Healthcare Portals: How to Decide if You Should Use One?

| 0

Healthcare portals offer a secure and convenient way for you to access your personal health information and interact with healthcare providers. These applications can enhance your participation in your healthcare and help streamline processes such as bill pay, prescription refills, and scheduling. Healthcare portals also provide methods to share your healthcare information with loved ones.  Having access to your healthcare history online can even be beneficial when you need to have access to your healthcare history while being treated away from home. More and more healthcare providers are offering access to healthcare portals.  Like any online application there are benefits and issues to be aware of when using an online health portal.

Healthcare portals provide these advantages:

  • Convenient Access to Medical Information – Healthcare portals provide patients with the ability to access their medical records, test results, and immunization records from any location with internet access. This convenience also allows you to engage in your healthcare more fully and have better conversations with your doctor and other healthcare professionals.
  • Improved Communication – The portals facilitate better communication channels between patients and healthcare providers. Secure messaging systems within these portals allow for efficient and direct communication, potentially reducing the need for phone calls and in-person visits. Having the messaging system in the application provides increased security and protection of your healthcare information.
  • Streamlined Administrative Tasks – For healthcare providers, patient portals can automate and simplify administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and patient data management, leading to improved workflow efficiency. The system also allows you to schedule doctor visits through the healthcare provider’s calendar and to request appointments sooner due to specific issues.

Some of the issues to consider when looking to use a healthcare portal are:

  • Security Concerns – One of the primary concerns with patient portals is data security. As with any online platform, there is a risk of unauthorized access, which can lead to privacy breaches and misuse of sensitive health information. Using a unique username and password, two-factor authentication, and using your portal only on a home or protected network (using a Virtual Private Network application) can help lower the risk.
  • Technological Barriers – Not everyone is tech-savvy, and you or others in your family or community may find it challenging to navigate these portals. This can lead to underutilization of the services provided through the portal. Working with your healthcare provider, family members, and friends that are using the same portal can be beneficial for those just learning to use it. You can also search for support materials from the portal provider’s web site. 
  • Potential for Misinterpretation – Access to detailed medical records and test results without proper interpretation by a healthcare professional can sometimes lead to confusion and misinterpretation causing stress. Use the information to assist you in formulating questions to ask your healthcare professionals and avoid self-diagnosis.

Healthcare portals allow you to be a more informed and engaged patient. They offer numerous advantages that can enhance your healthcare experience and improve healthcare delivery. Nonetheless, it is crucial to think through the issues, particularly around security and accessibility, to ensure that these portals serve you and your healthcare provider effectively.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of healthcare technology, it is essential to maintain a balanced perspective on the tools we integrate into our healthcare systems. By doing so, we can harness the full potential of healthcare portals to benefit you and your healthcare providers.

Additional reading and information:

What to Know About Patient Portals (

How to Navigate Your Patient Portal and Avoid Mistakes (

Connect to care: The patient portal – Mayo Clinic Health System

How to Find a Telehealth or Tele-mental Health Provider

| 0

Many of the same considerations for finding a provider for in-person health services apply to finding a telehealth or tele-mental health provider. You should look for a provider who is licensed, qualified, experienced, and compatible with your needs and preferences.

How can you find a telehealth or tele-mental health provider?

  • Ask your primary care provider for a referral or recommendation.
  • Contact your insurance company or visit their website to see what providers are in-network and what services are covered.
  • Search online directories or databases of telehealth or tele-mental health providers, such as those offered by professional associations or organizations.
  • Read online reviews or testimonials from other patients who have used telehealth or tele-mental health services.
  • Ask your friends, family, or peers for suggestions or feedback.

How do you prepare for a Telehealth or Tele-mental Health Visit?

Once you have found a provider and scheduled an appointment, you should prepare for your telehealth or tele-mental health visit by following these steps:

  • Test your device, connection, and platform before the session to make sure they work properly. If possible, use a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi for better stability.
  • Choose a quiet, private, and comfortable location where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Use headphones or earbuds if needed.
  • Have any materials or documents you may need during the session ready, such as your insurance card, medication list, notes, questions, etc.
  • Log in to the platform or app at least 10 minutes before the session starts. Follow the instructions provided by your provider or the platform to join the session.
  • Be respectful, honest, and engaged during the session. Treat it as you would an in-person visit. Ask for clarification or feedback if needed.
  • After the session, write down any important information or instructions from your provider. Follow up with any questions or concerns you may have.
  • If you do not have the ability to access telehealth services in your home see if your local healthcare providers, libraries, or other agencies may be able to provide a private space for you and others in the community to access telehealth services.

Telehealth and tele-mental health platforms are convenient and effective ways to receive health care services, especially for mental health conditions. They can offer many benefits, such as increased access, reduced barriers, and improved technology. However, they also have some drawbacks, such as potential issues with quality, cost, privacy, and insurance coverage.

You should weigh the pros and cons of using telehealth and tele-mental health and find a provider who meets your needs and preferences. You should also prepare for your virtual visit by testing your technology, choosing a suitable location, and being respectful and engaged.

Additional reading and information:

How do I schedule a telehealth appointment? |

How do I use telehealth for behavioral health care? |

What do I need to use telehealth? |

What should I know before my telehealth visit? |

What if I’m having trouble using telehealth? |

What happens after my telehealth visit? |

Benefits of Telehealth and Tele-Mental Health

| 0

Telehealth is the use of telephones and\or videoconferencing technology to provide health care services, including mental health care. Tele-mental health is sometimes referred to as telepsychiatry or telepsychology. Research suggests that tele-mental health services can be effective for many people, including those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.

Telehealth and Tele-mental health can make a difference in the care and treatment of individuals that are unable to travel due to illness, who are unable to drive, or cannot afford to travel to see specialists or their primary care doctor. Having access to preventative healthcare as well as care during an illness can improve the health of individuals and allow them to stay in their homes instead of a long-term care facility.

Having the ability to access a reliable broadband provider is an essential component of accessing healthcare and mental health services virtually. Broadband connectivity should be affordable and reliable so all individuals can access services such as Telehealth and Tele-mental health.

Let’s explore some of the benefits and drawbacks of using telehealth and tele-mental health, as well as some tips on how to find a provider and prepare for a virtual visit.

Benefits of Telehealth and Tele-mental Health:

  • Convenience: You don’t have to travel to see your provider, which can save you time, money, and hassle. You can also schedule appointments with less notice and at more flexible hours.
  • Broader reach: You can access providers who may not be available in your area, especially if you live in a remote or rural location. You can also receive care in emergency situations or when you need immediate support.
  • Fewer barriers: You may feel more comfortable and less stigmatized seeking mental health care through a screen than in person. You may also find it easier to open up and share your feelings with a provider who is not physically present.
  • Advances in technology: As telehealth and tele-mental health services have increased, providers have become more familiar with the technology and platforms they use. Some providers have switched to entirely virtual practices, which can offer more consistency and continuity of care.

Disadvantages of Telehealth and Tele-mental Health:

  • Access to technology: You need a reliable internet connection and a device that can support audio and video. You may also need to download specific software or apps to use the service.
  • Quality issues: The quality of the audio and video may vary depending on your device, connection, and platform. Poor quality can affect how well you can communicate with your provider and how satisfied you are with the service.
  • Cost: You may need to invest in new or updated equipment, platforms, or networks to use telehealth and tele-mental health services. You may also have to pay out-of-pocket fees if your insurance does not cover the service or if you use an out-of-network provider.
  • Privacy: You need to ensure that your device, connection, and platform are secure and that no one else can access or overhear your sessions. You may also feel less comfortable sharing personal information with a provider who is not physically present.
  • Insurance coverage: The policies and regulations regarding telehealth and tele-mental health services vary from state to state and from insurer to insurer. You need to check with your provider and your insurance company before using the service to make sure it is covered and what the requirements are.

Telehealth and Tele-mental health service can provide a great advantage to you in your personal care and well-being. Being able to visit with your primary care provider, specialists, or mental health professional remotely can give you access that is more convenient for you, does not require travel to their office, and can give you a greater level of privacy by being able to receive services in your home. Using telehealth and tele-mental health does require broadband access to have full audio and video visits with your healthcare provider as well as a device capable of video conferencing. Cost and insurance coverage also need to be considered when deciding to use Telehealth and tele-mental health services.

Additional reading and information:

Why use telehealth? |

What are different types of telehealth? |

How do I pay for telehealth? |

What can be treated through telehealth? |

How do I protect my data and privacy? |

Understanding Drive-By and Pop-Up Computer Infections

| 0

I’ve just spent some time scanning a computer in my house that had a pop-up virus trying to infect it. Drive-by and pop-up infections are quite common and can lead to your computer and data being compromised.

Drive-by downloads are a form of cyberattack where malware is unintentionally downloaded and installed on a user’s computer. This can occur when a user visits a compromised website or clicks on a deceptive link. The downloaded malware can then perform various malicious activities, such as hijacking the computer, spying on network activity, or destroying data.

Pop-up computer infections, on the other hand, often masquerade as legitimate warnings or advertisements. They can be very persistent, tricking users into clicking on them, which may lead to the installation of malware. These pop-ups can appear even when not browsing the internet, indicating the presence of adware or other malicious software on the system.

To protect against these threats, follow these recommendations:

Keep Your Software Updated – Regularly update your operating system, browser, and any installed software to patch security vulnerabilities.

Install an Ad-Blocker – Ad-blockers can prevent malicious ads from appearing and reduce the risk of accidental clicks that could lead to malware infections. PC Mag has their list of top 5 add blockers.

Use Antivirus Software – A reliable antivirus program can detect and remove malicious software before it harms your system. PC Mag and CNet have their reviews of Antivirus programs for the year.

Enable “Click-to-Play Plugins” in Your Browser – This prevents multimedia content from running automatically and can stop drive-by downloads from executing.

Download Software from Trusted Sources – Be cautious of downloading free software. Ensure you obtain it from legitimate sources and providers to avoid bundled malware.

Adjust Browser Security Settings – Maintain your browser’s default security settings or enhance them to block unauthorized downloads and pop-ups.

Be Wary of Social Engineering – Educate yourself on the tactics used by cybercriminals to lure users into downloading malware, such as phishing emails and fake websites.

Regular Backups – Keep regular backups of your important data. In case of an infection, you can restore your system without losing critical information.

For those who suspect their system may be infected, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through the process:

Disconnect from the Internet – As soon as you suspect an infection, disconnect your computer from the internet. This prevents the malware from transmitting any sensitive data and stops it from downloading additional malicious components. For pop-up infections, you can power down your machine by holding the power button in for 10 seconds. Many of these pop-up infections run in the computer memory to start and by shutting down the computer without clicking on any recommended links or trying to close the applications on your computer can reduce the chance of further infection.

Enter Safe Mode (Windows MacOS) – Reboot your computer in Safe Mode. This will start your computer with only the essential programs running, which can help prevent the malware from loading.

Check Installed Programs – Review your installed programs and remove anything that looks suspicious or that you don’t remember installing.

Run Antivirus Scans – Use a reputable antivirus program to run a thorough scan of your system. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a widely recommended tool for removing malware and unwanted programs. Malwarebytes has both a free and subscription-based service.

Use Secondary Scanners – Sometimes, a second opinion is necessary. Tools like HitmanPro can provide a secondary scan that might catch malware that slipped past your primary antivirus software. Hitman Pro.Alert is their fee-based version.

Reset Your Browsers – Malware often makes changes to your browser settings. Resetting your browsers to their default settings can undo these changes. Once at the default setting, you can change back to any customizations you made to enhance security above the default settings.

Update Your Software – Ensure that your operating system, browsers, and all plugins are up to date with the latest security patches. Outdated software can be vulnerable to exploitation by malware.

Change Passwords – After cleaning your system, change your passwords. This is a crucial step, as malware can capture keystrokes and compromise your accounts.

Backup Your Data – Regularly back up your data to an external drive or cloud storage. If you have a backup from before the infection, you may be able to restore your files if they’ve been damaged or encrypted by malware.

Stay Informed – Educate yourself on the latest threats and how to avoid them. Drive-by downloads can exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software, so keeping informed can help you stay one step ahead of potential infections.

Consult Local Computer Repair Professionals – If you’re not confident in your ability to clean your system or if the infection persists, seek the help of your local computer professional. It’s better to get expert assistance than to risk further damage to your system.

While drive-by and pop-up computer infections pose a significant risk, awareness and proactive measures can greatly reduce the chances of falling victim to these cyber threats. It’s a continuous battle against cybercriminals, but with the right tools and practices, you can safeguard your information and continue to enjoy the benefits of your digital life.

You can find additional information and resources at the following sites:

Malware Protection for Home 2023 | Malwarebytes

Download HitmanPro: Scan and Remove Malware

Best Antivirus Software for 2024 – CNET

The Best Ad Blockers for 2024 | PCMag

What are drive-by downloads + drive-by attack prevention tips | Norton

How to remove a fake virus alert – Norton

How to Enable Click-to-Play Plugins in Every Web Browser (

Start your PC in safe mode in Windows – Microsoft Support

Start up your Mac in safe mode – Apple Support

Common Issues with Home Networks and How to Fix Them

| 0

A home network connects multiple devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, printers, and smart home devices, to each other and to the internet. Sometimes you may encounter problems with your home network that affect your online experience. Here are some of the most common issues with home networks and how to fix them:

Slow Internet Speeds

If your internet connection is slow or lagging, you may have several possible causes, such as:

  • Your internet service provider (ISP) may be having issues or throttling (i.e., limiting) your bandwidth because of the service package purchased
  • Your modem or router is outdated or malfunctioning
  • Your network is congested with too many devices or applications
  • Your network is affected by interference from other wireless signals or devices
  • Your device is infected with malware or running too many background processes

To fix slow internet speeds, you can try the following solutions:

  • Update your modem and router firmware to the latest version. Firmware updates can improve performance and security of your network devices.
  • Reduce the number of devices or applications that are using your network. Close any unnecessary tabs or programs on your device and disconnect any devices that are not in use.
  • Change the location or channel of your router. Place your router in a central and elevated position, away from walls, metal objects, and other sources of interference. Change the wireless channel of your router using the router’s web interface or app. Changing the channel of the Wi-Fi may improve signal strength and reduce interference from neighboring routers.
  • Scan your device for malware and remove any suspicious files or programs. Use reputable antivirus software and keep it updated regularly.
  • Restart your device, modem, and router. Sometimes, a simple reboot can clear any temporary issues and improve your network performance.
  • Test your internet speed using an online tool such as and compare it with your ISP’s advertised speed. If there is a significant difference, contact your ISP and report the problem.

Devices Not Connecting

If you have trouble connecting a device to your network, it may be because of one of these reasons:

  • Your device’s Wi-Fi adapter is disabled or faulty
  • Your device’s network settings are incorrect or incompatible
  • Your device’s network drivers are outdated or corrupted
  • Your router’s security settings are blocking your device
  • Your router’s DHCP server is not assigning IP addresses properly. DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, which is a service that assigns IP addresses to devices on your network automatically.

To fix connection issues, you can try these solutions:

  • Check your device’s Wi-Fi adapter and make sure it is enabled and working properly. You can use the network troubleshooter on Windows or the wireless diagnostics on Mac to diagnose and fix any problems with your Wi-Fi adapter.
  • Check your device’s network settings and make sure they match your router’s settings. For example, if your router uses WPA2 encryption, your device should also use WPA2 encryption. If your router uses a static IP address, your device should also use a static IP address. WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access.
  • Update your device’s network drivers to the latest version. Network drivers are software that allows your device to communicate with your network hardware. You can update them manually from the device manufacturer’s website or automatically using a driver updater tool from the device manufacturer.
  • Check your router’s security settings and make sure they are not blocking your device. For example, if your router has a MAC (media access card) address filter, you need to add your device’s MAC address to the allowed list. If your router has a firewall, you need to allow the ports and protocols that your device uses.
  • Check your router’s DHCP server and make sure it is enabled and working properly. If DHCP is disabled or malfunctioning, you may need to assign IP addresses manually or reset your router.

Intermittent Connectivity

If your Internet or home network connection drops frequently or randomly, it might be caused by:

  • Your ISP is having outages or maintenance
  • Your modem or router is overheating or overloaded
  • Your network cable is damaged or loose
  • Your wireless signal is weak or unstable
  • Your device is switching between networks

To fix intermittent connectivity, you can try these solutions:

  • Check your ISP’s status page or social media accounts for any reports of outages or maintenance. If there is an issue on their end, you will have to wait until they resolve it.
  • Check your modem and router for any signs of overheating or overload. If they feel hot to the touch or have blinking lights, you may need to cool them down or reduce their workload. You can do this by placing them in a well-ventilated area, unplugging any unnecessary devices, and limiting bandwidth-intensive activities such as streaming or gaming.
  • Check your network cable for any signs of damage or looseness. If the cable is frayed, bent, or disconnected, you may need to replace it or reconnect it securely.
  • Check your wireless signal for any signs of weakness or instability. If the signal is weak or fluctuating, you may need to improve it by moving closer to your router, reducing interference, or using a Wi-Fi extender or mesh network.
  • Check your device for any signs of switching between networks. If your device is connected to multiple networks, such as Wi-Fi and cellular, it may switch between them depending on the signal strength and availability. You can prevent this by disabling the network that you don’t want to use or setting a priority for the network that you want to use.

By following these diagnostics steps and implementing one or more of the solutions provided, you can get your home network and your devices connecting at their fastest speeds and enjoying the information and resources available on the In

Should You Rent or Own Your Home Internet Equipment?

| 0

If you’re thinking about getting Internet in your home for the first time, changing providers, or wondering if you should ask your provider about an equipment upgrade, you may want to consider the option of owning versus renting the equipment that connects you to the Internet.

The equipment that connects your home to the Internet through your provider can consist of a modem, router or Wi-Fi router, or combination router\modem (sometimes called a gateway). Equipment might also include a range extender to enhance the Wi-Fi signal across your home.

There are advantages and disadvantages to owning your own equipment or renting the equipment through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). When you sign up for an Internet plan through your provider, you have the option to rent their equipment and have them perform the installation or buy your own equipment and do the installation yourself with specific instructions from the provider on the initial setup.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of renting or owning the equipment that connects you to the Internet to help determine which option is best for you.

When renting equipment from your Internet Service Provider some of the advantages are:

  • You don’t have to worry about compatibility issues. The equipment is designed to work with your providers’ network and service.
  • You get free upgrades or replacements if the equipment fails or becomes outdated.
  • You get technical support from your provider if you have any problems with the equipment or your internet connection.
  • You can easily return the equipment if you switch ISPs or cancel your service.

Some of the disadvantages to renting equipment from your Internet Service Provider are:

  • You pay a monthly rental fee that can add up over time and cost more than buying your own equipment. This may take several years depending on the equipment used.
  • You may have limited control over some of the features and settings of the equipment, as they are determined by your ISP.
  • You may not get the best performance or security from the equipment, as it may be of low quality or use outdated technology.

When you own your modem, router, and/or Wi-Fi Range Extender to use with your provider, you have some options about where you purchase the equipment and its quality. Your provider may suggest brands they consider compatible with their Internet connection to your home.

The advantages of owning your home networking equipment are:

  • You save money over time, as you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to your provider.
  • You have more control over the features and settings of the equipment, as you can choose the model and brand that suits your needs and preferences.
  • You get better performance and security from the equipment, as you can choose one that uses the latest technology and supports faster speeds and stronger encryption.
  • You can make sure the equipment is updated to the latest operating system or firmware by setting automatic updates.
  • You can keep the equipment if you switch ISPs or cancel your service if it is compatible with other networks.
  • You do not have to wait on a visit by technicians to upgrade or replace failing hardware.

The disadvantages of owning your own home networking equipment are:

  • You must pay upfront for the equipment, which can be expensive depending on the model and brand. You should consider buying the latest equipment which has the latest security features.
  • You must make sure that the equipment is compatible with your ISPs network and service, and that it meets their requirements and specifications.
  • You are responsible for upgrading or replacing the equipment if it fails or becomes outdated. Due to the expense of the equipment, you might want to see if the equipment can be covered through your home or renter’s insurance.
  • You have to troubleshoot any problems with the equipment or your internet connection yourself or seek help from the manufacturer or a third-party service.

After reading about the pros and cons of owning versus renting home network equipment, how do you decide which option is better for you?

Several things to consider in your decision are:

  • Your budget: how much can you afford to spend upfront to buy equipment or spend monthly to rent your home networking equipment?
  • Your needs: what kind of features and performance do you want from your routing equipment?
  • Your preferences: do you value convenience and simplicity, or customization and flexibility?
  • Your plans: how long do you intend to use your current ISP and internet service?

You may want to consider renting the equipment if you:

  • Have a limited budget and don’t want to pay upfront for your routing equipment.
  • Don’t care much about the features and performance of your networking equipment.
  • Prefer to have technical support from your ISP if anything goes wrong.
  • Plan to switch providers or cancel your service in the near future.

Consider owning your home networking equipment if you:

  • Have enough money to buy your own routing equipment.
  • Want to have more control over the features and performance of your routing equipment.
  • Are comfortable with troubleshooting any issues yourself or seeking help elsewhere.
  • Plan to stick with your current ISP and internet service for a long time.

Renting versus owning your home networking equipment is a personal choice that depends on several factors including convenience, support, and flexibility, savings, control, and performance.

Before deciding between renting or owning your home networking equipment, weigh the pros and cons of each option carefully, and consider your budget, needs, preferences, and plans. Ultimately, choose the option that works best for you and your home internet experience.

Exploring Alternatives to the Affordable Connectivity Program

| 0

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a U.S. government initiative designed to help low-income households afford internet service. However, this program stopped accepting new applications February 7, 2024, and is scheduled to run out of funding in April 2024.  Congress will need to renew the funding for the ACP to continue.

Almost 400,000 households are enrolled in the ACP in Missouri saving over 11 million dollars each month on their internet bills.  As the program winds down, many will be looking to find either lower cost options or another program to help cover Internet costs.  Some may even decide to discontinue their internet service.

However, there are alternative options available. In the remainder of this blog, these options will be discussed along with the differences to the ACP.  Some of these options may not be available to all Missourians due to location or qualifications to participate.

One option is the FCC Lifeline program.  The Lifeline program works similar to the ACP program but has stricter requirement for participation and has a small benefit to the household for covering the cost of internet.  Lifeline provides qualified subscribers a discount on qualifying monthly telephone service, broadband Internet service, or bundled voice-broadband packages purchased from participating providers.   If your household income is 135% of the federal poverty guideline you qualify for the Lifeline program.  You may also qualify for the program if you are receiving benefits from one of the following programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Medicaid
  • Tribal Programs for Native American

One alternative is exploring community-based programs. Many local libraries and community centers offer free Wi-Fi access or loan Wi-Fi hotspots to community members. You may also want to contact the local community action agency or other local non-profits to see if there are funds to help assist with the cost of internet access, access to hotspots, or free Wi-Fi access .  You can use the Digital Asset Map at to help with your search.

National non-profit organizations also play a role in bridging the digital divide. Groups like EveryoneOn and PCs for People connect people to low-cost internet service and affordable devices.

Another avenue is negotiating with internet service providers (ISPs). Some ISPs offer discounted plans for low-income families or special programs for students and seniors. It’s worth contacting providers directly to inquire about any available options that may not be widely advertised.  Here are links to several providers that have their own assistance programs.  This is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to talk to the ISPs in your community about their programs.

In conclusion, while the ACP provides a valuable service to many, there are several alternatives worth considering. Each option has its own set of benefits and limitations, and what works best will depend on individual circumstances.

Setting Up a Home Network

| 0

A home network connects multiple devices in your home to each other and the Internet. These devices can include computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, printers, thermostats, security cameras, and other smart home devices.

A home network provides many benefits, such as:

  • Sharing files and folders among devices
  • Streaming media content from one device to another
  • Printing documents from any device
  • Controlling smart home devices remotely
  • Accessing online services and applications

To set up a home network, you will need the following:

  • An internet service provider (ISP) that provides you with an internet connection
  • A modem or other device, such as an optical network terminal (ONT), that connects to the ISP’s network and converts the signal to a format that your devices can understand.
  • A router that connects to the modem or ONT and creates a local network for your devices
  • Ethernet cables for wired connections or Wi-Fi adapters for wireless connections
  • The devices that you want to connect to the network

The following steps will guide you through the process of setting up a home network:

Step 1: Choose an ISP and a modem

The first step is to choose an ISP that offers a package with the internet speed and bandwidth that suits your needs and budget. You can estimate your required internet speed by using the bandwidth calculator  as well as compare different ISPs and plans in your area.

Once you have chosen an ISP, you will need a modem that is compatible with their network. Some ISPs may provide you with a modem as part of their service, or you can buy your own modem from an electronics store or online. Make sure that the modem supports the type of internet connection that you have, such as cable, DSL, fiber, or satellite.

Step 2: Connect the modem to the internet source

The next step is to connect the modem to the internet source using a coaxial cable, a phone line, or a fiber optic cable, depending on the type of connection that you have. You may need to contact your ISP for activation or configuration instructions.

Step 3: Choose a router and connect it to the modem

The router is the device that creates a local network for your devices and allows them to communicate with each other and with the internet. There are many types of routers available, with different features and specifications. Some of the factors that you should consider when choosing a router are:

  • The number of devices that you want to connect
  • The size and layout of your home
  • The Wi-Fi standards and frequencies that your devices support
  • The security and parental control options that you need
  • The advanced features and settings that you want to use

Some modems may have a built-in router function, which means that you don’t need a separate router. However, if you want more control and flexibility over your network, it is recommended to use a standalone router.

To connect the router to the modem, you will need an Ethernet cable. Plug one end of the cable into the WAN port of the router and the other end into the LAN port of the modem.

Step 4: Configure the router settings

After connecting the router to the modem, you will need to configure some basic settings for your network, such as:

  • The network name (SSID) and password (key) for your Wi-Fi network
  • The security mode and encryption type for your Wi-Fi network.  This is known as the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).  The latest version is WPA3.  Check your Wi-Fi connected devices to see which versions they are compatible with
  • The administrator username and password for accessing the router’s web interface
  • The firmware update for your router

To configure these settings, you will need to access the router’s web interface using a web browser on a computer or smartphone that is connected to the router. You can find the default IP address, username, and password for your router in its user manual or on its label. Alternatively, you can use an app provided by your router’s manufacturer to set up and manage your network.

Step 5: Connect your devices to the network

The final step is to connect your devices to the network using either wired or wireless connections. For wired connections, you will need Ethernet cables and Ethernet ports on your devices. Plug one end of each cable into an available LAN port on the router and the other end into an Ethernet port on your device.

For wireless connections, you will need to use Wi-Fi adapters in your devices or purchase external Wi-Fi adapters that plug into the device generally through a USB port. Turn on the Wi-Fi function on your device and scan for available networks. Select your network name (SSID) and enter your password (key) to join the network.

You can also use other methods to connect your devices wirelessly, such as WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), NFC (Near Field Communication), or QR codes. These methods allow you to connect without entering a password by pressing a button on the router or tapping your device on another device.

For smart devices such as TV’s and gaming stations, appliances, and printers, make sure you have the manuals available on how to connect these devices to the network.

Once you have completed connecting all your device to your home network, you can enjoy browsing the web, streaming media, sharing files, printing documents, controlling smart home devices, and more from any device in your home.

Protecting Your Information Online

| 0

As our lives become increasingly entangled in the digital world, we face many challenges and risks when protecting our personal information. Data breaches, identity theft, phishing, malware, and cyberattacks are common threats that can compromise the privacy and security of consumers’ data. We all need to be aware of the best practices and tools that can help us safeguard our information online.

Below are several of the best practices that you can follow to protect your information online:

Use strong and unique passwords for different accounts and devices. A strong password should be at least twelve characters long, include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid common words or phrases. A password should not be reused with multiple accounts or devices, as this can increase the risk of hacking all the accounts using the same password.

Use two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible. 2FA is a security feature that requires an additional verification step, such as a code sent to a phone, app, or email, a set of security questions only you know the answer to, or a biometric scan to access an account or device. 2FA can prevent unauthorized access even if the password is compromised or stolen.

Be careful about what you share online and who you share it with. Avoid posting or sending sensitive information, such as personal details, financial information, or photos, on social media platforms, messaging apps, or email. You should also check the privacy settings and permissions of the apps and websites they use and limit the amount of data they collect or share with third parties. Set apps to share information only with friends, turn off tracking, and limit apps’ access to location data where possible.

Consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). VPN on your tablet, computer, or phone encrypts your internet connection and hides your location from hackers. The VPN connection makes it almost impossible for third parties to track your online activity. Using a VPN application is highly recommended to protect your privacy on public Wi-Fi networks.

Keep your applications, web browsers, and devices updated. You should set applications on your tablet, phone, or computer to update automatically.  I would also recommend checking for updates manually on a regular basis (at least monthly). This includes the operating system of the device, along with web browsers and other apps that connect online. Updates not only fix productivity issues. They provide necessary security updates. Missing updates will leave you vulnerable to threats.

Reject cookies and other trackers when possible. Websites now ask or allow you to set what cookies and information you will allow them to track. Take advantage of this opportunity to reduce the information you share with sites. You can also set your web browser to block cookies and trackers on various websites. Web browsers can also be set to send a “Do Not Track” request to the site to block some of the cookies and other trackers. Not all sites process this request, but it is worthwhile to activate this setting. To learn how to change the tracking management settings in your browser, type in “tracking prevention and the name of the web browser you use (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, or other browser).”

Install antivirus software. Antivirus software (AV) can detect, quarantine, and\or delete threats that may exploit systems or devices. AV can also warn about malicious websites and provide other services that can help protect your information online such as VPN, scanning for your information on sites that sell information on the dark web, and other features.

Avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments in emails or messages. Be wary of phishing emails or messages that trick you into revealing personal information or downloading malicious software. Phishing emails or messages may appear from legitimate sources, such as banks, government agencies, or online services. Still, they often have spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or urgent requests. Always verify the sender’s identity and the authenticity of the link or attachment before clicking on it by contacting the sender through an alternate means. Do not reply directly to the sent message. Look for senders’ information in your contact list or company website.

Consider purchasing identity theft insurance. In today’s environment, it is not a question of if your data will be involved in a data breach but when it will happen. You can purchase identity theft insurance through the same companies that sell your car or homeowners insurance. You can also purchase it through other companies like LifeLock or other Antivirus providers. While it does not protect you from the breach, it will help you recover your identity should your information be used to steal your identity or create loans or large purchases in your name.

Get your yearly free credit report and consider subscribing to one of the three credit monitoring services. You can get your credit reports from one of the three credit monitoring services, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, every year for free by going to Annual Credit and filling out a request.  You may want to consider subscribing to one of these services, which allows you to receive alerts when changes happen to your credit report, lock your credit report, and set fraud alerts to prevent others from opening lines of credit with your information.

Grow with Google OnAir

| 0

Using Google tools, free virtual workshops (current and prior, on-demand) are available for developing
practical career and tech skills and business acumen.