Tag Archives: Email Address

Cloud Storage – Great Idea or Security Risk?

This guest post is contributed by my Aussie mate, Jim Hillier. Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at Dave’s Computer Tips. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.


“On no, we’ve lost all of little Johnny’s birthday snaps”, the woman cries as she holds her smashed smartphone aloft. With a knowing smile, her husband responds, “Don’t fret dear, they’re all in the cloud”. All is well, peace and harmony reign again.

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Even less than a decade ago, any mention of “cloud storage” or “data in the cloud” would have almost certainly elicited a puzzled response. Today though, I’d imagine just about everyone would be familiar with the concept. “The cloud”, it’s a rather exotic term which simply means your data is uploaded to and stored on somebody else’s server, essentially on an internet connected hard disk owned and operated by the cloud service provider.

There is no doubt that the advantage of being able to access data from anywhere on any device creates a massive appeal factor, especially for multiple device users. Not to mention the automatic backup element which is clearly demonstrated in the opening paragraph.

It all sounds like a great idea, that is until you start considering what might and can go wrong. Of course, cloud storage providers take the utmost care with your data, at least according to them. They apply top notch security measures including encrypted data transfers. Trouble is, the encryption key is also stored on their machines, which means any of their staff can access those files as can any hacker who manages to break into the system.

I realize every method is susceptible to hackers, whether the data is stored locally or in the cloud. However, which do you think would represent the most desirable target – a local disk containing only your own personal data or a mega database containing data uploaded from thousands (if not millions) of users, all in one place?

Another concern involves the future viability of a chosen cloud storage provider – just ask those who entrusted their data to Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload. What happens to your data if the company is sold, goes bankrupt, or just closes down? Then there’s the scenario where cloud storage providers can simply change the terms of their plans, exactly as Microsoft did recently when the company drastically reduced the amount of data storage available under its free OneDrive plan.

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I guess though, when it comes to data in the cloud, the greatest concern for most people is privacy. While Microsoft OneDrive openly scans all your files – for illegal content of course, most providers will collect data to share with “trusted third parties”. Naturally, many of these providers need to process sensitive information, such as your name, email address, phone number, credit card details and mailing address, in order to “improve their services”. And Santa Claus visits once a year around Christmas.

Despite the cynicism, I do believe that cloud storage can be decidedly useful and I’m certainly not dismissing the practice out of hand. However, as is the case with many situations… everything within reason.

I would not, for example, store any sensitive data in the cloud, whether encrypted locally beforehand or not. Family photos, life-memories, items which are valuable only to the user and serve no purpose for anyone else… sure, no problem.

Regardless, the important thing to remember is that any backup is preferable to no backup at all. If you don’t fancy storing your data in the cloud, dust off that external drive and use that instead. Works for me.

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Filed under cloud storage, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Safety, Privacy, Technicians Advise, Windows Tips and Tools

Ashampoo Database Hacked – What You Need To Know

I could spend all day, every day, reporting on nothing more than the latest cyber criminal targeted intrusions into enterprise IT systems.  Two reports from my today’s Tech Net News column illustrate that we are barely scratching the surface of this significant, continuous, and rapidly expanding problem:

European Space Agency website and FTP servers hacked

Dramatic increase in cyber attacks on critical infrastructure

If you’re an everyday reader here, then you may recall that I regularly recommend that you take advantage of the German software developer Ashampoo’s, occasionally offered free application multipacks.

The downside (for some) is, you must register and provide an email address. Additional benefits can be gained by registering as an  Ashampoo member, which includes creating a password.

Unfortunately, Ashampoo has become a victim of a cyber criminal targeted intrusion aimed at their customer database. According to the company:

“Hackers gained access to one of our servers. We discovered the break-in and interrupted it instantly. The security gap through which the hackers gained access was closed immediately.

The stolen pieces of information are data of addresses such as name and e-mail address. Billing information (e.g. credit card information or banking information) is definitely not affected … it is not stored on our system.”

If you have taken advantage of Ashampoo’s offers, then it’s important that you exercise extreme caution with any future emails sent by the company and, any unsolicited email sent by any company, for that matter.

As well, if you have registered as an Ashampoo member, it’s important that you change your account password. Additionally, if you have used the same password elsewhere (you’d be surprised how often this occurs), it’s imperative that you change these passwords immediately.

My thanks to my buddy John B. (a great Scot!), for bringing this unfortunate incident to my attention this morning.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Email, Malware Advisories, Phishing, Tech Net News, Windows Tips and Tools

Five Firefox Disposable Email Address Add-ons – Share An Email Address Safely

imageMost of us are familiar with this old line – “Free online registration is required – and oh yeah, give us your email address so that we can send you the activation code.” It’s almost inevitable that solicitations for additional products, or services, will follow – at a minimum.

Even on this site, if you want to leave a comment you must provide an email address. I do this in an effort to control comment spam. This past Saturday, for example, I had to deal with almost 600 spam comments – sheesh!

Fortunately, the only person who can see the actual email address on a WordPress Blog, is the Blog owner. This precaution effectively shuts out email harvesters. Still, I recognize that a certain amount of trust is necessary that I won’t sell, or profit, from a commenter’s email address.

My good buddy Paul Lubic, over at Paul’s Home Computing Blog, addresses this issue head on by appending “I don’t share your email address with anyone…no one; I hate spam too”, to every post. I know Paul, so I can vouch for the accuracy of this statement – he hates spam.

If you do too (and why wouldn’t you), and you’re a Firefox users, there’s an abundance of add-ons which can help to protect your Online privacy, reduce Spam, and still allow you to comment, register for newsletters, join forums, and so on – all anonymously.

Each application description has been taken directly from the developer’s Mozilla page.

Less Spam, please

You want to register, leave a comment or just have a disposable email address at hand ? But you want to be able to retrieve mail from time to time and to use always the same address for the same web site ?

This is the solution. Less Spam, please create a (partially) random email address for you, always the same for a given web site. It relies on services (without registration) such as YopMail, MailCatch, Humaility or Mailinator.

TrashMail.net

Create free disposable email addresses and paste them directly in forms. This helps to protect you from spam mails and could be useful when subscribing to forums or newsletters… The email addresses can be deleted at any time! This plugin uses the free TrashMail.net DEA service.

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Create a temporary e-mailadress for 12 hours. Perfect when signing up on websites or forums and dont want to give away your personal e-mailadress.
All mails will be forward to your personal e-mailadress, after 12 hours the temporary e-mailadress will no longer work.

Spam Control

Spam control gives you easy-to-use control over who you give your email address to, and easy access to a number of spam fighting tools that help keep your inbox spam-free.

Spam Control adds a toolbar (which you can disable if you like) and a pop-up menu to Firefox. Whenever an input field has focus, you can use one of the buttons to automatically type an email address into the field, saving you having to type it or remember it.

Tempomail

As an anti-spam solution tempomail allows you to create a temporary email address redirecting each message to your mailbox for a given period of time. When this period of time expires, you will not receive any spam from the web sites on which you gave your temporary email address. Tempomail is not commercial and your email address will be stored in our logs only for legal archiving.

To create a temporary email address, just right click on a text field and select “tempomail” in the context menu. Then you’ll be asked for your real email address to which messages will be redirected during the time you selected. The temporary email address also appears in the text field as shown in the previews.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, downloads, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Privacy, Software, spam, Windows Tips and Tools