Category Archives: Internet

Keep your stuff safe and avoid stolen items

Hopefully we have all got lots of presents. Let’s keep them safe. For protecting/tracing other items, then the UK National Property register at https://www.immobilise.com/ lets you register valuables and helps Police get your stuff back to you.

There is always a danger of buying electronics that are not sold by the rightful owner. One useful site is imeipro.info. This lets you check the IMEI number of a phone (basically its serial number) against a list to see if it has been stolen. It also lets you register that yours has been stolen.

You can find your IMEI by dialling *#06#, on an Android by looking at settings-about phone-all specs-status-imei or for an iphone settings-general-about. Make a note of the number.

Scammers are still succeeding

Nearly a million people fell prey to scammers over the summer according to OfCom research. 45 million people were targetted by emails, phone calls or texts between June and September.

So we still need to be on our guard. One new service is the 159 number. Calling this from a different phone will get you through to the customer services department of your bank (nearly all major ones are signed up). So if you get a call from your bank, the police, HMRC or any financial matter call 159 to check it out.

Staying private on WhatsApp

WhatsApp is great, but what if you want to keep things private?

A great new feature of WhatsApp is the ability to create photo or video messages that can only be seen just once. Create a message and add a video or photo in the caption area you’ll see a 1 in a circle. Tap this and the message can only be seen once by the recipient before disappearing or will delete if unopened for 14 days. Great for sharing passwords and other confidential stuff. Just be aware that they cab still photograph the screen, for example, to keep a copy.

Secondly, you can set a chat so that all messages will disappear after a set length of time. This doesn’t work for all group chats, where you need to be the group admin. Open the chat and press the chat name at the top. In the options below you will see ‘disappearing messages’. Turn this on and any new messages will disappear seven days after being sent.

If you are in a group chat but don’t want your comment to be seen by all the rest of the group, long-press the message and then the three dots at the top right. Choose ‘reply privately’ to open the contacts window so you can message just the message creator.

Upgrading your password security

I do write from time to time about the importance of password security. Long, complex and unique is the way, but they are hard to remember and type in!

That is why I recommend using a password manager to create, remember and enter your login details. Examples are Lastpass, 1password and Bitwarden.

These also have the benefits of synchronising between your computers, tablets and phones so you always have your passwords with you.

Up to now they also have had password security checks to let you know that some of your passwords are weak (bad) or reused (really bad). But changing your password could be a drag and many people didn’t bother.

Most of them now have a system to help you update these insecure passwords by logging you onto the site and getting you to the password change page. This makes it easier to update your password.

So if you don’t use a password manager, then do. If you do use a password manager, then run the security check on your passwords.

Stay secure, stay safe.

Roaming charges may be back

I wrote recently about roaming in the EU still being free. Well that was bad luck!

It seems that EE and O2 are bringing some back for new or renewed contracts. O2 isn’t so bad. They will charge £3.50 per gb for data after you have used 25gb. I don’t think that will affect many – I struggle to use 2gb a month!

EE is a bit stricter. From the start of 2022, it will cost £2 a day to use your allowances in 47 countries – that calls, texts or data. However, a#Roam Abroad’ pass will cost £10 for 30 days.

Not great news, but still cheaper than hotel or ship wifi.

We’ll have to see what the other operators do.

Firefox keeps cookies at bay

One of the biggest bugbears of the internet is cookies that track you around. Now, you can set your browser to delete cookies when you close the browser, but they still work whilst you are on the internet. The biggest problem is that can track you across the web, even on other sites.

Firefox 89 has added ‘containers’ to its private browsing mode, so cookies stay ‘inside’ the specific website you are looking at. Use private browsing via Ctrl+Shift+P. Great for staying private.

In the same way I use the add-on ‘Facebook container’ to stop Facebook following me around.

Just so you know, Firefox is my browser of choice although Microsoft Edge is gaining my approval.

Capture web pages from Microsoft Edge

A useful feature of the Edge web browser is that you can take copies of all or part of a web page that interests you.

Just go to the page you want and press the menu button (three dots at the top-right). Now you can copy a selection that you outline or the whole web page (not just what you can see on the screen, Next press the ‘copy’ icon to paste the image or the’ save’ icon to create an image file.

Another reason to use Edge rather than Chrome. Firefox has a similar feature in the latest versions. Just right click on the web page and choose what you want to copy.

Whatsapp changes group security

After starting data-sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp has reportedly changed a setting to allow anyone to add you to a group: this might mean marketing businesses or, more worryingly, scams or loan sharks or whatever.

To change the setting on your phone so that only those in your contact list (or even fewer) can add you to groups, go to settings> account >privacy>groups and select ‘my contacts’ or ‘my contacts except’

Should you change search engines?

Most of us realise that Google collects lots of data about us and how we use computers. That’s one reason I stay signed out on my main computer.

But what if you want to stop using Google for searching the web? Well there are several other options out there, but we are looking for ones that don’t harvest your data.

In my opinion, the best for privacy is DuckDuckGo, which has no relation to Google at all. However, this means that it doesn’t have access to the power of Google search.

An alternative is Startpage from the Netherlands. This pays Google a small fee to use the Google search engine but avoids tracking your activity. Obviously they need to make money to pay the fee to Google, so you do get some adverts and sponsored links. But these are not ‘personalised for your benefit’. And that sounds good to me.