Protect Your Family from Cyber Attackers
Once you decide on a great high-speed Internet or home service and Internet bundle, you’ll need to take steps to keep your information safe before just rushing out into the world wide web. Conceptually, there should be no safer place than your home, but when your computer or home network is attacked by a hacker or virus, your whole family is vulnerable. Protect your personal information by recognizing the signs of a cyber attack and taking countermeasures to block hackers, viruses, malware, and more.
How to Recognize a Cyber Attack
Computer viruses and malware are more common on personal computers than a breach by a hacker, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get hacked. Here are common signs that your computer or home Internet may have been compromised.
- Mysterious Emails:
If friends and family report getting strange emails or posts on social media from your account, there’s a good chance your computer has a virus or your email has been hacked.
- Lots of Pop-ups:
A heavy barrage of messages or pop-ups, even when you’re not online, could indicate that you might have a virus.
- Extra Toolbars:
If you notice an extra or unfamiliar toolbar the next time you log on, it could be evidence of trouble.
- Changed Passwords or Locked Accounts:
This is one of the hallmarks of a hacker. If you’re locked out of your online accounts or get messages that your password has changed, be on guard.
- Sluggish Speeds:
A sudden change in the performance of your Internet connection can be a symptom of hacking. Hackers have to log in to your computer remotely, so if your computer is targeted, the attack will use up your bandwidth.
- A Ghost in the Machine:
If your computer starts acting like it has a mind of its own, beware. Random mouse movements, mysterious new software installs, unsolicited Internet searches, and disabled security programs indicate a hack or a virus.
How to Thwart a Cyber Attack
Now that you know what to look for, you need to know how to respond to an attack. Use these cyber attack countermeasures to protect your computer, home network, online accounts, photos, and other personal information.
Run Antivirus Software
Most cyber attacks start with some sort of malware or harmful download. At the first sign of a possible attack, use antivirus software to run a complete scan of your computer. Hopefully your antivirus software will detect the culprit and be able to repair and eliminate the threat. If you don’t current have antivirus software, be sure to put it at the top of your list. There is free software out there, but paid programs tend to be more reliable.
Identify Vulnerable Programs
Because many viruses take control of existing programs to alter host computers, the next thing you should check is your computer’s memory use. PC users can access Task Manager through the Start menu or by hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del, while Mac users should open the Activity Monitor application. At the bottom of either program, you’ll see a number indicating your CPU activity. The average dormant computer should operate at about 10 percent CPU usage. If your usage is 90 percent or higher, you likely have an issue.
Determine the Source
Remember: virus symptoms may not show the extent of the damage — if the root cause isn’t eliminated, cyber attackers can keep causing trouble. Take note of what alerted you to a possible attack, whether it’s unwanted pop-ups, new toolbars, or changed passwords, and try to determine where those issues are coming from.
Uninstall Infected Software
As long as the dangerous program stays on your computer, you’re still at risk, so bogus software installs and extra toolbars need to be removed from your machine quickly.
- First, shut your computer down completely.
- Next, reboot the computer in safe mode, with networking turned off. Once you’re up and running, try to uninstall the infected software.
- Test for success by booting up your computer in the regular mode and making sure the fake programs, warnings, toolbars, etc., are gone.
- Finally, run another antivirus scan to catch any sneaky leftovers that may still remain.
- Depending on the severity of the attack, you may need to follow up by restoring your machine to a state before the attack.
Restore Changed Passwords and Locked Accounts
If a hacker managed to glean any information or passwords while your computer was vulnerable, they may attempt to access your accounts long after the original threat is gone. Thus, any accounts with changed passwords need to be adjusted as soon as possible.
- First, call the company that hosts the account to report that your login information has been compromised. Most companies can help you reset your username and password in minutes.
- Next, if the account that was hacked is an email or social media account, let your friends and contacts know about the breach so that they can be on guard against any dangerous messages that might come from your account.
- Finally, change the passwords on your other accounts as well. Make each password unique, random, and complicated with a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Don’t use phrases related to important dates, names, or any other identifiable information.
- Don’t open unfamiliar emails or links.
- Limit the files stored on Cloud backups.
- Encrypt photos and videos on your hard drive. Bitlocker is Microsoft’s built-in encryption solution, and Mac users can try FileVault.
Computers and the Internet are integral parts of our lives, and we need to protect them the same way we safeguard our homes and vehicles. Keep this guide handy to remind you of what to look for and how to respond in the event of a cyber attack.
6 Ways to Protect Your Kids Online
Talking with your kids about what to do and what to avoid online is an important way to help protect them. Nearly 60 percent of teen Internet users say their parents have the greatest influence on their opinions about appropriate and inappropriate online behavior, and your influence can keep them safe.
Ask your kids open-ended questions about their online activity and let them know you’re available to help them navigate any difficult situations they encounter. Then, to help them gain a better understanding of online risks — and how they can protect themselves — share these six rules for Internet safety.
Create strong passwords.
Your child will likely have multiple social media accounts, so make sure they have passwords that are difficult to break. An expert hacker can crack the average password in less than three minutes. Because roughly one-third of people use the same password for every site, your child could have multiple sites breached at once.
If your family needs help remembering passwords, don’t write them down or save them on your computer. Instead, use a password management tool like LastPass, which stores all of your passwords securely. Remind your kids not to share their passwords with anyone, and to always sign out of their online accounts — especially when using a public or school computer.
Don’t share identifying information.
A Carnegie Mellon CyLab study found that children are 51 times more likely to be victims of identity theft than their parents. There are two primary reasons kids are more often victimized by identity thieves. First, they’re easier targets because they tend to be more careless about posting sensitive information online. Second, they have unblemished credit records that identity thieves can exploit to the fullest.
Unfortunately, many children don’t find out they’re victims of identity theft until they apply for student loans, credit cards, or a job. The ramifications of identity theft are extensive, so have a heart-to-heart talk with your child about information they should never share online.
Don’t broadcast your location.
According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, one-quarter of online sexual offenders used social networking profiles to discover where their victim was located at a specific time. Furthermore, research shows that nearly half of online youth leave their GPS services on at all times.
Explain to your children that GPS technology can be helpful, but it can also be dangerous. Caution them to use the GPS service on their devices carefully, and ensure that they activate the privacy settings on their social media networks.
Caution against social media scams.
More than 600,000 Facebook accounts are compromised daily, and 10 percent of social media users say they’ve fallen victim to a cyber attack through a social network platform. According to Symantec Corporation’s 2014 Internet Security Threat Report, the most common scams on Facebook are fake offers and online surveys.
Tell your kids to avoid these offers, and help them watch out for other types of social networking scams such as like-jacking and phishing. To like-jack, criminals post fake Facebook “like” buttons to webpages. When their victim clicks the button, malware automatically downloads to their device. Phishing takes place when a seemingly trustworthy person or entity attempts to acquire sensitive information like credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords.
Use antivirus software.
According to a Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, computers without antivirus software are an average of 5.5 times more likely to be attacked than those with up-to-date security software. Explain to your kids that antivirus software is the first line of defense against hackers as it helps detect, prevent, and remove worms, viruses, and other malicious programs.
To further enhance your home Internet security, it is ideal to keep your firewalls turned on, installing anti-spyware technology, and ensuring your computer’s operating system is up to date. Get your family in the habit of turning off web-enabled devices when they’re not in use — hackers have an easier time when people leave Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on.
Check your online reputation regularly.
A Kaplan survey found that 40 percent of college admissions officers view their college applicants’ social media profiles. An unsavory online reputation can have many repercussions, so remind your children to think carefully about what they post. Images of underage drinking, membership in controversial organizations, and foul or derogatory language are just a few things that can damage their reputation.
To find out what information is online about your child, sit down with them and run their name through an online search engine. Set up a Google alert to receive email updates when their name is mentioned online, and consider using the app Clear. Clear connects with your child’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to flags posts and pictures that may be inappropriate.
Helping your kids stay safe on the Internet is an ongoing process. Keep an open dialogue and readdress these rules with your children as they mature and technology evolves.
If you’re looking for high-speed Internet, CenturyLink has options that include additional safety features for you home network. Plus, you have the opportunity to save additional money through Internet and Home service bundles. Not to mention, you can keep looking through these free resources to find additional safety tips on how to protect your household while you’re connected to the web.
Creating a password is something we’ve all done, usually multiple times. But do you actually know what you’re doing when you set up a new password? Do you know what makes a strong or weak password?
It seems like every other week we hear about another major retailer or business failing victim to a mass data hack or security breach. And if multi-million dollar corporations aren’t safe, it’s hard to believe that any of us stand a chance.
The following is an outline of what makes a strong password, what to avoid when setting your password, and tips and tricks for keeping your online activities secure.
Tips for a Safe Password
First off, there is no such thing as a completely hack-proof password. With the advancement of super-computers and hacking techniques, no password is totally safe. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself against identity theft and security fraud by creating stronger, hard-to-crack passwords.
Characteristics of safe passwords include as many of the following as possible :
- At least 10 characters
- Upper and lower case letters
- Numbers and special characters
- Not found in a dictionary
- Not based on personal information- i.e. birth date, phone number, address, etc.
Avoid the following pitfalls when creating your password
- Passwords that are too short
- Passwords that are not complex enough
- Passwords that are too easy to guess
- Passwords that are already in use
- Passwords not protected by two-step authentication
Just a heads up
Don’t use password as your password! The following is a list of the most hacked passwords from analysis of over 450,000 hacked Yahoo! accounts, according to ESET, an IT security firm:
Don’t Make It Too Easy
The easiest passwords for hackers to crack are the ones that require little to no effort to create or type in. And while it might seem obvious which passwords you want to stay away from, some people are still using 123456, password, and abc123 as their passwords. In fact, these rudimentary, easy-to-guess passwords turned up in the Adobe security breach back in 2013.
Additionally, do not include well-known facts or information about yourself in your passwords, such as your favorite sports team, important dates, your dog’s name, or where you went to college. These trivial facts can easily be discovered with a preliminary Google search or a quick scan of social media.
Avoid One Password to Rule them All
Though it may be tempting to use one password for all your accounts, most security experts recommend using a unique password for every account. This is especially important for your most sensitive accounts like bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal and professional email accounts. Imagine how much easier you’ve made it for a would-be hacker to access your accounts when all your account passwords are the same.
However, who among us has the time or the brain capacity to create and memorize a dozen unique, hard-to-guess passwords? That’s where password storing software comes into play. Not only can these helpful apps store all your passwords, they can also help you create stronger passwords and automatically change passwords in the event of a security breach.
Use Smart Password Storage
There are several password-assistant software programs that can store your passwords for you, like LastPass, 1Password, and KeePass. The highly-rated LastPass lets you sign up with your email address and a strong master password and then saves all your passwords in a secure vault. From the LastPass vault, you can organize the sites you frequently visit and easily sync your LastPass account with your other devices. Of course, LastPass is just one of the many available password managers. Many are free for the initial download, such as LastPass, and then require a yearly fee for upgrades or more advanced features. Do some research and read through the features to decide on a password manager that is right for you.
As an absolute last resort, type out all your passwords in Word doc—don’t save it but print it out and put in a safe place, like a locked file cabinet or a safe. This is a worst-case scenario and should not be relied upon as a secure method of password storage.
Beef it Up
As we know, longer passwords are harder to crack. And since you should always avoid including obvious or well-known names, dates, and facts about your personal life or family in your password, you need to get creative.
One way to do that is through unique phrase creation. For example, if you and your wife recently took a trip to Spain, you could structure your password around the phrase:
Our trip to Spain was one for the books and we can’t wait to go back!
Now shorten this phrase into a string of letters and symbols, and substitute numbers where applicable. So the password becomes:
The first word in the password phrase is our, which can be represented with a 0, or spelled-out, zero. The second word is trip and we can be represented with an upper or lowercase T/t. Continue to assign a number, letter, symbol, or unique spelling for the remaining words in the phrase—& for and, and 2 for to, 4 for for, etc.
Another method is to pick a sentence or phrase that is easy enough for you to remember, and use it as your password. Make sure the phrase is long enough and unique enough to be secure.
My dog goes 2 the park and chases ducks
This phrase can be used as a password and should be “beefed up” with spaces, numbers, upper and lower case letters, and punctuation.
My.dog g0es 2_the paRk @nd chases Duck_s
Check Your Work
Once you’ve crafted a few password options, try testing them with an online password checker like The Password Meter. The Password Meter shows you the overall strength of your passwords, breaks down the strengths and properties of your password, and also estimates the time it would take for different machines to crack your password in a brute force attack.
Memorization of your new password will take some time. Repetition and a few days of practice will help your fingers and brain get used to the new combination. However, an easier and safer way to remember your new passwords is to use a password manager to store all of your account passwords in one, safe location. If you go this route, you only have to remember the password for the management app.
Add Another Layer
When possible, use two-step authentication processes. This adds an additional layer of security and requires you to enter a second password that is sent to your cell phone. In the event that a hacker does gain access to your primary password, their efforts will be thwarted because the second password keeps your account safe. The only draw-back to this approach is the extra time it takes to log into your account. Though when your online identity and security are at stake, a few extra seconds doesn’t seem so bad.
The Major Points
Here are the main take-away points for creating a strong, hack-proof password:
- Use 10 or more characters
- Vary upper and lower cases
- Include symbols and punctuation
- Do not include personal info
- Test your passwords with a password checker
- Employ two-step authentication when available
Email is one of the most common forms of communication. One study estimates that by 2018, there will be more than 2.8 billion email users with 5.2 billion accounts. Email may seem intimidating if you don’t frequently use the Internet, but with a few simple steps you can create an account, check your mail, and send a message. You’ll quickly discover just how easy email is to use, and why it is the first choice for communication between many people.
Your Email Options
It is best to choose one of the popular options for free email accounts — such as Yahoo!® Mail, Gmail™, Microsoft Outlook®, or CenturyLink Mail — that offer a high level of Internet security. Because these servers have so many users, they also provide helpful how-to guides and make frequent updates to improve your email experience.
How to Set Up an Email Account
All of these providers make it easy to create an email account within minutes — we outline the steps below.
- Your desktop computer, smartphone, tablet, or laptop needs to be connected to the Internet, either through a wired, 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi connection.
- Once you’re connected to the Internet, visit the website listed above for your preferred email provider. When you are a CenturyLink High-Speed Internet customer, you can create and use up to 11 CenturyLink Mail accounts. You’ll need to use your CenturyLink account information, including the phone number on the account.
- Next, fill in the information requested to create an account. This typically includes your first and last name, a username — which will become your email address — and password, your birthdate, gender, phone number, and a secret question. For better home Internet security, create a strong password by combining at least 12 upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You can use your name for your username, but avoid including any other personal information, such as your birthdate or ZIP code. Consider writing down your username and password somewhere safe until you have it memorized.
- After reviewing your information, click the button at the bottom of the form to create your account. You’ll be taken to your inbox where you can get started using your email account. Take some time to explore your account, including your profile and settings. You can upload a photo to accompany your profile and fill in additional personal information, but keep these safety concerns in mind when setting up an account for your child.
How to Check Your Email
After you create your account, you can log in and out on your email provider’s website: Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, or CenturyLink Mail. You’ll input the username and password you created during setup.
- When you’re ready to check your email, log in to your account. On the left sidebar, you’ll see “Inbox,” “Sent Mail,” “Drafts,” and more. The number next to “Inbox” shows how many unread messages you have. Click on “Inbox.”
- Unread messages in your inbox appear in bold. Click on a message’s subject to open and read the email.
- To reply to a message, look for a “Reply” button or an arrow pointing left. You can also forward a message — useful when you want to send someone your hotel reservation or flight information — by selecting the “Forward” button or arrow pointing right.
- If you no longer need an email in your inbox, selecting “Delete” or the icon of a trash can will move it to your deleted items.
- When you use a public computer or Wi-Fi connection, or just want to be extra careful, log out of your email account when you finish checking and composing emails. There will always be an option to “Log out” or “Sign out” of your account.
How to Compose and Send an Email
- Log in to your account. While the layout varies slightly for every email provider, you should see a “Compose” or “New” button on the upper left of the webpage. A blank email will appear when you click on the button.
- At the top of the empty email form, you’ll see a “To” field. This is where you include the email addresses of one or more people who will receive your email. You can also choose to send a Carbon Copy (Cc) or Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) to recipients. The Cc field is used when you want a recipient to receive an email not directly addressed to them, and the Bcc field allows that recipient to see your message without the “To” and “Cc” recipients’ knowledge.
- The subject line appears below the recipient fields. This serves as the title of your email and will be the first thing a person sees when they receive your email. The subject should include the general topic or question covered in your email, such as “Check out this video” or “You’re invited to our BBQ this weekend.”
- Below the subject line is space for the body, where you compose your message. You will also see a toolbar with formatting options. You can attach a file, insert an image, create bulleted or numbered lists, indent a paragraph, change the font size or color, and underline, bold, highlight, or italicize the text.
- Once you finish writing your email, click “Send.” Congratulations! You’ve just sent your first email.
The best way to become an email expert is to practice! Send test emails to yourself and friends, and take the time to review your account settings and features. When in doubt, visit your email provider’s help center or FAQ page for answers to common questions. To stay connected to your family and friends through email, you need a reliable and secure Internet provider.
Find out more about CenturyLink™ High-Speed Internet and affordable packages by calling 1-844-729-5755.
What if you could watch a live news broadcast at the airport? Or catch up on your favorite sitcom in the backyard? With CenturyLink’s Prism TV App, you have access to over 125 different channels around your home and 45 live channels on the go. You’re living in the twenty-first century, it’s about time your TV service was too.
Getting started is simple. Prism TV and Prism Stream users can download the app for free through the apple, amazon or android app store. To see if your mobile device meets the minimum requirements to run the application, see the list of supported devices. You can register the Prism TV App on multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, Roku players, Kindles and many more. Once downloaded, just sign in using your CenturyLink email address and password.
Forget having to fight over the remote; up to three people can be watching their own shows on the Prism TV App simultaneously! Want more? A Prism Stream subscription allows up to five devices to play at the same time. Everyone can enjoy their own live programs, no matter where they are.
CenturyLink TV at Home and On the Go
While the channels you receive depend on your package and city, there are over 125 different stations you can play in your home. Sit back and relax with channels such as USA, AMC, SYFY and Fox Sports. You’re now able to watch cooking shows in the kitchen while the kids stay entertained with age-appropriate cartoons.
Once you head outside of the home area, you still have 25 great live channels to watch on the go. Choose from a diverse selection of networks such as Bloomberg TV, Universal Sports, Pixl and Starz. By connecting your device to WiFi, you can stream your programs without eating up your wireless data plan, making it a cost-effective way to never miss a beat.
Schedule DVR Recordings From Your Mobile Device
Never miss another episode with the CenturyLink Prism TV App. You can schedule a DVR recording straight from your smartphone or tablet, so you can watch your programs on your own time. Simply tap the channels guide button at the top of the app’s navigation bar to see what’s coming up soon. Alternatively, you can use the search feature to discover something new or find an old favorite.
The app allows you to manage your TV shows no matter where you are. View scheduled DVR recordings or delete unwanted episodes with the touch of a button. Currently, you cannot watch recorded programs and movies through the app. DVR capabilities for Prism Stream users are also unavailable at this time.
More Choices, More Power to Decide How You Watch TV
If you’re constantly on the move, this app will bring you closer to home. Stream important business and world news while you wait in line or get a laugh at lunch with a classic comedy. Traveling is made even better with stand up specials, live sports coverage and all the shows that you know and love. Whether you’re connected at home or across the country, you can play what you like and skip the rest.
The Prism TV App also allows you to adjust or create parental controls for children, including blocking certain movies or shows based on their rating and removing entire channels. The parental features can also keep children from purchasing on-demand rentals without permission. All settings are able to be turned on and off using a unique PIN that you create.
The Prism TV App from CenturyLink is designed to fit your lifestyle. Download it now on Google Play, the Apple App Store or the Amazon Appstore. It’s TV that goes wherever you are. Don’t forget that CenturyLink also offers premium high-speed Internet options as well as home service Internet bundles. These plans have the power you need to run your Prism TV App as well as any other service that demands a quality Internet connection.
How CenturyLink Makes It Easier to Start and Grow a Small Business
Small-business owners have always had to overcome a number of obstacles to get their companies off the ground, but Internet development has helped alleviate some of those growing pains. CenturyLink has taken that assistance one step further, offering a variety of products and services specifically designed to help small businesses take advantage of the web. Here’s a closer look at how CenturyLink’s Internet technology is making it easier, faster, and more affordable than ever to start and grow your small business.
Improved Customer Communication
For most of the 20th century, it was acceptable for businesses to communicate with their customers by mailing a letter or meeting in person. Today’s consumers, on the other hand, expect more from the businesses they patronize. They want to be able to connect with your company quickly — and if they can’t, they may take their business elsewhere.
CenturyLink offers a range of small business solutions to help your company connect with your customer base promptly and affordably. With CenturyLink® Hosted VoIP plans, for example, you can take advantage of innovative technologies like voicemail-to-email integration and find-me/follow-me call routing. This Internet-based setup effectively allows you to turn almost any location into a state-of-the-art workplace.
CenturyLink doesn’t just help businesses connect with clients — it can also help employees connect with each other, fostering teamwork and idea-sharing. Prior to the Internet, employees collaborated with co-workers and business partners in person, which may have required extensive traveling. Now, the Internet allows employees to attend virtual meetings and video conferences with people across the city, the nation, and all over the world, without ever leaving the office.
The key to successful online collaboration is a consistently fast and secure Internet connection. With CenturyLink® High-Speed Internet, your business gets a direct connection to CenturyLink’s dependably fast network. You’ll also be protected by online security tools, including anti-virus protection, pop-up blockers, and data backup. Plus, CenturyLink® High-Speed Internet comes with free Wi-Fi and access to Microsoft Office 365. Plans start at $29.99 per month for 12 months with a 3-year agreement for up to 12 Mbps. In some areas, CenturyLink even offers Business Internet with speeds up to 1 Gbps.
Convenient Storage and Software
In the past, small businesses stored everything from proprietary information to client contracts in filing cabinets. Then, discs, CDs, and external hard drives became common storage devices. While some of these methods still have value, the Internet enables small businesses to share and store huge amounts of data electronically via the Cloud. Additionally, software that may have been priced out of reach for small businesses is now quite affordable when accessed through Cloud technology.
CenturyLink’s suite of Cloud-based business applications include several web management applications that can help you run your small business like a large-scale corporation. You won’t be charged a license fee, and your applications will always be kept up-to-date. As an added bonus, these programs are flexible, scaling with your company as its needs change and grow.
Affordable Oversight and Service Bundling
Perhaps the biggest benefit of Internet development is that it has allowed companies like CenturyLink to expand their services, offering more comprehensive support for a bigger range of tools. CenturyLink® Managed Office, for example, is an enhanced small business solution that bundles Internet and VoIP phone services with a variety of Cloud applications. What’s more, with this package, CenturyLink takes care of all the technical details, including equipment installation, service management, and data backup with round-the-clock customer support — so you can focus on running and growing your small business.
Managed Office isn’t CenturyLink’s only bundled offering, either. When you bundle Internet and landline phone services, you can get a great price on both. Bundles start at $74.99 per month with a 2-year term for basic functionality and up to 7 Mbps, and they range up to $104.99 per month with a 2-year term for up to 40 Mbps. CenturyLink also offers a Triple Play package starting at $94.99 per month for 12 months with a 2-year agreement — a great fit for business owners looking to add TV to a waiting room or breakroom.
Internet development has made technology that was once only affordable to large corporations cost-effective for companies of all sizes, arming small businesses with the right online tools to compete in today’s competitive global market. CenturyLink provides everything your small business needs for success — high-speed Internet, advanced phone service, reliable Internet connectivity, and a variety of Cloud-based applications — all in one place. Reach out to a service representative to talk about your service and bandwidth needs today.
Should I purchase Prism TV or Sling TV?
Cutting the cord — ditching traditional TV options for a streaming service — is growing more popular all the time. Perhaps the most notable new service on the market is DISH® affiliate Sling TV, which offers small live TV packages as streaming options. But is the breakaway really all it’s cracked up to be?
Given the newness of streaming capabilities, pay TV still has a bit of an edge when it comes to the overall viewing experience. As services like CenturyLink® Prism™ TV enter the arena, the flexibility of traditional TV is increasing exponentially. If you’re still not sold, read on for a comparison of the main points of Sling TV streaming and fiber-based Prism TV to see just how the two stack up.
Sling TV is a contract-free service offered for just $20 per month. That low cost, however, comes with comparably low channel selection — the basic plan has just 23 channels, and additional packages cost $5 each per month. And while the lack of a contract is nice for flexibility, it won’t do much in terms of locking in the price. If Sling TV decides to up their prices, you could find yourself paying more for the same service without much warning.
Prism TV, on the other hand, starts at $34.99 per month with a 12-month bundled agreement, but it offers over 140 channels — more than six times what Sling plans start with. Plus, you can customize your plan and receive further discounts by bundling with various Internet and phone options. CenturyLink does require some additional equipment rental fees with Prism agreements, but the 12-month term ensures that you don’t have to worry about your rates going up unexpectedly. Click here to see if any gift cards promotions are available.
A big part of why you’re looking to cut the cord probably involves viewing flexibility. Why watch TV on the TV when you can just as easily watch it on your tablet or phone? Sling TV certainly capitalizes on that mindset — the service is exclusively available via Internet connection on a supported device.
It may surprise you to learn, however, that you don’t have to cut the cord to access comprehensive mobile viewing. The Prism TV app — available on most Apple and Android devices — lets you watch a range of live TV programs and On Demand shows on your mobile device.
Recording and On Demand Content
If there’s one area where streaming still falls far short of its traditional pay TV counterpart, it’s in advanced content management, including DVR functionality and On Demand options. Sling TV doesn’t have any recording capabilities, and the Video On Demand options it provides are fairly limited.
Prism TV, like most pay TV plans, offers more consistent and advanced DVR features, as well as plenty of On Demand content. That means you’ve got multiple options to catch up on The Walking Dead if you can’t watch it live.
As anyone who’s picked a side in the ongoing Apple/Android phone and Mac/PC computer debates knows, user experience is a big deal. Considering that most millennials grew up as digital natives — knowing how to use the computer better than their parents — it makes sense that ease of use would be a factor when considering streaming TV options.
Since Sling TV doesn’t have any native equipment, user experience will vary from device to device. The service will get the job done — it just might take users a while to catch on.
At the other end of the spectrum, CenturyLink has made good user experience a focal point of Prism TV. The setup is intuitive and clean, letting users quickly search for specific shows and episodes by actor, title, or director. The company also offers extensive help resources online, as well as responsive chat assistance.
The Bottom Line
While Prism TV’s monthly rates are a little bit higher than Sling TV, you’re paying for a more mature and comprehensive service. Sling TV can provide a basic viewing experience, but if you care about your media consumption, Prism is the only way to go. To learn more about Prism TV services in your area, feel free to contract a sales representative at 1-855-640-4510. And if you’re still in the market for high-speed Internet, don’t forget to check out the deals available on CenturyLink Internet and home service bundles.
*Pricing and plans are current as of writing. Pricing and plans are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
Prism TV vs. DIRECTV: Pros and Cons
If you’re looking into which cable programming provider to commit to, you’ve got options. Two of the most highly rated pay television providers are fiber-based CenturyLink® Prism™ TV and satellite-based DIRECTV® —currently the largest pay television company in the U.S. You’ll need to compare each cable company’s features to pick the service that fits your needs, so we’ve compiled an overview of each provider to help make that choice easier.
Prism TV costs vary depending on the package plan and service area. The Prism Essential plan offers over 140 channels for $39.99 a month for 12 months. That deal is available with a 12-month agreement and an additional $9.99 set-top box monthly fee. The highest premium plan offers over 320 channels for $84.99 a month for 12 months, and the same 12-month agreement and additional $9.99 set-top box monthly fee are also required.
Costs for DIRECTV packages vary depending on the plan and service area. The starter Select™ plan offers over 145 channels and costs $19.99 a month for 12 months with a 2-year contract. The top Premier™ package offers over 240 channels and NFL SUNDAY TICKET for $89.99 a month for 12 months with a 2-year contract. Additional fees — like regional sports access and an equipment lease fee — may apply. While the DIRECTV’s lower packages are a bit cheaper, they do require a longer contract, which somewhat limits flexibility.
The Prism TV setup is really what makes it stand out from satellite and cable providers. CenturyLink delivers the service via a fiber-optic network, providing a clear and reliable picture. That fiber-optic network, while expanding, is not available everywhere, but homes that fall within the designated service areas won’t have to worry about buildings or trees obstructing their signal.
DIRECTV is a satellite-based system, meaning that TV signals are broadcast through a south-facing satellite dish that is installed on a home’s roof. Because the service isn’t bound by a wire or cable infrastructure, DIRECTV is available just about anywhere in the continental U.S. It is worth noting, however, that the signal can be obscured by tall structures, poor angling, or bad weather.
CenturyLink has a long history of emphasizing a smooth user experience, and the perks of Prism TV highlight that trend. Subscribers can expect a range of features, including the following:
- Find-It-Fast Navigation — lets viewers quickly search for what they want to watch by actor, title, or director.
- App Center — accesses Facebook pages, recipes, local news, and even weather, all from the TV.
- Last 5 — lets users quickly flip between the last five channels watched.
- Multi-View — displays four screens at one time.
- Warp-Speed Channel Change — flips through channels quickly, eliminating lag between the TV and remote.
DIRECTV, on the other hand, corners the market when it comes to sports offerings. The company’s perks focus a lot on providing a great viewing experience for fans of all types of athletic entertainment. The following are just a few of DIRECTV’s sports-based benefits:
- NFL SUNDAY TICKET — gives football fans access to live home games and out-of-market football content.
- Game Mix Channel — puts eight sports broadcasts on one HD channel so viewers can watch multiple games at once.
- Genie® Sports Feature — lets viewers customize a digital hub to view favorite sports teams and quickly scan for the games, teams, or event dates.
The Prism TV app lets customers stream live TV from multiple channels, access portions of the Video On Demand library, and control their set-top box. Several users can access content via the app, but only three viewers can stream content simultaneously. Additionally, all downloading must be done from the home wireless network that the Prism TV is connected to.
The DIRECTV Everywhere app offers similar functionality to the Prism app — it allows users to stream live TV and access select On Demand offerings. DIRECTV also has a free, age-appropriate app for children, allowing parents to ensure that their kids can only access approved content.
The Prism TV Whole Home DVR uses a single DVR box to control all the TVs in a home, allowing users to pause recorded content on one television and resume watching in another. Live TV commands — including pausing and fast-forwarding — will only work on the TV directly connected to the DVR. The set-top box can record up to four shows at once, and it’s Energy Star 3.0 certified as well.
DIRECTV’s HD DVR services uses a main Genie DVR unit, and it requires smaller Genie Minis to control DVR capabilities throughout the home.
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to both pay TV providers. If you’re still debating between CenturyLink® Prism TV and DIRECTV, reach out to a service support representative at 1-855-640-4510 to learn more.
*Pricing and plans are current as of writing. Pricing and plans are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
You take the time to protect your home and family in the neighborhood where you live. You lock your doors, and maybe you even have a home security system. The Internet is like a global neighborhood with instant access to go anywhere, good or bad, at the click of a mouse. You know the places to avoid driving home at night, but avoiding those bad places on the Internet is not so easy. CenturyLink @Ease (at ease) offers protection and experts to talk to if problems occur. Even the computer hardware you use to access the Internet has protection available with CenturyLink @Ease service plans.
CenturyLink @Ease Protection Plans
There are four levels of protection with the CenturyLink @Ease service plans. All Internet service customers get access to the Basic level @Ease service that offers free Norton Antivirus and spyware protection as well as PC Health Check and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee for new customers.
Standard @Ease service is $9.99 per month and adds the next level Norton Internet Security software that greatly enhances your family’s computer safety with two-way firewall protection, track and block parental controls, and 5 gigabytes of automatic cloud backup storage with quick recovery. You have protection that includes repair for two PCs, phone support, remote assistance and web-based support, inside wire maintenance for your Internet connection, and access to a toll-free claim center.
CenturyLink @Ease Advanced level is $14.99 per month and adds to the impressive list of features included at the lower levels of service. Advanced @Ease service adds Norton 360, which includes 50 gigabytes of cloud storage and backup. Also, operating system help is available along with CenturyLink hardware and software installation, and troubleshooting. An added feature at the Advanced level is an extended modem warranty.
The Ultra @Ease service is $19.99 per month and upgrades the cloud backup and recovery storage to 200 gigabytes. Additionally, the Ultra @Ease service adds malware and virus removal if something does go wrong. Ultra @Ease provides advanced identity theft protection provided by Identity Guard. Your social security, bank account and credit card numbers are monitored to make sure they do not appear on the Internet. The service also monitors your credit by watching for accounts being opened in your name.
There are times when you know you can fix something yourself. You may have accidentally shut off the wireless on your laptop and forgot how to turn it back on. Maybe you want to configure a new email program to work with your email address. CenturyLink @Ease includes access to information that is easy to find on fixing everything from common PC problems to knowing what the lights mean on your modem or router.
CenturyLink On-Site Help
Things sometimes go wrong that cannot be fixed by granting remote access to your computer to a trained CenturyLink technician. Available on-site help can be part of your CenturyLink @Ease subscription. From PC problems to malfunctions with the wiring that connects you to the Internet that is inside your home, there is an @Ease protection plan to cover it all.
CenturyLink @Ease for Non-Internet Related PC Problems
Not all problems with your computer are related to the Internet. If you have a problem with your PC’s operating system, or if you just need help installing software or troubleshooting why software is not working right, @Ease subscriptions at the Advanced and Ultra level is there to help. If a virus or malware cannot be removed by the security software or remote assistance, the Ultra level of CenturyLink @Ease covers it.
@Ease With Norton Antivirus and Security Suite Protection
Norton by Symantec is a leading suite of applications designed to protect you and your family from online threats. The basic Norton antivirus and spyware protection uses a patented five-layer protection system, and it is free to CenturyLink Internet customers to use. The CenturyLink @Ease Standard subscription upgrades you to Norton Internet Security software that includes a two-way firewall to protect your computer from viruses as well as protecting your computer from being used to spread viruses.
Norton parental controls let you track what your children are visiting on the web and lets you block access to sites you want to keep them safe from seeing. It also monitors your Facebook to keep you safe from hidden computer threats. The bogus app and website protection allows you to be at ease clicking links, knowing your computer is secure. Cloud backup and file recovery storage is available from 5 to 200 gigabytes, depending on your CenturyLink @Ease subscription level. CenturyLink @Ease Advanced and Ultra levels upgrade you to Norton 360 for full PC protection, including PC Tune Ups to fix problems.
CenturyLink @Ease is designed to help you be at ease about computer and Internet security concerns for your entire family as well as providing easy solutions to hardware and software issues, including discounts on home visits for repairs if needed. The Internet can be fun and educational, but it can also be risky to explore without good security to keep you out of trouble. The combined suite of CenturyLink @Ease services and apps help keep the Internet experience safe and enjoyable for you and your family.
The early days of home Internet service included screeching dial-up modems and painfully slow speeds. Even simple email was not widely available. Graphics were rudimentary, consisting of only a few colors because there was just not enough speed to efficiently transmit photos, voice, music or videos. High-speed residential Internet service paved the way for exponential technological advancements of Internet-connectable devices. Today’s broadband Internet service to residential customers makes it possible to have homes with multiple devices and appliances connected to a vast and growing global network.
Home Internet Connections
Broadband wireless Internet service in homes today is so prevalent that people are often not aware of all the technology that uses it. Computers, tablets and smartphones obviously connect to the Internet, but satellite receiver boxes, IP surveillance cameras, many DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras, security systems, game consoles, video and music streaming devices and televisions do as well. Home automation equipment including thermostats and door locks are controlled by mobile apps over home Wi-Fi networks. There are even light bulbs made that communicate with mobile apps to control household lighting. Major home appliances from clothes washers and dryers to refrigerators are available that connect to the Internet too. Faster home Internet service is needed for today’s connected homes.
Broadband Internet Speed Advantages
Home Internet service speeds are more important today than ever before. Just a few years ago, homes usually had one desktop computer connected to the Internet that everyone shared. Now, home occupants even connect their smartphones to home Wi-Fi to avoid cellular data overages. Everything from children’s toys to wireless printers use a portion of home Internet service. Think of the Internet service to homes as pipes carrying water. More water can flow through pipes that are bigger. It would take a long time to fill a bathtub through a pipe the diameter of a drinking straw, but it only takes seconds for a fire hose to do it. Faster Internet speeds, usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps), means having bigger pipes, or pathways, carrying data instead of water. Faster Internet speeds means less time spent waiting for downloads to complete and can eliminate issues with streaming movies, videos and TV programming.
Streaming Movies Online
Another advantage to faster home Internet service is the quality of the data received. Streaming movies is an excellent example. Streaming brings in a small amount of the video data at a time. Televisions, streaming players, tablets, smartphones, computers and even satellite on-demand programming can use streaming to deliver movies in full HD quality. When the play button is pressed to view a movie in HD, the device looks at its connection speed to the Internet and decides on the best speed to use to provide the content without buffering, pixelation or losing the connection. Not all high speed home Internet is equal. The faster the speed, the better the quality of the streamed content. Slow Internet results in streaming defaulting to lower resolution formats or lagging that results in those dreaded buffering delays while the download stream catches up. Plus, slower Internet speeds limit how many devices can stream data at one time.
Live interactive games can be played on smartphones and tablets, but hardcore gamers use game consoles or tricked out computers with advanced graphics processing hardware for the most vivid and realistic gaming experiences possible. Today’s gamers also wear headsets to communicate in real-time with their online gaming teammates. However, even the coolest live interactive gaming device is limited by its connection speed to the Internet. Better broadband can eliminate voice communication distortion and dropouts, lagging, freezing and other problems that seriously frustrate gamers. Faster Internet lets talented players develop and showcase their gaming abilities.
CenturyLink Broadband Home Internet Service
CenturyLink is one of three leading telecommunications companies in the United States that offers a range of broadband, voice and digital television services to suit customer needs. High speed home Internet service starts at a low price of only $19.95 per month. CenturyLink’s Pure Broadband Internet provides high speed DSL service without the need for customers to subscribe to separate home telephone lines. CenturyLink fiber optic 1 Gig Internet service is available in select cities for homes and businesses. Gigabit fiber Internet service availability depends on customer home addresses. This is faster Internet than many businesses have and allows for extremely fast downloads, HD streaming to multiple devices at the same time, and unleashed online gaming experiences. The Gigabit service also offers matching 1 Gbps upload speeds for a true ultra-fast Internet experience.
CenturyLink Bundled Internet Service Options
Though customers may choose to have broadband Internet service only, there are savings for those who wish to bundle home telephone service and/or digital television. CenturyLink is a telecommunications company that offers Prism digital television over broadband and also has partnered with DIRECTV to provide television programming to customers. Home phone service and television programming can be bundled with broadband Internet service to save money on the monthly bill. Price-locking is available for three years on bundled phone and Internet service or phone, Internet and TV service.