Scams Getting Even More Crafty

One of the most annoying things that has been happening to me lately are these endless phone calls I get from scammers.  They are posing as tech support help, the IRS, and banks.  These scams are getting much more sophisticated as scammers are now utilizing stolen data in an attempt to “accredit” themselves and cause people to let their guard down.

Recently as reported in one of my favorite security blogs, a rather tech savvy individual was almost conned into giving all their bank account info over to a scammer because the call was so convincing.  The caller posed as a bank teller asking about his account and some fraudulent charges that had been made.  The caller had the target’s address and a few other key pieces of information, and despite the target’s usual skeptical nature he was almost tricked.

This is why it’s more important that ever to educate yourself about popular phone scams and know what to look for.  Staying up to date on things like this is crucial to ensuring that you don’t get taken for a ride.  And spreading the information is also helpful as not everyone is looking out for these things.  The elderly and immigrants are especially susceptible to these scams.

Common Phone Scams:

1.)  The IRS Is Going To Arrest You:  This one has been making the rounds for a couple years now, and apparently the FBI actually caught the original ringleaders and arrested them.  However it was so successful that there are a number of copycat scams making the rounds.  Remember – the IRS will not call you and threaten you with police action – that is a fact.

2.)  Microsoft Tech Support: Always beware of callers claiming to be tech support telling you that you have a virus.  No legitimate tech support company is going to voluntarily call you.

3.)  The “Can You Hear Me” Scam:  This scam is hell bent on getting a recording of your voice saying yes so that they can make purchases under your name.  This is a tough one, so awareness of this scam is key.

4.)  Information Verification Scams:  These callers will ask you to confirm certain information, usually posing as insurance agents or something similar.  They may sometimes have partial information of yours and ask you to fill in the gaps in a way that sort of tricks you into letting your guard down.

Tips On Not Falling For Scams

One rule I have that I encourage everyone else to follow if possible is to NOT answer unknown numbers.  Also, if you have to answer unknown numbers, do NOT entertain any unsolicited calls from individuals and companies that you’re not expecting.  This is ESPECIALLY true if the person has a foreign accent.  (However the accent rule is not set in stone, obviously).

Additionally, keep an eye on the news and perhaps follow a tech blog or two so you can keep tabs on the constantly changing nature of threats and scams, and educate yourself.  Knowledge is power in this area, and ignorance of threats is a good way to get conned.

 

Reasons To Safeguard Your Data

If you need any more reasons to safeguard your data, then look no further to the rising cybercrime rate, as well as the news headlines in 2018 with all of the data mining and social warfare going on online.  Even Facebook, it was found, was listening to your conversations in order to advertise to you.  Those terms of service are so cryptic that nobody knows what’s in them.

So what is the best way to safeguard data these days anyway?  This post will help you to figure out the best ways that you can prevent any hacking or theft of your data, or infection by virus or malware.  The more  you know, the better protected you will be in the long run.  The reason most people fall victim to cyber crime is because they just don’t know enough about it and how to prevent it.

Get A Security Software Program

If you don’t have a security software program on your computer then you are leaving yourself open to viruses and malware.  Period.  You need to get yourself a tried and tested program such as Malwarebytes or Spyhunter 4.  Both of these programs can protect you from threats such as spyware, malware, ransomware, and more.  If you want to compare, you can check out this Spyhunter review over at We Hate Malware, and then compare it to Malwarebytes or some of the other software suites such as Avast.

There are many good choices out there, and getting at least something is better than nothing.  No program will be 100%.

Avoid Internet Bad ‘Hoods

If you like surfing adult, gambling, black hat and hacking sites, and getting torrents, then I’m sorry to say that you might want to change your ways.  These are the most notorious internet areas for cyber crime and hacking.  If you really want to continue to visit these sites then you should definitely think about getting a specific netbook or laptop just for that, and keep no personal data on it.  That’s the best way to protect yourself so that your important files on your PC don’t get compromised.

These internet areas are known for “drive by installations” and similar things, where you only have to visit a website and you’re cooked.

Back Up Your Data

This goes without saying, but it’s almost one of the best defenses against malware out there.  If anything comes your way, with an adequate backup you can just roll back and forget that anything even happened.  However, this obviously won’t protect you from things like keyloggers, which steal your data and you don’t even know that you have an issue.

The best way to back up your data is to use a cloud backup tool such as Backblaze, that keeps updating your files on the fly.  You never have to remember to back up your data, and it’s always up to date (this needs a decent internet connection, however).

I use Backblaze myself and it saved me from a hard drive failure in the middle of a paid video editing job that I had to do.

 

How To Speed Up Your Computer

If your PC or Mac is slowing down and there are no hardware issues, you do not need to contact your computer services company as you can speed it up by yourself even if you are an average user. This post discusses some of the tweaks and tune ups that you can implement to speed up your computer.

Reduce Number of Start-Up Application

If your computer is slowing down during start up, then it is probably you have a lot of startup programs {programs the computer initially loads and runs during booting process}. Having a large number of startup programs while result in more processing time which slows down the computer.To remove unwanted start up programs if you are in windows, click on the “Start” button and type “MsConfig” in the Search field this will bring up the System Configuration window. Click the “Start up” button and uncheck the program that you don’t want to run during start up.

Remove Unwanted Background Programs

When using your computer, some programs do run on the background. When you notice that your computer keeps on slowing down, it might be as a result of these background programs taking up a lot of computer resources. You can check these programs using the taskbar and end the processes of those you do not want to run in the background so as to speed up your computer.

Use Antivirus or Anti-spyware Software
Viruses, malware and other unauthorized programs will always slow down the speed and performance of your computer. To prevent this, it is important to use an updated antivirus program and regularly scan you system to get rid of any unauthorized programs, malware and viruses.It is recommended to use as anti-virus software that comes with anti-spyware software – Spyware gathers information from your machine without you knowing or asking for permission when you are in the internet thus slowing down your computer.

Free Up Disk Space and Undertake Defragmentation

Free up your disk space can help speed up your computer as having lots of files increases the time computer takes to index, retrieve and open them. The best way to free up your disk space is by permanently deleting and unwanted files.When a hard disk is fragmented it slows down the performance of the computer as to open a file means that the computer has to search for the location of the different fragmented files, piece them back together and then open them resulting in slowing down of the computer.

To defragment you hard disk if you are a Windows user, go to your hard drive >> right click >> Tools >> Defragment now >> Select a Hard disk >> Click Defragment button. The best time to defragment is after adding a large file, your free space is below 15% or have installed a new version of operating system.

Clean / Repair Registry
Problems in the windows registry files may cause slowing down of computer which can lead to hanging screens, display of error messages and crashing of windows. These problems can be caused by incomplete uninstallation of software, corrupted or missing hardware drivers. Cleaning or repairing your registry using Registry repair software tools is the best option as it will correct any registry issue and help speed up your computer.

 

Use A Utility Software Tool

There are a number of different software tools out there on the market that you can use in order to really speed up and clean up your computer.  And the best part is that these tools work automatically without needing a lot of effort from the user.  A few great options are RegCure from Paretologic software for PCs as well as Mackeeper for Apple computers.  Both are excellent software tools designed to help optimize your computer with as much ease as possible.

 

In conclusion it’s very nice to have a computer that actually works properly!  Despite taking a little bit of effort it can really leave you with a higher productivity level because it’s less of a hassle to get things done on your PC.

The Age Of The Internet High Horse

What do you think about the latest hacker-gate with the Ashley Madison business?  It’s a pretty interesting moral case.  Do two wrongs make a right?  The group that has claimed responsibility for the attack — Impact Team — is acting in a kind of vigilante justice method.  But is exposing this data actually a good moral decision?  The outcry of commentators on such sites as Facebook has been slightly creepy (as is the case with internet lynch mob justice these days).  People saying that it’s “good” that a few people may have committed suicide as a result of the leaked information that they were registered on the site.  That it serves them right.  As if these commenters have never done something wrong in their lives.  The age of the Internet High Horse is well upon us, and it’s becoming kind of ridiculous.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.  Whether or not you believe in Jesus, this logic holds true.

I hate the fact that Ashely Madison exists (existed?).  I hate cheating.  But if I were holding the key to that hacked database, I would NOT choose to disclose it to the entire internet.  Such tactics reek of tattletale mentality that went the way of the dodo for me back in 2nd grade.  Yes, these people are bad.  But it’s not my job to “tell” on them or expose their private lives.  It’s overstepping to say the least.

Interestingly enough, the Ashley Madison executives have in return offered a 500k bounty for information that will lead to the exposure of the hackers.  However, those same hackers have apparently hacked the account of AM execs showing that the AM team hacked competitor websites.  Do 5 wrongs make a right?

The whole thing is clearly a mess.  However, I don’t think people signed up on the website should get thrown under the bus.  Again, who is anyone to judge?  These are people’s lives.  Perhaps they signed up, but maybe they never actually cheated.  Maybe they thought about it but decided better.

Again, I do not agree.

Krebsonsecurity.com reported that extortionists have been targeting those with emails on the list, and this is yet another form of evil that is coming from this supposedly Robin Hood tactic.  It’s a sad state of affairs and it seems that the suicides may have been linked to these extortion attempts.

Do I condone cheating?  Absolutely, positively not.  But I do not condone wrecking people’s lives…people you don’t even know.  Let THEM deal with their moral dilemmas and do not play God.

Trusting Computers Over Paper

It wasn’t that long ago that people were having problems converting from paper to computer for reading and writing.  Even still today people love paper – it’s more tangible, and often easier on the eyes.  Although print newspapers are online nowadays, they still roll out their paper versions (although admittedly probably with lower circulation).  I must say I dread the day when newspapers are truly extinct.  It just seems to weird.  However, it’s fun to look back on what people thought of the transition back in the day.

Anyone who thinks that computers reduce paper usage should check with banks offering automatic teller machines. It seems as if the term “paperless transaction” has proven to be an oxymoron. My spouse works for a large high tech corporation, where one division of the company receives a delivery of three semi-tractor trailers of computer paper weekly, and fills is up the same number each week with used paper. At least they are recycling, but it still seems a waste.

In addition to several e-mail services that I check daily, I subscribe to the PACS-L forum on BITNET, which provides me with a wealth of interesting topics, issues and people contacts – usually averaging eight to 12 messages a day. At first I was delighted with my new information resource, then dismayed as I realized how much I was saving (at the risk of filling up my hard disk) and often printing. I had to fight the urge to send the downloaded file to my printer and then file that piece of paper in a folder, where of course the access is thumb-through-the-pile, the original random access method. I also learned some restraint in what I decided to save.

It reminds me of my days as an academic reference librarian. I watched students search diligently and pull out armloads of periodicals with articles on their topics. But, rather than sit down and read what they’d found, think about it, analyze it or write anything, they would line up at the photocopier to make a paper print. They showed a rather desperate need to have it down on paper – something they could take with them. If it was on paper, then it was real. I’ve seen older people, struggling to adapt to the computers forced on them, show a similar distrust. It can’t just be “in the computer” – it has to be printed to be real.

TRUST

I think I have now learned to trust the electronic text – at least partially. I use the text find-it program Gofer on my Macintosh to hunt through my logged files for the needed information. The search capabilities are crude, when compared to other search software I’m accustomed to, but I usually manage to find that half-remembered morsel buried in the bits and bytes on my hard disk – my hard disk aptly named “database.”

But there is a nagging little concern in the back of my mind. What if I’m not finding everything I should? How would I even know, short of actually paging through 20 megabytes of text? Printing out those files won’t really help my access. Will more sophisticated text search and retrieval or text management software ease my concern? – probably. Will we ever really trust electronic text? But wait, why is that different from bits of information being “lost” in traditional print sources? Retrieval from print is only as good as the indexing available, whether back of the book, or the card catalog or the OPAC. In fact, my electronic texts can be searched much more flexibly and from many more access points.

…..

QUESTIONS Thinking about paper and text and capabilities of software has raised a number of questions in my mind – no answers, just items to ponder. Readers are welcome to comment.

* Does the way we search and find text influence our comprehension of it?

* Will writing ultimately be affected by knowing how text is located? For example, with KWIC searching, someone might not see the entire text, only a window into it. Should each paragraph then be constructed carefully so that someone who didn’t see the surrounding paragraphs wouldn’t be misled?

* Sophisticated software exists for building in filters, to choose, organize and refine the text automatically that reaches us – will we retain this control at a local level, so that no one else is choosing for us the text we will access?

* When handwriting can be readily scanned and digitally recognized, will we leap over that paper copy hurdle to the electronic version of that signature as real, thus eliminating reams of required paperwork?

* Will larger hard disks and other storage media remove the space stumbling block that some have for saving and accessing electronic files? One colleague says if she has to remove files from her hard disk and store them on floppies, she loses the convenience and would rather have it on paper. I would still rather search multiple disks for electronic text than shuffle through inadequately accessible paper copies.

Hane, Paula. “Paper: the security blanket of the electronic age.” Database Feb. 1991: