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You Are In Danger, But Not Really

So picture this: you are browsing along, checking out websites, maybe ordering some stuff, then all of a sudden a flashy pop up appears on your screen.  Its bright red letters tell you that your computer has been infected, all your information is in danger, and you must call this number or download this software right away or you will lose everything.  Perhaps a robotic voice is suddenly coming from your computer repeating similar warnings.

Sound familiar?  If so, then you have already encountered what has been termed as Scareware.  These malicious pop ups are covertly inserted into websites all over the internet.  Although effectively harmless, they are designed to be very frightening in order to get you to respond to their “warnings”, thus leading you into the hands of scammers who will try to steal your information or hijack your computer.  Good website administrators routinely check their sites for any unwanted pop ups, so any site that is infected should eventually get cleaned off. ∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Too Many Cables, What Are They All For?

It’s amazing how you can never find the cable that you need at the right moment, no matter how many cables are piled around your computer desk or behind your workspace.  The plethora of cables, with various heads for interfacing with phones, computers, mobile devices, TVs, and other electronics, has been around since the tech world became mainstream and has only continued to grow.   Not so long ago most households did fine with only two or three connector types.  Now it’s hard to get by with less than six cables of various types and uses.

So why are all these cables different?  If one breaks, what name should you use when trying to buy a new one?  Cables aren’t going away anytime soon, no matter what the tech industry says, and knowing the answers to those questions can go a long way to making daily life with your various devices a lot easier.∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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When The Lights Go Out

Power outages are a ubiquitous problem in the modern, tech-driven world.  Not only do they deprive users of traditional conveniences like entertainment, easy lighting, and hot water, but they can begin to affect healthy living by taking down cold storage, medical devices, and automated security systems.

For the time being, power outages aren’t going away.  So what’s the best way to cope with this problem?  There’s a lot of nuance in the myriad answers to that question, but thankfully there are a few tips that can be utilized regardless of the circumstance to keep yourself and your property as safe as possible.

Obviously not all of these recommendations apply during every outage situation, planned or unplanned, but they provide excellent guidelines to keep in mind before and during a power outage.

Power Outages
What to Do When the Power Goes Out
Power Outage Tips∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Don’t Click It!

I got an email today telling me that a package had been delayed.  A quick review of the email indicated that it was VERY LIKELY spam at the least, and probably malicious spam.

1st CLUE:  The sender email is <info-l3j@untdstatdropromuniflamtionxjcyepcdr.com>  — not familiar, and that is an understatement.

2nd CLUE:  When I hover my mouse over the linked text in the email (circled in screenshot below) it shows me where my browser will end up if I do click any of them in the system tray of my computer (arrow points to that position; and this happens whenever you hover your mouse over any linked text whether it is in an email or on a web page.  VALUABLE INFORMATION!!)

This email is trying to send me to <https://k6m6.c12.e2-2.dev/mailweb/KKSNDJEJEJE.html> which is not a merchant or shipper I recognize.  SO I DON’T CLICK!

To protect yourself from malicious links, hover your mouse over linked text and check out where it is the link is trying to send you. ∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Unsecured Or Unsafe

Anyone that uses a mobile device frequently will be familiar with the Secured and Unsecured tags on available Wifi networks.  These are also often represented by the presence or absence of a padlock icon.  Essentially a secured Wifi network is a network with a password or security key attached to it, ensuring that only users that are given the password can access it.  Unsecured, or Open, Wifi networks are the opposite: any user can connect to them if they so choose.

It’s easy to misunderstand how this can affect daily life.  Unsecured networks are obviously dangerous, yes?  Or on the flipside, if all these unsecured networks are being used by the people around all the time, then they can’t be that bad, right?  As usual, the answer lies somewhere in between.  To put it bluntly and far too simply, an unsecured network can be more dangerous because it’s easy for malicious users to access it, and through it the other devices that are connected to it. ∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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To Pay Or Not To Pay

Cyber Security has become an essential part of daily life in the modern world today.  In fact it’s almost a requirement, some devices and programs will refuse to work for you unless you are using their definition of appropriate security software and practices.  Fortunately security options aren’t hard to find; unfortunately there may be a few too many of them, and with a very diverse set of specialties to choose from.  The main distinction you will run across though is free vs paid security.  Most anti-virus, anti-malware, and defender software available on the market will come in both free and paid versions.  Vendors are often up front about the differences between the two offerings, but it’s still important to consider your specific browsing and operating needs when deciding what route to take.

Some articles that lay out what to think about when choosing*:
Free vs. Paid Antivirus: Should You Pay?
Free vs.∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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What’s In The Box?

Cloud storage is everywhere.  Companies and committees share documents and notes over Dropbox, specialists and experts publish data on Google Docs, and the list goes on.  Many devices we use in the home now get regular patch updates from remote servers, and management software like the kind used for printers is often acquired from producer websites.  With how easy it is to store and share information online, it’s no surprise to find the average internet user interacting with file downloads at least a few times per week, if not far more.

The dangers of downloading files from a remote source are well known and publishers, security systems, and network administrators have gotten pretty good at rooting them out.  Yet whenever you add another file to your computer from a source you don’t control, even an official one, there is always a chance, however remote, that a malicious program can get into your device through that download. ∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Staying One Step Ahead

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, right?! If you are in the habit of using QR Codes to call up a menu in a restaurant, or even retail stores & parking meters, the latest advice is: don’t. According to the FBI, scammers are using fake QR Codes to download malware onto devices which then give the scammers access to personal information.

Read more about it at the Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-12042559/FBI-warns-hackers-planting-fake-QR-CODES-restaurants-steal-data-click-link.html∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Watch Your WiFi

Home Wifi has become an essential, even critical, part of our daily lives now.  Not only is it convenient to have appliances respond to your remote commands, but daily communication with essential services like banks and medical technicians is a necessity for many modern residents.

It should be no surprise that, just like any other wireless signal, home wifi can be intercepted, translated, and examined by unrelated and potentially harmful third parties.  Not only is the traffic passing through the wifi vulnerable to spying, but hackers can even gain access to devices inside the home through a compromised wifi network.  It has pretty much become unthinkable to suggest unplugging in order to stay safe, so now the question is: if it’s not going away, how can it be made safe to use?

Fortunately there are a number of steps that any online user can take to fortify their wifi network.  Nothing can keep you completely safe, but taking responsible action to keep your personal wifi secure foils casual hackers and goes a long way towards convincing the crooks to look elsewhere.∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Trimming Email Fat

Spam email has become so common these days that a 24-hour period without a spam email makes one question if their email is still working.  Most of the time, thankfully, spam emails are harmless and little more than a nuisance to handle.  Yet sometimes they interfere quite heavily in an otherwise productive workday, and can even contain rude and/or offensive titles.

So why are these emails suddenly showing up when all you did was glance at a couple of shopping sites?  Is there anything you can do to avoid or mitigate them?  There aren’t as many options as we would like, but there are a few simple tips and tricks that can help reduce or avoid excessive spam traffic in your email, the first of which is getting educated on what methods spammers use to acquire information.

Below are several articles that spell out the many ways programs, advertisers, and the dark web use to get your email, along with practices and tips on how to avoid their grasp:

How Do Phishing Scammers Get Your Email Address?∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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