My Top 10 Security Software Packages – Updated

This post is an update to the post I published in April last year where I answered the question I often get asked by family and friends ‘What security should I use on my Windows PC?’.

There are many security packages around and you could some up with many different answers depending on your research but after a number of years this is what I use to protect against different threats. Most of the software is available as free versions with a bit more functionality with the paid version.

If you are a student writing coursework – backup software is the number one piece of security software everyone should have. Last year the new threat of CryptoLocker that makes all files unreadable (encrypts) and asks for a ransom adds to the risk that all data could be irretrievably lost. Cloud-based backup software and storage space is available for free – there is no excuse not to install it!

Some software I would not recommend unless you are computer literate and you understand how to respond to the alerts so I have split the software up into different levels depending on how computer literate you might be. The software listed here is for personal use and not corporate use as the software may not be appropriate for many different reasons including licensing or centralised management.

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5 Steps to Protecting Passwords

You may think having a social media account being hacked is for everyone else until someone you know gets hacked and they look for advice. In this case the problem was first noticed with Twitter spam and a month later with a new Instagram account linked to Facebook. A few simple steps can help avoid the effort of cleaning up.

It all started at the beginning of November with me noticing spam tweets. The tweets were deleted and the password changed on Twitter. A month later a more serious use was made of the Facebook account that shared the same password. An Instagram account was created using the Facebook ID with pictures showing pictures of young girls (children) wearing very little. The comments against the pictures were men asking to use Kik messenger to directly contact the person which is known to be related to ‘cyber-predators’. Things could have been much worse (such as stealing the persons identity to apply for credit cards) but it does demonstrate what we may see as security fud is real.

The personal computer used by the person has three security software packages (setup by a paranoid security specialist). So how could this happen? There are several explanations that I think the most likely possibility is the password was recorded on a public or shared computer (such as University computers).

So what steps should be taken to protect against this happening?

  1. Never reuse the same password across different accounts because once one is compromised the rest are compromised. Use something like Keepass to store the passwords using a strong password – you can use Dropbox to make the password safe available on your PC, phone and Internet. So you can remember a strong password use a phrase of connected words with numbers and non-alphanumeric characteers such as % and $. (There are risks with this but it is much less than using the same password).
  2. Don’t link Facebook or Twitter login details to link to other accounts such as Instagram because once one linked account is compromised the rest are compromised.
  3. Don’t use public computers to login to Internet accounts (especially your bank) where key logging software may be installed.
  4. Turn on extra security to be notified when someone logs in using your account and remove access to linked applications and devices where no longer needed. With Security SettingsFacebook and Twitter they have setting to be notify you if someone uses your account and they can require you to enter a uniquely generated code from a device you already have authorised.
  5. And use good security software on your personal computer – I use a Zemana AntiLoggercombination of Norton Anti-Virus, Zemana Anti-Logger and Spybot S&D using immunization. Zemana Anti-Logger provides some protection against programs recording username and passwords.

This does not guarantee you wont have problems but it does reduce the risk significantly.

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Creating an e-Book in 10 Minutes

A member of the family is publishing his third book and I was interested to see how easy it was to publish an e-book. Searching around the Internet it seemed to be a big ordeal but once you have the right software it is very easy. I have written the workflow I used to publish an e-book and I only had to spend $10! The workflow I use enables updates to be made to the master document and the PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats created within 10 minutes.

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Brown Teapots, Wigwams and Frankie Howerd

Following on from the previous post about the Chemical Engineering students at the University of Birmingham I have a few more stores including one about Professor Garner from a student of the time.

One of the events arranged each year by the Birmingham University Chemical Engineering Society (BUCES) was a lecture by the head of department to the students. Professor Garner, as head of department, was given a choice of topics to speak on including the option to speak on English Delftware. He could not pass up this offer as he was a renowned expert on English Delftware and just published a book on the subject in 1948. The lecture included a display of Delftware on the bench in the main lecture theatre. One cheeky student decided to rearrange the display during the tea break. He inserted into the middle of the display a large brown china teapot which stood out from the rest of the fine examples of China on display. When Professor Garner returned he spotted the amended display and commented that ‘it is not a good example’ of Delftware.

The students had some fun when they participated in Rag Week. To raise money they  decided to camp in the centre of Birmingham and to make things a bit more interesting they erected a wigwam labelled chemical ingineers.

Frankie Howerd

The students also decided they would attend the pantomime one year staring a rising comedian of the time, Frankie Howerd. The students were known for heckling and the manager of Frankie Howerd made an agreement with them that they would not heckle if Frankie attended the Chemical Engineering dinner. Frankie kept his word and turned up but in not too good a mood…

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My Top 10 Security Software Packages

I often get asked by family and friends ‘What security should I use on my Windows PC?’. So I thought I would describe what I use. There are many packages around and you could some up with many different answers depending on your research but after a number of years this is what I use to protect against different threats. Most of the software is available as free versions with a bit more functionality with the paid version.

Some software I would not recommend unless you are computer literate and you understand how to respond to the alerts so I have split the software up into different levels depending on how computer literate you might be. The software listed here is for personal use and not corporate use as the software may not be appropriate for many different reasons including licensing or centralised management.

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Doubtful Reliability and Questionable Mentality

Birmingham University Chemical Engineer - Volume 1 - CoverI opened the front cover of the Birmingham University Chemical Engineer Volumes 1 – 3 book and was astonished to discover the previous date of return for the library book read 1 MAY 1963 – nearly 50 years since this piece of history was taken from the store room and opened! It records life in the University of Birmingham Chemical Engineering department during 1948-1951 and is made more fascinating by the stories of a student at the time.

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Protect Your Pictures

Album SettingsI have written about protecting what is published publicly on social media in the previous posts A Social Network Time-bomb for Students and the The Illusion of Facebook Blocking but people forget even their profile pictures can be abused. It is so simple to share photos with family and friends but there are many examples of how photos can be abused so you need to protect them appropriately.

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