cybersecurity

Current phishing trends that may impact YOUR cybersecurity

When it comes to phishing in 2022, cybercriminals continue to target people more than tech infrastructure. That is, ‘pirates’, using social engineering, are probing for weaknesses in our defences, rather than in our cybersecurity defences. After all, it’s easier to get someone to open the 6ft gate than to find a way to climb over it or punch through it. Which brings us to our first major 2022 phishing trend:

Help Ukraine, Help the people, Help the children.

As insidious as this is, phishing and cryptocurrency scams are using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to their advantage. Indeed, as 2020 was to Covid phishing scams, 2022 is to the Ukrainian conflict, with new cyber threats popping up daily that pull on heartstrings to collect donations, data and/or cryptocurrency from victims. Look out for email subject lines such as ‘Support Ukrainian Children’ or ‘Ukraine donations desperately needed.’ (And only ever donate to organisations that you have confirmed are 100% legitimate.)

Brand and business impersonation

This form of phishing is increasing not only in scale but also in sophistication. As users become savvier, phishing attackers are using brands or businesses that we know and commonly interact with to create a facade of legitimacy. Users are asked to click on links and provide personal information; including passwords – via emails titled ‘Data breach’, ‘Potential account termination’ or ‘Password reset required’. And these emails are (allegedly) coming from the likes of Microsoft, LinkedIn and Amazon. Always be suspicious of emails that link you to a site requesting for your log-in and other details. Never provide your credentials via such a link. 

Tax season scams

Tax season: time to buy some last-minute office equipment (or some top-tier business tech!), worry about the shoebox of receipts and fend off tax-season scams. The main thing to remember when it comes to tax time is that the ATO will never ask for personal information by email or text. (And they’ll never call you with a doom-laden message threatening arrest or jail time, either.) Any such message – requesting your tax file number or credit card details – can be disregarded as cyber fraud.

And remember: clicking such a link can also lead to disaster; potentially allowing scammers access to your computer system and then holding you or your business to ransom. If in any doubt: DELETE.

The ATO also has a regularly updated list of scams if you need to verify or report a problem.

Contact Geelong’s cybersecurity experts to reduce your risk of being scammed

At Geelong Technology Group, we’re kind of enthralled by scammers. (They’re always doing something new! Smishing attempts keep proliferating! They’re getting tricksier!) And we keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats. But what we really love is helping homes and businesses in Geelong, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac and Warrnambool with their online security. We’re here to help with our anti-piracy solutions and cyber-attack prevention services, so don’t hesitate to contact us today on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484). Or drop by to chat with the team at 166 Francis Street, Belmont.

work computer

What NOT to do on a work computer

Work computer. The name says it all really. This is your computer for work. And yet with more of us working from home and the work-life divide getting ever blurrier, sometimes it’s easy to slip! There are, however, numerous reasons to keep your personal and professional lives separate. One is to avoid cybersecurity breaches – the last thing you want is to inadvertently introduce a virus or malware to your organisation. Another is for your own privacy: employers can install software to monitor what you do on your work-issued device, so act accordingly!

Five things you should never do on your work computer

You know the simple things – don’t search for a new job, click on dodgy websites or download the entire Lars von Trier back catalogue. But what else should you avoid?

1. Don’t save personal passwords

Storing passwords and personal information in a keychain is easy – and tempting for that reason – but this is a definite no-no. Imagine your computer is an open book that can be taken and read by your employer at any time. Or by the tech team tasked with upgrading it. Or by the new hire who is using it temporarily while you’re home sick. Saving your personal passwords is risking the security of your personal data.

2. Don’t store personal documents

Just as saving passwords is not recommended, neither is storing personal documents. Don’t assume that your company’s Google docs and desktop folders are private. It’s important to remember that a work device is not your property – it belongs to the company and can be taken back at any time, along with anything you’ve stored on it.

3. Don’t access free public wi-fi

Public wi-fi networks cause several security risks, including hackers accessing your device or the risk of malware infections. In order to protect both your own and your company’s data, ensure you’re only ever connected to a secure, password-protected internet connection (and never leave your laptop physically unattended). 

If you must use public wi-fi, use a good, preferably employer-provided, VPN.

4. Don’t turn off company-installed applications

Company-installed apps such as anti-virus software and backup utilities have been added to your computer for a reason – generally for cybersecurity, data security and business continuity. If you turn off these applications without prior authorisation you’re putting your workplace at risk – not only of losing information should your device suffer a mishap but of possibly calamitous damage from a targeted cyber attack. 

5. Don’t ‘talk smack’ over slack

Or Campfire. Or Google Hangout. Messaging software is fantastic for team collaboration, but remember that admins have access to private messages, and messages are likely stored indefinitely. Be very intentional about what you say over chat room platforms – if you wouldn’t say it to your boss or your colleagues face-to-face, definitely don’t put it in writing!

Some extra work laptop no-nos

  • Don’t work on your side gig Using company equipment to work on your second (or third) job is unprofessional (and possibly a disciplinary offence), even if it’s not on ‘company time’. The same goes for looking for a new job or updating your resume!
  • Don’t allow friends or family to use it Even if your work laptop is now a permanent kitchen-table fixture, allowing others to use it could breach organisational data-protection regulations.
  • Don’t play games or spend time on social media Enough said?

Contact Geelong’s computer technology specialists

Getting out of the habit of using a work computer for non-work-related tasks can be difficult – but worth it in the long run. Streamlining the use of your work device will not only ensure your workplace cybersecurity but also improve your everyday productivity.

And if decoupling your personal and professional online tasks leaves you high and dry tech-wise? Give us a call or drop by the showroom! At Geelong Technology Group, we stock a range of different desktops and laptops to suit all needs, including Acer, Asus, HP and more.

📞1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📍 166 Francis St, Belmont

Computer

Sleep versus shutdown: When should you turn off your computer?

Whether you should sleep or shut down your computer is a ‘different (key)strokes for different folks’ kind of question: some people are going to swear by snoozing all the way, while others will argue for a mandated end-of-the-day switch off and unplug. Wherever you stand on the shutdown scale, however, there are definitely some good reasons to power down, at least periodically.

But first, a note about old versus new computers: Before solid-state drives (SSDs) became the computer-storage device of choice, hard disk drives (HDDs) were king, and in older hard drives, the head would come into contact with the disk platter upon shutdown, causing wear over time (and thus establishing the notion that it is better to leave a computer running than to constantly shut it down and power it back up again). With most new computers now sporting SSDs, which lack any moving parts, this particular ‘wear and tear’ concern is generally no longer an issue.

When you want to improve your computer’s performance

This is probably the best reason to shut down your computer completely (at least once a week). The more you use your computer and the longer you avoid a shutdown, the more applications may be running in the background and the more fragmented files you’ll possibly have taking up extra processing power. These resource-hogging programs and files can cause your system to become sluggish and unresponsive – issues that will likely be fixed by a reboot. Shutting down and restarting your computer every few days or at least weekly will clear out the memory, allow the machine to perform self-inspections, and alert you to any minor errors or requisite software updates. 

When you want to improve your own performance

Shutting down your computer and powering it back up only when you need it again is like Marie Kondo-ing your computer’s system – cleaning it up and bringing it back to basics. The shutdown/power-up can also Kondo your virtual workspace – leaving you with a ready-to-be-productive clean slate. A freshly powered-up computer can be a fresh start – free of open-tab madness, multiple (unnecessary?) apps open and other desktop baggage. Shutting down your computer at a set time may also free you from nudging that mouse at 9 pm, just to ‘check that nothing important has come in’ – after all, in a working-from-home world, work-life balance is even harder to establish.

When you want to extend your computer’s lifespan

Even when your machine seems ‘lifeless’ in sleep mode, a part of it continues to run and generate heat, which can, over time, wear down components. Computers left on all of the time may have a shorter lifespan – perhaps by mere months, but possibly much longer. Note as well that certain parts (a laptop’s battery, for example, or an LCD panel) are more sensitive to being left on for extended periods of time – you’ll need to weigh up convenience versus slow decline with this one.

When you want to save electricity/money/the planet

Running your computer, even in sleep mode, uses electricity and electricity costs money. If you’re one individual wondering about the cost of ‘sleeping’ one laptop, the amount may be negligible. If, however, you’re an SMB with a number of desktops humming away overnight, the costs can definitely start to rise. Either way, from a green, energy-saving standpoint, the best action is to shut down your computer when it’s not in use (and unplug laptop power adapters).

Contact Geelong Technology Group – Geelong’s IT experts

If you’re having technology issues – if, for instance, your snail-paced computer isn’t speeding up following a reboot – the team at Geelong Technology Group are here to help. From remote or on-site support to tech servicing to new systems, GTG is your one-stop shop.

 

Contact our experienced IT technicians on 📞1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484), email support@geelongtechnology.com.au or drop by the showroom at 166 Francis St, Belmont.

phone

A guide to securely wiping your phone for resale or recycle

A brand-new phone is an exciting occasion. This is, after all, your new window on the world. But that doesn’t mean you should move on straight away: whether you’re planning to sell, gift, recycle, return or donate your old phone, you’ll need to ensure all of your personal data has been securely erased and the phone reset to factory conditions.

FIRST, however, ensure that all of your personal data is transferred to your new phone or backed up (or both!). Once your old phone is reset, there’s no going back, and the last thing you want is your new-phone excitement ruined by the loss of your contact details or your photos of that incredible, never-to-be-repeated holiday.

Factory resetting your Android phone 

Factory Reset Protection (FRP)

Newer Android phones have an anti-theft measure known as Factory Reset Protection (FRP). For a new user (buyer, giftee or donatee) to be able to access the phone, you’ll need to disable FRP. To do this, go to Settings > Security > Screen Lock and set it to None. It is now also a good idea to delete your Google account (and any other accounts while you’re at it): go to Settings > Accounts, then select each account in turn and Remove Account).

Encryption

If your device is relatively new, the phone’s local storage should already be automatically encrypted (meaning that even if your data is somehow recovered post-reset, it will still be virtually unreadable). If you have an older device, search for ‘encrypt’ in your settings menu to check encryption is in place – or follow the prompts to encrypt your data, if necessary. Note that encryption can be time-consuming – don’t start this if you’re waiting for a call in five minutes!

Factory Reset

Now – once you’ve removed your SIM card and any MicroSD cards – you can wipe your Android phone. Different devices may have slightly different steps, but generally, you can go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset Options > Erase All Data (Factory Reset) > Reset Phone. (An alternative pathway may involve tapping Settings > General Management > Reset > Factory Data Reset > Reset.) And you’re done!

You can further divorce yourself from your old device by also removing your phone from your Google account by visiting Security > Your Devices > Manage Devices via your web-based Google account manager.

Factory resetting your iPhone

As with an Android phone, the first steps should be to backup your data, then unpair any devices (such as an Apple Watch) and remove your SIM card. You should also turn off ‘Find My iPhone’ (via, depending on the age of your device, either Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone or Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Find My iPhone) and sign out of other services such as iMessage and the App Store – then sign out of iCloud completely.

Once you’re out of your accounts, you’re good to go with the iPhone factory reset. Click to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings and confirm the selection.

Need assistance? Talk to the Geelong IT professionals and iPhone experts

If you’re having trouble with any of the above – particularly if you’re not sure your backup has worked properly – don’t hesitate to stop by the Geelong Technology Group showroom and we can give you a hand. We’re also a Geelong Apple Authorised iPhone and Macbook repairer, meaning if it’s just a repair you need, not a whole new device – we’re your team! 

Give us a call on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or come and see us in person at 166 Francis Street, Belmont.

Online safety

Kids Online Safety: Five Handy Tips for Parents

When it comes to taking care of our children, the world can seem a very scary place – and the internet even scarier. But attempting to keep kids offline in 2022 is just not going to cut it, so how can we protect them from the darker parts of the web and ensure their online safety?

There are two simple answers to this question – knowledge and communication. If we can empower ourselves and our children with information, and ensure they come to us in situations where they feel uncertain or suspicious, these are huge steps towards cyber safety.

Educate yourself

Do you know how to stay safe online? Have you taken control of your own privacy and security settings, checked your social media conversation controls, and looked into using a password manager? The easiest place to start when it comes to cyber security is with yourself – then, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to help your kids.

Other education actions include talking to your child’s school about the online protection they offer, as well as checking out the main apps and websites your child is interested in to ensure the content is age-appropriate and to understand how they operate. 

Know – and use – parental controls

An innocent online search can quickly lead to a rabbit-hole of not-so-innocent information or images. Parental controls and search-engine filters – although not 100% accurate – can help prevent your child from accessing the majority of online violent and/or sexual material. There are free and paid options when it comes to parental controls, with different levels of protection – the Australian Government’s eSafety website has an excellent Taming the Technology section that covers protections you can access via your home wi-fi network, computers, devices, gaming consoles, smart TVs, web browsers and more.

Note that it’s a great idea to get your child on board with using these controls – discussing with them that they are age and experience appropriate, and letting them know that the use of these tools can be reviewed and changed as they get older. 

Talk openly with your kids (and get involved!)

As noted in point two, talking with your kids, and getting them on board with ensuring their own online safety, is the key here. Your child should know that they can always talk to you about something they’re unsure of online, and they should also know the responsible online behaviour you expect of them (see point four). Encouraging kids to think critically about what they read and see online and teaching them about the public and permanent nature of internet interactions gives them the power to make their own sound – and safe – decisions.

One way to have these open and supportive discussions is to get involved in your kids’ online experiences – talk about their favourite games or apps, take turns to play, and chat about the risks of the internet while you’re there in the midst of it. Talk to your kids about what you think is appropriate – and remind them that this may be different for other families.

Set some ground rules (and be prepared to stick to them!)

What these rules entail will be unique to your family and should also be tailored to the ages of your children. Some things to consider, though, include:

  • the amount time of spent online (or using devices in any manner)
  • where in the house online access can occur (common areas only, for instance)
  • the type of apps that can be accessed or websites that can be visited
  • any definite no-nos when it comes to online interactions (such as never posting or trading personal pictures, never revealing personal information, only being ‘friends’ with people you already know offline, and always telling a trusted adult about any online communication that was odd or scary).

Remember: the consequences for breaking these ground rules should be clear and discussed as a family so that everyone knows where they stand.

Lead by example

Okay, so we all know this one is the hardest, but consider making some rules for the parents too! This might include not looking at your phone during ‘family hours’ and/or switching off work alerts during the same. Don’t be a ‘do as I say, not what I do’ parent!

Need more help? Talk to the Geelong cyber-security experts

Remember, these conversations with your kids aren’t about creating anxieties in your child or preventing them from accessing the many entertainment and educational benefits of the online world. The real end goal here is to give your children the knowledge and skills to use this incredible tool in a responsible and safe manner.

For more information about keeping your children safe online, check out the government’s eSafety website for parents. The helpful team at Geelong Technology Group are also here with plenty of online and cybersecurity experience – don’t hesitate to give us a call on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or drop by our store at 166 Francis Street, Belmont if you need some further advice or tech assistance.

network

Setting up your small business computer network

When it comes to setting up a small business, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions to make. One of the most important is what your computer network will look like, and how it will operate. Functionality and simplicity should be key drivers in all of your networking decisions – whether you are just starting out or looking to update your existing network to meet the growth requirements of your business.

Part 1: Assess your requirements (now and into the future)

So, at the moment there’s just the three of you (or five, or 10) – and you know you need a network to share access to the internet and company printers, and to files from one another’s computers. If you add staff in the next six or 12 or 18 months, will your office and your proposed network have the space to accommodate them? Thinking and planning ahead may save a lot of time, effort and money down the track.

Part 2: Decide on your networking needs

When it comes to networking, the main choices are wired, wireless or hybrid:

Wired networks have great advantages in terms of reliability, speed and security, but installation can be tricky depending on the physical layout of your office – ethernet cables will need to be installed, and once they’re in place the location of your devices is (relatively) set in stone. Understanding your business floor plan and mapping out your hardware and equipment is incredibly important if you’re going to go with wired technology.

Wireless networks are the option of choice for many businesses because of their greater flexibility. No cables mean you are free to wander the office with your laptop – working from the couch or the lunchroom table as you please. No cables also means lower installation costs. Wireless technology, however, is often slower than wired tech, and can be affected by physical interference (walls, pipes etc).

Hybrid networks, using a combination of wired and wireless connections, give the best of both worlds – speed and security via ethernet if required or the freedom to roam using wireless access if your team members need a breather on the couch!

Part 3: Talk to the Geelong computer network specialists and put it all together

Remember that there are security and data protection risks when it comes to networking, and we highly recommend that you speak to an expert before you start purchasing and installing your modem/router/adapter/firewall/switch/cable/access point etc. (not to mention your computers and printers!).

At Geelong Technology Group we can work with you to understand your networking needs and then build the best IT network solution for your unique situation – whether you’re just starting out or you need a scalable overhaul. Our technicians have decades of experience assisting businesses of all sizes to create the computer networks that work for them. We can also help out with data back-up solutions, security setup and maintenance, and remote access for those employees working from home.

Don’t put up with wi-fi dropouts, snail-paced buffering or redundant technology – give us a call and overhaul your productivity today! Servicing Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast and surrounding regions, GTG are your business IT solution specialists. Contact our experienced IT technicians on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or email support@geelongtechnology.com.au

gaming

Ready, Set, Game: Setting up your PC for gaming

Setting up for gaming on a PC is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ exercises – you could cobble together what you need from what you have, or you could head towards the stratosphere and join international gamer/YouTube phenomenons who allegedly spend upwards of $100,000…

We kind of hope you sit somewhere closer to the former option (because let’s face it, that kind of spend is a bit crazy), but we also acknowledge that the PC remains the best platform for gaming, so let’s explore what you might need:

Ergonomics

Whatever your budget, the ultimate gaming setup still needs to address the issues that concern any PC user – namely an ergonomic workstation setup. Indeed, when you consider how easy it is to get involved in a game and for hours to pass in the blink of an eye, having the right setup for your body’s health is even more important.

Start your setup with a desk that you can comfortably fit your legs under and onto which you’ll be able to rest your forearms easily (with your elbows at a 90-degree angle and your wrists in a straight-line position). Next, and possibly most importantly, is your chair: if you’re going to be spending a lot of time gaming, an investment in a gaming chair is also an investment in your posture and spinal health. A great gaming chair has a high-back design to cradle your whole body, height-adjustable armrests, and height-adjustable head and lumbar cushions. Other game-chair features may include memory-foam construction, deep-recline functionality, and breathable materials.

Hardware for gaming

Unlike consoles, games released for PCs (and we’re talking hundreds of thousands of titles) have different tech requirements, with some far more demanding than others. If you’re investing in a new setup, it’s a great idea to do a little research first – considering your processor, graphics card, RAM, and storage requirements against the types of games you’re planning to play.

The processor is the heart of your setup, determining performance, while the GPU (graphics processing unit) creates the beautiful face to your games, with high-end graphics cards allowing high frame rates, thus making higher resolutions playable without any lag. There are plenty of pre-built PC options available that will allow a great gaming experience, or you can pick and choose your individual requirements and go for a custom-built gaming PC.

Beyond the box, the next most important piece of gaming hardware is your monitor (or, in many cases, monitors). After all, how better to appreciate the detailed graphics of your favourite games than on a high-resolution monitor? As well as resolution (and the actual screen size), other things to consider when purchasing a gaming monitor include refresh rate, response time, colour accuracy, and available ports (and cost!).

Accessories for gaming

Okay, so this is where you can really start to have a little fun with your PC gaming setup. Accessories to consider include:

  • a gaming headset (look for comfort, durability, true stereo sound or simulated surround sound, and a microphone for team-based games; options include wired or wireless)
  • a gaming keyboard (comfort, responsiveness, and reliability should come first here, but decisions will need to be made regarding switch types, full-sized or tenkeyless (TKL), backlit or no, and wired or wireless)
  • a gaming mouse (with options including wired or wireless, various hand grips, RGB lighting, programmable buttons, and even weights you can add or remove to improve your gaming accuracy)

You can also go above and beyond with additional speakers (for true surround sound), a webcam (if you plan to stream your gameplay), customisable lighting to attach beneath your desk or behind or above your monitor, a cable management tray or box, and blue light reduction glasses (to reduce eyestrain and to avoid messing with your sleep patterns too much).

Contact the Geelong PC gaming specialists

From a pre-built PC on a budget to a high-end, liquid-cooled custom-build, the team at Geelong Technology Group can help with all of your PC gaming needs. After all, we have staff members who enjoy their gaming as much as you do (if not more!) and we have the experience and knowledge to put together the perfect setup for the games you want to play.

Call us today for the best gaming system setups in Geelong and surrounding areas, including Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac, and Warrnambool. 

1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📍 166 Francis St, Belmont

password manager

Should I use a password manager? Simple answer: Yes

According to a 2021 article in The Guardian, ‘the tyranny of passwords’ may be coming to an end – well, at least some time in the next ‘two to five years. Biometrics (including not only fingerprint IDs and face recognition, but more sci-fi stuff such as tech that recognises the shape of your ears, how you hold your phone and move, and even breath detectors) will eventually save our overburdened brains from remembering if we used mYpa$$w0rD or MyP@ssWORd (please don’t use either of these!). In the meantime, however, how best to navigate the password conundrum of easy to remember/easy to crack versus impossible to remember? The answer is a password manager. Indeed, a good password manager can be your first and best defense against being hacked (as long as you are also avoiding phishing/smishing scams).

What IS a password manager?

When it comes to the safety of your accounts online, you should use a strong and UNIQUE password for each app or website you use. (Reusing the same or similar passwords across websites is a serious NO-NO, security-wise.) Apparently, on average, that’s around 190 passwords per person. Possible? Possibly… Likely? Not at all. This is where a password manager comes in. A password manager is a software application that acts like a digital vault, securely storing your login credentials, which are then encrypted with one master password. Once you’ve set up a password manager account, you only need to remember the one (strong and unique) master password. A good password manager will also generate strong passwords on your behalf, and provide auto-fill services, saving you from entering details such as postal addresses or credit card numbers each time you require them.

Password managers can be desk-top based (that is, storing your passwords locally on a device, such as your laptop), or cloud-based, whereby your encrypted passwords are stored on the service provider’s network (and can thus be accessed from any device, as long as you have an internet connection). Depending on the password manager chosen, your master password can generally also be further strengthened by enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) and/or biometric authentication on your account.

Choosing a password manager

There are plenty of password managers out there – some free, some available via annual subscriptions. Options (in no particular order) include KeePass, Bitwarden, LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, Zoho Vault, Keeper, and RoboForm, among scores of others. Differences can lie in whether they offer MFA or biometric authentication, whether they allow you to share passwords with trusted family and friends, and even whether they feature data breach scanners – scouring the dark web to check if any of your logins appear online.

To choose a password manager, ensure the manager uses industry-standard AES 256-bit (military-strength) encryption, as well as ‘zero-knowledge architecture’ (whereby your passwords are encrypted prior to leaving your device). Check as well that your chosen manager works across all of your devices (syncing between your computers and phones, if required). You can also take advantage of free and/or trial options in order to try a couple of different password managers to find the one that’s right for you.

Remember: once you’ve chosen a password manager, you need to protect your account with a master password (or a ‘passphrase’), which needs to be super strong and memorable. Once your account is activated, it is best practice to further protect it with MFA. Extra security can be applied by allowing access to the password manager only from registered, trusted devices.

Need more information? Contact Geelong’s IT security specialists

Alongside your chosen password manager, you should also ensure your antivirus software is up to date, check your overall cybersecurity, and always double-check the legitimacy of any apps or extensions you’re planning to install.

With decades of IT experience helping homes and businesses in Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, and surrounding regions, the Geelong Technology Group team are well versed in IT security and protection – if you have any questions about password managers or any cybersecurity concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch:

1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📧 support@geelongtechnology.com.au

📍 166 Francis St, Belmont

digital wallet

What is a Digital Wallet? E-wallet Tips, Set-up and Security

So… you’ve seen people holding their phones near a payment device to purchase their latte or BLT roll, with no credit or debit card in sight (and no cash, for that matter!). You may be making your own mobile-based purchases daily, too. But what exactly is a digital wallet? And how secure is ‘e-wallet’ technology?

Digital wallets explained

A digital wallet is pretty much what it says on the box – digital storage of items that you might normally keep tucked away in your wallet or purse. Items that can be stored in a digital wallet include credit and debit cards (allowing users to make convenient payments from their phone or smartwatch), identity documents (such as Covid-19 vaccination certificates), loyalty cards (particularly helpful if you love a loyalty card, but don’t want to carry 237 of the abominable things around!), gift cards, and tickets to movies or events. Just note, however, that not all of these items can be added to all digital wallets. Restrictions may depend on what financial institution you are with, what company is issuing your virtual tickets, your choice of digital wallet, and the make of your mobile device.

Payments using your digital wallet

Other than perhaps the aforementioned loyalty card storage, digital wallets are most useful in terms of their ability to allow us to make contactless payments. Examples of digital wallets that enable tap-and-go payments at in-store terminals include Apple’s Wallet, Samsung Pay, PayPal, and Google Pay. The digital wallet stores virtual versions of your cards or account details, so you don’t need to carry a physical card, then uses software to link your payment details to the transaction vendor. Just like you would crack open your wallet to access your physical credit card when buying something, you open your digital wallet app to access your virtual payment details – then use your device to ‘tap and go’ as usual.

To get started using a digital wallet, all you need to do is choose your preferred wallet (often the built-in wallet on your mobile device or, alternatively, a (thoroughly researched) option downloaded from your app store) and add a compatible debit or credit card. Once you’re set up and out and about, open your application and move your device close to the payment machine; a message will be displayed on the machine when the payment has been approved. 

Digital wallet safety and security

What happens when you lose your real-world wallet and someone (unscrupulous) finds your debit or credit cards? They can tap-and-go, tap-and-go, tap-and-go for numerous small purchases (up to $200 a pop), without needing a PIN, until you report your card missing to your financial institution… But if you lose your phone with your digital wallet details? Well – if your phone is password or number-code protected or secured with fingerprint or face-recognition authentication – your financial details are safely locked up inside your device. Digital wallets also use advanced encryption to ensure that your payment information never leaves your device, generally making this technology the safer financial option.

Remember: once you’ve added cards to your digital wallet, make sure that you have also enabled the security features your mobile device offers, especially any biometrics including fingerprint or iris/face scanners. If your device doesn’t have these features, use a strong password, and change it often.

Stop by and see Geelong’s technology experts

With our phones now even more ubiquitous after becoming QR-code check-in experts over the past two years, payment via our mobile devices really is on the up and up. If you’re still uncertain about which digital wallet to use or how to use your phone to tap and go – feel free to ask one of our friendly technicians when you’re next in the Geelong Technology Group showroom – we are 100% here to help.

📍 166 Francis Street, Belmont 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

online safety

Staying Safe Online – Tips for Internet Safety & Security

With so much of our time spent using the internet every day, it has never been more important to promote the safe use of technology, to build digital skills, and to help everyone have safer, more positive experiences online. Taking a leaf from the recent Safer Internet Day 2022, held on the 8th of February and celebrated in 170 countries, the following are some things we can all do to increase online safety (& kindness).

Update your security and privacy settings

Yes – we know – it’s one of those things we all mean to get around to, but don’t necessarily do… But how about this? The next time you’re sitting down with a cuppa, rather than spending five or ten minutes scrolling past images of dogs doing the darndest things or happy snaps of school friends you haven’t seen since school, why not take a moment to check the privacy settings on all of your devices and apps to improve online safety?

We recommend using different (STRONG!) passwords for each online account (and signing out each time you finish). You can also add multi-factor authentication to many apps/accounts for extra protection. Remember that social media sites also have privacy settings to help control who sees your posts and who can send you friend requests – use them!

Locate your location settings (and amend them as necessary)

While it is important for map applications and various other types of technology, GPS location information can also be used to track your movement and whereabouts. To improve online safety when using GPS:

  • Keep your devices (phones, tablets, laptops etc.) secure with strong passwords or passcodes. Do not leave your devices on the default settings, particularly the default device name and password.
  • Turn off GPS and location services when they are not in use.
  • Audit your apps to identify those that use location information and turn off those services unless they’re completely necessary. (If privacy or safety is a concern for you, do not opt into sharing your location through apps that allow location sharing with friends.)
  • Delete the location history from your phone habitually and, for iPhone users, clear out your frequent locations history also.

Manage your online engagement

Online communities and social media options can, of course, be both blessing and a curse, but you can control what you see and read online. Conversation controls are available to help you manage your social media feeds, ensuring your chosen platforms are a more positive place to spend time online. For the lowdown on how to mute, block or unfollow people across various applications, check out The eSafety Guide.

Don’t downplay or ignore online abuse

If someone said those things in a face-to-face public forum – at a bus stop, perhaps, or in line at the supermarket – would they be okay? If not, they’re not okay online either. Research shows that people, particularly women, often downplay online abuse. If you feel it is safe to do so, collect evidence of any online abuse you receive – take a screenshot and save a URL – which can then be used if you choose to report online abuse to the relevant platforms and, depending on the level of harm, to eSafety or the police.

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites provide community rules to follow. 

Remember: If you or someone you know sees something that’s not respectful, you can anonymously make a report and ask the site to remove it.

Contact Geelong’s technology experts to help improve your online safety.

If you’re not sure how to turn off your location information or you’d like a hand with setting up two-factor authentication on your business accounts, drop by the office or give our experienced technicians a call. We’re here to help individuals and businesses in Geelong, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac, and Warrnambool.

1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📍 166 Francis Street, Belmont