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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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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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The Good Old Days Are Gone

Good quality hardware can be a rare find in a saturated market, and with computers still averaging a high price range a computer that lasts a long time can be very valuable to its owner.  Yet the sad fact of technology’s rapid advancement doesn’t just mean an over-abundance of flashy new computer models, it also means that computers and mobile devices become increasingly dangerous to use as they age.

Active software support by the manufacturer is a reliable sign that your device is not likely to be vulnerable to most of the common cyber threats out there.  Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to end support of a particular model before the one you own starts to fail.  When this occurs, it can be very tempting to just shrug your shoulders and continue using your older device as long as you can.  It’s easier, cheaper, and quite frankly that new stuff looks a lot weirder than your current setup.∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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There are several reasons why you might decide to use a VPN:

The first reason you might use a VPN is to access content exclusive to a particular geographic location. If you buy Nexflix in the USA you can see the content Nexflix has negotiated to share. In other countries they may have different agreements, and you may like the agreements in Mexico far better than those of the USA. With a VPN you can appear as though you are in Mexico, and thus access this content.

The second reason is that you are concerned about targeted ads, intelligent airfare pricing, and other IP based tracking. This is another viable reason to use a VPN, especially if you are regularly running into issues of IP blacklisting, etc.

The last, and most cynical by far, is that a techie friend admonished you for your lack of security concern citing the dire risks of privacy invasion, identity theft, data mining, and spyware.∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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Take Your Privacy Seriously

If you feel a bit like prey when you’re online–pay attention! It may seem like what you do on your computer in the privacy of your own home stays within your four walls, but the truth is: it does not. Every keystroke, online activity (social media, email, favorite websites) comes with a greater risk than you might expect.

Your medical data, personal details, banking information and even opinions are subject to potential exposure because they are available to you on the internet. Be aware that your choices can make that information more secure!

Here are some helpful articles:

From PC Magazine: 12 Simple Things You Can Do to Be More Secure Online
From Forbes: Online Banking Security: How to Protect Your Online Banking Information
From Norton: 8 Ways to protect your private information online
From Politicrossing: Top Five Online Scams to Avoid∞∞∞ >>> Read the rest

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