What is a VPN connection and should I use one?

With the need for data protection increasingly hitting the headlines these days, one way to secure your privacy online is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). In recent years, VPN’s have become the go-to method for providing businesses with a solution for data security and remote flexibility.

To learn more about the value of using a VPN, please click on the link below:

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/internet/best-vpns-2017-3641578/

A couple of useful tips for Windows 10…

Windows 10 has been around for a year and a half now and there are many tips for using this operating system effectively. Two of the more underused but very handy tips are:

Virtual desktops, this means, for example, that you can keep your work desktop separate from your entertainment one. Shortcuts for working with Virtual desktops are:

  • Open task view – Windows button + tab
  • New desktop – Windows button + ctrl + D
  • To scroll through Virtual desktops – Windows button + ctrl + right/left
  • Close the current desktop – Windows button + ctrl + F4

The next handy tool is Snap Assist. Windows snapping was introduced in Windows 7 but has been enhanced in Windows 10. This means that you can have windows taking up a quarter of the screen, as well as half, and with the Snap Assist tool, you can get thumbnails of the other windows open when you leave a blank space on the desktop when snapping a window to an area. The shortcut for Snapping windows is:

  • Windows key + left or right arrow keys

For other handy tips please read:  http://www.guidingtech.com/64035/windows-10-tips-tricks/

When was the last time you backed up your computer… do you know?

Important… don’t wait for data loss to happen before realising what you’re missing!

Data backup is still the number one thing on ITGUY’s mind when looking to support any of our clients. Don’t get caught out. It doesn’t take long – you will thank yourself when the inevitable (and it is inevitable) happens… the computer dies or gets stolen or even worse gets infected with ransomware and is encrypted.

What can you do?

The following link shows you some of the basics about backing up to a USB disk:
http://www.wikihow.com/Back-up-a-Computer

Take a look at getting some cloud storage space with a well-known company… here are some options:

Google Drive
www.google.com/drive

Dropbox
www.dropbox.com

One Drive
https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-gb/

Alternatively, consider a total system from a company like:

CrashPlan
www.crashplan.com

or Carbonite
https://www.carbonite.com/

This is definitely one situation where prevention is better than cure!

Don’t get caught out… two-step verification is the way to go!

In the fight against cybercrime, the weakest link in the security chain is typically the password: for your email account, website login or a subscription service.
For example, no matter how memorable, Tiddles1 is very easy to guess! But even if you use a more complex password like fsydhUUT91!!$, it is still a single point of failure. If your machine is stolen, or you are hoodwinked into disclosing your password, you are in trouble.
Both Microsoft and Google, amongst others, offer a simple second layer to help keep you safe.
It’s called two-step or two-factor authentication. In essence, you are prompted (periodically, not each time) to enter a second code which is uniquely linked to your account. Typically this code is sent as a text message or better still, from an installed app on your phone. It is quick and easy to do, and may ultimately save you much hassle and heartache! Take a look at the links below and see for yourself…
Microsoft implementation is found here:
Google’s is here:

Is Big Brother Watching You?

This week WikiLeaks published information about hacking tools the CIA use on phones, TV’s and of course computers.

So, if you think your TV is listening to you, it could well be!

Click the link to learn more… http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39203724

Published on the BBC Technology website: 8 March 2017

What mail app do you use on your phone? Don’t just settle for the default!

Both iPhone and Android smartphones are very keen to get you using the default email program on their phones. Whilst they may generally work, there are many advantages to using a more fine-tuned mail app, especially if you have a Gmail/G suite or Outlook/Office 365 email account.

Both of these apps do a good job of saving you time when responding to emails and also quickly snap into contacts or calendars.

The Gmail app:

https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/mail/help/mobile.html

The Outlook app

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/outlook-com/mobile/

Additionally, these apps are supported by an email provider and this can help if things go wrong!

Lifehacker also gives its opinion on what apps are good – especially with the iPhone… see links below:

http://lifehacker.com/5812657/the-best-email-client-for-android

http://lifehacker.com/5810895/the-best-email-client-for-iphone

12 Ways to Make Yourself a Gmail Genius!

Show me what I want to see…

Would you like to to see more of your inbox at a glance? Well, you can if you click the cogwheel to the upper right-hand side of the Gmail web page interface, then select “compact” to reduce the spacing between items (you can also choose “comfortable” for a more relaxed view). To view more conversations per page: click the cog, then select “settings” to open Gmail’s configuration page. Under “general”, you’ll see a setting for “maximum page size”, just increase to 100 and you won’t need to keep flipping through pages to browse recent messages. If you don’t like the way email exchanges are bundled into threads, you can also disable conversation view, this makes Gmail list each email individually. Just click “save changes” at the bottom to apply your preferences.

 

Customise your sending options…

Do you like to keep your inbox uncluttered? Now you can, go to general settings, enable “show ‘send & archive’ button in reply”. From now on, when you reply to an incoming email, you’ll see a new button to send your response and archive the conversation with one click. Archived conversations vanish from your inbox but still appear in search results, and also in Gmail’s “all mail” view. If someone replies to an archived message, it pops back into your inbox. You can also switch “default reply behaviour” to “reply all” when dealing with group emails, this ensures you won’t accidentally reply only to one person. Of course, it raises the risk that you’ll accidentally share a private sentiment with the world, so use it with caution!

 

Remind me about this email later…

Emails have a knack of arriving at unhelpful moments. The free Boomerang extension lets you postpone incoming messages so they vanish from your inbox, but then reappear after a specified interval. You can also delay outgoing messages to ensure they arrive at the right time. The free service only works on the web, but a $5 a month subscription adds support for mobile clients.

 

On the subject of delaying emails, a Gmail option that’s saved many careers is “undo send”… this gives you a grace period after you hit send – 20 seconds by default – during which you can change your mind and edit (or abandon) your message. You can enable this option in the main settings page, under “general”.

 

Organise your incoming mail…

By default, Gmail sorts messages into primary, social, promotions and so forth. If you want to set up your own filters, simply select or open a message, then click the “more” button and select “filter messages like these”. You’ll now see a window that lets you specify a sender, keywords, message size and so forth; enter your parameters, then click “create filter with this search”. Then, tick the boxes to tell Gmail what to do with new messages that match these terms, such as applying a specific label.

 

You can also extend Gmail’s labelling options by enabling multi-coloured stars on the general settings page. With this option activated, click repeatedly on the star icon next to an email to cycle through available colours.

 

Use Google Drive to get around attachment limits…

Gmail supports attachments of up to 25MB per email. However, large messages waste space and may be rejected by other email services. The answer? Don’t send large files; simply provide links to them. In Google Drive, you can do this by clicking the little drive icon at the bottom of the compose window and selecting a file to share. With Dropbox, right-click on a shared file to copy a download link. If it’s photos, try using the free Google Photos app for Android and iOS, this way, any pictures you take on your phone are automatically uploaded to Google’s servers and can be directly inserted into your email messages via Gmail’s insert photo icon.

 

Brush up your security…

Worried you’ve left yourself logged into Gmail on a work laptop or a friend’s PC? Check for forgotten sessions by scrolling to the bottom of your inbox and clicking the tiny “details” link. This will show you a breakdown of recent activity, and provides a button to instantly sign you out from any other locations.

 

To keep intruders out of your account, it’s a good idea to enable two-step verification, so that new logins have to be approved from your smartphone. To access this and other important security settings, click on your account icon at the top right of the Gmail page, then click the blue “my account” button. On the page that opens you’ll find a complete set of sign-in and security options.

 

Master Gmail’s search capabilities…

Gmail lets you store a huge archive of emails, but hunting for a specific message can be tricky. The trick is to use Gmail’s advanced search. When you click into the search bar at the top of the inbox view, a drop-down arrow appears at the right of the text field. Click it and you’ll see options to narrow down your search to messages from a certain sender, of a certain size, within a certain date range and more.

 

Advanced users can also use keywords to narrow down searches, for example, you can search for “subject:dinner newer_than:7d” to find all emails about dinner from the past week. These keywords work with both Android and iOS… you’ll find a list here.

 

Create calendar appointments…

Gmail does its best to recognise when you’re booking an event or a journey, and automatically copies the details into your Google Calendar (too creepy? You can disable this in the calendar settings). If you need to make a calendar entry yourself, just click the “more” dropdown while reading an email and select “create event”. You’ll be taken straight to the relevant page in Google Calendar, with the text of the email already pasted into place: just confirm the right date and time, then click save. You can also select “add to tasks” to add the email contents to your Google task list. To view the list, click the Gmail dropdown at the top left of the main Gmail interface and select tasks.

 

Never mind the chit-chat, send money…

Gmail isn’t just about electronic messages: it can be used to send hard cash to anyone in the UK or US. To use this feature, click the pound sign at the bottom of the “compose” window. Your payment options will appear in a dropdown – if you haven’t linked a credit card or a PayPal account, you can set this up now. Enter an amount to send, then click “review” followed by “attach” to embed a payment link in your email. The recipient has 14 days to click the link and claim the money, which can be immediately transferred into their bank account. You can also use Google Wallet to request money by creating a link that the recipient can then click to send you an agreed sum.

 

Why email when you can eyeball?…

Everyone knows about Gmail’s built-in chat client (Google Hangouts), but not everyone realises that, as well as regular instant messaging, it supports live voice and video calls. To initiate a call from the Gmail web interface, hover the mouse pointer over a contact, then click the video camera icon. A new window will open showing the view from your camera (assuming your computer has one) and asks if you want to invite anyone else – you can have up to 25 people in a video call. If you want to go audio-only, click the camera icon at the bottom to disable it; click the microphone icon to mute the line (and again to unmute it). You’ll find full instructions for Hangouts video calls here.

 

Use IFTTT to broaden Gmail’s horizons…

IFTTT (If This Then That) is an ingenious online system that acts as an interface between your Gmail account and dozens of other apps and services. For example, you can use it to automatically save all incoming email attachments to Dropbox, or forward a copy of any photos you take on your phone directly to your Gmail account. IFTTT can also connect to smart home devices – so you could get an email from your thermostat if the temperature drops below a certain threshold, or blink your house lights when a critical email comes in from a specific address. The service is completely free: sign up at ifttt.com to browse through hundreds of “applets” that can add a new dimension of usefulness to Gmail.

 

Switch to Inbox for a clutter free existence…

The “inbox zero” philosophy holds that your inbox should be empty at all times. If that’s your view too, try out Google’s alternative interface to Gmail, called simply Inbox. This gives you a stripped-down overview of incoming emails, with key information pulled out so you can see it at a glance. If you need to read an email in full, you can expand it within the message list; once you mark it as “done”, it disappears from the default view. You can also snooze messages for a set period, and set reminders to appear in your inbox alongside incoming messages. Intrigued? Give it a spin at google.com/inbox or download the mobile app; you can switch back to classic Gmail at any time.

 

This article was published in February 2017 in the Technology section of The Guardian online (www.theguardian.com/technology/google) and taken from a piece written by Darien Graham-Smith for The Observer.

Phishing attacks on Gmail accounts

Phishing attacks are getting cleverer, and this one is sneaky too. It uses an already hacked account to send a message to a Gmail account using previously sent information. This could be in the form of a screenshot of a previous mail and have the same subject line and of course, it will be from someone you know.

As with any attack online at the moment, the really important thing to bear in mind is the URL of any of the links you are clicking on, as this is the address on the big bad web you will be directed to. The issue with this attack is the URL looks legitimate: accounts.google.com, the only difference is that the URL is preceded by “data:text/html”. This is important as the prefix is telling your web browser to treat the document as HTML, which in turn, is generating an address that looks just like a real Google login page, complete with the appropriate URL. The moment you login, the hackers have access to your account and that’s all they need. This hack is now being utilised straight away.

The key to not being caught by this hack is to make sure that when you open an attachment if it’s preceded by data:text/html in the web address, don’t log into it.

To help avoid this and other attacks, setup two factor authentication… you can also check out the link below for further information:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/gmail-phishing-latest-cyber-security-attack-hacking-infect-users-mimicking-past-emails-a7531981.html

Part-Time IT Support technician: Office and Field Based (No CVs -please read to the bottom of this post!)

ITGUY is an independent IT support business in North London. We are about to expand – coming on board now will be an exciting opportunity to show your initiative and be part of a dynamic team.

We are not your average “techies” nor are we a conventional 9am to 5pm company.

As a result we are very interested in the kind of person you are – whether we have shared values and whether you understand and buy into our goals. This is as important as your technical skills.
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