What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a security device that filters information (packets) entering and leaving a network. A firewall is often installed inside of a router making it a non separate device, as well as pre installed with an operating system. A secure firewall can prevent malware such as worms from infecting a network. It is always recommended to have a firewall in place. A network without a firewall is very dangerous and can infect the computers on a network a lot easier.

The user can ajust the firewall settings to their preference. You can control who can connect to the internet, what kind of content can be accessed, and what kind of connections can be made. You can allow only certain websites to be accessed by your computer as well as only allowing certain websites to access your computer. You can also block or disable ports.

Using a firewall with Windows is a must. However a firewall is generally not needed for a smartphone such as android. Android uses .apk files for apps so you have to grant permission for the malware to be installed. As long as you use the Google Play Store for apps and not other sources a firewall is not needed.

Even though smartphones dont get infected with malware that often, anti-virus can still be used just for precaution. A firewall is a very important part of internet security and should not be overlooked.

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What are browser cookies? 

Website cookies aren’t edible like the ones you bake. They are issued to user’s who visit websites so that the website can remember login information and user browser habits to better display ads so that when you return to a website the website will remember it’s you based off the cookie it issued. Almost all legitimate websites will have a cookie policy explaining how they collect information.

Cookies are usually safe and are not considered malicious. However third party cookies are for the most part unnecessary and can be used for malicious purposes depending on who they were issued by. You can disable third party cookies in browser setting as well as block pop ups as well as other security options. You can send a do not track request if you wish.

Third party cookies can track and then sell your information. This happens with normal cookies to better display ads according to your interests. The bad news is that with third party cookies the ads and spam email you may receive are usually unwanted and can lead to malware infection. For example clicking on a spam email link which can possibly steal your information. In general third party cookies are not needed and can be disabled.

You can clear all your cookies or delete certain cookies as well as browser history and data in your browser settings. Please be aware that clearing cookies will log you out of most websites so make sure you remember each password. You can also disable cookies completely however a lot of the websites that you probably use require cookies to use.

As long as you dont accept third party cookies or go to possibly malicious websites, cookies are relatively safe and are essential for web browsing.

Why it’s important to have a strong password

A password is used to log into an account such as your Youtube or Facebook account. Having a strong password is very important. A weak password can be easier to obtain. A password such as *ocean* can be relatively easy to crack. A password such as *Ju83]@)+17!80l^+<* can be a lot harder and take a lot longer to obtain with a good chance of never having success. Dictionary/brute force attacks are programs that generate possible character combinations. This makes obtaining a password such as *ocean* or *forest* relatively easy to obtain.

When creating a password you should use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. This makes the possible number of combinations a lot higher as apposed to using just numbers or just letters. Use a total of at least 15 characters in your password. Never use any personal information or words from the dictionary. Also make sure you never use the same password on any of your sites. It is a good idea to write down passwords and put them in a place where you can remember them.

Two step verification

Two step verification is a process where after you enter your password a code is sent to your email address or mobile number as a text or a prompt. You then ether accept the prompt or enter the code on the site you are trying to log into. It is probably best to have the code sent to your number since your phone cannot be accessed by anybody else unlike an email address.

Having both a strong password and two step verification enabled will ensure that your account is highly secured. Even though these two important factors will keep your account safe it is always best practice to never click on spam/phishing email, download untrusted software on the internet, or have a computer with software thats out of date or lack of internet security such as no anti-virus. Information stealing malware is somewhat rare on a smartphone but is possible so it doesn’t hurt to use anti-virus on a smartphone.

With all the criminal activity on the internet, having an account secured such as paypall is one of the most important parts of staying safe.