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Gmail encryption: Everything you need to know

5 days 17 hours ago

Encryption may sound like a subject best left to hackers and tinfoil hat wearers, but don't be fooled: It's a critical part of contemporary life and something that's important for everyone, especially business users, to understand. And one of the places where encryption is most relevant and misunderstood is in the realm of email.

If you're using Gmail for electronic communication — be it for business purposes, for personal use, or some combination of the two — it's well worth your while to know how the service does and doesn't secure your information and what steps you can take to make sure you're getting the level of privacy you need.

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JR Raphael

A pre-Thanksgiving all-clear to install patches

6 days 13 hours ago

In the U.S., we’re quickly coming up to the start of holiday season, meaning it’s time for, well, time off. I typically add technology maintenance jobs to the monthly mix of patching and maintaining servers and workstations. This month, I’m also taking time to better understand the impact of one specific security bulletin — I honestly can’t figure out exactly what I’m supposed to do to keep my network secure. 

The good news: for most readers, none of these concerns apply to you. I’m ready to give the all-clear to go ahead and install Microsoft’s November updates on laptops, desktops and workstations — especially if you are running the Windows 10 1909 feature release. That said, do your Thanksgiving Zoom get-together first and then install any updates. I’d hate to have you see nothing but the spinning wheel of Windows updates instead of your family and friends.

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Susan Bradley

How to stay as private as possible on the Mac

6 days 14 hours ago

Apple has long positioned itself as a company that believes in your right to privacy. Here is how to use the privacy tools it provides with macOS for desktop Macs.

[ Related: How to stay as private as possible on Apple's iPad and iPhone ] Use a strong passcode

To secure your Mac, all of your data, and your privacy, it is essential to create a strong alphanumeric login password. The temptation to use something short or easy to remember is understandable, but if your Mac goes missing, your life is on show. So visit Security & Privacy>General and tap Change Password to pick something more challenging.

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Jonny Evans

Deciphering (and understanding) Microsoft’s patch management options

1 week 3 days ago

If you asked a normal user what they dislike most about Windows 10, the answer would likely be related to patching, rebooting and the generally confusing update process. Entire web sites have sections devoted to explaining the updating process and how to manage it — and I’ve written my fair share about the topic. 

In addition to writing about Microsoft patches here (and about Windows security for CSO), I’m also a moderator on the Patchmanagement.org listserve. We have many people who rely on various patching tools to deploy updates and maintain workstations.  There are a number of options, so it’s important to understand how they work (and how they vary) so you can get the most out of them.

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Susan Bradley

Microsoft exhorts enterprises to quit text, voice multi-factor authentication passcodes

1 week 6 days ago

A Microsoft executive is urging enterprises to abandon the most popular multi-factor authentication (MFA) method — one-time passcodes sent to mobile devices via text or voice — for different approaches, including app authenticators, that he claims are more secure.

"It's time to start your move away from the SMS and voice Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) mechanisms," asserted Alex Weinert, director of identity security, in a Nov. 10 post to a Microsoft blog. "These mechanisms are based on publicly switched telephone networks (PSTN), and I believe they're the least secure of the MFA methods available today."

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Gregg Keizer

Browser updates are back for Update Tuesday; testing may be needed for Windows patches

2 weeks 2 days ago

Though we return to monthly browser updates after last month's brief respite — none of this November's browser security issues are worm-able, and we have not seen anything that would require a return to an urgent browser update cycle. The Windows platform gets the most attention this time, but no single issue requires immediate deployment — though some legacy systems may require full testing for graphically intensive applications that rely on older graphic/media conversion technology. And the Microsoft Office and associated development platforms receive some lower-rated patches, with recommendations for a standard roll-out regime. 

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Greg Lambert

The November Patch Tuesday aftermath

2 weeks 3 days ago

November’s updates held a few surprises. 

First, for those still running Office 2010 last month was supposed to be the drop-dead date for support.  No more security updates at all.  None.  Zilch.  Zippo.  

And yet, we week received updates for Excel (KB4486743), Office (KB4486737, KB4486738, KB4484534, KB4484455), and for Word (KB4486740) — all of which patch for remote code executions.  (I remember when Office 2007 had its swan song, we received updates after its end-of-life notice as well.) My guess is that these updates were probably still in testing and had not yet been completed, hence the late release. So, if you are still running Office 2010, you get one more month’s worth of updates.  I don’t expect another set next month. But then again, I didn’t expect this month’s either.

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Susan Bradley

Online privacy: Best browsers, settings, and tips

2 weeks 3 days ago

“You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it,” Scott McNealy said of online privacy back in 1999, a view the former CEO of the now-defunct Sun Microsystems reiterated in 2015. Despite the hue and cry his initial remarks caused, he’s been proven largely correct.

Other ways to protect yourself on the web: GDPR, CCPA, and AdChoices

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(Insider Story)
Galen Gruman

11 Android settings that'll strengthen your security

2 weeks 5 days ago

You might not know it from all the panic-inducing headlines out there, but Android is actually packed with powerful and practical security features. Some are activated by default and protecting you whether you realize it or not, while others are more out of the way but equally deserving of your attention.

So stop wasting your time worrying about the Android malware monster du jour and which security company is using it to scare you into an unnecessary subscription, and take a moment instead to look through these far more impactful Android security settings — ranging from core system-level elements to some more advanced and easily overlooked options.

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JR Raphael

For Patch Tuesday, it's time to pause those Windows 10 updates

2 weeks 6 days ago

First a bit of an introduction.  Recently, Woody Leonhard decided to take a much deserved “retirement” from both AskWoody.com and Computerworld. I put “retirement” in quotes because I find that in IT, you never really retire. You're often called on to fix anything that has a motherboard or boots up, no matter what operating system is under the hood — especially when visiting family members and even in a pandemic.  Woody is back in Thailand on what he calls an extended vacation.

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Susan Bradley

On a personal note...

2 weeks 6 days ago

A combination of medical concerns, family obligations … and a screaming desire to turn my attention to interests outside the computer industry have nudged me into retirement.

And it's my great pleasure to announce that "Patch Lady" Susan Bradley will be taking up the cause here at Computerworld  with a new blog: Microsoft Patch Lady. She will also be major-domo of AskWoody.com, managing editor of the AskWoody Newsletters, as guiding light of the @AskWoody twitter charge — and, most importantly, as a spiritual advisor to gazillions of disenfranchised Microsoft customers.

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Woody Leonhard

How to give Chrome a super-simple security upgrade

3 weeks 5 days ago

Smart security, just like autumn attire, is all about layers. The more effective pieces you have working to protect you, the less likely you'll be to let a burst of cold air — whether a metaphorical one or a literal one — catch you off-guard. (Also, the more flannel, the better. I'm not entirely sure how that applies to the tech side of things, but I'm stickin' with it.)

When it comes to browsing this wild ol' web of ours, after all, potential threats are a-plenty. Shady sites sit in wait to try to trick you into doing something dangerous, passwords are compromised constantly, and ghoulish virtual boogeymen who look curiously like Gary Busey crouch behind dark corners and prepare to pounce.

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JR Raphael

The New Normal: When work-from-home means the boss is watching

1 month ago

In the midst of a pandemic that’s led to unprecedented levels of remote working, digital tools to monitor employees in real time are gaining popularity among companies looking for new ways to track employee productivity. At the same time, the trend raises concerns about employee privacy and how far companies should be allowed to go to keep tabs on their workers.

Applications such as StaffCop, Teramind, Hubstaff, CleverControl, and Time Doctor include real-time activity tracking, can take screenshots of workers’ computers at regular intervals, do keystroke logging, and record screens. In some cases, the tracking tools can be installed without the knowledge of employees. Companies say they’re focused on transparency and productivity, but privacy groups decry draconian “Big Brother” moves made possible by technology. (Computerworld reached out to several of the vendors for comment; they either did not return messages or could not provide someone to discuss their software.)

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Matthew Finnegan

Microsoft Patch Alert: October 2020

1 month 1 week ago

October 2020 brought a lighter-than-usual crop of patches. For the first time in recent memory, there were none at all for Internet Explorer or the (Chromium-based) Edge browser. The cumulative updates went in with few reports of problems, although there were many complaints about printers not working after the update.

Strange things happened, though, outside the usual monthly patching schedule. The day after Patch Tuesday, Microsoft announced a(nother) fix for a security hole in the HEVC codec — CVE-2020-17022 — distributed, once again, only through the Microsoft Store.

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Woody Leonhard

A phenomenal Android privacy feature you probably forget to use

1 month 1 week ago

It's amazing how many useful Android features get buried in the operating system and then forgotten over time.

When you stop and think about it, it's also kind of inevitable: With every passing year, Android grows increasingly robust and complex, as more advanced options make their way into the software. So it's only logical that certain elements will become out of sight and out of mind and get lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way.

One such item jumped out at me the other day, triggering an immediate "AHAH!" in this rusty ol' noggin of mine as I remembered its existence and then scolded myself for forgetting to use it all this time. It's a little somethin' called Android Guest Mode, and it first showed up way back in the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) era of 2014.

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JR Raphael
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33 minutes 47 seconds ago
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About SecurityFeeds

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Tim Weil is a Security Architect/IT Security Manager with over twenty five years of IT management, consulting and engineering experience in the U.S. Government and Communications Industry.  Mr. Weil's technical areas of expertise include IT Security Management, Enterprise Security Architecture, FISMA Compliance, Identity Management, and Network Engineering. Mr. Weil is a Senior Member of the IEEE and has served in several IEEE positions.