Author Archives: thegaryhawkins

Hacking in the News

Clearing up some common misunderstandings and inaccurate reports in the news.

Decorative Image - NewspaperIn recent months there has been a lot of coverage on web and IT security breaches but unfortunately the news outlets don’t always get it right.  Sometimes this is because of a lack of understanding from the ‘journalist’ which might be understandable in the more complex cases, if it weren’t their job to research and report on facts.  Sometimes it’s outright sensationalism and scaremongering when ratings and sales take priority over reporting the news.

In this post I hope to clear up some of the common mis-informations that crop up in the news…

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Giving permission and sharing too much

Why you should be cautious about giving web and mobile applications too many permissions.

Decorative Image - permissionsConsider you pay by credit card at a restaurant; you’re sharing your credit card information with them and you’re probably happy to do so. If the restaurant then asks for your date of birth, home address, and permission to use your card whenever they like, you’d probably hesitate. Yet people do this all the time on the web without thinking twice.

Here I’ll try to show how we can unwittingly give away too much, why this might be bad, and how to spot when things aren’t quite right.

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Safer web browsing

A quick look at the setup I use to browse the web more safely than the average Joe.

Decorative Image, PC Firewall WebI don’t often make recommendations because such things have a way of back firing. Instead I’d like to outline a few bits of my setup that helps me to browse the web with a little extra piece of mind. If you feel like trying any part of this then please acknowledge my usual software disclaimer.

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Facebook Android App Permissions

Details of the permissions and privileges that you need to hand over to Facebook in order to use their mobile app, outline with Android.

Facebook Android App PermissionsThe Facebook App for Android has changed quite a lot since I originally wrote this article so I figured I should update to reflect the changes in permissions that the app now requests. There are some improvements and looking back I think I was a little harsh in my judgement with a knee-jerk reaction but the problems remain that the permissions seem too lenient, there is no justification of why the Facebook app needs these permissions, and the only choice we have is to accept them all or not at all.

 

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Picking Apart Passwords

Clearing up some misconceptions on passwords and some suggestions on picking stronger passwords.

Decorative Image, password textIf you want to interact with a website rather than just browsing, you’re probably going to have to create an account and that account is probably going to be protected with a password.  Some websites ask for more information than the average census but a username and password will be the basics.

Typically then we each deal with several passwords on a daily basis but passwords are not without risk.  Here I look at the problems with passwords and a few tricks for picking strong yet memorable passwords…

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Twitter Spam Links

A demonstration of Twitter spam links, what they look like and what they do.

Twitter spam link sampleIn the past few hours I’ve received two spam links in Twitter messages (tweets to me, not Direct Messages), having received none for several weeks.  Either this is an odd coincidence or a troubling sign of a sharp increase in the problem.

This quick post will highlight what to look out for, what to check and what to do about spammers on Twitter…

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Protecting your computer, the basics

Some suggestions on how to improve the security of your computer.

Decorative Image, PC Firewall WebWith the increasing number of threats that are spreading across the web it can be difficult to know how best to protect your computer. What do you need to protect against? Will one tool protect you on all fronts? Do you get what you pay for in a tool? Can a free tool be good enough?

I’ll try to answer these questions and give some idea of what to look out for…

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Facebook Privacy Settings

Some suggestions on how to make your Facebook account more secure.

white f on blue square with padlockOnce again Facebook have added new features under the radar, enabled  by default and unannounced.  Not everybody necessarily wants everything shared with everyone so it would be nice if Facebook would either disable features by default and allow people to opt-in, or in the very least let people know that there are new features coming up.

Here is a quick review of the latest feature and a how-to for disabling it…

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Cleaning up an infection

Some suggestions on how to recover from an infection to your computer.

Decorative virus imageSo the worst has happened and despite taking all of the usual precautions, your computer has become infected.  What do you do now?  Can you get back to normal?  How can you stop it from happening again?

Well first and foremost you have to accept that you may not be able to fully recover your computer; you may have to completely wipe it and start all over again.  At this point I hope you’ve been taking regular backups of any important files and that you know the passwords for any on-line accounts (more on this at another time).

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