Browser Battle: Why Chrome Continues To Take Over

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Every day I see different browsers on different computers. There’s Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, and Apple’s Safari browser. Some people like to stick with what they know, and they use Internet Explorer or even Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

There are those people that really love Mozilla’s Firefox browser and are loyal and comfortable using that. Apple users tend to stick with Safari, like how Windows users use Internet Explorer and Edge, because it’s the default they’ve used for years.

I made the switch to Google Chrome for good about 5 or 6 years ago, and I continue to use it as my browser of choice.

There are preference issues and everyone likes what they like, but there is definitely more to why I use Google Chrome over the other browsers. There are even reasons why I think you should probably use Chrome too.

Let’s start by acknowledging that there are certain websites that only have full functionality in a certain browser and that’s OK. Maybe you need to use Internet Explorer for something. Use what you need to for certain tasks. When you have a choice, use Chrome.

Chrome is celebrating its 10th birthday with a nice updated look, but that’s just the surface. It continues to add features that not only improve your user experience, but also help make things a little more secure.

Chrome now will auto-generate and suggest strong passwords for new accounts created, keeping them unique and therefore significantly more secure.

Google also made sure that the mobile integration for Chrome is second to none. Just make sure you are signed in on your computer and your phone to keep all of your bookmarks and browsing synced.

While a browser like Firefox may meet some of the standards set by Google, there are areas other browsers just can’t stack up.

Mozilla has updated and launched a new and improved mobile app. It is now faster than it was ever before. Want to sync your data between your phone and computer browser with Mozilla? Sure, just create a completely separate account, link them, and hope for the best. Mozilla’s ability to share bookmarks is fair, but it can’t keep the settings streamlined.

These are the areas that Google Chrome excels in, making your browsing experience seamless.

The password manager will also make using your account on multiple devices much easier, as you can use the manager to store passwords and use them on any device you are signed in to.

If you own an Android phone or use the Google Play store but don’t use Chrome, you are missing out on great app integration.

Another reason Chrome pulls ahead in the battle is because of its amazing app library and easy integration and updates. Other browsers can’t begin to offer the things that Google does.

If you need more reason, consider that most of the major browsers use Google’s safe browsing programming to detect potentially dangerous sites.

Consider that these companies are using someone else’s programming to keep you safe… and that programming is from the clear leader in the browser battle: Google Chrome.

How Can You Improve Your Online Privacy?

Frank DeLuca is a field technician for Tech Experts.

You have probably heard about the myriad of security blunders that have plagued the business and IT worlds. We’ve seen considerable security and privacy miscues from some of the world’s biggest businesses, organizations, and government agencies.

This includes data breaches, attacks from hackers, privacy concerns, and theft where massive amounts of private user data were lost and/or misplaced. If major institutions can fall victim to these privacy and security lapses, then so can individuals and society at large.

The Internet can certainly be a scary, confusing place, especially for the uninitiated, but there are many ways in which you can protect yourself, mitigate risk, and increase your privacy while having an online presence.

Use Strong Passwords For Your Sensitive Accounts
Using strong, unique passwords (symbols, long phrases, capitalization, punctuation) can help you avoid that gut-wrenching feeling that you get when you realize that someone has hacked your account and has access to your personal information. Not knowing what’s going to happen to your work or your memories is something no one wants to experience.

Creating strong and unique passwords for each of your online accounts is a smart practice. The reason is quite simple: if one of your online accounts is hacked, then the others will soon follow. Consider a password manager like LastPass or Keeper to create, store, and manage your passwords.

Don’t Allow Or Accept Cookies From Third Parties
The purpose of the computer cookie is to help websites keep track of your visits and activity for convenience. Under normal circumstances, cookies cannot transfer viruses or malware to your computer.

However, some viruses and malware may try to disguise themselves as cookies, replicating after deletion or making it easier for parties you can’t identify to watch where you are going and what you are doing online.

Because cookies are stored in your web browser, the first step is to open your browser. Each browser manages cookies in a different location. For example, in Internet Explorer, you can find them by clicking “Tools” and then “Internet Options.” From there, select “General” and “Browsing history” and “Settings.”

In Chrome, choose “Preferences” from the Chrome menu in the navigation bar, which will display your settings. Then expand the “Advanced” option to display “Privacy and security.” From there, open “Content settings” and “Cookies.”

Use A VPN Or VPN Provider
A virtual private network, or VPN, can help you secure your web traffic and protect your anonymity online from snoops, spies, and anyone else who wants to steal or monetize your data.

A VPN creates a virtual encrypted tunnel between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. All external Internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, so your data is secure from prying eyes. Best of all, your computer appears to have the IP address of the VPN server, masking your identity.

To understand the value of a VPN, it helps to think of some specific scenarios in which a VPN might be used. Consider the public Wi-Fi network, perhaps at a coffee shop or airport.

Normally, you might connect without a second thought. But do you know who might be watching the traffic on that network? If you connect to that same public Wi-Fi network using a VPN, you can rest assured that no one on that network will be able to intercept your data.

Additional tips: keep your Windows operating system and your applications such as Microsoft Office up to date at all times, don’t post private information on your social media accounts, and use browser ad/tracking blockers.

What Is Credential Management And Should I Have It?

Ron Cochran is a senior help desk technician for Tech Experts.

In the world today, we have many things to remember and passwords are one of those. We have alarm codes, website logins, usernames, passwords, passphrases, bank account information, and everything in between. However, if you’re on top of your password game, then none of your passwords match and that can be quite the chore to keep up on.

This brings me to a product called Passportal.

Passportal eliminates the need to remember all those different passwords, websites, and passphrases. With Passportal, once you have your account set up – and have entered your websites, usernames, passwords, and passphrases – you will only need to remember one password to sign into anything. There is also an extension for one of the most popular web browsers.

Once you create your account with Passportal, you’ll be able to enter your website of choice, username, and password; then, when you revisit that site, you will be notified that Passportal has saved your credentials for that site. You’ll click one button and Passportal will automatically enter your information in, then you’re logged in to your favorite websites, social media, or message boards.

While it may sound like you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket, Passportal’s main focus is password security. The website, application, and process was created with military-grade password data security in mind while maintaining ease of use for the end user.

In the event of a mugging or break-in, you can lock your Passportal account and disable your usernames and passwords, instead of trying to remember everything you need to change. It’s one less thing to worry about when recovering from identity theft.

Let’s say your credit card and bank information have been compromised. Once you receive your new card and password, you revisit the website. Passportal remembers your password, but it doesn’t work. You will be able to seamlessly add the new password to the Passportal extension with just a couple clicks and keystrokes. Passportal has saved many users countless extra clicks, time, and hassle by keeping their valuable personal information secure.

If you are the owner of a company, you can utilize Passportal and have control over the passwords and when/if they expire. If you have an employee that quits or is terminated, you can lock that username out of your company information with just ONE click of a button. This feature saves valuable time that a human resource manager would have used to track down all the user information, gain access to their workstation or laptop, and remove their profile, or gain access to the server to remove their Active Directory profile.

Passportal also has two-way syncing with Active Directory for Windows Server. With Passportal, there is even a mobile app and phone number you can text to get a password reset. This feature will save employees who are locked out of their accounts – and allow your IT department to focus on more in-depth issues.

If you’re the human resource manager, general manager, or owner of a company, your company will most likely be able to benefit. Ask your IT department or managed service provider about Passportal and how you can implement it within your company.

Five Simple Year-End Technology Tasks To Start 2017 Right

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

If you want to get 2017 off to the right start as far as your technology is concerned, do a little end-of-year cleaning with these five simple tasks.

Update all of your passwords
If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that security and data infringement threats are at an all-time high. Most people don’t bother to change their passwords until after they have been hacked, which beats the purpose.

Now is the right time to change your passwords. The longer your password is, the better. For added security, use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Clean up your hard drive
Get rid of any files you no longer need. Not only will this step reduce the number of files you store on your computer, but it will also make finding needed files much easier.

It will also free up your storage space. If you’re not sure whether you need a file or not, archive it so that you can access it at a later time, if the need arises.

Reorganize your file structure
Once you have ditched the stuff you don’t need, invest some time creating a robust and intuitive file structure so that you’ll spend less time in 2017 searching for documents you know are there somewhere but just can’t seem to find.

Ditch the applications you no longer use
No doubt you have downloaded a whole host of applications that you never use or that have since been replaced by better versions.

Uninstall any programs you are not using to free up space and declutter your computer or mobile device.

Check that your software is up to date
The start of the year is a great time to make sure all the applications and software programs that you use are fully up to date.

In addition to protecting your security by ensuring you have the latest secure versions of an app, keeping your software up to date will also help you to make sure you are not missing out on any great new features.

Should Your Small Business Use A Domain Network?

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

If you have 5 or more computers that are sharing files and are constantly being worked with, a domain network would be in your best interest.

A domain network using a server has many benefits to a work area, a work building, or even multiple buildings using VPN. The flexibility, security, and convenience of a domain is, in most companies, invaluable. Sign into your account from any computer that is a part of the domain and you no longer need to use only your personal computer to access files.

If something were to happen to your computer, you could just use another computer to sign into your account and continue working without much downtime. This is also a far more secure way for users to access other computers as they have to use their credentials and only have the permissions that their credentials provide, not those of the computer itself. As long as users are not sharing passwords, you can have every user accounted for, policies implemented, and control what they can and cannot access when it comes to Internet, files, and programs.

Secure file-sharing is an easy and basic function of a domain server with Active Directory, which all the computers connected to the domain have access to. If you wanted only certain users to have access to certain files, you can have folders set up that prevent unauthorized editing, but still could be read — or even not be seen at all.

Having 5+ workers able to access the same set of files to edit as needed is an amazing way to save time and improve project efficiency. Everyone can see the file as it is saved or changed and they can continue to edit records as necessary without ever having to go on the Internet or transfer the file. Just get on any computer on the domain and you have instant access to the files that you need without a second thought.

Active Directory is your IT department’s best friend when it comes to handling large or small groups of computers as IT can access the domain server to make adjustments to other computers without ever stopping the work flow.

Forgot your password? Your IT can very easily use the server and reset your password for you without having to go to your computer. Setting up a new computer that needs certain printers and drivers installed? IT can set up the server to push those standard programs and drivers without having to install each individual program. Need to set up a new user account? It’s created on the server and the user can be accessed on all computers. There are so many possibilities that open up when you have a server domain available for your workstations.

We have only scratched the surface of what’s possible with a domain server and the amount of time and effort it can save for everyone in the company. I believe every business that is looking to grow should have a domain server early on as it will be easier to set up and can evolve to your needs as your company grows.

If your company needs help setting up a domain network, you can count on Tech Experts to take care of it.

Major Password Breach Uncovered

Some people collect antique trinkets while others collect more abstract things like adventures. There’s someone out there, however, collecting passwords to email accounts, and yours just might be part of that collection. To date, it has been estimated that over 273 million email account passwords have been stolen by a person or entity now called “The Collector.” This criminal feat is one of the largest security breaches ever, and the passwords have been amassed from popular email services, including Gmail, Yahoo!, and AOL.

It is unclear exactly why “The Collector” has procured so many email passwords, aside from the fact that the individual is trying to sell them on the dark web. The puzzling part of this, however, is that the asking price is just $1. So, the hacker may only be seeking fame for achieving such a large-scale feat.

The email account credentials may have more value in being used in an email phishing scam, but it’s impossible to know the cybercriminal’s intentions as this point. While potentially having your email hacked doesn’t sound like that big of a threat, there are multiple ways in which this information could be used for harm.

The most notable risk is that the login information may be used to access other accounts; many people use the same username and password for their emails accounts as other ones, such as for online banking. So, there is far more value in this large collection than just the asking price of $1. To protect yourself, security experts advise you change your password immediately.

Wire Fraud: How An Email Password Can Cost You $100,000

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Wire fraud is one of the most financially damaging threats to people and businesses today. Victims can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye.

What is wire fraud? Let’s start with the basics:

A wire transfer is an electronic transfer of funds between entities, usually a bank and someone else.Wire fraud utilizes this system to steal money. Typically, this is done by fooling a financial institution into wiring money to a fraudulent account.

The process often begins with the theft of personal data or email credentials, which means data security is paramount to preventing this threat.

Here’s an overview of wire fraud so you can better protect your business and clients. [Read more…]

Tips To Protect Your Business PC From Malware

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

In today’s online world, technology users are essentially in a state of near-constant attack. Almost every day, there’s a new data breach in the news involving a well-known company and, quite often, fresh rules for protecting personal information are circulated.

Because of malware in email, phishing messages, and malicious websites with URLs that are one letter different from popular sites, employees need to maintain a high level of awareness and diligence to protect themselves and their organizations.

Phishing activities are especially pervasive, including attempts to steal users’ credentials or get them to install malicious software on their system. The astonishing success rate of phishing attacks makes them a favorite.

Why? More than 70% of people will follow the link to a phony website and, of those that followed the link, 30%-50% will routinely give up their usernames and passwords.

Many like to think of the network perimeter with all its firewalls and other fancy technologies as the front line in the cyber war, but the truth is there’s a whole other front.

Every single member of a company’s staff who uses email or the Internet is also on the front line and these people are generally considered a softer target than hardware or software. It’s simple: if the bad guys can get an employee to give up his or her user credentials or download some malware, they can likely waltz right past the technological controls, basically appearing as if they belong there.

When using a computer for personal functions, a user generally has to have the ability to install software and modify the system configurations. Typically, such administrative functions are not available to all users in a corporate environment.

c471994_mAs a result, even if an organization has made an effort to improve a system’s security, a user doing work on a personal computer has the ability to disable and circumvent protections and has the privileges to allow for the installation of malware.

As companies migrate toward a world of bring-your-own-device policies, some companies are developing strategies to help address these risks. But, as a rule, using a work computer for personal reasons or doing work on a personal computer (or tablet or smartphone) can significantly increase the threat level that an employer has to protect itself against.

To help their organization protect systems and data, employees need to implement some smart web browsing habits. Smart web browsing means engaging in the following activities:

Beware of downloads
Malware can be hidden, not just in applications or installation programs, but in what appear to be image and video files also. To limit the likelihood of downloading content that contains malware, only download from reputable sites. With sites that are not a household name, take the time to do a little research and see if other people have had issues.

Additionally, be sure that antivirus software is set up to automatically scan downloads. Or scan downloads manually, even when receiving them from name-brand sites, as it is not unheard of for infected files to make their way onto otherwise legitimate web sites.

This is especially true for file-sharing sites where the site owner cannot control every piece of content a user may place there.

Be wary of deceitful sites
Those running sites already breaking the law by illegally distributing copyrighted materials — like pirated music, movies or software — probably have no qualms about including malicious content in their downloads or stealing information.

Many popular web browsers today have built-in functionality that provides an alert when visiting a website that is known to be dangerous.

And if the browser doesn’t give a notice, the antivirus software may provide that function. Heed the alerts!

Employees need to protect their devices from online and in-person threats. Start by keeping the company’s system patched. Configure it to automatically apply updates or issue notifications when there are updates and then apply them as soon as possible. This doesn’t just apply to the operating system.

Keep all installed applications updated; sometimes this takes a little extra work.

Remember, the challenge of security is that the bad guy needs to find only one hole in a security system to get past it, so fix them all. Think of it as putting dead bolts on doors, but leaving the basement window wide open.

To that end, security professionals like to debate the usefulness of today’s antivirus software. And it’s true that malware continues to become more sophisticated and harder to detect. But it always amazes me how old some of the malware running around is. As a result, use antivirus software and keep it up-to-date.

Also, use a software firewall, either the Windows firewall or one provided in an antivirus package. This is especially true for laptops connected to public wireless access points at hotels or coffee shops, but it also applies to home systems. It just provides that extra layer of defense.

And finally, please, don’t ever give passwords to anyone. Be vigilant and question anything new, especially emails and forms in the web browser that request work credentials, no matter how nicely the request is made.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Better Passwords: Keep Your Information Secure!

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

It could be your email, your pictures, or your company documents and files – whatever you have on your computer needs to protected from hackers, identity thieves, nosy employees and other cyber troublemakers.

Imagine if all of your private, personal and company information were available on the public Internet. And then, take a few minutes to follow the steps below and help make your systems more secure.

Use a different password for each important service
Make sure you have a different password for every important account you have. Hackers will steal your username and password from one site, and then use them to try to log into lots of other sites where you might have an account.

Even large, reputable sites sometimes have their password databases stolen. If you use the same password across many different sites, there’s a greater chance it might end up on a list of stolen passwords. And the more accounts you have that use that password, the more data you might lose if that password is stolen.

Giving an account its own, strong password helps protect you and your information in that account.

Make your password hard to guess
“password.” “123456.” “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” These examples are terrible passwords because everyone knows them – including potential attackers.

Making your passwords longer or more complicated makes them harder to guess for both bad guys and people who know you.

Complex and lengthy passwords can be a pain – the average password is shorter than eight characters, and many just contain letters. Analysis shows that only 54 percent of passwords include numbers, and only 3.7 percent have special characters like & or $.

One way to build a strong password is to think of a phrase or sentence that other people wouldn’t know and then use that to build your password.

For example, for your email you could think of a personal message like “I want to get better at responding to emails quickly and concisely” and then build your password from numbers, symbols, and the first letters of each word—“iw2gb@r2eq&c”.

Don’t use popular phrases or lyrics to build your password—research suggests that people gravitate to the same phrases, and you want your password to be something only you know.

Keep your password somewhere safe
Research shows that worrying about remembering too many passwords is the chief reason people reuse certain passwords across multiple services.

But don’t worry – if you’ve created so many passwords that it’s hard to remember them, it’s OK to make a list and write them down. Just make sure you keep your list in a safe place, where you won’t lose it and others won’t be able to find it.

If you’d prefer to manage your passwords digitally, a trusted password manager might be a good option. Many web browsers have free password managers built into them, and there are many independent options as well.

Secure Online Accounts Without Sacrificing Ease Of Use

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
The Internet allows us to do so much, such as: buy things, research information, and share just about anything. There is and will always be someone out there that is going to take advantage of Internet users in one way or another.

Keeping that in mind, most places on the Internet use password authentication, this is both good and bad. It is good because you are required to enter credentials that you originally provided to enter a protected area of a website.

This may keep your data safe from most people with malicious intent. However, most people are not perfect at remembering passwords, especially complex passwords, so most people end up using the same password for many websites. This is a bad choice.

If a hacker obtains your password, they may be able to access any site on which you use that password or a similar password. The best Internet practices are to use a different complex password for each website.

Complex passwords are passwords that contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters, and they must not resemble any dictionary word.

An example of a bad password is: love, password, P@ssw0rd. A good example of a complex password would be: ”n$)M1@x{1_5” 65”.

Password cracking has come a long way from brute-force dictionary based attacks, which allow a hacker to guess your password using a computer and wordlists. The use of complex passwords has become a necessity for anyone wanting to keep their information secure.

The best way to solve this conundrum is to implement a password manager. I have tried many password managers and have found the best results to be with LassPass password manager.

It is a feature rich password manager that is very secure. LassPass does not store or even know what your password is.

You can add LassPass as a browser extension or an app on your computers or mobile devices. You will only have to remember your password to LassPass to access any password protected websites.

Once LassPass is installed you simply visit a website that requires a login, such as your webmail or Facebook. Once you enter your username and password LassPass will ask if you would like to remember it.

If you choose yes it will auto fill out the information required to automatically login to the website the next time you visit it.

LassPass can also store secure encrypted notes that work great for bank logins. Most banks have a multi-stage login which is where you enter your username and password on different pages.

You can store your usernames, passwords, account numbers, and card numbers in secure notes for ease of access. All of your passwords can be accessed from any platform and any device.

LassPass also provides users with many tools that make using the LassPass password manager better such as: password generators, automatic form filling with the ability to have multiple identities, easily backup the data to local storage, on-screen keyboard to prevent key loggers, ability to share information via email, and most importantly two-factor authentication.

A two–factor authentication device allows you to use a password and a device such as a USB flash drive, YubiKey©, or Google Authenticator App to authenticate.

This improves your security because you have to have the second credential. Since that is in your possession, a cyber criminal would have to actually steal your device to hack your passwords.

Once you start to use LassPass as a password manager you will not want to return to remembering passwords or creating weak password that are easy to remember.

Give us a call to talk about improved security for your online accounts. We can help you setup the password manager and teach you how to use it. This is another way to make sure that your identity does not get compromised.