Facebook App Permissions

Over the years you may have unknowingly given Facebook apps access to your personal information and photos.

Every time you install an app on Facebook, you agree to give the app access to certain parts of your profile. It makes complete sense that Google maps needs to access your location, or Instagram would need to access your photos.

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What we tend to forget are all the other apps we’ve given various permissions to over the years. Every quiz you’ve ever taken, or that old favorite app, “See who looked at your profile”, may have had access to your profile for YEARS.

For example, I opened up my apps on the left and chose the “Cities I’ve Visited” app (which I only used once).  Let’s take a look at what this app has been able to see on my Facebook profile.

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cities 03

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This app can see virtually everything on my profile, and it needs to be removed.  By clicking the privacy at the top right of my Facebook page, I can access the Privacy Checkup.

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Hit “Next” to go to step 2 where you can review your approved apps.

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I’ve scrolled through to find the “Cities I’ve Visited” app. Click the X next to the app to remove it.

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You can repeat the process with as many apps as you’d like, and when you’re done, click next and then finish to exit the Privacy Checkup.

 

 

How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps | PCWorld

Mobile malware tends to loiter in a few “bad neighborhoods” online that you should stay out of anyway.

Source: How to prevent mobile malware in 3 easy steps | PCWorld

 

Flickr Now Gives You 1TB of Free Online Photo Storage

Flickr has revamped their website and smartphone app and is now offering 1TB of free photo storage for every user. That’s 1,000 GB! You could fit 1 million photos into that much space and still have room to spare.

You need to have a Yahoo account to sign up, but they’re free and easy enough to create if you don’t have one.

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You can upload through the web, but I suggest downloading the Flickr Uploadr

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At this point, if you don’t have a Yahoo! ID, you need to create one.

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It took me about 1 minute to create my yahoo account and sign in to the Flickr service.

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Once I logged in, I was greeted with a status screen letting me know how much of my free 1 Terabyte of storage I had remaining. In this case, I haven’t uploaded anything yet so I have the full amount.

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Flickr gives you some default locations where you may or may not have photos so you can just check them off. I keep all my files on a drive on my network, so I won’t be using any of these defaults, but most people will check off the Pictures folder and possibly some or all of the others.

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If you keep photos somewhere else or want to include other locations in addition to the defaults, click the + sign at the bottom left and navigate to the folder you’d like to add.

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At this point, the Flickr Uploadr app will scan the folders and subfolders to make a list of all your files prior to uploading. In my case, it was over 250,000 photos so it took several hours before the uploading actually started.

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Now I can sit back and wait while my photos and videos are backed up online for free.

If you are a Google user, you can check out my post on how to automatically use Gmail to backup your photos taken from a smartphone.

 

World Backup Day

Have you backed up your data recently? Every day people and businesses lose huge amounts of
valuable data because they fail to run a backup of their files. World Backup Day is set aside
as a reminder to back up those important files.


If you have files that are important to you and can’t be easily replaced or recreated, you should have some sort of regularly scheduled backup. Hard drives can crash. Computers can be infected with malware and viruses. And your smartphone can be damaged, lost or stolen. Losing irreplaceable and valuable documents or photos with no way to recover them is a nightmare scenario.

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No matter how new or secure your smartphone or computer is, it’s important to back up your
files, because even new hardware can fail. Some polls have shown that almost 40% of people
don’t have any type of backup at all, and another 15% only backup 1-2 times a year.

Malware and viruses infect roughly 1/3 of the world’s computers. There’s a whole class of
viruses that will lock your files and hold them for ransom. In most cases, even paying the
ransom won’t get your files back. If you have a current backup, you can completely wipe your
computer’s hard drive to rid it of the virus and restore your files from your backup copy.

The hard drive on your computer can also fail or crash. In those cases you may be able to recover the files by sending them to a professional data recovery lab, but that type of service is expensive. Depending on the exact problem, the cost could be anywhere from $300- $2000 and you may not even get back 100% of the data.

This laptop was damaged beyond repair in a house fire, and all the data was lost.
This laptop was damaged beyond repair in a house fire, and all the data was lost.

Any natural disaster that strikes your home or business can damage or destroy your computer and with it, your files. Fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes can eradicate your data permanently with no chance of recovery.

Computers can be stolen, whether they are laptops, desktops, or even servers. Your data may or may not be valuable depending on who the thief is. In many cases, they wipe the hard drives to conceal who the original owner is before they sell the computer, so even if you can recover the system, your files may be gone.

More than 3 million smartphones were stolen last year- that’s more than 100 smartphones stolen every minute, each day. Another 1.4 million phones are lost every year and never recovered. Smartphones are prime targets for thieves because even more so than computers, smartphones hold loads of personal information like banking and credit card info, photos, emails, and even your whereabouts thanks to GPS location. The thief may be after your
identity or financial information and not your documents or photos, but you’re going to lose them regardless of the motive. Phones are also small and easy to conceal in a pocket or handbag, and they have a high resale value. And the first thing they will do is wipe it clean of all traces of your files.

There are dozens of other things that can happen to your files. A regularly scheduled backup
gives you peace of mind in those situations. There are several methods you can use to backup your files.

An external hard drive.
An external hard drive.

If you’re backing up a computer and have a relatively small amount of data, you can use a USB flash drive. If you have larger amounts of data you probably want to use an external hard drive. External drives are portable so they can be thrown in a laptop bag or backpack. They also allow quick access to all your files at once. There are downsides to external drives though. The drives are affected by all the same things computers are- they can be lost, stolen, damaged by natural disasters, get infected by malware and viruses and they can have mechanical failures. If your data is very valuable you should use more than one external hard drive.

Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive/Google Photos are popular for both smartphone and computer backups. They give you a small amount of space for free, and can be
accessed from anywhere on any device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, PC, MAC). The problem is, one glitch and your files are gone, because there’s only one copy of your files there. If you accidentally delete a file, that deletion gets synced up to the cloud and there’s no way to get it back.

If you have an iPhone, you can back it up right to your computer using iTunes. This is nice because you only get 5 GB of space in iCloud so all your files may not fit there. Your computer probably has a ton of free space, and an iTunes backup is a complete backup of all your photos, videos, music, documents, SMS messages, call logs, contacts and apps. If you ever lose your iPhone or upgrade, just plug the replacement into your computer, open iTunes and you can restore your entire configuration from your last backup.

A Cloud Backup Service is different because it offers the ability to keep multiple versions
of your files, so if Tuesday’s backup is corrupted or encrypted from a virus infection, or
deleted by mistake, you can get the files back from Monday’s backup. You do have to pay for a
backup service like that, but if the data is important or irreplaceable, it’s well worth the
cost. If you have a large number of files to back up, you’ll find cloud backups are slower than backing up to an external hard drive. And if you ever need to retrieve a large number of files it may take hours or even days to pull them down from the cloud.

A sound backup solution would combine all these methods.

The accepted rule for backup best practices is the three-two-one rule. It can be summarized as: if you’re backing something up, you should have:

  • At least three copies,
  • In two different formats,
  • with one of those copies off-site.

    pcoverhaul-google+photos
    I use Google Photos to automatically back up photos from both my smartphone and my wife’s phone whenever we are in WiFi range.

I have multiple external hard drives for my most important files, which happen to be photos. These are backed up daily. Everything is also backed up to the cloud via Google+ Photos and Amazon’s Prime storage service. I also burn Blu-Ray discs so I always have a “negative” that can’t be deleted, and store a copy of these with a relative. Both my smartphone and my wife’s smartphone are set to automatically backup to Google and Amazon whenever we have WiFi access.

Whatever method you choose, please be sure you backup your files. If you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start, I’ll be happy to help you out.

 

 

Can Mac’s Get Viruses?

I’m sure you’ve probably heard that Apple products like MAC computers, iPhone’s and iPad’s can’t get viruses. If you work in computer repair, you hear about this all the time. Many of my customers tell me they will get a MacBook when they replace their computer because they are tired of getting infected all the time on their Windows based computers. A virus is just a program running on an Operating System, like all other programs. So is the Mac Operating System so secure that you really can’t get infected on a Mac?

First, a virus maker is likely to choose the platform that gives them access to the most potential victims. As this chart from NetMarketShare.com shows, over 85% of computers are still running some form of Windows.


Also, probably due to the fact that there are so many more computers running Windows than OSX, most programmers learn to code for Windows computers. And most of the tools and scripts that virus makers use in constructing malware are designed to target Windows.  These may be some of the reasons why Windows has been targeted far more than Apple’s Operating Systems.

The Mac Operating Systems, starting with OSX 10.0 (Cheetah) are based on UNIX. The UNIX permission structure prevents unauthorized execution of software, which makes it harder for viruses to infect your Mac. Windows will try to run a program any way it can, even if it’s being redirected by a virus, but UNIX will stop a virus in its tracks if it detects an unauthorized redirection. As great as this is, it doesn’t make your Mac computer immune. To infect a Mac, the viruses just need to be written well enough to get around the UNIX code. Not as easy as coding a virus for Windows, but do-able.

 

Starting with OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion), Macs have a host of built in protection from malware, including  Gatekeeper. These additional measures make your Mac more secure than a computer running Windows.

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It would be easy to become over confident in all this security if you own a Mac, but that’s a mistake. There have been several major Mac  virus outbreaks in recent years, and with more and more people using Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, there will surely be more to come.

There was also the recent hacking of Apple’s iCloud. There’s some concern that malware could be copied to your computer using your iCloud account or Apple ID.

As computerhope points out:

Although the Apple OS is more secure than many versions of Windows, any software, plug-ins, or other add-ons that are installed onto the computer and connect to the Internet can introduce their own security vulnerabilities. The most common ways to attack a Mac computer is through a third-party browser and browser plugins like Adobe Reader, Flash, and Java. Today, most Mac users have these plugins installed and enabled on the computer, and, in doing so, compromise the overall security of the system.

 

Avast_1_-_Avast_is_free_to_download_and_has_a_talent_at_spotting_Mac_malware

So even though you may have a Mac, please make sure you have an antivirus product installed. If you’re not sure what to use, here’s a review from Macworld UK.

 

 

Amazon Laptop Wizard

I was checking out some deals on Amazon.com for Cyber Monday and noticed this wizard on the laptop and notebooks page.

I've highlighted the things I plan to do with the laptop and on the right, Amazon calculates the specs I need.
I’ve highlighted the things I plan to do with the laptop and on the right, Amazon calculates the specs I need

 

Just click the “Show Me” link to see the laptops that meet your criteria. A handy way to narrow down the hundreds of choices to the laptops that fit your criteria.

 

How to Back Up Your iPhone

Having a current backup of the files on your iPhone is always a good idea, in case it’;s lost, stolen, or damaged. Most iPhone users don’t know how to run a local backup and end up relying on the iCloud for their backups.  iCloud can be a great option for small numbers of files, but the free account is limited to 5GB of files.

Backing up your phone to your computer is a better option because your computer’s hard drive is huge, so you can keep multiple backups of your files.

You can back up your iPhone using iTunes. In my case, I have a PC, but it works the same way on a Mac. Apple creates and encoded copy of your files and settings and puts them into a temporary folder. If you need to restore from the backup later, iTunes can copy all your information back to your phone, or to a new phone if you are upgrading or lost or damaged your phone.

 

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iTunes will back up  all of your Camera Roll Photos, SMS messages (texts), settings, contacts, and your app data. It will not backup any synced music, videos, or podcasts.

iTunes performs this backup automatically anytime you sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with your computer, but it’s a good idea to do it once in a while for backup purposes.

If for some reason iTunes won’t cooperate, or you prefer an interface where you can choose which files are backed up, I suggest taking a look at Appandora.

 

 

How safe is your online data?

You may have heard about the latest celebrity phone hacking scandal involving stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande and Kate Upton. The photos were stolen from Apple’s iCloud service, and not the phones themselves. Many of the celebs had already deleted the photos and videos from their iPhones, some of them a year or more ago, but they still had those files backed up on iCloud. Hackers use a variety of methods to get into iCloud accounts, from brute force attacks to trying easy to guess passwords, since iCloud would not lock you out if you guessed wrong a certain number of times.

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In the case of these particular celebrity photos, they have been floating around on the “dark net” for quite some time before they were finally leaked publicly.

Though it hasn’t yet been confirmed that the pictures came from iCloud accounts, reports have speculated that the hackers used a recent tool called iBrute, which can repeatedly try different combinations of passwords on Apple’s Find My iPhone service until one of them works. Once Find My iPhone is breached, it is possible to access iCloud passwords and view images and other data stored in a user’s iCloud account. Apple had previously allowed an unlimited number of password attempts on the Find My iPhone service, but it has since limited it to five attempts, making the iBrute tool ineffective. [TheVerge]

You may or may not have intimate photos and videos you want to protect from prying eyes. Even if you don’t, think about all the sensitive information you may have in your email and private messages on Facebook and other social media sites. There’s probably some stuff in there you’d rather keep to yourself.

So what can you do to protect your private files and conversations online?

First, accept that virtually everything we do now electronically can be hacked or compromised. It may only be  a curious spouse, but it could be an ex, a co-worker, or a professional hacker.  The best way to keep someone from gaining access to sensitive data  is not to put it online in the first place.

For data that you DO share, the first thing you should do is have a complex password that nobody can guess. “Password”, “123456” or your telephone number are not going to cut it. As this Password Strength cartoon by Randall Munroe demonstrates, substituting numbers and symbols for letters is still easy for a sophisticated software prgram to crack. 

Password Strength cartoon by Randall Munroe

For example, Bruins?Win?Habs?Lose! will not be easily cracked by hacking software and is easier to remember than Bru1n5W#nH4B5L0s3. Phrases make a password more complaex without being too hard to remember. And if remembering is an issue, try a free password manager like LastPass.

Another thing you can do is enable two step verification. This means in addition to knowing the password, the person trying to get into the account has to have access to some kind of device like your phone. where a code may be sent to verify your identity.

ZDnet has this great info on how to set up two step verification for some of the most popular services:

Apple iCloud

  1. Login to My Apple ID.
  2. Pick “Manage your Apple ID and sign in”
  3. Select “Password and Security”
  4. Under “Two-Step Verification,” select “Get Started,” and follow the instructions.

Note: Be aware that when you change your Apple ID to two-factor authentication, it’s a one-way journey. You can only change your password afterwards by using the two-factor method.

Dropbox

  1. Sign in to Dropbox.
  2. Click on your name from the upper-right of any page to open your account menu.
  3. Click “Settings” from the account menu and select the “Security” tab.
  4. Under “Two-step verification” section, click “Enable.”
  5. Click “Get started” and follow the instructions.

Note: You will need to re-enter your password to enable two-factor verification. Once you do, you’ll be given the choice to receive your security code by text or to use a mobile app.

Google Drive

  1. Login to Google from this link.
  2. Enter your phone number.
  3. Enter the code that you’ll get from either a text or a voice phone call.
  4. Follow the instructions.

Note: You will need to get a new code for each PC or device that uses any Google services. For some services, such as Gmail when accessed on an Apple device or by a mail client or some instant message clients, you’ll also need to set an application specific password.

Microsoft OneDrive

  1. Login to your Microsoft Account.
  2. Go to “Security & Password.”
  3. Under “Password and security info,” tap or click “Edit security info.”
  4. Under “Two-step verification,” tap or click “Set up two-step verification.”
  5. Click “Next,” and then follow the instructions.

Note: Microsoft may require you to enter a security code that the company will send to your phone or email before you can turn on two-step verification.

Many other services now offer two-step authentication. Here are ZDNet articles detailing how to set it up onFacebookTwitter, and Google.

 

Use Google+ to Backup Photos Taken With Your Phone

If you enjoy taking photos with your smartphone, you have probably run into problems backing them up or transferring them to your computer. Whether you have an Android or an iPhone (or really any smartphone for that matter),  Google+ can solve some of these problems for you.

Every Google+ account allows you 15GB of free cloud storage, which is shared between your email (gmail), Google Drive files and your Google photos. If you create a new gmail account and use it for only photo backups, the entire 15GB can be dedicated to your photo storage.

Storing your photos on Google+ also makes them much easier to share with other people. Photos are put into albums by date, and all the albums are private by default.  Once your photos are uploaded, you can view them  from any web browser or by opening the Google+ app on your Android or iPhone. (Select Home in the upper left, then Photos to view your photos.)

This is what the photos look like on a Windows computer once they have been uploaded.
This is what the photos look like on a Windows computer once they have been uploaded.

 

You can choose to set your phone to backup over Wi-Fi or over mobile networks. Most people choose to upload photos over Wi-Fi, since that’s available at the office, home or on the road and doesn’t count towards your phone’s data plan. Your mobile network is a good choice if you are on the road for work or on vacation and want to be sure the photos back up before you get home.

 

The Android and IOS Google+ apps offer slightly different backup features. Both will store an unlimited number of  photos, reduced to a maximum side length of 2048 pixels. Android users have the option to store full versions of their photos, but keep in mind that takes up more of your 15GB free cloud space.

The Android app can be set to upload only when the device is plugged in and charging, which can help save battery life if you have a large number of photos to upload.

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Best of all, more than one device can use the same account. I was using Google + to back up my photos from my Samsung S4 (Android), but my wife’s photos from her iPhone 5 used the Icloud app and went to an entirely different place. So i created a new “family” Google account, and logged into it with both phones. Now all our photos are automatically backed up whenever we are near a Wi-Fi hotspot to one cloud location.  You can also upload photos to the account from any computer, so photos taken with all your various cameras can be in one place.

I am home with our two boys all day, so I filled up the 15GB quickly, but for $2.99 a month I upgraded to a 100GB plan. It’s a simple way to back up photos from multiple devices to one account and both of us can access the account from any web browser to view or share the photos.

If you want to try out Google+ as a photo nackup solution, here are the instructions for Anroid and IOS.