Clean up your phone for a better digital life

As your Internet Service provider, EarthLink is committed to keeping you informed of technology tips to help manage your digital life. Below our partner Symantec shares information how to keep your mobile phone working at maximum performance.

If you are guilty of having apps cluttered all over your screen then you are not alone. Smartphones loaded with too many apps can slow down your phone, allow third-party apps to access your data, shorten battery life or worse, crash your phone.

Every once in a while every phone needs a cleanup. This time of year  is a great time to take out the old and bring in the new. Here are a few tips to help you clean your phone.

1. Don’t want it? Delete it.

Apps are notorious for taking up space on your phone. Arrange apps in the order of usage. If you think you haven’t used an app in over a month then you probably don’t need it.

2. The backup plan.

As a general rule, regularly backup your data. This not only frees up space in your phone, it also speeds it up. If your phone is taken over by ransomware, you will still have your data.

3. How many people are in your phone?

You build contacts as you learn and grow in this world. You add them to your address book. As you move from one phone to another, you are carrying these numbers and details to the next device, and the one after that. Finally you end up with more contacts than the number of people you actually know. Go through your contacts and delete the ones you know you wont need.

4. Music, messages and maps

There was a time when music was downloaded and saved in phones. Now with Wi-Fi being available almost everywhere and apps that stream music, the need to save music has declined. Text messages take up a lot of space too. Memes, videos, gifs, etc, live in your feed and take up precious real estate. Delete them once you’ve read them. Apps like maps, ride sharing services, and other services that use geo location that run in the background and slow down your phone. Turn them off when not in use.

5. Time to change your password

Changing passwords regularly keeps your device safe from cyber attacks. Use unique passwords that use a combination of at least 10 upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. The key is to make it difficult for attackers to access your information by changing your passwords every three months and not reusing passwords for multiple accounts.

6. Check for software updates and patches

Software patches and update notifications show up at the oddest moments. While it is highly recommended that you update your phone immediately upon receiving them, sometimes people can miss the notification. Check your phone’s settings, and make sure that you are running the latest version of the software. Ignoring security updates exposes your phone to vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

7. Clean on the inside and clean on the outside

Do not forget to remove your phone cover and wipe down your phone with a clean cloth. Read the cleaning instructions that came with your phone. Using wet wipes and alcohol solutions may damage the phone.

8. Safety first

Use a reliable security suite to keep your phone safe from cyber attacks. Norton Wi-Fi Privacy encrypts the data you send and receive when using an unsecured public Wi-Fi, protecting your information that may be vulnerable to attack.

Make sure you maintain the health of your phone with good cyber habits.

 

 

© 2018 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved. Symantec, the Symantec Logo,  Norton, Norton by Symantec,  are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the United States and other countries.


SSL certificate changes

In July 2018, Google will release an updated version of their web browser Chrome that will mark websites without SSL certificates as “not secure”. Other browsers, like IE, Edge, Firefox will also be adopting this policy.

What is SSL?

SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security technology for web browsers, encrypting information passed between a website’s server and a visitor’s browser. Websites with SSL certificates appear in your browser URL as “HTTPS” versus “HTTP”.

SSL helps create a safe and secure connection for your web pages, keeping customers’ information safe from hackers, criminals and other unwanted eyes.

Why use SSL?

Your business and website needs to look credible to your website visitors. Websites marked as “not secure” may cause potential customers to lose trust in your business, so it’s becoming increasingly important that every website is secured with SSL. If your website transits sensitive information like credit card details or personal information, it’s essential your business and your customers’ information is protected with SSL.

Secure your website and your Customer's information before July 2018. If your site does not have a SSL Certificate, you can learn more about EarthLink's SSL Certificate by calling 1-800-201-8615 or learn more here.


Security Alert: Wi-Fi Connections at Risk

As your Internet Service provider, EarthLink is committed to keeping you informed of important cyber security events being observed globally. Below our partner Symantec shares information regarding a recent vulnerability that impacts Wi-Fi networks and how you can protect yourself.

Security researchers1 have discovered a major vulnerability in Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2). WPA2 is a type of encryption used to secure the vast majority of Wi-Fi networks. A WPA2 network provides unique encryption keys for each wireless client that connects to it.

The vulnerability, dubbed “KRACKs” (Key Reinstallation AttaCKs), is actually a group of multiple vulnerabilities that when successfully exploited, could allow attackers to intercept and steal data transmitted across a Wi-Fi network. Digital personal information that is transmitted over the Internet or stored on connected devices — such as driver’s license number, Social Security number, credit card numbers, and more — could be vulnerable. All of this personal information can be used toward committing identity theft, such as accessing bank or investment accounts without the users knowledge.

In some instances, attackers could also have the ability to manipulate web pages, turning them into fake websites to collect information or to install malware on user’s devices.

 What should you do?

Wi-Fi users should immediately update Wi-Fi-enabled devices as soon as a software update is made available. Wi-Fi enabled devices include anything that connects to the Internet — from laptops, tablets, and smartphones to other smart devices such as wearables and home appliances.

 Should you change your Wi-Fi password?

No. This vulnerability does not affect the password to your router’s Wi-Fi network. Regardless of if your Wi-Fi network is password protected, this new vulnerability still puts your data at risk because it affects the devices and the Wi-Fi itself, not your home router, which is what the password protects.

Are hackers already exploiting this vulnerability?

Not yet. But as with many newly discovered vulnerabilities, it is only a matter of time before hackers find ways to exploit this weakness to their advantage.

 What else can you do to help protect you connected devices while waiting for a software update?

Keep in mind that it may take some time for the manufacturer of your devices to come up with a security patch. In the meantime, there are extra steps you can take to help secure your devices.

We strongly recommend that you install and use a reputable VPN such as Norton WiFi Privacy on all your mobile devices and computers before connecting to any Wi-Fi network. By using a secure virtual private network (VPN) on your smartphones and computers, your web traffic will be encrypted and your data will be safe from interception by a hacker.  A VPN creates a “secure tunnel” where information sent over a Wi-Fi connection is encrypted, making data sent to and from your device more secure.

Norton WiFi Privacy uses the same encryption technologies that leading banks deploy, so you can rest assured that your information stays secure and private. You can also browse anonymously and protect your privacy with Norton WiFi Privacy. You can mask your online activities and location with this no-log VPN that encrypts your personal information but never stores your online activity or location.

Additionally, only using HTTPS-enabled websites means your web traffic will also be encrypted by SSL and may be safer from this vulnerability. HTTPS browsing adds an extra layer of security by using encryption via the website you are visiting.


TOP TEN CYBER TIPS

By Ben Halpert, Founder Savvy Cyber Kids, an EarthLink partner

In the Digital Age we are spending an increasing proportion of our day in cyberspace and less time IRL (in real life). From shopping, dating and sharing, to learning, buying and teaching, our interactions with the virtual world are having a greater and greater influence on how we and others see ourselves, how we think and how we see the world and our place in it. Regrettably, there is not a virtual justice system ensuring that those who use the Internet for good are rewarded and that those who do otherwise face appropriate consequences.

As parents, we need to help our children grow up understanding that, as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times put it, “the internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, where they need to bring skepticism and critical thinking to everything they read and basic civic decency to everything they write.” Friedman cited a Stanford Graduate School of Education study published in November 2016 that found “a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the internet.

So, what’s a parent to do?

Savvy Cyber Kids, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable youth, families and school communities to be powered by technology, recognizes that children may be ‘Digital Natives’ but they are also ‘Digital Naives,’ who, without intervention, completely lack an understanding of the implications of their digital actions. Founded in 2007 by Internet security expert, noted speaker and author Ben Halpert, Savvy Cyber Kids provides cyber ethics resources for parents and teachers to educate children as they grow up in a world surrounded by technology.

Here are Ben’s Top Ten Parent Tips for Cyber Safety:

#1 BE INVOLVED

Do you know your child’s favorite game, app, or social media community (and it changes often!)? If not, ask them! Children love talking about what they do with technology. Now that you know their favorite app, game or social media community, ask your child who they interact with in those digital spaces. Just as you ask about who your child plays with at school, you should ask who your children’s friends are online.

#2 HAVE THE “TECH TALK”

Much like the “sex talk,” the first time you introduce the “tech talk” is an important parenting hallmark. Since giving your child access to an Internet-enabled device is like taking the front door off your house and inviting in strangers, children need to understand that the virtual world can be a dangerous place and that they need to take steps to keep themselves safe. Help your child learn to distinguish between the physical world and the virtual world. Explain to your children that the physical world includes their home, friends they play with in their neighborhood, at school and on sports teams they play on. Teach your children to see strangers as strangers. As your children get older, the “tech talk” continues to evolve and delves into greater detail the inherent dangers of cyberspace. Start the talk — and don’t stop talking.

#3 BE A SAFE RESOURCE FOR YOUR CHILD

Let your children know they can approach you if something upsets them online, if they realize that they made a mistake, and that you are always available for them to help them understand what they are experiencing. Ask your child if they had ever seen anything online or in a game that made them feel uncomfortable or strange. Or if anyone has said anything strange to them in an app or a game. Ask them if anything online has made them feel funny, hurt their feelings or confused them. If they make a mistake, resist the urge to have a merely punitive approach. Help them to make better choices and sustain their willingness to communicate with you.

#4 ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO STOP. THINK. CONNECT. TM

Encourage your children to use critical thinking skills and pause when they are about update social media or take any action on one—then think about what they are about to do, before potentially posting or forwarding something mean or suggestive. As a rule of thumb, have them answer a question like: What would my mother think about this? Help your children to understand why authorship, sources and sponsorship can influence the truthfulness of what they see on the Internet. Challenge them to not believe everything they see and to search for proof before accepting information.

#5 TEACH THAT STRANGERS ARE FOREVER.

To your children, anyone that reaches out to them via an app, game, or social media community seems like a good person just wanting to chat. Yet anyone that your child meets online is a stranger, FOREVER. You can’t definitively know who this person is, if they are misrepresenting themselves or if they are safe to engage with. Ask your children if they have ever received a message from someone in a game or an app that they don’t know in the physical world. Talk to your children about the concept of privacy and how they should not share personal information like names, addresses or phone numbers, if their parents are home, family schedules, or what school they attend. Make sure your children understand that they should NEVER meet someone they met online, through an app, game or social media community in the physical world. NOT EVER.

#6 UPDATE EVERYTHING.

It is important for you and your children to update all devices and software on a regular basis and when notified by the manufacturer or creator. Anytime an update (often called a patch) is available, a fix was made to a known problem with that device or software. Perhaps there is a way for someone to remove all the information off a computer or device. Maybe there’s a way for someone to remotely turn on the video camera on your device and take inappropriate videos. In addition to keeping up with the latest patches, install (and keep updated) an antivirus product. Antivirus products can protect you from certain attacks. And yes, even Mac computers should have antivirus software too.

#7 UNDERSTAND TECHNOLOGY.

Read the privacy policy for each device, app, game, or social media community that your grandchild is using to learn exactly what information about your grandchildren is been collected by the company providing the service and what they can do with that information. Next, look for the available parental controls for each. Some apps, games, and social platforms offer options that can limit who your grandchildren can talk to you, as well as who can contact your grandchild. If there is an option to create private profiles, direct them to do so and talk to your children about not allowing people they do not know in the physical world to connect with them.

#8 SET SECURITY FREEZES FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY.

The reality is that credit monitoring services are not enough. Someone can still open an account in your name and ruin your credit history. Encourage all of your family members to contact each of the three credit reporting agency’s (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) and place a security freeze on your credit files. With the security freeze on your credit file, no one can open a new account (take out a mortgage, a car loan or other financial commitment on your behalf) unless they have your secret pin.

#9 ENABLE 2-STEP VERIFICATION.

Every account you and your grandchildren use is secured by user ID, such as a nickname or email address, and the password. This is done to prove that you are the person that is supposed to be accessing the account you were attempting to log into. Due to the increasing number security breaches, encourage your family members to take an additional step, beyond a complex password. Enable 2-step verification, a security measure that typically involves a text message being sent to your phone, a one-time code sent to your email, a call to your phone and/or the use of a verification app (sometimes called an authenticator app).

#10 CREATE A PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR SCHOOLS

Encourage your children’s schools to support your digital parenting by merging cyber ethics lessons across all learning disciplines and offering age-appropriate cyber ethics programming for students, parents and educators.

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Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.