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5 tips to keep you cyber-safe this buying season | Computerworld Blogs

5 tips to keep you cyber-safe this buying season

By David A. Milman
November 30, 2010 10:35 AM EST

5 tips to keep you cyber-safe this buying season | Computerworld Blogs

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may mark the high points of the holiday shopping season, but they are by no means the end of it.  In a still struggling economy, with everyone searching for value, consumers will encounter technology deals that might seem too good to be true.

As reported by the Dow Jones newswires, online shopping may well top $1 billion dollars on a single day this year.  With more and more consumers willing to spend money online, sales will rise, but so will the risk of exposure to some sort of scam or cyber-crime right alongside those fabulous deals.

So, how can you avoid being taken advantage of?

There are many ways to keep yourself, your privacy, and your money safe this holiday season.  But, as the countdown to Christmas grows shorter, many of us abandon our common sense in the desperate pursuit of that one great gift or that one fantastic deal.

Therein lies the problem.  The number one way to guard against online scams is to employ some common sense.

For example, many of us will go to extreme lengths to save a few dollars.  This often includes venturing off the ‘beaten path’ and looking outside the major retailers on online auction or classified sites such as E-Bay or Craigslist, which the Better Business Bureau has cautioned against.  While many of the deals offered on such sites are perfectly legitimate, the likelihood of stumbling into a scam is far greater on these sorts of sites.

Tip #1 — If a deal seems too greatit probably is, especially if it’s from an individual user or a ‘minor’ retailer.  Be suspicious of any deal or sale that you can’t believe is real.  Maybe you’ve found the best buy of the season, but it’s more likely that you’ve stumbled into a scam set up to defraud you and steal your money or information.

It’s also important to remember that anyone you do business with online knows more about Internet commerce — and its dangers — than you do.

An excellent tip #2 is to do some research about any online vendor you’re considering making a purchase from.  Some vendors believe quality customer service goes hand in hand with turning a profit.  Others, however, such asVitaly Borker, seem to value their bottom line over the satisfaction of their customers.

As reported in the New York Times and on Cnet.com, Borker took advantage of loopholes in credit card policies to refuse refunds and threaten customers.  Only when he was in danger of being cut off by Visa and MasterCard did Borker begin meeting his customer’s needs.

Some simple research might have tipped customers off that Borker’s website was one to be avoided.

As heinous as Borker’s actions may seem, they do bring to light tip #3 for the online shopper: understand your credit cards.  Borker and other merchants like him, were able to take advantage of customers because of the rules set up by the credit cards those customers use.

With credit card purchases being the dominant form of online shopping, it’s vital that consumers know the policies of the cards they use and what recourse they have should those policies be abused.

Tip #4 — Consumers would also be wise to investigate other forms of payment, such as PayPal or Bill Me Later, a PayPal service.  While alternative methods may not offer the convenience of credit cards, they may provide more security against potential scams and those who know how to abuse the system.

Regardless of where and when you shop online, tip #5 applies: be cautious.  The Internet can be a dangerous place at the best of times.  During the often stressful and expensive holiday season the dangers increase exponentially.

Be wary every time you shop online and help to make sure this time remains a time of giving, and not of taking.

This article was cited from: http://blogs.computerworld.com/17440/safe_cyber_shopping_tips_for_the_holiday_season 

David A. Milman, Founder and CEO of Rescuecom

 

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When is it the Right Time to Upgrade Your PC?

When is the Right Time to Upgrade Your PC? - Chris Pirillo

Do you upgrade your computer yearly? How about monthly? Do you upgrade only when your current system breaks down or stops running the newest applications? There is a big debate among computer users as to when the best, and most cost-effective time is to upgrade. In a recent discussion, Brandon and Jake were asked the question, “When is it time to upgrade your PC?”

Brandon believes in upgrading your system components, rather than buying a new computer every time new technology becomes available. By keeping track of when Intel and/or AMD come out with a new socket, he is able to determine whether or not a new motherboard needs to be purchased when buying a new processor.

Jake, on the other hand, buys an entirely new system yearly. By doing this, he enjoys an entire set of updated features including bigger hard drives, newer optical drive technology, and faster processing without the hassle of having to buy new individual pieces.

For most users, a simple upgrade here and there to a desktop PC on a regular basis can be enough to for them to get by for years. Costs are relatively low in comparison, and you have more ability to get exactly what you need, rather than what the OEM is willing to include.

A gamer might find a yearly total upgrade more cost-effective given the somewhat low prices for bundled hardware available today. Video cards, RAM, CPU, Motherboards, and sound cards all fall under a serious gamer’s radar in terms of desired performance increase.

While there are certain advantages to each camp in this seemingly eternal debate between geeks, one thing mostly everyone can agree on is that maintaining a basic knowledge of current technologies can come in handy when it does come time to pick up new hardware. Knowing the advantages to SSD over a traditional drive can help determine whether or not the investment is ultimately worthwhile.

If you decide to upgrade components rather than an entire system, keep in mind that everything needs to be compatible. Buying a SATA drive for a motherboard that only supports older connections can cause a real headache as users discover the incompatibility. More modern PC memory may not be recognized or run properly in an older motherboard. An out-of-date BIOS can fail to recognize newer components entirely, which may result in the appearance of broken hardware when a simple update can resolve the problem entirely.

What do you think? When is it time to upgrade your PC? Please leave a comment below with your opinion on the topic.

This article was found at the following:  When is the Right Time to Upgrade Your PC? – Chris Pirillo.

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Protect Yourself!

computer-viruses
Protect yourself from malware

We’d like to believe the Internet is a safe and honest place for everyone, but there’s no denying that online criminals and hackers are lurking out there, trying to stir up trouble. One way they cause trouble is by spreading malware. You can protect yourself by learning what malware is, how it spreads, and how to prevent it.

What’s malware?

“Malware” is any kind of software that’s designed to harm a computer. Malware can steal sensitive information from your computer, gradually slow down your computer, or even send fake emails from your email account without your knowledge. Here are some common types of malware you might’ve heard about:

  • Virus: A harmful computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer.
  • Worm: A malicious computer program that sends copies of itself to other computers via a network.
  • Spyware: Malware that collects information from people without their knowledge.
  • Adware: Software that automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements on a computer.
  • Trojan horse: A destructive program that pretends to be a useful application, but harms your computer or steals your information after it’s installed.

How malware spreads

Malware can get onto your computer in a number of different ways. Here are some common examples:

  • Downloading free software from the Internet that secretly contains malware
  • Downloading legitimate software that’s secretly bundled with malware
  • Visiting a website that’s infected with malware
  • Clicking a fake error message or pop-up window that starts a malware download
  • Opening an email attachment that contains malware

There are a lot of different ways that malware can spread, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to stop it. Now that you know what malware is and what it can do, let’s go over some practical steps you can take to protect yourself.

How to prevent malware

    1. Keep your computer and software updated

Microsoft and Apple often release updates for their operating systems, and it’s a good idea to install these updates when they become available for your Windows and Mac computers. These updates often include fixes that can improve the security of your system. Some operating systems also offer automatic updates, so that you can automatically get updates soon after they’re available.

Windows users can install updates using a feature called “Windows Update,” while Mac users can install updates using a feature called “Software Update.” If you’re not familiar with these features, we encourage you to search the Microsoft and Apple websites for more information on how to install system updates on your computer.

In addition to your computer’s operating system, your computer’s software should also be kept up to date with the latest versions. Newer versions often contain more security fixes to prevent malware attacks.

    1. Use a non-administrator account whenever possible

Most operating systems allow you to create multiple user accounts on your computer, so that different users can have different settings. These user accounts can also be set up to have different security settings.

For example, an “admin” (or “administrator”) account usually has the ability to install new software, while “limited” or “standard” accounts usually don’t have the ability to do so. When doing day-to-day web browsing, you probably don’t need to install new software, so we suggest that you use a “limited” or “standard” user account whenever possible. Doing this can help prevent malware from getting installed on your computer and making system-wide changes.

    1. Think twice before clicking links or downloading anything

In the real world, most people would probably be a little suspicious about stepping into a shady-looking building with a sign that says “Free computers!” in flashing lights. On the web, you should adopt a similar level of caution when entering unfamiliar websites that claim to offer free things.

We know it might be tempting to download that free video editing program or role-playing game, but do you really trust the website that’s offering it? Sometimes it helps to leave that website and search for reviews or information about that website or program before downloading or installing anything. Downloads are one of the main ways people get malware, so remember to think twice about what you’re downloading and where you’re downloading it from.

    1. Think twice before opening email attachments or images

If a random person sends you a box of chocolates in the mail, would you open it and scarf it down without any hesitation? Probably not. Similarly, you should be wary if a random person sends you a suspicious email containing attachments or images. Sometimes, those emails might just be spam, but other times, those emails might secretly contain harmful malware. If you use Gmail, report those emails as spam so that we can better weed out emails like this in the future.

    1. Don’t trust pop-up windows that ask you to download software

When surfing the web, you might come across sites that show pop-up windows, making you believe your computer has been infected and asking you to download some software in order to protect yourself. Don’t fall for this trick. Just close the pop-up window and make sure you don’t click inside the pop-up window.

    1. Be careful with file-sharing

Some sites and applications allow you to easily share files with other users. Many of these sites and applications offer little protection against malware. If you exchange or download files using these file-sharing methods, be on the lookout for malware. Malware can often be disguised as a popular movie, album, game, or program.

    1. Use antivirus software

If you need to download something, you should use an antivirus program to scan that download for malware before opening it. Antivirus software also allows you to scan your entire computer for malware. It’s a good idea to run regular scans of your computer to catch malware early and prevent it from spreading. Google doesn’t make any antivirus software, but the following article contains a list of antivirus software that you might want to consider:

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The infamous fake “FBI Virus”

fbi-virus-malicious

fbi-virus

Beware of the FBI Virus

The FBI Virus is a virus that locks down your computer shortly after you turn it on preventing you from accessing any files or programs. The cleverly designed virus will tell you that your system has been used for different types of illegal activity and will demand a payment via Moneypak to unlock your computer. The payment requests could be anywhere from $100 – $700 depending on the variant installed on your computer. There are several variants. However, once you have paid nothing will change & your computer will remain infected.

Some of the viruses even state that they have taken pictures of you through your webcam and have your image on file. You may even be shown a photo of yourself taken with your webcam. Luckily, none of this is true. Here is what the virus might look like:

 

Since late last year, PC Medics 911 has been experiencing an influx of computers infected with what has now known as the FBI Virus. This virus is not going away anytime soon.

Fortunately, we have all the tool necessary to remove it! We have continuously removed the FBI virus successfully here at our Granada Hills store. Our highly trained emergency computer technicians will make sure any data you need protected is backed up prior to removal.

Give us a call today if you believe you are infected with this virus. Our toll free number is 888-729-1163.

 

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