MBIT Web Design

Online safety at home

The internet is everywhere, in a world where you can get free Wifi but not food, the youth of today are growing up with a galaxy of information and tools, at their fingertips. 

I remember seeing Windows 95 for the first time, thinking wow. Then being bowled over with Windows 98 and our first dial up connection. As a kid I was never into computers or game consoles. I didnt understand what the internet was; and if I had homework to research something, it was done in a library. Or id rent a video on the subject and wing it.

Now at 35, with a family of my own, I am responsible for ensuring that they remain safe both in and out of the house. And people, it is hard. There was a time, where if the kids were in the house, they were safe. But now, with online bullying, predators, hackers and everything inbetween, I have had to up my game. Fortunatly, over the years I have made a career in the IT industry and understand more than most, what is out there and what can be prevented.

This post will hopefully help guide you through the online minefield to protec you and yours from all but the most dedicated threats and intruders.

Firstly, having an internet connection in your house is like swapping the walls for clear glass windows and inviting the world to come take a look. So lets begin to first of all to look at the “front door”. The router.

Router - Front Door

These come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure you change the default password to something that cant be guessed. Special characters, upper and lower case letters and numbers all help create a strong password. Next is the encryption, make sure it is set to at the very least WPA. Leaving it as NONE is not wise.

Devices - Back Door

Now your “front door” is locked, lets look at what hangs off  your local network. Anything that connects to the internet is a potential back door. Phones, tablets, computers, SMART TV, games consoles all can be hacked. Make sure they have up to date virus protection and updates installed and that where possible you scan for threats. There is no point having the most secure computer, if your tablet is open for the world to hack. Most devices have a child profile, this further ties down the device and its capabilities. Its designed to protect children, so my advice. Use it.

Webcams and IP Cameras - Windows and walls.

Did you know that most IP cameras have a default username and password AND have their own IP address? Change any default credentials to make sure you are the only one viewing your prized posessions. Webcams are also vulnerable. Where possible, either dissable the camera when not in use or simply tape over if. The link at the bottom is to the Shodan website. This is like Google for internet devices.

Finally to add a security system. Thats you. Virus protection, updates and a basic knowledge of how all your devices connect to the internet will help keep the nasties out.

My final bit of advice (for now) is that education and conversation go a long way. Take an interest in what your kids are doing online and what games they are playing. Did you know that most games on the google and amazon playstore have online content, such as chat? My next post will focus on these kinds of games and features; and will look who and what is avaialble out there, that can help.

Here is a link to the Shodan website. The internet of internet devices. See for yourself how easy it is to find IP based devices such as security cameras and monitors.

https://www.shodan.io/

Posted 29 weeks ago
Posted 31 weeks ago

Why doesn't your site work for android?

Have you tried the Tumblr app? It opens fine for me. With and without the app.

Posted 31 weeks ago
Posted 31 weeks ago

Fix your slow computer. Tech’y secrets revealed. Ssshhhh.

OK, so we have all been there. Writing a word document, listening to You Tube vids with Facebook on in the background. Then, without warning, your machine grinds to a halt. Que the 1 finger reset.

There is a long list of potential issues, some more serious than others. This post is to advise you on how to maintain a basic level of good housekeeping on your system. Its not difficult, some of it can be automated and all of it will help keep your machine in tip top condition.

First a disclamer, First off, this is advice for windows operating systems. Secondly, if you somehow manage to royal balls up your machine by going off track. Not my fault. With that out of the way, lets begin.

1. Keep it dust free. A clean computer, is a safe computer. Im not talking about the layer of dust which seems to settle minutes after cleaning the house, I mean open it up with the power off and disconnected. Look at the mother board, the intake and outlet fans and the CPU fan. Older machines, ie pre 2005 had a nasty habit of catching fire.  It wasnt the tech that was faulty, but the crap inside that had built up. Computer components can run at very high temperatures. Would you want a dust ball sitting on something at 60 degrees. Use an air duster with a straw to remove the worst of the dust. Perhaps a small hoover to get the worst out. Be delicate and do not to touch the motherboards components. At the end of the day, the fans control the airflow. The airflow keeps the components cool. If the components arent cool, the computer has “issues”.

2. Virus scan. You dont need to pay over the odds for virus protection. Some virus protection software programmes use more of your computers resources defending you from potential attacks, which is fine if you can spare the RAM and CPU performance. Like most people, my day to day computer is a basic off the shelf build, with a few upgrades to keep it current. I use free virus protection from Avast and am confident in saying that I have never had a virus. So scan away and scan regulary. A virus will spoil your machines performance.

3. Digital Housekeeping. Find your C drive properties. For Windows 7 ,usually by right clicking the C drive, select Disk Cleanup. 

image

This will calculate how much space you are able to free up on your hard drive. Once it has run, select all the check boxes and select delete.

4. Error Checking. Again in the C drive properties, again windows 7, select the tools tab. We will use this again in step 5.

image

Select Check now. On windows 7 this will only run, once a reboot has completed, windows 8/10 will do it in the background. Select OK to run the check and reboot as required. In windows 7 after a reboot, the screen will go black with white writing. Dont worry, this is the check. Once it finishes it will go back to the logon screen. Just let it do its thing.

5. Defrag. Remember the properties image above? Now select defrag. This will defragment your hard drive. This is necessary to keep the files on your hard drive in pristeen condition. It can also be configured to run automatically.

6. Desktop. Only keep shortcuts to stuff on your desktop. A shortcut is 1kb in size, compared to the 15 word documents you keep there for ease these are tiny. Lots of documents and programmes on your desktop is a bad idea, it means the machine has to partially load all those up when you log on as well as do what your asking it to do.

7. Reboot.Do not underestimate the power of a controlled reboot. This will fix problems you didnt even know were there. But do it properly. Start -  Shutdown - Reboot. Killing the power will cause hard drive problems so let Windows do it for you.

8. Update. Make sure you have windows update turned on, and the latest updates installed. You can find this by selecting Start - Control panel - System and Security - Windows Update. Ensure these are automatically downloaded and installed by clicking in the check box.

9. Assess. If your machine is inexplicably on a go slow, select Ctrl, Alt+Del. Select the task manager and select processes. Look and see what is using all your RAM (memory). Perhaps its something you can remove or re install to stop it being so RAM intensive.

10. De clutter. If you have a habit of just selecting OK everytime you see an information box, chances are you have programmes installed that you neither want or need. Have a look at your installed programmes and remove as required.

11. My last one, upgrade. Research is key here. Make sure whatever you are upgrading is compatible. RAM, CPUs and Graphics Cards come in so many flavours its difficult to guess and hope it works. A little research will save hours of torment trying to get the kit work.

Posted 31 weeks ago

SEO - Search Engine Optimising

Recently I was asked, “How do i get my page to show on google, in the first 3 pages of results?” My default, throw away answer, was always SEO. That night though, I thought about it and soon realsied that I was wrong.

You see, you could have the best site in the world, optimised to the nth degree. But still be on page 8,723,648 on the google search result. Yes, I agree SEO is important and il cover that at a later date but for now, below are some tips which will ensure you have a bettter page ranking and ultimatly more visitors.

In no particular order, here we go,


1. Links to your page. People need to find your site, just as much as the google web crawlers do. The more high quality and popular pages that contain your link, the more google will take note. For example, a golf equipment online website. Im sure there are plenty out there. Unless you are stocking a one of a kind type of golf club that can only be purchased at your store, your site will be lost with all the others, behind sites which have been around for years. However, if you were able to get a link from golfonline.co.uk to your site (one of the first results when searching for golf gear), google will take note, that there is some kind of link between the popular online store and yours. This in turn will bump up your page on the ranking index.

2. Search engines love fresh content on pages. Rather than re invent the wheel once or twice a year, why not add or embed a blog onto your site. That way, every time you blog - your page gets a fresh update and the search engines take note.

3. Search for yourself. Imagine you are a potential customer, who is new to the area. Make the search as broad or as narrow as you like, but pay attention to the results. On google for example, the first few results are paid adverts (il come on to that later), next is a map of local businesses which match the search criteria, followed by the actual website results, finally followed by more paid adverts. Can you put your link as in point 1, on any of the results which are shown such as Yelp or Google Businesses.  Dont limit yourself. My personal preferance of search engine is google. But not everyone would agree, so use internet explorer, bing, yelp, firefox and chrome. Each will display different results. If you can get in the first 3 pages of all the search engines, you are onto a winner.

4. Decent content. Review your site from time to time. Ask yourself, is my site relevant, does it display all my services. Does it look dated and old. Be carefull when using dates on your site, an old date will make the potential customer think that they are looking at old information.

5a. Get the traffic. Ultimatly, the best way to get your site on the first few pages of a search engine, is to have a popular page which is viewed and used regularly. Advertise your site and get people to open it. Refain from advertising all the elemets of a service you are providing, instead include a line like “50% discount on all stock, click my site for more information”.

5b. Remember point 3. Paid advertising. An almost guarenteed way of ensuring that your advert is on the first few pages of a search. Facebook, google, yelp etc all have paid advertising. Facebook is relativly cheap to advertise and since a lot of people use it, its definalty worth utilising. Search engine advertising is a little more costly, the very basic package being around £80 - £100 per month.This is because its viewed by more people.

6. Finally, apply to have your page indexed. This is free with google and bing however there are no guarentees that it will be sucessfull. My opinion is, its free so give it a try.

Posted 31 weeks ago

Bravein the shavein

Best of luck to Gemma Louise Messenger, who is braveing the Shave on July 27th. Included in the raffle prize is our very own 1 on 1 IT tuition or a PC/Laptop tune up. Please see link below for more details on Gemma’s task.

Gemma Louise Messenger

Posted 32 weeks ago

How easy can you find  your own business online?

Millions of people use google every day. Can they find your business if they search for your services? Try it for yourself, delete your browsing history and cache, then search for your business. What did you find?

Posted 32 weeks ago

Don’t just stick to one platform

As a rule, if I need advice on how to do something, my first stop is YouTube. If I need to buy anything, its Amazon or Ebay. Having a strong online presence, on a variety of platforms, ensures that you reach the largest audience. If I advertise my business on Facebook, Yelp, Tumblr, Google etc, Im already reaching a much wider audience. Using a website in addition to a profile will help cover all the bases.

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Posted 32 weeks ago

Phishing Email story

In my line of work, recognising and teaching people about phishing emails comes as second nature. Most of the time. Yesterday I applied for a new business bank account with Santandare via a popular comparison website. Today, I received an email from Natwest, thanking me for creating a new account and that the card etc will be on its way shortly, they just need some photocopies of my passport etc to finalise the account. I start to question myself. Im pretty sure it was Santandare that I approached. Fortunatly thats where the story ends. I concluded that the email was a phishing email and placed it in the spam tray. Be alert when dealing with emails asking for this type of information. Banks WILL NOT ask for personal information via email. Here endeth the lesson

Posted 33 weeks ago
Posted 33 weeks ago