Update Your WordPress Blog Frequently

Most people probably don’t need to be told this as a blog is usually updated pretty regularly. However, it happens sometimes that you may have several blogs or you just created a WordPress site and figured that once it was up and running that you didn’t need to do anything with it anymore. This is not a good idea. You should log into your blog at least every week to get the latest updates to WordPress, plugins, and themes. If you don’t, you risk leaving your blog unprotected from the latest security exploits and it is only a matter of time before your blog is hacked and some changes are made that you don’t want made. Hackers will often insert code into your site that will present users with pop-ups or redirect them to sites they don’t want to be on. Sometimes they even infect the user’s computer and do the same things there. When Google and other search engines try to update their index and crawl your site then will see the infections and start telling people not to visit your site. This lowers your traffic and hurts your PageRank and your site’s reputation. Your position in searches will go way down as it is no longer a very friendly site to visit.

There are a couple things you can do to prevent this from happening while you are away. You can install the WordFence plugin and have your site scanned on a regular basis. You can install many different plugins to backup your blog so that it is easier to fix if you are hacked. I’ve heard good things about BackupBuddy (paid) but I personally use the free WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin. I’m just cheap. I know how to restore and modify databases and re-upload my files. If you aren’t a very adventurous computer user you may have more peace of mind with BackupBuddy as it makes the whole backup and restore process very simple.

To close, you should check in with your WordPress site frequently just because the web is not static. Things change and you need to change with them. This is really true for just about any site in general. As an added bonus, if you maintain your blog or site on a regular basis you will be rewarded with higher search rankings and higher traffic. Search engines love sites that are constantly staying fresh and relevant.

Norton Internet Security Review

Every computer on the internet needs some sort of active protection. Norton is one of those products that has been around a long time. I’ve been using Norton products for over 10 years and I’ve been using and supporting users of Norton Internet Security since it was released. I’ve not always been a fan of Norton. When I first came across it, I knew little else. I had heard the name a lot and consequently used it by default. Good old marketing doing its work. Within a few years I found myself troubleshooting Norton products quite a bit. They had a tendency to get a bit wonky. They also tended to be a bit difficult to remove. Eventually I discovered the Norton Removal Tool which was released by Norton to make life a little bit easier for the folks like myself who were stuck with supporting it out in the field. After a few clients’ computers had some emergencies as a direct result of a Norton glitch, I embarked on a journey to discover which product I was comfortable using and recommending. I swore off  Norton for several years and tried Avast, Malwarebytes, PC Doctor, Webroot, AVG, McAfee and Kaspersky on various computers but mostly my own.

Within the last couple years a friend of mine has been giving me 1-year licenses for Norton Internet Security and Norton 360 to give to my clients and friends. I started of installing it on a few inconsequential computers at work. After a year with no problems, I started giving them to my clients whenever they needed antivirus protection. I was impressed by how much had changed in the intervening years. Symantec has put a lot of effort into streamlining the user experience and slimming down the application itself. It no longer brings computers to their knees like it used to. I’ve had none of the old problems with instability or installation and re-installation. There is very little configuration necessary to make it work in your environment. There are no applications in our business environment for which I’ve had to spend any abnormal amount of time tweaking the firewall.

It really has been a much better experience this time around. I don’t mind giving copies of Norton Internet Security away anymore. I know they will only serve to strengthen my relationships with my clients. As for the pricing for those of you who don’t have well-connected benefactors, they have fairly standard pricing. It isn’t a rip-off. There is truth to the saying “You get what you pay for” and it is only that much more true when it comes to security. There are companies out there with a bit more competitive pricing but Norton is a great contender once again.

Kaspersky Internet Security Review

For a long time I tried various antivirus and internet security programs on my own and on clients’ computers. I’ve tried AVG, Norton, Microsoft Security Essentials, PC Doctor Antivirus, and several others. I currently use Kaspersky Internet Security on all of my computers and have done so for a few years. I own the 3 pc subscription and use it on my laptop, home desktop, and work desktop. I was drawn to Kaspersky by a comparison done a while back that drew the conclusion that Kaspersky performed better than any other packages in detecting new threats (heuristics).

As most infections occur in the short time between a threat being released into the internet and a patch being pushed out by the security companies, I decided I would pick the package that best protected me during that critical window. I’ve been very pleased by the method of updating that Kaspersky uses. It updates several times a day but it doesn’t suck up my bandwidth. The updates tend to be incremental and don’t tax my system. The firewall rarely gets in my way and is very easy to configure. The various protection services that are provided are easy to disable if I need to do so. Kaspersky is one of those companies that never stops improving its products. I’ve seen the software grow and develop in the time that I’ve used it. The protection software I’m using now has more features than the one I bought. They are clearly working hard to keep up with the changing landscape that is the internet and are finding new ways to protect their customers that we don’t even know are necessary.

You can even install and try it out for a while if you aren’t sure that you want to commit the money right away.

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Whatever you do, whoever you go with, always install some sort of internet security suite if you are going to be connecting to the internet. Always keep it updated too (although I’ve never had to bug Kaspersky to do that).

Managing passwords with KeePass 2 and Dropbox

I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I have way too many login names and passwords too keep track of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone pull up a Word document and scroll down a list 40 miles long to try to find the right username and password for a particular site. Often as well, I’ll see someone rummaging around their office trying to find the CD envelope or printed receipt on which they have jotted down their information. Everyone knows that the computer was invented to reduce this clutter and make such things easier. The major problem I have found is that computers simply aren’t normally that reliable. No one wants to consolidate all of their most important and sensitive information into such a temperamental and hackable environment.

In response to that situation, I have been using a system that has worked very well for me and has made managing and using my logins very easy. To start, I enter all of my information into an encrypted KeePass 2 database. This is a very well designed application which makes it very easy to organize and find credentials for massive amounts of sites, applications, and even licenses. One of the features I like the most is the ability to double-click the URL stored in a credential entry (ie. storefront.biz/bizlogin) which opens up in my default browser. I then double-click the username, paste it in the login form, double-click the password, paste it in the login form and I’m good to go! On top of that, KeePass automatically clears the clipboard within a few seconds so that no one will be able to just paste my password after I’m gone.

“Why not just rely on the browser to store my passwords?” you may ask. Ah, I’m glad you may have asked. While I do this as well, I find that it is still very helpful to have the password stored in a discrete file that I can manage myself. This allows me to place it in Dropbox, Google Drive, or my Mesh SkyDrive. This satisfies the need to have the critical information backed up as soon as possible after changes are made. It also allows me to share it with others. This makes it cross platform. I frequently access my KeePass database on my HTC Thunderbolt via Dropbox. While Chrome will share my stored passwords with other computers, it still doesn’t share with my phone’s browser. This also means I will have easy access to my credentials no matter what browser I use. Sometimes I am forced to use Firefox for LogMeIn.com instead of my usual Chrome. Another reason is that browsers don’t have nearly as nice of an interface for simply looking up your information at a moment’s notice. What if you need to type the password for your secondary Facebook into a mobile device? Staring at the masked password in your browser isn’t helpful.

KeePass also has several features which enable the average user to maintain very high security with their passwords. You can set expirations for certain passwords and have a very secure password generated automatically. Most people use the same password for almost everything and never change it. Using KeePass instead of a Word Doc makes using a 70 character password no more difficult to change and use than a 6 character password. I use this system with all of my customers. I never have to ask them what the new password is because I have an updated version of the database available to me. They never have to worry about getting a hold of me if a password has changed because they know it is stored in the KeePass database. They also have peace of mind because the database is stored and updated automatically on all of their devices and the cloud.

As I mentioned earlier, KeePass is also very useful for storing software licenses for the average user. I use it to manage my own software serial such as for Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

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