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Posted on Aug 4, 2018 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 62 – Travellers gadget security tips and good news from Europe

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 62

Hi, welcome to the July 2018 TWT Newsletter.

Things are getting really surreal here in the UK and for once I’m not talking about the politics! Not only are we enjoying a fantastic sunny summer, our national football team have, at the time I’m writing this, not yet been knocked out of the world cup and even won a penalty shootout. How long can our luck last?, who knows! Whether you love or hate football, or the weather, there’s time to enjoy another great TWT newsletter dropping into your inbox.

Important! A number of our subscribers have had difficulty receiving our newsletter. At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we never send out unsolicited e-mails. To make sure your TWT newsletter reaches your inbox, please add topwindo@top-windows-tutorials.com to your contacts, buddy list or white list.

In this months issue:-

Travel safe with your tech this summer
Tip of the Month – Ensure your PC is well ventilated
Free utility of the Month – Firefox
Windows Store App of the Month – Microsoft Sudoku 
Good news from Europe – The link tax has been defeated, for now

 

Travel safe with your tech this summer

If you’re planning to travel this summer then you’re probably planning on taking at least a smartphone with you, possibly a tablet or laptop too. We’ve talked about gadget security for travellers in the past, but technology is always moving and improving, so here are some tips for keeping newer gadgets safe.

Laptop – To encrypt or not to encrypt – Over the years we’ve talked about how you can, and should, encrypt your laptop before you travel. The reason for doing this is obvious. If anyone steals your laptop, they won’t be able to access any of your data, unless they manage to steal the device while you have it unlocked, of course. If you do need to encrypt your laptop, we recommend the open source software VeraCrypt.

There’s one big disadvantage to locking down your laptop like this, and that’s the fact that any kind of “find my device” software cannot run. There are now several anti-theft programs that can be set to run on a laptop even without the user first logging in. These programs can secretly send the location of your laptop or tablet back to you, allowing you to inform law enforcement of its location. This requires that your device has a GPS device installed in it, though many modern devices do.

It’s certainly an attractive idea, leading the authorities directly to the nefarious villain who stole your laptop and apprehending them red handed. However, the reality might not be that exciting, as police departments around the world find themselves short on resources and unable to chase across town for a simple tourists laptop. Furthermore, criminals themselves are wising up to this technology and will often have their own countermeasures in place or may simply power down your laptop until it can be taken to a location where tracking is not possible. Once there, the hard drive or storage device can be erased and Windows reinstalled.

The decision to go with encryption or tracking (if available) essentially boils down to you. If your laptop is insured you might prefer simply to protect your data and passwords and claim on your insurance in the unlikely event that the device is stolen.

Find my phone – be prepared if you have to use it – Unlike your laptop or tablet, which tends only to be turned on when you’ve got some work or task to do, Smartphones tend to be powered on all the time, waiting in case a call or message comes in. The security model on phones has been designed around this and as long as you lock your phone, it’s very difficult for a thief to access the data on the handset. In some cities, there has been a spate of criminals who grab smart phones from peoples hands as they use them, so be careful if you whip out your phone in the middle of a busy city.

If the worst happens and your phone is lost or stolen, make sure you know how to use the anti-theft/security mechanisms built into modern smart phones. You can read about Apple’s Find my iPhone service here or how to find a lost Android phone here

If your phone is lost or stolen, you will want to get to a computer as quickly as possible. To mark your phone as lost or stolen remember that you will need your Google account (for Android phones) or your Apple/iTunes account (for iOS phones/devices). This is NOT the same as the pass code you use to unlock your phone, so if you can’t remember it, make sure you have a record somewhere, even if you have to write it down and store it safely with your passport, for instance.

VPN – Still useful and don’t forget about your smartphone! – If you’re using the WiFi in a hotel or guest house, it may be completely unsecured and require no password to access. If this is the case, remember that anyone in range of the access point could potentially see the information you’re transmitting. That includes every site you visit, every e-mail or instant message you write and potentially your passwords and other sensitive information too. While using SSL to log into sites offers some protection, the best way to secure the connection is to use a VPN, which creates an encrypted tunnel that your packets can safely travel down.

VPN services are easy to use on Windows devices. We recommend iVPN as our preferred VPN provider for their strong commitment to privacy and security.

Of course, these days more and more data is sent using mobile phones rather than computers. If you use your mobile phone on an unsecured hotel WiFi access point, it’s just as vulnerable as your PC would be. To help with this, iVPN offer iOS and Android apps too. Alternatively, if you need to access more sensitive data, such as online banking or work related material, you could restrict those activities to your VPN protected PC, while using your phone for less sensitive activities like social media or photo uploading. All modern social networks now use SSL encrypted logins which are more difficult to steal even on an open Wifi network.

Perhaps you don’t need to use the hotel WiFi at all? Most mobile phone contracts come with a little data/internet access. It used to be that using this service while abroad was prohibitively expensive. However, if you’re an EU citizen visiting another EU country, you can enjoy the same price for data as you use when you’re in your home country, so that’s worth keeping in mind. 

Store travel documents encrypted in the cloud – but remember the password! – Losing your travel documents, passports or other information is one nightmare scenario that hopefully you will never have to endure. If you do however, you can save yourself time at the embassy, hospital or police station by keeping a copy of your essential information in the cloud. Use a program like 7-zip to create a password protected archive to store your documents in. Of course, sensitive information like this should be protected with a password, but make sure it’s one you can remember in the event of an emergency.

Plan for the worst but expect the best – Phew! We hope all of our security tips haven’t put you off going on your holidays this year. Remember that the vast majority of trips go off without a hitch. Wherever you’re going, we hope you have a safe and pleasant journey.

 

Tip of the Month – Ensure your PC is well ventilated

It’s such a simple and logical thing, but many users overlook it. Modern PCs produce heat, lots of heat. Modern processors and graphics cards do an incredible amount of work in the blink of an eye. All that work produces more and more heat that must be pushed out of the computers case in order to prevent overheating.

In spite of this, many users still put their PC’s in tiny, cramped cupboards or alcoves. With the summer now in full swing for many of us, temperatures are set to go up and if your computer gets too hot, it can crash, randomly reboot or even stop working permanently. Place your PC on your desk or under your desk with plenty of room at the back and top for the heat to dissipate. Laptop and tablet users should also be careful not to block the vents at the rear of their machines. Be careful not to use your PC in direct sunlight. If you have a tablet PC and you use it with a vehicle mount, beware of the suns glare through the windscreen beating down on your poor little PC.

Giving the fans on your PC a dust, as per the manufacturers instructions, is also recommended. Compressed air can often be used to squirt into the vents and dislodge dust. Finally, if you are a smoker, don’t smoke around your PC. Smoking is bad for the health of your computer too and cigarette smoke will clog the insides of your PC, preventing the computers cooling fans from working and possibly causing a short-circuit on the motherboard too.

 

Free Utility of the Month – Firefox

This months free utility is Firefox, from Mozilla. “Firefox, the web browser?! Come on tell us about some software we didn’t know about!” I hear you say. For many people, Firefox was the browser that they used to know, before Chrome, or even Microsoft Edge came along.

Mozilla hasn’t exactly been idle where Firefox is concerned though and now they want you back on their platform. Firefox Quantum, which released recently, was the fastest version of Firefox ever, loading, running and browsing faster than any fox ever did before. Not only that, the browser runs with, on average, 30% less system resources than Google Chrome.

What’s more, the browser is adding some great, innovative new security features. Firefox Monitor, a feature currently in beta testing, will alert you instantly if your e-mail address is involved in a data breach, allowing you to hastily change any passwords that might be affected. 

So maybe, it’s time you gave Firefox another try? If you want to check it out, you can do so here

 

Microsoft Store App of the Month – Microsoft Sudoku 

if you have gotten into the number crunching craze of Sudoku, then you will love this little app for your PC that lets you work on the little puzzles with no need for pen or paper. Microsoft Sudoku is a polished version of the ever popular number game and can be downloaded entirely for free from the Microsoft Store. Visit this page to get your copy.

 

Good news from Europe – The link tax has been defeated, for now

This month we have great news for small content sites like ours. The badly thought out EU “Link Tax” laws have been voted down in the European Union Parliament. This so called copyright reforms would have potentially meant all websites operating in Europe had to pay a link “tax”, or a fee for any content they linked to. Under the proposed legislation there wasn’t even an opt out for sites that didn’t want to charge. Furthermore, Article 13 would have made platforms liable for copyright infringements by their users. That would mean sites like YouTube could potentially be personally liable for any kind of video uploaded by any of its users. Given the fact that millions of hours of video are uploaded every day, there’s simply no way to police every upload. YouTube could even have pulled out of Europe entirely.

Small sites like ours are struggling on the modern internet. Revenue from advertising has fallen in recent years and additional fees for linking to content would make sites like ours unviable. If you live in Europe, or even if you don’t, check out the campaign to save the link and push for sensible copyright reform by visiting this link.

That concludes the newsletter for July. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th August 2018 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7,  Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

 

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