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Common sense guide to computing

The check list (or the ‘top 10’) is as follows:

1. Use passwords that cannot be easily guessed and protect your passwords

Do not share your passwords and avoid writing them down.

Characteristics of good, cryptic passwords: Contain a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.

Make them at least eight characters in length (or longer if they are less complex).

Difficult to guess (eg, don’t include real words or personal information like user name, names of family members, places, pets, birthdays, addresses, hobbies, etc).

Make them easy to remember (so you do not have to write them down).

Password protect all of your devices.

2. Minimise storage of sensitive information 

Delete sensitive information whenever you can. Keep it off of your workstation, laptop computer and other electronic devices if at all possible.

Do not keep sensitive information or your only copy of critical data, projects, files, etc, on portable or mobile devices (such as laptop computers, tablets, phones, memory sticks, CDs/DVDs, etc) unless they are properly protected. These items are extra vulnerable to theft or loss.

3. Beware of scams  

Never reveal your password or click on unknown links or attachments. Be careful who you share your private information with.

Do not respond to email, instant messages (IMs), texts, phone calls, etc, asking you for your password. You should never disclose your password to anyone, even if they say they work for your ISP (Internet service provider) or mail hosting company.

Only click on links from trusted sources. Never click on an unfamiliar link unless you have a way to independently verify that it is safe. This includes tiny URLs and any link where you cannot tell where it will take you.

Do not open unsolicited or unexpected attachments. If you cannot verify an attachment as legitimate, delete it.

Do not give private information to anyone you do not know or who does not have a legitimate need for it — in person, over the phone, via e-mail, IM, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Beware of Revenue/bank scams and phony computer support scams. These are usually over the phone and threaten dire consequences if you do not act immediately.

4. Protect information when using the Internet and email 

Only use trusted, secure web pages when entering personal or sensitive information online. Do not log in to websites or online applications unless the login page is secure.

Look for https (not http) in the URL to indicate that there is a secure connection.

Be especially careful about what you do over wireless. Information and passwords sent via standard, unencrypted wireless are especially easy for hackers to intercept (most public access wireless is unencrypted).

Check your wireless preferences/settings to make sure your devices are not set up to auto-connect to any wireless network they detect. Auto-connecting to unknown networks could put your device and data at risk.

Do not send restricted data via email, text or IM. These are not generally secure methods of communication.

Be extremely careful with file-sharing software. File-sharing opens your computer to the risk of malicious files and attackers. Also, if you share copyrighted files, you risk being disconnected from the campus network, as well as serious legal consequences.

5. Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and all necessary security ‘patches’ and updates, and that you know what you need to do, if anything, to keep them current

Shut down or restart your computer at least weekly — and whenever your programmes tell you to in order to install updates. This helps to make sure software and security updates are properly installed.

If you get an anti-virus alert that there is malware on your computer, contact your IT support people for assistance.

6. Secure laptop computers and mobile devices at all times: Lock them up or carry them with you.

In your office or meeting room, at coffee shops, meetings, conferences, etc.

Remember: Phones and laptops get stolen from cars, houses and offices all the time.

Make sure your device is locked to or in something permanent.

Laptop lockdown cables are available at most computer or office supply stores.

7. Shut down, lock, log off, or put your computer and other devices to sleep before leaving them unattended and make sure they require a secure password to start or wake-up.

or on a PC; Apple menu or power button on a Mac.

Also, set your computer and portable devices to automatically lock when they are not being used.

8. Do not install or download unknown or unsolicited programmes/apps to your computer, phone, or other devices. 

These can harbour behind-the-scenes viruses or open a ‘back door’, giving others access to your devices without your knowledge.

9. Secure your work area before leaving it unattended

Lock windows and doors, take keys out of drawers and doors and never share your access code, card or key.

Be sure to lock up portable equipment and sensitive material before you leave an area unattended.

10. Make backup copies of files or data you are not willing to lose — and store the copies very securely.

X-Mini Explore Plus

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The amazing X-Mini Explore — why is it amazing? This gadget is vastly superior to its competitors. X-Mini are world leaders in mini portable speakers; their motto is ‘Sound Beyond Size’ and that is what they achieve.

There are a multitude of mini portable speakers out there but why have second best? The Explore comes with a bass speaker built in at the back and two tweeters. It is literally like a hi-fi in your pocket.

We have been selling X-Mini for years and we love them. This one, however, is definitely their best ever.

It is Bluetooth, of course, and is also splash-proof so it is perfect for the shower or even when near water.

The best and most amazing thing is the sound; you will not be disappointed. Instead of bringing a large speaker on holidays or any travels, just slide one of these into your pocket or bag and you have cool, clear and crisp sound for your favourite tunes. We highly recommend the X-Mini Explore.

€59.95 @ www.bcool.ie and @ Dundrum Town Centre

Tape 2 Go

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Rediscover your cassette tapes and turn them into MP3s.

We have seen the resurgence of vinyl and it really is back with a bang, so what is next? Surely, all our old cassettes we have sitting in the attic will come back?

The word is they are indeed coming back. However, even if they do not, your old cassette tapes can get a new lease of life with the Tape 2 Go.

Turn your tapes into digital music files and listen on your computer, iPod, or in the car.

Tape 2 Go is a portable, hand-held USB tape player that works with any cassette tape. It has an easy-to-use USB connection for sending the music on your tapes right into your computer, where it is instantly converted into a digital music file.

Listen to your digital music files on your computer, load them onto your portable music player, or record them onto a CD and listen in your car. If you have lots of great music ‘trapped’ on old tapes, now you can rediscover those old songs with Tape 2 Go.

€29.95 @ www.bcool.ie and @ Dundrum Town Centre

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