Computer & PC Help

Year End Advice29 Dec

I’d like to end this year with some information about surfing the internet.  These are my tips for the new year.  Regardless if you’re a heavy user or a light user you need to protect yourself at all times.  The best way to do this is to use your head.  If something doesn’t seem right, it’s not.  Case in point…  Humans are curious by nature and the hackers’/malware criminals know this so the easiest way to infect your machine is to send you an email with an attachment.  The first thing most people do without even thinking about it is open an email and click on the attachment.  It’s that simple.  You’re infected and in most cases you don’t even know it.  That’s what these criminals rely on.  They will send you emails in the form of FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc. emails with these attachments meant to infect your computer, and most people just blindly open these without even a second thought regardless if they are expecting a package or not.  They will send you phony bank notices with links in them for you to click on and once you do that and fill out any of the information you’re infected. Just like that.  No one stops to think, why did my bank or a bank I don’t even bank at send me this?  Most people just click on the links and start filling them out.  One of my all-time favorite scams is you receive an email that you won millions of dollars and all you need to do is pay a fee to get your money.  Really?  Have you ever won something and paid for it?  You’d be surprised how many people fall for that. Or someone in some foreign country has discovered a long lost relative of yours and you have a million-dollar inheritance.  Never mind, your family has nothing to do with that country, or again you have to send a check to receive your money, which you should never do.

There’s a new con going around where you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from technical support at Microsoft and they explain that you have a virus on your machine and they offer to login and clean it for you.  Humm…. That’s interesting because how would anyone know who’s never seen your machine that you have a virus?  Answer is they don’t. It’s a scam.  But again people are easily fooled into thinking this is legitimate.

Sometimes, internet pages get hijacked, meaning you think you’re one the correct website but it’s off just enough for you not to notice and once again you’re infected.  It happens with many search engines such as google or yahoo. If you just take a second or two to look at the page, you’ll see that it’s not right. Something is either spelled wrong, or in the wrong place but because you’re more interested in getting where you’re going you don’t stop to look at where you are at.  In addition, pop ups get people to.  You’re on a web page and suddenly without warning, something pops up. “Your machine is infected with a virus download this virus scan now and we’ll clean it up free of charge” or “Your PC is running slow click on this and we’ll diagnose and fix it for you”.  What that is in reality is the virus.  Someone is relying on you to click on that link so they can infect your computer.  Now there’s even Facebook identities being stolen and I attribute that to passwords that are very simple to crack. Too often your friends accounts get hijacked and you wind up getting several invitations from friends that are already allowed on your page.  This can lead to issues too.    If you’re page does get hacked I recommend first to notify Facebook and second change your password to something more complex.


So what’s are the consequences of all this?  Well for starters the money it’s going to cost you to have this cleaned up and it’s expensive. Sometimes depending upon who’s doing the “cleaning” they just reinstall everything and you lose everything, for example you have hundreds of photos saved and once someone begins the process of reinstalling that is lost.  Also, depending upon what you’re infected with can be disastrous.  Criminals can capture your bank account information and basically steal your codes and clean out your accounts.  Identity theft is also a concern.  Once they capture your personal information they can assume your identity and kill your credit.  They can also lock you out of your own machine too.


What can you do to protect yourself?  Well remember this “curiosity killed the cat” as they say.  So you need to learn how to slow down and look at your emails before you blindly click on them.  Check the senders address.  If it looks funny, then it’s not real.  Remember if something is too good to be true it’s not true.  You’ll never win a lottery you never entered.  If your family isn’t from that particular country, then you can’t possibly have long lost relatives.  Never allow anyone you don’t know to access your computer especially remotely.  If you’re on a website and something pops up un-expectedly just close your browser.  It’s that simple.  Make sure your virus protection is up to date.  Your virus protection is only as good as your last update.  If you’re using software for a firewall (aka internet security), make sure you know how to use it and what to block and not to block. Sometimes this software can be more problematic if you don’t understand how to use it.  Apple products, macs, iPads etc. can get viruses too. So can Linux machines.


You can use extensions such as web of trust, ghostery, and adguard to help you notice what’s going on when you hit a web page.  These are all free and install easily into your browser.  They will not slow you down either they will just make you aware of things.  But the best thing of all is you.  You need to look at what you doing before you just blindly click on something.  Especially those sites like Facebook and Twitter.  When you see those incredible coupons on your pages for 95% or 75% off on something this too is a scam.  Just be aware of what you are doing and you’ll always be safe.  The internet is an open place where people take full advantage of you and because it’s mostly anonymous most of the time these people who steal from you never get caught.  You have to outsmart them.  So for 2017 let’s all pledge to do a better job of slowing down and arming ourselves with tools to help use prevent viruses and malware.

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