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Keeping Your Family Connected

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Cyber Security and Summer Vacations

Summer vacations are something we all look forward to at every age. Soaking up some rays by the lake, experiencing a new place or just relaxing with the family. While the car ride used to be filled with yelling out states as you spotted them on passing license plates and the anticipation of winning I Spy, it has turned into a quiet murmur from headphones and clicking from the new game the kids downloaded. As you take technology along this summer, Great Plains Communications would like you to keep these cyber security tips in mind to ensure all your information stays safe and secure.

1.       Limit the Social Media Vacation Posts Until You Get Back

Turn off check-ins and location tracking. People are always sharing the hottest new restaurants they visited and what gyms they frequent. While that tells us where they are, it also tells scammers and criminals where they aren’t, at home. Limit vacation posts until you return from your trip. Broadcasting that you are states away from your home opens a window of opportunity for criminals to climb through.

2.       Lock Up Your Gadgets

Make sure to password protect everything, from tablets to cellphones. Another way to lock up your devices is by using the safe in the hotel room when leaving them unattended. Like your wallet, the information on your computer is private and important, so be sure to keep them locked up if you leave them in the room during an outing.

3.       Be Cautious When Using Public Wi-Fi

Check with a source before connecting. Wi-Fi network names are manually created, which means scammers could easily create theirs to mimic a nearby airport or hotel. Once connected to a scammer’s network, your data is in their hands.

4.       Stick to the Basics

Bring what you need and leave the rest at home. Just like you don’t bring every pair of shoes on your trip, you don’t need to bring every device you own. The time is to be spent with family. Facebook will still be there when you get back. Don’t forget to look up this summer and enjoy all the excitement and relaxation a vacation provides.

Are You Making the Most Common Mistakes of Password Security?

We live in an increasingly hackable world, where you no longer need a piece of metal with unique notches and grooves to get into some of the most personal aspects of someone’s life. All you need is a password. Do you use the same password for everything? Is your password “123456” or “password”? These are common mistakes made by hundreds of thousands of people every day. Great Plains Communications wants to remind you that password protection is crucial to the safety of everything from your files and account information, to your Wi-Fi connection.

Here are a few common mistakes to keep in mind the next time you change your passwords (because you should be changing them, a lot).

  • Do not use the same password for everything. Just don’t.
  • Do not use your partner, child, or pet’s name, not even if there is a 0 at the end. The number isn’t hiding anything.
  • Do not use “123456”, “password” or “qwerty”. If you do, congratulations you have made the list of the most frequently used and easily hacked passwords.
  • Do not use your birthday. Facebook just notified me that it is today. Happy Birthday!

Just as you wouldn’t hand out the key to your home to just anyone, be wary when giving out any passwords or where you are writing them down. Where you store your password information is just as important as putting time into a secure choice. Ultimately, by changing your passwords often and keeping in mind the common mistakes above, you can increase the safety and security of your personal information and assets.

If you have questions about changing your Wi-Fi password or for more information, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Internet Security – Level: Completely Protected

Internet Security

We know that we talk about Internet security a lot.  However, protecting your data and privacy online is essential
to enjoying the Internet and keeping yourself safe.  In our commitment to keep the Internet as fun and protected
as possible, we use a variety of tools and tactics that you may not be aware of.  Here is a list of the ways that
Great Plains Communications works to keep you safe:

Email Guardian: If you are a Great Plains Communications webmail user, then you are already
protected by one of the best spam filters in use today.  Email guardian quarantines suspect email
so that those with viruses don’t have a chance to infect your computer.  This quarantine also lets
you see the email before it is removed from your inbox.  That reduces the chance that an email
which only looked dangerous doesn’t get tossed out before you get to read it.

Password Genie:  Even if you have a great memory, remembering the username and password combination
for every site that you visit on the Internet is very hard.  Many browsers will auto-remember your passwords, but they don’t check to see if it’s you or someone who just wants access to
your accounts.  Password genie only requires you to know one username and password combination.
Once you sign in, it supplies websites with your access information.  Since you have to sign-in, no one
else can get to your accounts.  It’s secure and easy!

SecureIT: For only $4-$6 a month, you can get total piece of mind about your computer’s safety.  SecureIT
provides anti-virus and anti-spyware protection as well as firewall protection.  It will stop you from
accidentally visiting sites that download malware to your computer and parents can even block certain sites
from kids’ computers.  Plus you get 24/7 support in case you ever have a question.

Posts on the blog:  Whenever we get a scam alert, we post about it here.  We post tips and tricks about how
to protect your online safety.  It’s a must read!

In addition to these services, Great Plains Communications is constantly keeping tabs on new
scam alerts and we do our best to make sure our customers are aware of potential issues.  We
keep consumer data completely secured, so you can be assured that everything you let us
know is completely safe!

Have any more questions about how we make sure you stay safe online?
Let us know in the comments section below.

A Security Partner You Can Trust

It seems like every day there is some new virus that comes along and threatens the security of your computers.  These viruses can destroy your data, steal sensitive information and even damage your computer beyond repair.

Great Plains Communications takes computer protection very seriously.  As an Internet provider, we want to make sure that the Internet stays a fun and safe place.  To that end, we spent a lot of time searching for a company that we believe can really protect our customers.  That company is SecureIT.

SecureIT protects computers by:

  • Providing guaranteed installation by a professional installer
  • Automatically updating virus protection to safeguard against the latest threats
  • Blocking pop-ups
  • Allowing users to set parental controls
  • Much, much more.

You can read more about our partnership with SecureIT in our upcoming newsletter.  Sign-up, today!

More Ways to Protect Your Internet Security

Recently we posted an article about Top Ways to Protect Your Internet Security.  Here are a few more ways to make sure that your online experience stays safe.

Beware of outdated versions of Adobe Reader/AcrobatAdobe Reader, the most popular program for reading PDF documents, comes pre-installed on most computers.  However, vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat (another program for reading files) are a very popular way for viruses to get into your computer.  Make sure that you have the latest version, with the most up-to-date protection, at all times.   Updating is easy since Adobe searches for updates automatically and will prompt you to run updates on the program.  If you do want extra help, check out our online PC support options.

Don’t click on pop-ups that claim your computer is infectedIn our last post, we advised that you get to know your anti-virus software.  Knowing how your computer is protected will help you avoid programs known as “scareware”, which  can pretend to be anti-virus programs who have detected hundreds of viruses on your computer.  They offer to “clean” your computer if you purchase the full version of the program.  The thing is, your computer wasn’t infected to begin with and you are effectively paying to get rid of one virus pretending to be real software.

If you see one of these programs appear on your screen run a scan with your actual anti-virus program.  Whatever you do, don’t give the program any credit card or other personal information, as these programs will send the data right back to the scammers and put your identity at risk.

Logging into an account from a link received in an e-mail, IM or other suspect sourceThe risk you run by logging into your online accounts (banking, social media, etc.) from an e-mail link is that you could be taken to a fake landing page set up by a scammer to take your personal information.  When in doubt, go to the log-in page directly by typing the URL in yourself and log-in from there.  (If you ever have trouble remembering your passwords, check out our earlier blog post Say Goodbye to the Frustration of Forgotten Passwords)

Top ways to protect your online security

Here at Great Plains Communications, we spend a lot of time thinking about Internet security.  What’s the point of offering some of the fastest download speeds available in our towns, if no one feels safe getting online?  So we’ve outlined a few easy ways to make your time on the web safer.

  • Know your anti-virus software – Tech website CNET is a great resource for finding out if your anti-virus software is actually keeping your computer safe.  You’ll find full reviews of dozens of popular anti-virus software programs.  If you find out that your program isn’t giving you the protection that you would like, there are a lot of great options out there including SecureIT and Microsoft Security Essentials.

  • Be careful of new e-mail scams – While you probably already know not to open e-mail from someone you don’t know, there is a new e-mail threat that comes in a deceptively safe package.  Hackers are breaking into e-mail accounts and sending out dangerous links from those accounts.  If you see an e-mail from a friend without a subject line, be cautious.  If you open the e-mail and only see a link, erase the e-mail immediately.  You should also let your friend know that their account has been hacked as there is often no warning for the sender.   No one is immune from this one, nearly one-third of congressional e-mail addresses were hacked earlier this year.  If you have a gpcom.net e-mail account, find out how your account is protected here.
  • Change your passwords – If your computer does get infected, it’s important to make sure that you change your passwords after your computer is cleaned.  Most viruses are meant to do nothing more than wreak havoc with your computer, however some are “keystroke catchers” and they have ability to record your passwords and usernames as you type them in.  If you find that keeping track of new passwords is difficult, try the free 30-day trial of Password Genie, an ultra-secure site that will keep track of all of your passwords for you.  They will even auto-fill your usernames and passwords for you!
  • Verify website’s domains – Whenever you are entering information into a website, double check the URL (the website’s domain name).  There are people who buy domains that are almost identical to a real website, often with a commonly used typo, who then prompt users to enter in all sorts of data. It’s called typo-squatting and it’s on the rise.  Make sure that you are on the right site by checking the domain suffix; .com, .edu, .net, etc and making sure the name was typed in correctly.

While there are some pretty nasty bugs out there, for the most part, the internet is a safe place as long as you take a few simple pre-cautions.

Spring Savings with Great Plains Communications

Spring is a time to refresh and renew. Great Plains Communications wants to help you do just that – out with the old and in with the new Internet speeds this spring! The Internet isn’t just for entertainment or research purposes anymore, it is a necessity in the home. From supporting security systems to being a requirement for a child to succeed in their education, make sure your family has the Internet speed they need.

Pick your spring savings!

Sign up for NEW Internet service or upgrade your current speed and receive up to a $100 bill credit!

Bundle with TV, Phone or both and receive an ADDITIONAL $25 bill credit!

+ FREE installation on all new services.

 

We want you to pick the speed and deal that best fits your family’s needs. If you aren’t sure what speed your family needs, check out our speed tool. For more information or to sign up for this great offer, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Find the Support You Need this Holiday with Tech Home

Our lives have become a constant stream of information through news feeds, search engines, emails, and reviews. All accessible through our multitude of devices. Great Plains Communications wants to make sure you understand just where those connections are going and ensure they are all protected with our Tech Home service.

The program provides world-class security for all your devices, home and on the go, with web security and antivirus systems. Gone away is the worry of lost files when your device crashes or gets damaged. With Tech Home, you will be able to sync and back-up all your files, photos, contacts and additional important information. No matter where you are, or which Wi-Fi you connect to, Tech Home will have you covered with a cloud-based protection keeping your personal information secure and convenient.

Round-the-clock technicians will provide help to setup, test, fix and enjoy your network. Up to four computers, laptops, phones or tablets are covered through Tech Home, with the low price of just $2.99 for an additional mobile device and $4.99 for an additional laptop.

With Tech Home, you’ll have the support you are looking for and the protection you need. For more information on the new product, call 1-855-853-1483 or visit our website at http://www.gpcom.com/residential/internet/tech-home-device-protection.

Advantages of Having a Landline this Winter

As the holiday season begins, do you ever feel like you are constantly making lists? From grocery lists to guest lists and Christmas wish-lists. Great Plains Communications wants to remind you of one more list that you won’t want to forget and that is for winter safety. Temperatures may be moderate so far, but as any Midwesterner knows, winter is coming.

So, you have your batteries and extra blankets, but do you have a landline telephone? You may be wondering why you would need a landline, when all the members of your family have cell phones. Cell phones are great on the go and bring some of the best technology right to your fingertips. But with cell phones come batteries that need power to recharge, which isn’t always available through a power outage brought on by extreme weather. Here are just a few advantages to having a landline telephone this winter:

  • Security in an emergency, with consistent reliable 911 connection
  • No need for batteries or charging when using a corded phone
  • Elimination of potentially faulty connection and dropped calls
  • Top-quality sound and clarity

Remember, if the power isn’t working in your home, most likely neither are your cordless phones. Keep your family safe this season and make sure you have a corded phone plugged into a wall-mounted phone jack. That way you can be sure to have a clear and reliable connection throughout any storm headed our way. For more information on how you can get phone service with Great Plains Communications, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Nebraska Lifeline Program

Great Plains Communications is raising awareness on one of the Universal Service Funds’ varied programs to help provide affordable telecommunications services to Americans. We are looking at the Nebraska Lifeline Program or Lifeline Phone Bill Assistance.

The Lifeline Program ensures that low-income households have access to quality telephone service. It could be combined with Link Up and Toll Limitation Service. The Lifeline program reduces the price for monthly telephone charges for basic service and allows those with income constraints to enjoy the benefits of a telephone service.

Eligible subscribers include those who participate in:

  • Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Tribally Administered TANF
  • Head Start (income qualifying / residents of Tribal Lands only)

We know how important having a landline can be for safety and convenience of your family, particularly in rural Nebraska. For additional information on the Nebraska Lifeline Program, visit http://www.phone-bill-assistance.com/lifeline/NE. If you have any questions or would like to apply, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

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