your information or install spam on your computer. I did some research and read a few articles, I recommend parents to get involved in what websites does their kid browse and what app do they use. When dealing with inappropriate websites, I recommend parents to create a special account for their kids and use "Parent Control", it's an account setting (type) that's available in OS X or Windows.


After doing this blog, I feel the major difference between people discussing online between China and the US. You give your valuable ideas and positive things on these blogs, but if a Chinese guy see it, he'll probably ignore this or leave some kind of span in the comments.

Thank you

Bibliography

10 comments:

  1. Very engaging post and well chosen image. My class has also looked at the Heartbleed bug. Here is a link to a tweet I posted at the time with some additional references https://twitter.com/mrlemarquand/status/454418618248216577. It had a large impact on Canadians filing their taxes. We were amazed to learn that only a handful of people maintain the SSL code. If I may provide some clarification, Heartbleed was so frustrating because it was not unique to specific operating systems and there was nothing that users could do until a web company patched their servers. Only then was it useful for users to change their password. Best of luck as you continue exploring digital literacy. Mr. Le Marquand

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    1. Mr. Le Marquand, thank you so much for your comment and your clarification of Heartbleed. We shared the same links with our students last year when it struck! But explaining how it worked, what the problem was, and why passwords needed changing ASAP was definitely a challenge. :)

      Thanks for visiting us here!

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  2. AMD♂NVIDIA, it seems like the world can always use more advice on how to keep our digital devices secure, so thank you for providing these helpful tips. Do you have a recommendation for a good antivirus software? I know several people who use it, but others resist installing it on their laptops and desktop computers because it seems to slow operations way down, particularly if you are using an older machine. How do you protect your computer without compromising its efficiency? And how susceptible are you to viruses without the software? Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Hi Ms. Gerla,
      Different anti-virus softwares have many different functions, windows 8 has it's official anti-virus software Windows Defender that come with the system. It depends on what you do on your computer and how careful you are when downloading and installing softwares. For me, Windows Defender works well, I don't install software from suspicious source and Google Chrome block most of the unsafe website and files for me. I would recommend Kaspersky Lab if you wanna buy an anti-virus software, also 360 Totally Security is a free one that has created and maintained by a Chinese company, it's free but reliable, especially for old computer running Windows XP, and it won't slow it down too much.

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  3. Hello,AMD♂NVIDIA! Thank you so much for sharing this article with us. The social and digital devices secure has always been a hot and important topic as always. Since I used to be attacked by a virus and my laptop broke down for 1 week. What kind of ways are really effective. Like the example of Windows XP you mentioned, does Microsoft still have the problem which Windows XP used to have. Thank you so much for sharing the tips to keep everyone's digital devices security.

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    1. Hi Dr.BoomBoom,
      Thank you for your reply, I feel sorry about your experience on your laptop, but if you are still using Win XP on any of your computer, I strongly recommend you to upgrade to Win 8, I'm positive that there's still a lot of bugs on Win XP that will not be reported or fixed. If your PC is too old, you should at least install an anti-virus software and be careful using it, try not to put too much personal things especially online banking stuff.

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  4. Hi there! This was a very interesting article, and very helpful too, as the online hackers increase daily. I think that overall, the idea of someone stealing your personal information from their own home is a bit frightening to many people. I am wondering, however what is your argument? Do you think that technology sites need to be better at securing information, or do you believe the internet is too risky of a place to share any information at all? According to the New York Times, an article titled "Need Some Espionage Done? Hackers Are for Hire Online" explores the deep sites of the Internet and this evil website where you can actually pay people to hack information! Do you think that the online hackers and the amount of information given online has crossed the line? Furthermore, after reading this article by you, and the New York Times article, I am wondering what your opinion is on how we can stop this phenomena! Overall, thank you for the tricks and tips we can use to possibly help prevent q hacker!! -Helen

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    1. Hi, Helen, I'm trying to make the point that we're not always safe on the internet and we have to protect our self. I agree that some people feel using the internet is too risky, but in my opinion, as long as you can protect your self, the internet is useful and important. Air planes are safer on the ground but they just like to fly.

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  5. Hi,
    Thanks for some of the points you made here because often time this kind of topic, as far as security is concerned, is kindof a concerning one. In my opinion, the fact that we actively have to PROTECT ourselves from being exposed or from people we don't know (and don't even know us) and from having our information used by others is deeply disturbing and says a lot about what's really going on when you're using the internet. Do you feel like there's something wrong with the way the web as a whole is run? What could be done to fix it?

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    1. I think the internet is fine because putting some stuff on some one or some companies domain is their own right, but using virus to hack computers and take money from some one else's bank account is totally illegal. Sometimes "virus" is just an ad or only spam that will send ad to your computer. So I think we can't do too much to the internet personally, and if the government involve in verifying the websites that's being published, we will be safe but we're also away from many other thing on the internet. For example North Korea has their own internet, and only permitted with special authorization and primarily used for government purposes, and even you get the permit, you can only browse a few websites which is controlled by the government.

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