Is your personal online data safe from the growing security threats that, regrettably, are a part of our online world today? It’s a question every internet user needs to ask themselves.
Given the threats of phishing, ransomware, and other scams, it’s worth taking stock of your current online security and considering additional measures you can take to protect yourself.
Below are several tips to help you and your family better secure your online data and navigate the online waters more safely.
1. Invest in Quality Anti-Virus Software
Antivirus software is an essential tool in your digital toolbox. It can help protect you and your family from threats that could steal your personal information, login credentials, and other sensitive data. Popular programs include McAfee Antivirus Plus, Norton Antivirus Plus, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, and Kapersky Antivirus.
2. Review and Activate the Privacy Settings on All Connected Devices
Most devices like computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones come equipped with security features and privacy settings designed to protect users from digitally sharing personal details, such as your name, email address, and location while browsing online. Though none of these settings are totally foolproof by themselves, they can be a helpful first line of defense against many common threats. Be sure to review the privacy settings on each device and choose the level of protection with which you are most comfortable.
3. Share Personal Information Carefully and Sparingly on Social Media
People naturally use social media to share details of their lives. From birthdays to anniversaries to new addresses, social media pages can be a treasure trove of personal information that can tip off hackers to passwords and security question answers. Think carefully about what information should and shouldn’t be shared—especially when filling out those seemingly innocuous “copy and paste” surveys. Talk to your family about posting wisely but not widely.
4. Check Privacy Settings on Other Apps You Use for Log-ins, Such As Your Facebook and Google Accounts
Let’s face it—when installing a new app or logging into certain e-commerce or other websites, it’s just easier and faster to login in with our Facebook or Google accounts, rather than reentering our personal details for the umpteenth time. But that means you need to be careful with the data and information Google and Facebook share with the other Apps. Be especially attentive to the “permissions” you grant Facebook and Google through their privacy settings, as they connect your accounts with these other Apps.
5. Install Adblockers and Tracker Blockers
Although some of the programs listed in our first tip about Antivirus Software include them already, if you do not have them, consider installing Adblockers and Tracker Blockers. Ads are annoying, but they can also “take” some information from your devices that you would rather not share with an ad you didn’t want to see popup in the first place. Similarly, Trackers can “follow you” around the internet as you leave a trail of your online activity. Adblockers and Tracker Blockers can often be installed directly onto your web browser, and help provide protections against privacy exposures from ads and trackers, as well as reduce your overall privacy risk.
6. Establish a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Finally, consider establishing a Virtual Private Network. Now, we know that sounds a bit technical, and maybe even scary. But VPNs can provide extra layers of protection and privacy on top of the other measures you’ve already taken above. A VPN moves your data through a “tunnel” to a separate, secure server first, and then encrypts your personal data before it “hits” the web, shielding and even hiding sensitive aspects of the data, such as your location, from potential threats. There are many VPN service providers, including NordVPN, ProtonVPN, CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, and SurfShark. Another option, TunnelBear, is a less edgy, more user-friendly option for first-time VPN users.
The tips above are a good start to protecting your privacy and online data. And by employing these and other safeguards, you can use the fast fiber internet from Medina Fiber confidently, as well as reliably!
People are spending more time than ever at home this summer. It’s the perfect opportunity to use smart technology to transform your deck, patio or other outdoor space into a “connected” oasis. All you need is a strong internet connection from Medina County and a few essentials listed below to become the envy of the neighborhood.
Get the party going with perfect outdoor speaker
Whether you’re enjoying some downtime in your backyard or hosting a few friends for a “socially distanced” celebration, music should be part of the mix. But what smart speaker will do justice to your summer playlist?
Luckily, an array of highly durable options are now on the market:
- The UE Megaboom 3 is a highly portable Bluetooth speaker that can easily be toted from patio to poolside. Its sound quality is respectable. Its battery lasts for 20 hours. And at $150 to $200, it’s one of the more reasonably priced speakers that can hold up to summer heat and pool splashes.
- If you’ve got the outdoor space and are looking for something more substantial, consider the Polk Atrium 4. For roughly the price of the Megaboom, you’ll get a pair of speakers that produce high-quality sounds that can be heard over party chatter and kids playing in the pool.
- Wanting to go all out? Sonos Move produces unrivaled, stereo-quality sound for up to 10 hours. Its wide soundscape, paired with the speakers’ easy switch from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi make it easy to see what it’s the leader of the class. But keep in mind, this speaker is an investment at about $400.
Keep that landscaping looking lush
No backyard paradise would be complete without beautiful, lush landscaping. But who wants to keep up with the watering? That’s where smart watering apps come in.
One of our favorites? For $100, the Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller will activate your sprinkler system any time from anywhere. And its app will give you insight into water consumption from your iPhone or iPad. Want to change up your irrigation schedule? Siri will take your voice command and get it done.
Keeping your paradise cool.
Outdoor spaces quickly become unusable during the heat of the day. Too many homeowners must crawl behind patio furniture or through bushes to turn on their fans, misters and other small appliances.
There’s a much better way thanks to a growing line of new smart plugs, including the iHome control iSP100 outdoor smart plug. Pair this $40 water-resistant plug with Alexa, Siri, Nest or other platform to turn on your device with a voice command. You can also set it for specific times on certain days and never worry again about keeping the party going.
Plugs aren’t the only thing getting in the smart game. Smart bulbs like the Eufy Lumos offer on-demand dimming and can even create color schemes.
Light up the night.
When the sun goes down, it’s time for outdoor areas to shine.
A growing line of smart lighting can highlight your foot paths, flowerbeds and water features. Some can even turn your outdoor area into a wonderland of color.
One of the most popular choices: Philips Hue lighting can be set to change brightness and yes, even color. Choose from Tropical Twilight, Arctic Auroro and others to set your backyard mood. Use Hue’s smartphone app or Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant to control the system.
Big screens for movie night
Whether it’s snuggling up to stream a romantic movie or laughing at silly YouTube videos with the kids, outdoor TVs are quickly becoming outdoor must-haves. Weather-resistant models, such as those made by Sunbrite, allow you to enjoy your show without worrying about rain, humidity or the sprinkler system destroying your TV.
Looking for something large and in charge? Check out the popular Sony XBR85X900F.
These outdoor devices, paired with fast and reliable Internet from Medina Fiber will ensure a fun summer in your backyard paradise!
If card catalogs and the Dewey Decimal System are what you remember about your local library, you’re probably long overdue for a visit. And with fast and reliable internet from Medina Fiber, you can do it from the comfort of your home.
Whether you’re a book lover, a browser, or a research junkie, virtual library resources are available at your fingertips.
The Digital Era
These days most libraries are equipped with digital lending services. Thankfully, this framework was already in place before the word ‘coronavirus’ ever entered the public lexicon. Now, one year on, demand for e-resources is higher than it’s ever been, and libraries have graciously risen to the occasion.
Most libraries use a platform called Hoopla to support their digital lending services. Hoopla bills itself as “a web and mobile library media streaming platform for audiobooks, comics, e-books, movies, music, and TV.” Other libraries use a service called OverDrive, “the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide,” which in turn hosts the apps Libby and Sora. Whatever platform your library uses, you’re guaranteed to get a premium experience with thousands of digital resources with just the click of a button.
So why choose virtual library services? Not only does digital lending keep you safe, secure, and healthy, it’s also significantly less expensive than buying new books directly from a retailer—approximately 100% cheaper, in fact. Buying books, whether digital or paperback, can be costly. Even renting e-books can really add up, especially for the voracious reader. So if you could get the same content for free, why wouldn’t you?
How To Access
To get the most out of your virtual library experience, you’ll still need your handy library card. You’ll probably also need a username and password to log in and access the digital resources, but thankfully, creating a profile is easy and free.
Whether you have a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, desktop computer, or even a smart TV, you’re able to log in and browse through a multitude of resources. That includes everything from audiobooks and e-books (with OverDrive), movies, television, music files, digitized newspapers and other print resources, and much more (with Hoopla).
These platforms work much the same way as an actual brick-and-mortar library: there are only a certain number of digital copies available for rental at any given time. Fortunately, you can put your name on the list, and you’ll get notified when the item is ready for you! You’ll also have a certain amount of time with your item(s) before they have to go back to the virtual library.
While your library card allows you to access your designated local library, you may have options to access other libraries in your surrounding region. Check with your local branch to learn more about your options and how you can get the most out of your virtual library experience.
As always, with a good connection from Medina Fiber, entertainment is never far away!
Online learning is the “new normal” these days thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
And parents are quickly learning that it’s difficult to keep their students engaged with virtual school lessons. (Fortnite on the sly, anyone? Snapchat under the kitchen table?)
Luckily, an array of inexpensive apps can manage those distracting sites, helping kids stay focused and get that schoolwork done.
Check out the best of the bunch:
- Kid-friendly unGlue links with a parent’s app to record and limit screen time spent on including videos, games and social media. Parents allot a daily amount of time for “entertainment.” Then, kids view how much time they get and earn more by completing preset chores. And if those homework assignments don’t get done? Parents can turn off internet access completely via the app.
- Other oh-so-clever blocking apps include Screentime, which allows parents to preset blocked times for school work time and Qustudio that tracks calls and texts (for Androids only). Another of our favorites: Norton Family. Its personal information protection (for Windows devices) blocks kids from disclosing sensitive information.
- Older students come with their own unique online challenges. We’ve got a fun way to get them motivated. Forest features a picture of a tree, which grows the longer a student stays on task. Hard work pays off with the growth of a lush forest. But if they jump onto TikTok/YouTube/whatever? The tree is in virtual trouble, shriveling and losing leaves.
- While tons of apps can help limit screen time, others teach kids how to be productive and manage their time. One of our favorites for preschoolers and early elementary students is the award-winning Choiceworks app, which helps children master daily routines and understand/control their feelings.
- With kids online now more than ever, safety is a top priority. Zift offers a ton of parental controls, including real-time reports about online searches and newly installed apps as well as alerts when inappropriate content is viewed. And instead of just blocking questionable content, Zift’s award-winning filter determines if content is kid-friendly in real time.
With these helpful tools, combined with fast and reliable Internet from Medina Fiber, you’ll be able to keep your kids focused on learning while at home in Medina County, Ohio.