Security Tip: Don’t Reuse Passwords

passwordsEvery day it seems we hear about another hack or security vulnerability, and theft of account and login information from various websites. While it’s impossible for end users to prevent these types of events, you can take some simple steps to enhance your security and reduce your risk when incidents occur.

The first step is one you’ve probably heard before: don’t reuse passwords. If your login information is compromised on one website or via one vendor, using the same password on other websites or services makes those accounts vulnerable as well. By using a unique password for every login, if one gets compromised it limits your risk to just that specific account.

Yes this is a pain, but the extra effort is worthwhile. How do you remember all this? For those who have few passwords, you can create a secure document (like a Word or Pages file) to store your information. For more complex situations and to sync passwords between devices, password management software is available.

Posted by Adam Rosen on 20 April 2017

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Surfing Safely While Traveling

One concern many people have is how to safely use their computers and mobile devices while traveling. Many airports, hotels and businesses offer free WiFi for internet access, but you never know who may be monitoring these connections to serve you ads or potentially access sensitive account information.

A workaround for this is to use your cell phone carrier’s data capabilities instead of WiFi for any internet needs which may present security concerns. iPhone hotspotTo use your iPhone (or other smartphone) securely by itself, simply disable WiFi access while on the go. This will restrict access to cellular data only.

To use other computers or devices you can make use of your iPhone’s Hotspot capability. This feature allows you to share your iPhone’s cellular data connection via a private WiFi network, Bluetooth, or a USB connection. I use this feature regularly to provide support for Oakbog clients while on the road. Click the following link for instructions on Setting up a Personal Hotspot.

Posted by Adam Rosen on 14 December 2016

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Printing from Your iPhone or iPad

Despite the ubiquity of cloud computing, printing out hard copies of documents is still needed on a regular basis. If you’re an avid iPhone or iPad user and are looking to print from your iDevice, solutions are at hand.

AirPrintThe Apple AirPrint protocol is built-in to iPhones and iPads. To print a document from an app which supports printing, tap on the Share button – typically a box with an arrow coming out of the top. From the menu which appears select Print. The first time you use this feature you will need to tap on Select Printer and choose the printer on your network. After that choose number of copies, turn double-sided on or off, and print the document. See this link for Visual Instructions.

Using this feature requires an AirPrint compatible printer on your wired or WiFi network. Most printers made in the past several years have built in AirPrint support. For older models including USB printers that don’t, you can use Printopia on one of your Macs to add AirPrint capability to existing shared printers.

Posted by Adam Rosen on 11 October 2016

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Oakbog Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

Oakbog-10th-AnniversaryIt’s hard to believe, but as of June 2016 Oakbog has been providing Apple Macintosh and iOS consulting services for ten years! Looking back at my calendar, I had one paid appointment for my first month, and twenty seven for the latter half of 2006. In the ensuing decade Apple has broadened beyond the Mac to dominate the mobile space with the iPhone and iPad, while Oakbog has grown to a company servicing over 1000 clients and become one of the most positively reviewed Apple consulting businesses in the Boston area. It has been quite a while since Oakbog has seen any single month with less than twenty seven appointments!

What a long, strange trip it’s been. A hearty thank you to all my clients (and now many friends) who have been along for the ride. I look forward to another successful decade helping with you Apple computing needs, and Oakbog evolving in ways beneficial to all. Who knows if the Mac will even still exist in 2026, but Apple likely will and computing needs never go away. Here’s to the next ten years!

Posted by Adam Rosen on 8 June 2016

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Managing Malware on the Mac

Malware on the Mac is a growing nuisance, and in the past year the scope of the problem has been expanding. The Mac was largely immune to these types of attacks in the past, but increasing platform popularity has brought a new reality. Safari on the Mac seems to be particularly vulnerable to browser hijacking events, but Chrome and Firefox can also be affected.  

mac-securityIf you’ve gotten a message on your computer that there has been a virus detected, not to shut down and call Apple or another 800 number immediately, you’ve experienced malware. If you restarted and were taken back to the same warning message, you experienced malware. These practices are scams designed to get people to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for tech support services they don’t actually need.  

Whether or not you’ve experienced malware or security threats on your computer, here are some recommended steps which can help protect your data and computing experience:

Stay Current with a Supported OS X Version

Apple issues security patches for the current OS X release and two versions back. As of this writing (April 2016) that means supported OS versions are:

  – OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks
  – OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite
  – OS X 10.11.4 El Capitan

If your Mac is running OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, 10.7.5 Lion, or 10.8.5 Mountain Lion then it’s time to upgrade. Most browser vendors now follow Apple’s lead with their own security updates and support.

Stay Current with Browsers, Flash and Java

Both Flash and Java remain ongoing security targets. Java use has declined quite a bit on the web, but Flash is still in fairly common usage. All Safari updates are provided through the OS X Mac App Store. Current versions for other web software can be found here:

  – Google Chrome installer
  – Mozilla Firefox installer
  – Adobe Flash installer
  – Oracle Java installer (if needed)

Install Anti-Malware and Anti-Virus Software

  – MalwareBytes AntiMalware for Mac – a very nice free tool (formerly AdwareMedic) which cleans up most types of infections. Must be run manually each time.

  – Sophos Free Home AV – an automated tool that scans files and emails for viruses or other infections. Also finds many Windows viruses that Macs can receive and re-distribute.

Install Ad Blocking Browser Extensions

Many malware attacks originate via scripts run in third party ads on websites. Running ad blocking software prevents many of these ads from being shown, negating their ability to infect your computer.  

While controversial from a revenue standpoint, I have found ad blockers to be a viable security aid. Websites you visit often and wish to support via ad revenue can be whitelisted.

  – Safari AdBlock plugins
  – Firefox AdBlock plugins
  – Chrome AdBlock plugins

Posted by Adam Rosen on 10 April 2016

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