Tips for online banking and making your computer visible to other devices on a network | Q&A with Patrick Marshall


Q: I plan to spend a long time overseas after retiring and selling my house, but no longer than three to six months per location. This transitory life probably does not make postal mail possible for financial statements and invoices. Do you have any tips for securing financial transactions? How can I track invoices and statements? Am I too nervous?

Sarah McCaghren

A: When I travel…even if it’s to the local Starbucks…I always connect to public Wi-Fi using a virtual private network (VPN). This way, all transmissions to and from my computer are encrypted, so even if someone captures my traffic, it’s nearly impossible for them to figure out what it means.

So that’s my first piece of advice: if you’re on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, use a VPN. They are inexpensive and easy to use.

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However, some financial sites do not allow connections through a VPN. Since VPNs also prevent websites from knowing your computer’s IP address, hackers often use them to disguise themselves. Financial institutions don’t like that. So what to do? When you connect to your bank or another sensitive site, make sure the address bar shows HTTPS. This means that you are on a secure connection and the transmissions are encrypted like with a VPN. But make sure that every page you access within this site starts with HTTPS.

And, of course, whatever else you do, I recommend using strong passwords that are hard to guess. This means no animal names. And above all, do not use the same password for several sites. For each connection, you must have a unique password.

Of course, those of us with no photographic memory can’t keep track of many unique strong passwords, so use a password manager. Personally, I use LastPass. It has the added benefit of allowing me to designate “survivors” who can access my account. If they try to access my account and I don’t stop them for a user-defined number of days, they’re there. In short, if something happens to me and I can’t stop them from accessing my LastPass account, my family can still manage their finances and other important data.

Finally, if the site you’re connecting to supports two-factor authentication or using an authenticator app, take advantage of it. Then, if someone somehow gets your password, they still won’t be able to access your account.

Q: I have a desktop PC and two Surface tablets all running the current version of Windows 10 on my home network. Before Windows 10, I shared its hard drives with my tablets because it had a larger disk capacity. However, with Windows 10 that has shut down because my tablets can no longer see the desktop over the network. The desktop can see the tablets without issue and connect to their shared drives. The two tablets can “see” each other but not the desktop. Can you help please?

wayne hagan

A: I suspect that after upgrading to Windows 10 the network discovery feature was disabled.

Here’s how to check: Click the Start button in the lower left corner, then the gear icon to access Settings. Then click on Network and Internet, then on the network connection you are using. The system will display lots of information about your network settings. Look under Network Profile. It lists two options: Public and Private. If Public is selected, your computer will not be visible to other computers on the network. If Private is selected, you should be able to see this computer from your other devices.

Of course, this assumes that these computers are connected to the same network. If you have both wired and wireless networks, it’s worth checking this out.


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