Cyber-security: How to keep your children safe!

The Internet is a great resource for you and your family. At the touch of a button, you have access to a world of knowledge and entertainment. Sadly, the internet is also a dangerous place to hang out – particularly for children. Nearly 60% of teens have received an email or instant message from a stranger – half of them have replied. With summer approaching, the potential for children to wind up on dangerous sites increases since kids have more free time and that usually means more screen time.

So what can you do? Just to get started, let’s list some things you can do almost immediately to help keep your kids safe while they’re online.

It won’t take a lot of time to try these suggestions, and while we’ll talk later on about setting up parental controls through your Race router, the following steps can give you some peace of mind until you can do so.

    1. Place computers in a common area of the house:
      Don’t allow kids to have a computer in their room. You’d be surprised by how much the mere presence of a parent who may or may not be looking over a child’s shoulder while they use the computer can keep a child in line. They have no way of knowing if your eyes are good enough to see across the room, now do they? Make sure the computer’s screen is visible from other parts of the room and isn’t turned toward a wall.
    2. Set reasonable time and usage limits:
      Set rules about what your child can and can’t do when on the internet. Set time limits on their computer use. If they say they’re researching homework, maybe you don’t include that in the time limits – but make sure they’re using it for homework.
    3. Discuss the dangers of the web with your child:
      Sit down and discuss the dangers of the internet. Talk openly and honestly about what’s out there and the kind of stuff they want to avoid. Forewarned is forearmed.
    4. Teach them to protect their privacy
      While they won’t fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should still make sure your children know:
      * Never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission
      * Not to open e-mail from people they don’t know
      * Not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
      * Not to get together with anyone they “meet” online.
    5. Keep the youngsters out of online chat rooms, and do your best to reinforce the old rule, “never talk to strangers.”:
      Chat rooms are a popular place for sex offenders to meet their prey. If possible, keep your kids out of chat rooms altogether. Make sure your child knows that no matter how nice an online “friend” may seem to be, they are still a stranger, and may not be who they appear to be. ​
    6. Know Passwords:
      Be upfront with your children that you will need to have their passwords for all of their devices and for all of their social media sites. Once you have the passwords, check these sites regularly to see what your child is seeing and posting.
    7. NEVER let your child upload or download photos without your permission:
      Online predators will often send photos supposedly of themselves or request photos of the child.

Turn your ISP into your ally
Before buying any safety product, experts recommend that you work with what you’ve got, starting with your Internet service provider – hopefully that is us at Race Communications!

Your Gigafy Me router includes free parental controls that can limit children’s access to websites and communication features (e-mail, instant messaging, chat) by the time of day and other variables. If you don’t have a router rental through Race, give us a call to have that added or if you have any questions about these features.

What is fiber optics and why is it better than copper?

Today, your Internet and TV services are probably connected to your home via copper wires. This technology has been around for over a hundred years, and it certainly wasn’t built for today’s uses and demands. Race Communications recognizes this and is working to build a network that will provide fiber optic internet to homes across the state of California. Now you may be wondering, what is fiber optic technology and is it better than copper? If so, why?

Fiber optic technology is far better and faster than copper at transmitting information, such as the bits that make up your favorite websites, Netflix shows, or online games. Fiber-optic cables are made of glass, and they use lasers to transmit information — close to the speed of light!

Investing in fiber-optic networks can significantly increase bandwidth potential and reliability. As mentioned earlier, copper infrastructure is limited because it was originally designed for transmitting the telegram! Think about that! The same infrastructure has been in use since the telegram – no wonder most homeowners are familiar with the slowdown that occurs when the clock hits 6:00 pm and everyone is home from work.

The signal for copper networks degrades as the signal is carried from the central office (CO) so distance is a huge factor in your internet’s performance. In contrast, when traveling over a long distance, fiber optic cables experience less signal loss than copper cabling. This is known as low attenuation. It is estimated that fiber loses only three percent signal strength going over 320 feet in distance. By contrast, copper loses 94 percent over the same distance.

While not everyone needs gigabit — or 1,000 megabits per second — the move to faster speeds is inevitable, and more companies are trying to offer these services, just look at Spectrum and Comcast. However, these providers do not use fiber optic technology and instead rely on the old copper wires. This means that the speeds will rarely (if ever) be symmetrical, data caps will apply and reliability will be an issue.

There are a number of factors that can cause outages when a company relies on a copper network – temperature fluctuations, severe weather conditions, and moisture can all cause a loss of connectivity. Old or worn copper cable can even present a fire hazard, due to the fact it carries an electric current – since fiber is made of glass it doesn’t present the same hazard!

Fiber optics is an amazing technology, but unfortunately, very few homes have direct access to fiber networks today. This is in large part due to the resource-intensive process of deploying new infrastructure – but Race Communications hasn’t let that slow us down, thanks to grants and partnerships with public and private entities!

If you are lucky enough to live in one of our fiber communities, don’t hesitate!

Submit an inquiry today to find out if you live in our fiber footprint (or if we are coming to a neighborhood near you soon) – or give us a call at 877-722-3833 to place your order!

Sources:
https://smallbiztrends.com/2015/08/fiber-optic-copper-wireless-internet-transmission-methods.html
https://www.atlantech.net/blog/8-advantages-of-fiber-optic-internet-over-copper-cable

ALERT: Router Malware with destructive capabilities – check to see if you’re at risk!

A new threat which targets a range of routers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices is capable of knocking out infected devices by rendering them unusable. Customers who have a Race router can rest easy – their devices are not affected by this threat.  However, if you do not own a Race provided router, you may want to take a look at the list below to see if you may be at risk.

To date, VPNFilter is known to be capable of infecting enterprise and small office/home office routers from Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, and TP-Link, as well as QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices. These include:

  • Linksys E1200
  • Linksys E2500
  • Linksys WRVS4400N
  • Mikrotik RouterOS for Cloud Core Routers: Versions 1016, 1036, and 1072
  • Netgear DGN2200
  • Netgear R6400
  • Netgear R7000
  • Netgear R8000
  • Netgear WNR1000
  • Netgear WNR2000
  • QNAP TS251
  • QNAP TS439 Pro
  • Other QNAP NAS devices running QTS software
  • TP-Link R600VPN

What should you do if you own an infected device?

The FBI recommends that users of affected devices  reboot them immediately. If the device is infected with VPNFilter, rebooting will remove Stage 2 and any Stage 3 elements present on the device. This will temporarily remove the destructive component of VPNFilter. However, if infected, the continuing presence of Stage 1 means that Stages 2 and 3 can be reinstalled by the attackers.

You should then apply the latest available patches to affected devices and ensure that none use default credentials.