Author Archives: Lance Whitney

Review Your Security and Privacy Settings in Microsoft Office

Use Microsoft Office? You should check out the suite’s security and privacy settings, if only to be aware of them. Microsoft Office has always been susceptible to viruses and other malware, often delivered through macros in Word. As a response, Microsoft Office disables macros by default when you open documents that you receive from others. But even without macros enabled, Word users can still be exposed. A nasty zero-day vulnerability recently documented by McAfee and since patched by Microsoft could have infected your system if you opened the wrong file attachment. However, this piece of malware would not have unleashed its payload if you had enabled Protected View, which opens documents in read-only mode. Office users should also be on the lookout for potential privacy issues. Through a feature called Intelligent Services, Microsoft can gather the contents of your Office files in an attempt to offer ideas and help improve your writing. This feature is turned off by default, so fortunately you don’t have to hunt around to disable it. But it’s still a feature that exists and that you may want to keep disabled. So, between these two issues, Office users need to check their security and privacy settings … Read More »

How to Best Secure the Microsoft Edge Browser

Microsoft Edge already has some security tricks up its sleeve, but you can beef up the browser still further. Windows 10 users, you’re probably using Microsoft Edge to surf the web. But how secure is the newest browser on the block? And how can you tweak it to make it more secure? Edge already includes or takes advantage of several features that enhance your security. But it also offers several options that you can enable or disable to better protect your privacy on the web and ensure that you’re practicing safe surfing. You can make sure the SmartScreen filter is turned on to protect you from malicious websites. You can use InPrivate browsing so no cookies or other data are collected. You can opt to block cookies, especially ones from third-party websites. You can choose to clear your browsing history, especially whenever you shut down Edge. And you can remove your Bing search history. First, let’s go over the security features already built into or used by Edge. One item is SmartScreen. Initially developed for Internet Explorer 8, SmartScreen checks each webpage you visit and each file you download to make sure they don’t contain malware. The feature works by … Read More »