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Background : Lockerley's computer asistance and what we can do

Security and Privacy : A brief review

About Browsers : Choosing and using

Search engines : What are they and what do they do

About Email : Being secure and aware

General Measures : Some things to consider about security and privacy

FAQs nr 1 : A list of topics

 

lock it cafelogo 01tnSome Background

Back in 2015 it looked like the UK government would progress aggressively its aim to make every government service only accessible through use of a computer terminal.  Of course, that's only practicable if all the people who need to access a service (do see the 2016 Palme D'or winning film I, Daniel Blake?)  have sufficient cash to have a computer, pay for broadband and know what they may need to do. It's never so simple.  There always will be those for whom it will remain an impractical approach for accessing services. 

The TVBC as part of the Romsey Community Schools project established a network of helpful people in each village who would be on hand to give whatever assistance might be required.  Some villages have, indeed, used this service as it was envisaged.  Others, such as Lockerley, uncovered a need to assist in many other ways.  The use of this resource has become less frequent and the service ceased during February 2017.  If help is needed of any kind on any device then the team can be contacted - use the contact us form below, or, have a friend do it for you.

And there is a myriad of different ways in which people wish to acquire, access, or simply use applications and programs.  Setting up a new tablet or phone to access your email, why emails seem to disappear, how to use things called DropBox, YouTube, FaceBook, InstaGram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, setting up your broadband connection, updating your operating system, to make full use of open source (free) applications that, in many cases, offer fully functional alternatives to the fee paying softwares from Microsoft and other vendors.  LibreOffice - similar to OpenOffice - are free fully functional alternatives to the fee paying Microsoft Office suite.  We've resolved email issues, logging in issues and, most importantly, we have given strong advice to anywho wished to know about security and privacy. and so much more. 

Sometimes children, nay, grandchildren, are often able to assist however the skills of the team are still available it's just that now you'll need to contact them - use the form below - and we'll see what can be done.

Security and Privacy

It is said that in UK that the value of theft from privacy, identity hijacking and online fraud exceeds the proceeds of all other crimes - perhaps even including the stock exchange gamblers.  The current mobile phones and tablets make it much more easy for hackers to find information that would describe or confirm the owner's identity; the information is so easily given away.  It can happen every time you use a Google search term or visit a site that requires your email or other ID in order that you can progress to browse further.  Internet shopping, or OnLine shopping is a further source in which your details can evaporate only to condense in some fruadster's data collection.  You can impede this process but it does require a little effort and a little thought each time you use an internet service. In the text below there could be any number of errors and unjustified personal bias - do bring them to my notice for correction.  If you work for a company then their IT department should be directing you and perhaps establishing secure communications strategies and VPNs but perhaps they allow the use of personal IT equipment for company business or perhaps you are just an ordinary person who is now responsible in ways that no school has ever taught you. 

1:  Your choice of browser

The browser is what you use to access the internet.  Many Windows users will be using Internet Explorer or Microsoft's  "more friendly" Edge.  Incidentally, in my opinion, "more friendly" may mean that it is harder for you to know what is really taking place and where your information is being sent.  Apple users, on Mac or iPad, will likely be using Safari. whilst savvy users and those using Linux systems such as Ubuntu or Suse will be likely using Firefox.  As ever there are alternatives.  Chrome, for example, as many say that it is faster than Internet Explorer.  You should not confuse the browser with the search engine - see the next topic. 

How your browser is set up is important.  Because what makes for convenience for you also makes for convenience for snoopers.  All browsers usually have a default setting which balances ease of use with inconvenience but their settings can be altered to protect you more aggressively or to open up your vulnerability.  How much protection you choose to set is going to be affected by how much time you put into the settings and how much consequent hassle you may need to go through each time you want to do something a little more risky.  Some browsers seem to hide the settings options - it's often a gear wheel style icon on the top right of the browser page - so it might take some hunting or some asking. Here are some settings to consider. 

Know what each part of the browser window tells you.  I'm surprised by the number of people who do not know what or where the address bar is or what an internet address - also known as a URL or Uniform Resource Locator - looks like.  Recognise when a site is making some attempt to protect you when it shows https://  in the address bar (rather than the more common http://).  These days any site that handles your personal information - for banking, insurance, health, benefits &c - will be using https:// and you should also see the padlock icon.

Set Do Not Remember me :  If you set this the good news is that your login and password for sites such as your bank and Ebay are not stored on your machine.  Thus they can not be ripped off by a trojan or virus.  Bad news is that you will need to remember your logins and passwords for each site.  And each site should, perhaps must, have a different login and password. 

Set Block Pop Ups : Good news is that this protects the browser from showing unwanted adverts. Bad news is that some sites require pop-ups to be enabled.  My approach for this is to use a second browser - for example you may use Edge usually but you could start up Chrome for rare sites - with the settings appropriately enabled and to use that browser only on that type of site and to close the browser immediately it is no longer needed.

Set Delete Cookies and History on Exit : Good news is that that, depending on which search engine you use, each enquiry can provide fresh answers unaffected by the bias of your history of visiting other sites.  Bad news is that your past experience can be lost.  Some sites require to be able to set cookies - Banks often - so you may need to enable cookies for that session and then rest after you've finished.  You can also set up Do Not Track me and, again, some sites, do require to track you (banks and insurance quotes for example) so that they can be reasonably sure that the information that they provide is going to the right machine.  As a consequence you may have to set and reset the relevant setting. 

Use Ghostery, or similar, add on ;  This is a controversial extra item of software - and add-on - which can be installed to work with your browser.  It looks at the information on each page that browset and, where it sees that there is a reference to an advertising site or a tracking site, it blocks that link from working.  Use your search engine to find Ghostery - it's not the only add-on that does this but it may be the best and allow it to be installed.  Do check that you are only loading Ghostery (or whatever add-on it may be) and not allowing some extra add-on such as a free trial offer, to be loaded as well. The good news - it blocks most pop-up adverts too and can give you a neat picture of what other sites are taking an interest in what you are up to.  There is a slight issue to ponder because the provision of useful information using the internet is often claimed to be only financially possible because of the paid for adverts. Think about other add-ons and check that you really need them.  If the add-ons are for fun then why not install them on a second browser and use that for sites whose morals may not be unassailable. Incidentally Google may be introducing a service that does some forms of pop up and advert filtering but only to promote adverts for which Google may have been paid. 

Bookmarks and favourites: A thorny topic perhaps simply because they are so convenient to set. Perhaps my advice would be to keep the list of such sites short. 

2 : Your choice of search engine

The search engine is the software that you use when you want to find the answer, for example, to <the best wishing machine in england>.  You'll likely have the reply... Did you mean washing machine? and a list of brand names and their website URLs.  This list of search engines - in my order of preference - are fairly common.  They each have some value because the underlying technology - the search algorithms that they use - is different.  Perhaps the only one that does not give preference to adverts in their list of results is DuckDuckGo.  You can set the preferred search engine in each browser that you use. And, again, you might want to set up a second browser with a different search engine  and home page.   Oh ... and home page.  Some folks set their home page to automatically log on to their bank - reall!.  Others automatically log on to a browser based access to their email service!  Both very convenient and, were it a wholly honest world, well it might be OK.  But it's not and I would not advise the use of automatic log on.  Of course you should set your home page to www.lockerley.org.uk but making your preferred search engine your home page is just as good.  The below  list is UK/western world focused. 

DuckDuckGo : Use your current search engine to find it and then install it in your browser.  The good point is that it does not track you and it does not remember you either. Their effort is slightly defeated when you use an iPad or tablet and access the internet through a closed system provider as that provider can - and does - track you. But it is about the best that there is.

Google : Is now so common it has become a verb which means to search for something using the internet.  It is very good at returning valid search results - almost as good a DuckDuckGo possibly - but it does give preference to those sites that pay and you may find the really useful site some way from the first in the list as a consequence. 

Wikipedia : Is a knowledge based search possibly one of the early adopters of the semantic web search technologies. 

Bing : Was Microsoft's search engine.

Yahoo : This is one which many to use but given Yahoo's continuing insecurity breaches in recent years not one that could be unguardedly recommended.

3 : Your email

There's no foolproof secure and private email system and certainly not one which is intuitive to use for 95% of all users of 'phones, tablets and PCs.  Most of the security thinking is simply good practice and looking first before clicking.  Unfortunately the drive to make things easier for the user has the result that the information that you need in order to recognise spam, junk, scam, phishing and can be hidden - too much like being a geek if you need to find it.  OK, so there's a greater risk that you could become a hacker's next breakfast.  So try to recognise when an email address, particularly the Reply To address, is not correct or not what you would expect. Look out for clever miss spellings and almost correct domain names. 

If you have a public email address - these are addresses with endings like hotmail.com, yahoo.co.uk, btinternet.co.uk - then bear in mind that sending a message using them is like sending a post card written in bold characters so that everyone can read it as it travels to the recipient. The relaxation of personal privacy is buried in the terms and conditions of use of the email service - a good read.

Consider never opening an email in full HTML web browser mode.  That's because the code in a web browser message or page can also include code that can be executed on your machine - just as it does for web sites.  Cautious persons create, and read, email using plain ASCII text - it has no fancy font features, no pictures, no added media files and it exposes all of the executable statements so that you can recognise a rogue message easily.  An email that has no ASCII content - it's buried in the HTML of the message - should raise alarm bells. Others, in their approach to security and risk mitigation, do their banking using one specific email and login, they do their internet online buying using another and have at least one more email address for personal use.

The top recommendation is to register your own domain name and to send and receive emails from that domain - it will be another article or two to explain what this means and how to set this up but it is worth it.  A brief summary ... An example of the difference might be ... Let's say  Jane Bloggs has set up her first personal email as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  OK ... hotmail is public and free (free means that she is the meat in the business' sandwich).  Jane keeps her address book, her contacts, her diary and perhaps much more with the hotmail web based service.  We'll imagine that Jane decides to keep her privacy and security a little more tightly. Thus she registers a domain name - for example bloggsielass.net.uk - with one of the many companies that provide this service. She can now set up an email such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and this she can manage herself starting with the transfer of her past email and contact information to the new address and delete and close the old address. Her email address will be independent of whoever she chooses to provide broadband or G4 services and she could set up This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to handle email for all those sites where she has no need to have a real identity.

If you are looking for higher security then you may need to consider using PGP.  Some email service providers have useful guides to setting up such a scheme as are most email programs such as ThunderBird and IceWeasel.  Almost certainly you'll need to work with someone to set it up.  The plus part is that it can be end to end secure.  The negative aspect is that it is more complex to deal with a large number of persons all of who need to be able to use your public key but it does work well.

4:  Security measures

Do keep your PC, tablet or phone operating system up to date.  And, also, keep your core application supdated as well.  That clearly includes the browser.

Avoid installing software or apps you don't need.  Particularly tablets and phones using Android or similar operating systems.  Most apps seem to require your acceptance that they can read your messages, replace them, check your address book and phone records.  You've no way of controlling this other than not using the app.  Apple is a little friendlier and perhaps more secure. Perhaps you should avoid apps or software that require you to give a credit card number from which a monthly amount of "subscription" or "licence to use" is taken.  And be very, very wary of "Free Trial Period ..." because stopping payments for something you never really wanted or needed in the first place can be very tedious. Perhaps you should check what is already installed on your phone or tablet - or indeed your Windows 10 PC - because there can be a large amount of traffic involved and a large amount of data flowing over which you have no control.  With most phone apps you can simply delete them and/or turn them off.  Similarly for Windows 10 ... kill the app and, delete it (another tutorial here perhaps).  You may also discover that your phone, tablet and PC runs more smoothly. 

Install a security app:  Especially on Windows and phones and tablets using Android or derivative operating systems.  Some are free, although you may have to accept the rolling adverts that promote that you subscribe to the pro version.  Good brand names include Comodo, Avast, McAfee. And while security is a topic consider setting the access PIN for the device and/or its password.  A hacker may need this and, more, if you lose the phone and it has been locked your more likely not to lose all of your contact details to some fraudster - you even keep some friends. It goes without saying that you should do this even if your PC or tablet never leaves home ... you don't always have control over those who break in.  Further, Apple's iPad started this but others have followed, do use the track my device option.  It does mean that you accept that Big Brother can track you but, as increasingly is the case, your 'phone is also your identity - don't lose it easily.

Who are you really - your alias :  Taking the cue from some of the comments above relating to browsers and search engines ... Set yourself up with another email address and identity.  The identity will be a fiction, false name, curious birth date and place and your relation to your grand uncle and so on,.  Use this info if you're browsing in uncharted territory.  An email address of spam_my_random_name @hotmail.com  will do ... You should never have to read it... ever!

If you're not using it then close it : If you are using an online resource - for example your bank or Amazon - when you have finished or if you have to take break from labouring at the screen do Log Out and close the window or tab in the browser.  Of course you should not be using auto Log In features such as Remember Me (see above) and you will need to remember the relevant login and password for that account.  And more ... you should not be using the same login, PIN or password for more than one account - they should all be very different.  This is even more relevant if you are using a public or free email service such as Yahoo, Hotmail, BtInterent, GMail and many others.  That's because your personal data, your contacts and your login information is stored on someone elses' servers and it's hackable.  And, worser [sic], the terms and conditions you agree to when you use such email services means that all of the content and the details could be used by the email service provider for marketing purposes. Just about everyone has received a sorry tale type email requesting immediate money to help a friend who is stranded in some country.  That's usually because someone has allowed their email folder to be hacked. 

Avoid using or logging on to open WiFi services :  And do , really do, check the terms of service.  The friendly coffee shop or hotel chain does want to know a lot more about you and your preferences.  And there's worse, because if you can see a WiFi hotspot then other folks can see your machine.  The modifying news is that the so-called Man in the Middle snooping around your machine does require some specialised software. If you need to do this then do consider using free versions of personal VPN (virtual private network) software available for Ubuntu, iOS (apple) and Android and you may want someone around to explain and set it up for you.  Or perhaps do your fun browsing using an alias on a separate machine altogether. 

More than this ... be aware :  There are other things that you can do  without becoming a professional paranoid.  Just be aware of what is going around you - who is watching or moving too close when you're holding the mobile phone or tapping away at a tablet in a public space.  Perhaps concentrate on one thing at a time.  Close it and lock it and password it.  Being aware also means looking to see whether the email sender is really someone that you know and the email address is actually correct and not spoofed and whether the subject line is what you would expect.  If it's at all doubtful then delete it.  If the email is important you'll be sent it again or you can ask the person you know to resend it. And should you be wary of FaceBook, Twitter and all of the other social networking apps.  WhatsApp is in a different class because its message content is ecnrypted end to end though you might still consider using an alias (see above)  so that any data which appears can not be used to impersonate your real identity. 

That's it (for now) on security and if you found it useful then do contact the page author.  Now for some further additions to FAQ below and, eventually, this will become a separate article. 

FAQ

What will be accessible here will be a set of Frequently Asked Questions and these may resolve some issues - and may awaken new ones. Here are some of the issues which we hope will be covered as they were amongst those issues most requested in Computer Cafe meetings.

Can I my migrate my current PC/laptop/All_in_One to Windows 10?  First check whether the technical features of your device - RAM, disc space, processor type - meet the requirements. What do these terms - RAM, GByte, Hard Disc, pixel &c - mean anyway ...?  

What is security all about.  Surely the virus scanner is all I need.  No, it's barely even a start if you are using Windows.  The issue of security, identity and privacy is a serious one. TBC

Do I have to use Windows 10? No You can use a free alternative such as Ubuntu - which, for example, is used to run this website.  It offers all of the functionality that Windows offers in a simpler manner and without the perpertual badgering by advertisers and the threat of trojans and virus.  All of the key desk top apps are free and ready to use - so word processing, spreadsheets, graphix &c are all there and they can import and produce files that are compatible with Microsoft's Office system ... and it's free; no annual payment no subscription.  It's about three times faster and it does not have the virus, trojan and rootkit vulnerability of Windows.  TBC

OK but Ubuntu is not known to me, is there an alternative?  Yes you could purchase an apple Mac in desktop, All-in-One or laptop format.  It will cost significantly more than a Windows machine and thus more that a machine running Ubuntu. TBC

Can I migrate my tablet to Windows 10?  No, as far as I know if it came with Windows 10 that's it.

I've heard about Firefox and perhaps I've heard mention of DuckDuckGo what are these and should I be using them?  Firefox is a browser like Google Chrome or Micosoft's Internet Explorer.  DuckDuckGo is a search engine like Google, Bing and so on.  I recommend, strongly, to use Firefox and DuckDuckGo as your main methods to access the internet.  Reasons why ... TBC

I have acquired a device - PC or laptop - using Windows 10 how do I .... stop it from doing things I don't want it to. TBC

How do I access the real government websites for tax, pensions, passports, EHIC (while we are still in the EU)?

I want to use Windows 10 email how do I set that up? There are at least three ways. [1} use the browser to access webmail as you have probably already done in the past and ignore OutLook and Mail [2] Use Mail and or OutLook [3] Use a proper email program such as ThunderBird. TBC

Can I use my old email address when I [A] change my device [B] change my broadband provider?  That may depend.  So, how do I keep the same email address if I do change the supplier of my broadband service?

What is DropBox, how do I use it and is it free?  Easy to use, and, at present, it's free up to about 2GByte of storage use.  You do need to keep changing the contents otherwise the DropBox account will laps and the content will be deleted.  It is a public site so, if you wish your content to be private you will need to encrypt it before placing in your DropBox account. 

Err ... what's encryption and how do I use it and what will it do for me?

What are FaceBook, InstaGram, WhatsApp &c can I use them on a PC/laptop/tablet/portable phone?

 And ... what about the questions that you might ask ... use the contact us form below.