Internet security

I previously posted on this subject at
https://alegria1976.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/things-continue-to-be-pretty-good/

I thought that I’d said something more recent, but I don’t see it at the moment. In any case, I just wanted to mention that for quite some time now I have been using StrongVPN since 2013-02-18. It works quite well and protects me. I much prefer it to Astril. Which is the system I used for a couple of years before. There are many choices. As is often the case, each has its pluses and minuses. And the technology changes. So, you need to do some homework and figure out what is best for you. And also be prepared to move to a new system as technology changes. StrongVPN is my favorite now.

I guess first I should explain why one would want to bother with any of this. In recent years it has become ridiculously easy for even a child to download free software that will allow bad people, or literally anyone, to intercept your Wi-Fi connection. They snatch it right out of the air. They can be even several miles away from you if they have a good WiFi device and they can steal important info like bank passwords, etc. There are 12 gazillion people using the Internet all the time, and so most of you have never had any problem that you know of. But, having your bank accounts cleared out, and your identity stolen, and worse, are becoming frequent problems. It is a growth industry.

It’s kind of like being hit by a bus. No big deal, unless you’re the one that is hit by the bus.

I have to say that I have met some interesting people over the years. One of them works for a secret government agency. They can probably get into your computer and do whatever they want anytime, they want. Probably the only way you can prevent that is to not get within 20 feet of a computer, or cell phone, or practically any electronic device, in your lifetime.

(By the way. I think that my cell phone now has a virus. So I’m shopping around for antivirus software for my cell phone.)

But, if like me, you feel that being able to pay your bills online, check that credit card charges went through correctly, send emails to friends on the other side of the earth, complete with photographs or movies attached, and generally enjoyed the benefits of the electronic age, then you feel that you are willing to accept some risk. But, if you can have a very secure system that 12 year olds cannot easily get into, that is important. Governments and really big time hackers are harder to fight, but, let’s get rid of 99% of the danger. OK?

I feel that using a virtual private network, called a VPN, dramatically reduces the risk. I also think that you should use strong antivirus protection. my mom and I used Norton antivirus for quite a few years and it got so bad that I sincerely believe that it was worse than having a virus. It totally wiped out my mom’s computer when we were doing a routine update to the latest version of Norton. Pretty ingenious that they convince people to pay a lot of money for something that totally hoses their computer. And I had several other disasters that were almost as bad. So, frankly I think Norton antivirus is the work of the devil. I would never consider using anything on my computer that had the word Norton in it. I would also try to make sure that Symantec and any other related company had nothing to do with anything I ever bought or took for free. Actually, you could not pay me to use any of their stuff.

So far, after many years of use, I have a high opinion of

ESET Smart Security

I usually run their latest version, and while I certainly admit to being frustrated when they say that something or other that I’ve never heard of wants to run on my computer. Do I want to allow it?

How the heck should I know? That’s what I have you for, to tell me what safe and what is not.

But, if one uses the default settings and tries to not get too fancy and tricky with it. It seems to work okay and has saved my bacon several times that I know of.

As many of you know, I have far more trouble with computers than anybody else I know. My world consists of incredibly buggy software. Things frequently do not work the way I think they’re supposed to. It is very possible that I have a black thumb when it comes to computers. But, I hope that the reason is that I use them a huge amount of time. I have a variety of software running on them. That software combination probably does not play well with others and causes a lot of my mystery problems. I have been active with computers since about 1995 and it has often occurred to me that perhaps I got some sort of unidentified virus back in the beginning and none of the antivirus software has recognized it. It is a commonly held thought that even good antivirus software forgets to look for old viruses. So, it is very possible that when I load my old files. The photographs and articles, things I have written and webpages I have saved, etc. the things that I want on my new computer because I use them. It is very possible that I am moving the virus to each new computer as the years go by.

So, for whatever reason, now that I have become addicted to computers and the Internet, I have gotten gray hair and no longer have very much of it because I keep tearing it out due to how mad I get. I could just pack it all and go sit under a coconut palm somewhere, but a good friend of ours was hit in the head by a falling coconut, some years ago. If you have spent much time in a coconut grove, you will notice that you hear things falling, surprisingly often.

When the Palm frond falls off, one of the huge leaves of the Palm tree, if you’re paying attention you will hear a rustling sound and have a microscopic amount of warning. When a coconut falls off, you may just wake up dead. There is no perceptible warning. That was his problem, but fortunately he survived. His friends and loved ones may argue about how many of his marbles he has left, but I think he turned out just fine. He was very lucky.

In other words, life is inherently dangerous.

I have been using StrongVPN for over a year, and although I sometimes have trouble getting it to connect, they just ‘improved’ the software and assure me that now that problem is fixed. Who knows? It will become apparent over the next year or two. Even so, I think it was a good investment, and I use it every time I get on Wi-Fi. If you only work at home over Ethernet, then probably all you need is ESET Smart Security or some other good antivirus/firewall.

Internet security is a growth industry. People just keep inventing new threats, and companies come out with new solutions to protect you from those threats. I’m not sure but what the people inventing the threats and the people inventing the protection are not the same people, but even if they are, I suggest that you want to be protected. It is definitely a moving target, so you have to keep reevaluating every once in a while. The price of doing business.

Back to the cell phone. I have an older smart phone. By no means one of the fancy ones. It’s about four or five years old now. So it is not very smart. But I have noticed erratic behavior with it. The screen lights up as though something’s happening and then it shuts off again for no apparent reason. The phone seems to reboot every once in a while for no apparent reason. I went through a spell a couple of weeks ago where the battery lasted about a third is long as normal, for no apparent reason.

When I did a Google, the idea that I may have one or more viruses kept popping up. The problem now is I need to figure out which antivirus software will work on my particular phone. And that is not easy to learn. There is no sensitive information on the phone. So, I hope I am not in any immediate danger. But I am looking into how to find out the best solution.

Best of luck everyone,

Dave

PS When I posted this. The next email in my inbox, said in part:
>>>>>>>>>>>>
Lab tests show that ice from UK branches of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks and other fast food restaurants contains more bacteria than the water found in the restaurants’ toilets
Similarly, tests conducted in 2008 found that two-thirds of all restaurant lemon wedges were contaminated with 25 different types of disease-causing bacteria — including fecal bacteria.
While none of the samples presented an immediate health risk, four of them contained high enough levels to be considered a “hygiene risk,” the laboratory warned.
Children, the elderly, and those with poorly functioning immune systems are among the most vulnerable to foodborne illness.

>>>>>>>>>>>

Now there is a cheery thought. I think that there is also a study that shows that over 98% of the people that died in the last two weeks had been breathing at some time during the previous 30 days. Does that mean that we should hold our breath?

Don’t let the Internet drive you crazy. That is what children are for.

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