Security, Spam, and Scams – The Daily Battle

Before I start I’d like to point you to a fantastic website which is full of hints & tips to Stay Safe Online!

This site has all the information you’d need to stay safe. Check your local police website to see if there are any local workshops where you can go along a participate in a cyber proficiency course like I did through Cumbria Police’s Commissioner. It’s very informal and it doesn’t matter if you’re a systems administrator or a complete novice, it’s designed to make you more aware of online scams etc. and how to protect your personal details. Click their logo below to go to their website. You might find it very useful! If you want you can read my blog post about it HERE!

Get Safe Online

Modern-day Security Issues

As anyone will tell you, nowadays spam and scams are an everyday occurrence. If it’s not phone calls from scammers it’s “you’ve recently been involved in an accident”! It doesn’t stop there, even our websites, email addresses, and anything that’s even remotely connected to the internet can be a target. I thought it could be productive to list some of the services I have had the experience of using and more importantly getting the desired result. Now look before you’re quick to flame me, everyone’s circumstances are different and some of the things I talk about may not be suitable for you but even if you go away today with something you can use then that’s great result, at least that’s one avenue to make a scammers/spammers life that little bit more difficult. The things I’m going to talk about are available in the UK but you may find that they also offer the same or very similar services in your country.

Your landline/mobile phone

So initially we used to get bombarded with sales calls, silent calls, and those calls where as soon as you answered they hung up in the hope you’d ring them back. It was getting silly with some calls being as late as after 9 pm in the evening! So after some googling, I came across the TPS ( Telephone Preferential Service ). The TPS is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is a legal requirement that all organisations (including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties) do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so. Organisations with which you have an ongoing relationship, for example those who regard you as a customer, (or in the case of charities – a donor) may well gather your consent during the early stages of your relationship with them and will therefore be entitled to call you even if your number is registered on TPS, unless you have previously told them specifically that you object to them calling you for marketing purposes. The TPS can accept the registration of mobile telephone numbers, however, it is important to note that this will prevent the receipt of marketing voice calls but not SMS (text) messages. If you wish to stop receiving SMS marketing messages, please send an ‘opt-out’ request to the company involved. As TPS registration only prevents marketing calls, organisations will still be able to call you for the purposes of genuine market research. To register your phone(s) click the TPS logo below and that will take you to their registration page. This is a FREE service.

Additional Protection for your mobile

So the TPS is a great start but as it stipulates it doesn’t stop everything, introducing Trucaller.

Trucaller’s About statement

Remember the days when the phone rang and you didn’t know who it was?

Maybe it was the company you always dreamt of working for, or the hospital trying to tell you someone close to you got sick, or maybe just a stubborn guy trying to sell you something.

Truecaller was born out of this uncertainty. We wanted to make it possible for you to know who’s trying to contact you, and also tell you when not to pick up. We wanted to remove all uncertainty and separate the important stuff from the noise.

Hundreds of millions of users later, we can gladly say those days of uncertainty are over. Today we see a new world. Something bigger than just knowing phone numbers. Technology making life easier is great, but infinite connectivity is creating infinite complexity, putting up new forms of trust barriers. And mutual trust is the very foundation for friendship, business relationships or for just being a good neighbour.

We are committed to building that trust everywhere by making communication safe and efficient. No matter if it’s at the beginning of a call, in the middle of a transaction or at the end of a signature. And we’re just getting started.

So basically it identifies a caller and can warn you if it’s a scam etc. now like anything today nothing is totally 100% foolproof but it goes a fair way to help. Links to the Android and iOS app store are provided below the screenshots

Another app which seems to do a similarly good job is by a company called Hiya. ( Thanks to Lee Barnett for the heads up 🙂 )

Hiya: Caller ID, Call Blocker & Protection for a Better Phone Experience – Android

To find out more click the Hiya logo below to go to their website or feel free to watch the video first.

Hiya: Caller ID, Call Blocker & Protection for a Better Phone Experience

I’ve linked a video for you to learn a little more about the company

Sadly I’ve personally had very little experience with the app but I’ve been told it’s very good and is effective in filtering those nuisance calls. They currently offer two product solutions to OEMs like Samsung and ZTE and mobile carriers like T-Mobile to provide enhanced caller profile, business profile and spam protection services. It’s available for both Android and iOS and looks quite nice and easy to navigate. I’ll check it out at some point and let you know…

Additional Protection for your Landline ( TalkTalk customers ).

TalkTalk’s New Call Safe Feature

So recently we activated TalkTalk’s CallSafe feature as there seems to be a growing number of international sales and scam calls who blatantly ignore the “Do Not Call” lists. You may have seen the sheer number of youtube videos showing people getting payback on Indian call centre scammers claiming to be from your bank, Microsoft, Inland Revenue, etc. etc. the list is endless! They are hell bent in trying to extort money out of decent people. Sadly I don’t know if the other UK ISP’s have such a service but obviously, I’m with TalkTalk and do use this service with great effect.

So what does it do?

Call Safe helps stop unwanted callers from reaching you All TalkTalk customers can turn on their free CallSafe feature that screens every call to their home phone.

At last, just the calls you really want

Wouldn’t it be nice to pick up your home phone, always knowing it’s a call you really want? No nuisance callers, no sales pitches, no scammers. We’re helping every customer get just that. All you have to do is switch on your free CallSafe.

Your Approved list get straight through

CallSafe automatically creates an Approved list from your regularly dialled numbers – like friends and family – and they’ll get straight through to you. You can also manage who’s on this list at any time, online or by calling 1472.

Blocked callers will never bother you

You can also keep a list of numbers you’ve chosen to block – plus CallSafe has a national database of known unwanted callers. If any of these numbers call, your phone won’t even ring.

All other callers are screened for you

If a number isn’t on your Approved or Blocked list, the caller will be asked to identify themselves in a short message. Your phone then rings, you hear their message and choose whether to take the call. To get a better understanding of Call Safe then feel free to watch the YouTube video below


DNS Protection

Now, this section is a little bit more advanced and it may require you seeking some help from a more savvy computer user. There are some great walkthroughs that can be found on google if you’re up for attempting this.

DNS IP Addresses: and

To point out this method I have used for nearly ten years and has worked like a charm. I don’t use the normal DNS servers as provided by my ISP but instead, I use OpenDNS with their brilliant filtering. If you’re not yet using OpenDNS to secure your network and protect against phishing, malware, botnets and DNS vulnerabilities, take it from me – you should.

OpenDNS, chosen by Fortune 100 companies and more than 25,000 schools, provides comprehensive security services, including award-winning Anti-Phishing from PhishTank. In addition, OpenDNS is one of the only DNS services that was never susceptible to the largest and most threatening vulnerability ever discovered. Dan Kaminsky, the researcher credited with finding the flaw, personally recommends using OpenDNS.

In addition to Web and DNS security, OpenDNS provides the most efficient yet powerful comprehensive Web filtering and detailed network stats that let you see what’s happening on your home network. The cloud-based service takes just minutes to set up and gives you 55 categories of Web content, all of which are constantly updated.

On top of Web filtering, OpenDNS provides anti-phishing and malware site protection. It will also make your network faster and more reliable, and give you tools to easily see which Web sites are most visited on your network. If you see problem Web sites in your network stats, you can easily block them.

Award-winning OpenDNS Parental Controls makes filtering Internet content a breeze. Simply choose your desired filtering level, from “High” to “Minimal,” and check a box. Your filtering preferences take effect in just minutes.

Further customize your preferences by adding additional categories like “Social Networking,” “Hate” and “Gambling,” or individual Web sites like that are problematic or unsafe for your household.

Users can choose from three types of service: OpenDNS Family Shield, OpenDNS Home, and OpenDNS VIP Home. The first two — OpenDNS Family Shield and OpenDNS Home — are both free. The features are basically the same; they both have built-in identity theft protection and parental controls for every device in your home. The only significant difference is customizable filtering: the Family Shield is pre-set, the Home package needs your input.

The VIP Home package costs $19.95 per year. It includes detailed internet usage stats for the previous 12 months (categorized across eight types of security threats and 60 types of web content) and the ability to restrict internet access to a whitelist of domains, thus giving users on your network a “locked down” experience. The company also offers business packages.

So how do I set up my home network etc.?

Firstly you’ll need to signup to their website but don’t worry you don’t have to part with any money as the services I am linking you to are FREE! OpenDNS Sign Up Page ( Personal ) OpenDNS has set up a nice guide to help you get things working and can be seen by clicking the link below. OpenDNS Set Up Guide There are options for business accounts but I won’t go into that as primarily this post is to help protect home users. A quick look through their site you will find packages more tailored for business use.

Free Endpoint Browser Protection from IBM

It takes 2 minutes to protect yourself online

When it comes to identity fraud, even anti-virus software and a firewall aren’t always enough. That’s because criminals can bypass these defences, to obtain your login details.

To help protect you when you’re online, download the free IBM Rapport security software. IBM Rapport protects you in the following ways

Tells you that you are really connected to your bank, not a fraudulent website

Locks down your connection between your machine and your Online Banking

Designed to let your computer, Laptop or Mac work just as quickly as before

IBM Rapport works on PCs, laptops and Macs only. It is not available for tablets / mobile devices. You should really use your bank’s online banking app on your smartphone as it’s far more secure than using the browser!!!

For a full list of supported browsers, devices etc. please visit IBM’s website by clicking HERE! ( Opens in a new tab ).

PC Users download the app via

Mac Users use this link

The links are provided by IBM but via their AWS content delivery server

I’ll finish this post later on so remember this is a work in progress