West Coast Times

Important notice

Securing your computers and phones against hackers

There is currently no foolproof way to completely protect a computer or phone from hackers, other than by turning the devices off or disconnected from the Internet. However, there are steps you can take to greatly reduce the chances of your device being hacked, and protect yourself from the consequences of a successful attack. Following are some steps you can take to protect your devices:

Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security to your account, making it harder for hackers to gain access.

Keep your operating systems and all software up to date. Software updates often include security fixes for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

Use reputable antivirus and firewall software and keep it updated. These programs can help protect against malware and other security threats.

Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. These may contain malware or phishing scams that could compromise your device.

Use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. This helps protect your online activities from monitoring by others on the same network.

One other technique is described below:

Imagine you have some important stuff (like your files or some precious information) that you want to keep safe from bad guys on the internet. Here's how you can possibly do it:

Think of it this way: You have a super precious treasure chest (your important files), and you keep them in a super secure room (the offline computer). When you need to use your files, you use a special cart (the USB stick) to move them to a less secure room (the online computer) but still pretty safe.

This setup isn't the easiest or most convenient way to use the internet, but it's like having a fortress around your important stuff. It would take a very clever person to break through all these defenses.

Remember, there are even more tricks to stay safe online, so if you're really worried about internet bad guys, it's a good idea to talk with a trustworthy, and highly experienced computer expert. Also, the Internet changes daily, meaning that even security related  information uploaded today, may possibly be obsolete by tomorrow, or even later the same day.

By following these steps and being vigilant about your online security, you can significantly reduce the risk of your devices being hacked. Ultimately however, you need to be responsible for your own safety online and offline, do your own research and conduct your own due diligence. 

The above is not intended to be advice and is only provided as information regarding possible courses of action that you may or may not wish to take. The final decision regarding what you do is as always ultimately yours. Stay safe, live long and prosper.

The bad news is that if your devices are not already well protected and if you are not vigilant about what websites you visit. then the chances are high that your devices are already hacked and your details are vulnerable.

The need to be vigilant about Internet security (and the Internet is very insecure) cannot be overemphasized. Hackers are everywhere, and hacking apps may now even be embedded inside the new hardware you buy, or hackers may have added apps after the hardware was manufactured. Devices such as printers and even some cables with chips etc now have enough electronic circuitry built into them that hackers can hide their applications within the hardware. Be especially cautious about buying cheap USB sticks and other devices. Click the following link to learn more. USB stick hacking

Also, try to avoid visiting tempting websites or downloading applications that may be specially created to spread viruses to computers and mobile phones. We know that all of this is challenging, but if you are careless and are not vigilant, being hacked can leave your bank accounts empty and possibly even your life savings could be gone forever and be completely unrecoverable.

When browsing the web always and without fail use a secure browser. The reason for this is that you will often see different results when browsing using a secure browser, compared to when browsing using an insecure browser, this is especially true if you are someone who is developing anything that may be of importance and value to yourself or to others, and you do not want potentially sensitive business information to be hacked. Remember that hackers are everywhere and they want to know what you are doing so that they can steal your ideas or the ideas of your clients. Think along the lines of if you were working on a top-secret project for the government, you would only be allowed to work on that project inside a secure environment that was protected from hackers as much as possible. Even if you are only developing a little website for your new business, you need to take steps to protect your intellectual property from people who want to steal your ideas and your client's information. Don't assume that a hacker is sitting watching you all of the time and waiting to steal your ideas. Instead, the hackers now have software applications, (often automated artificial intelligence applications) that watch you and wait for opportunities to steal whatever they can when they can. Then the hackers have AI systems to investigate and analyse that information, looking for anything that may be of value such as passwords or banking information or even business secrets.

One of the most secure browsers currently available in Google Chrome, although it is only secure (or more secure) when used in incognito mode. There are some inconveniences involved when using Chrome in incognito mode, these inconveniences are unfortunate, although are part of the browser helping to keep your system secure. Other secure browsers do exist, and some of these are described on this website. Plus, always keep applications such as Chrome up to date, and ensure that you are always using the latest version of the application. Hackers may stop your applications from automatically updating, so you may need to manually check that the apps are updated on a regular basis.

To learn more, go to YouTube and search using the term 'Hacking', then search for relevant videos to learn how to Protect yourself from hackers.

Another way to help protect your devices from hackers is to install the new operating system Chrome OS flex on your computer. Click to Learn More.

You can potentially also install alternative, highly secure operating systems on your phone. Click to Learn More.

Artificial Intelligence is amazing, and will over the next few years change the world beyond recognition, just as the Internet has done over the past 30+ years. Millions of individuals around the world are now learning to use AI applications to help organise and run their businesses and their private lives. For better or for worse AI is now out of its box and can never be put back in, and those businesses that choose to ignore it are doomed to obscurity, while those who embrace it, have the promise of a bright future.

Also, we need to ask what exactly is Artificial Intelligence. Is it just a machine like any other machine, or is it something completely different, possibly even a new species that we have created, and which is now reproducing as more organisations and even individuals create their own unique AI applications? If so, will AI eventually compete with us for resources etc, and is it already influencing us via the Internet, and if so how would we know? Click the following link to learn more. AI promises and perils.

For Linux Ubuntu users there is now a new secure Ubuntu Pro system available. Visit YouTube to learn more here.

You can also help to secure your website against hackers by using Google sites to create and host your website.

Also, avoid keeping passwords on your computer or phone, even in what you may have been told is a secure app. Instead. write your password down in a convenient paper notebook and keep that safe. Plus create a paper backup and also keep that safe in case you lose the first one, or in case it gets stolen. Then if you do lose the first notebook, you can use the second one to help you change your passwords and record the new passwords in your notebook, then make a new paper-based copy as a backup. I know this all sounds crazy and inconvenient, but the Internet is becoming a very insecure place to be, and hackers and hacking software applications are everywhere.

The following is not exactly a security issue but is one that can at times be especially troublesome for website developers and others, and that is the need to remember to clear the cache. The cache is the ability of website browsers to remember old information, and this can sometimes become an issue if you change the destination that a domain name is directed to, and forget to clear the browsers' cache. If a browser's cache is not cleared, the browser will send you to the old address instead of sending you to the new address. Learn more here. You may at times need to find out how to clear the cache in a particular browser or on the specific model of mobile you have. Search here for details.

The following is the address of the Australian Cyber Security website https://www.cyber.gov.au/ . Click the following link to locate the consumer protection website for your country https://www.econsumer.gov

About Cookies used on this website. Also, learn about computer Security Keys here and here.


New, highly secure operating systems

In our extensive experience acquired over the years when using different types of computers and different operating systems, we have found Linux Ubuntu to usually be a great operating system for our purposes, as the levels of security and ease of use, plus the ease of installation are exceptional, and the old days of operating system installations being technically difficult are now possibly behind us. We can even remember installing DOS onto PCs before version 1 of Windows was even created. We are now pleased to note the release of Ubuntu Pro, which apparently promises to help fix many if not all of our PC web security issues.

Click the following links to learn more. Ubuntu Pro: Link1    Link2, or the Chrome OS FlexLink1    Link2Then, after viewing relevant videos, on YouTube, select 'Desktop' in section one on the page. The annual cost of Ubuntu Pro for Desktops is only $25 per year, or if you alternatively select Public cloud instances, the installation is free. The Chrome OS Flex system appears to be free for all installations and should be more than adequate for use by the vast majority of computer users.

Our recommendation is to dump Windows and switch to using Ubuntu Pro or preferably switch to using Chrome OS Flex You can try either system for free by first installing the system onto a suitable USB stick, and then restarting your machine with the stick installed. You may then be asked to press certain keys during the installation process. We recommend that you first back up all of the valuable content from your machine onto a separate removable drive or USB stick prior to installing the new system. This is in case something goes wrong with the installation process, such as either you or the system accidentally selecting the wrong drive to install the new system onto. 

Later, after trialling Ubuntu Pro or Chrome OS Flex on your machine, if you installed the system onto your main drive, you can overwrite your existing operating system, or you may even be able to install dual bootable systems onto your machine by retaining your old system in addition to installing the new system. This is subject to you possessing an appropriate level of skills and knowledge to do so. Many IT professionals are now acquiring experience in installing and using either or both Ubuntu Pro and Chrome OS Flex, so you should if required be able to secure assistance from your preferred local IT professional.

The Australian Cyber and Infrastructure Security Centre is asking Australians to designate one hour each day between April 10 and 14 to take action on improving cyber hygiene and learning how to continue to keep yourself safe and your devices secure.

To help you get started, download the checklist from the Cyber Challenge website:


Also, there is a word that is rarely used in general conversation, although is often used by individuals who write code for applications and websites etc, and may also fall into the vocabulary of lawyers. The word is 'obfuscate' and it means to mislead or to hide information. Apparently, coders often obfuscate code to help protect trade secrets and other sensitive information which is apparently perfectly legal. If documents are however purposely 'obfuscated' in order to mislead readers, especially in regard to legal documents such as contracts, that may very well prove to be an illegal activity if challenged in a court of law.

CHATgpt says:

"Obfuscating personal information such as social security numbers or credit card numbers in a document is a common practice to protect the privacy of individuals, and it is not illegal. Similarly, obfuscating trade secrets or sensitive information to protect a company's intellectual property is also legal.

However, if the purpose of obfuscating a document is to hide illegal or unethical activities, it can be considered illegal. For example, falsifying financial records by obfuscating or altering data to hide fraudulent activities is illegal and can result in criminal charges.

Overall, the legality of obfuscating documents depends on the intent and context of the obfuscation."


Written by: WCT staff

The above article is duplicated from one of our other websites.

Valuable websites to be aware of: https://www.cyber.gov.au/ 

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