Fraud, Scams and Alerts – How To Protect Yourself Online and At Home with Knowledge 

The best way to protect yourself online and at home from fraud and scams is through knowledge. Posted below are links to the latest “Fraud, Scams and Alerts” at the Federal Communications Commission. Take a moment to read down this list; even if you do not open any of the links. Being knowledgeable is the best protection that you will ever have when it comes to the evil intent of others.

Fraud, Scams, and Alerts:

Source: Frauds, Scams and Alerts | Federal Communications Commission

Today is “World Backup Day 2019”

There are various ways to back up your data. You can back up your data to an external device (see examples HERE) or you can back up your data to a cloud-based backup service, or back up your data to both an external device and a cloud backup service. You might even make more than one backup to external storage devices and keep the two copies in different places (providing protection and access to your data even if one of the backup devices is destroyed or inaccessible. Preserving your valuable documents and images for future access and use requires planning, as well as the use of automatic backup services.

uncaptioned image

Source: World Backup Day 2019

Tech News: Microsoft releases Windows Defender extensions for Chrome and Firefox

Microsoft has developed and started testing Windows Defender Application Guard extensions for both Chrome and Firefox to better protect enterprise PCs. The feature, which used to be an Edge exclusive, keeps PCs safe by opening web pages not included in administrators’ trusted sites in a virtual container. That way, it can prevent attackers from gaining entry into the company’s system if the website turns out to be malicious.

cropped-logo.png

Source: Microsoft releases Windows Defender extensions for Chrome and Firefox

Cybersecurity Tips For the Young and Old

It is important we hash out, over and over, the importance of how to stay safe online and what to look for. Jacqui over at “Ask A Tech Teacher” posted an article, “Teaching Basic Cybersecurity Measures To Everyday People (For Parents of Digital Natives)“, that are tips geared toward the strategy of teaching our kids the basics on how to be safe online.

After reading this article, I said, you know what(?); this article, everyone should read. We all have that kid in us and these tips are great tips that all of us big kids need to read and follow (“Harmful Links; Viruses & Malware; Suspicious Downloads; Utilizing a VPN; Best Email Practices, HTTPS > HTTP When Providing Information Online; Using Antivirus Programs; and Update Software”).

One thing I want to point out in addition to these cybersecurity protections is that three-quarters of the battle when using internet-connected devices; such as the computer, tablet or smartphone,  is learning the terminology and definitions. Get the terminology in your head and it will all start making sense and will make using these devices more of a joy, instead of a burden; PLUS, before you know it, you will want to be teaching others.

For many adults and parents, it can be a difficult task to teach the basic of staying safe online to those who are younger. However, the best strategy is starting conversations at an early age. This advice will be timeless as kids are starting to use the internet at younger and younger ages.

Source: Teaching Basic Cybersecurity Measures To Everyday People (For Parents of Digital Natives) | Ask a Tech Teacher

The rules for creating passwords are simple…

Forgot password? Five reasons why you need a password manager | ZDNet

The rules for creating passwords are simple: Use a random combination of numbers, symbols, and mixed-case letters; never reuse passwords; turn on 2FA, and use a password manager. Here’s why you can’t afford not to. Plus: Five password managers worth considering (click on the source link below to visit ZDNet for the full story).

old bunch of keys, rustiness

Source: Forgot password? Five reasons why you need a password manager | ZDNet

Did you know that “500,000 Android users downloaded malware made by one developer”?

Malware on our Android devices is typically introduced by means such as portrayed in this article, with one goal in mind; and, that is to steal your data. Think about it, your smartphone contains a profile of YOU; where sensitive data could be used to compromise YOU on a personal and a financial basis. I tell people, treat your smartphone as if it is your wallet…

The malware was disguised as various games, and didn’t have any legitimate function; rather, they crashed every time they were launched. Now for the worst part: Stefanko said that before Google removed the apps, two of them were featured in the store’s trending section.

View image on Twitter

Source: 500,000 Android users downloaded malware made by one developer

Here are some tips on “How to Safely and Securely Dispose of Your Old Gadgets” | WIRED

This is IMPORTANT… If you are planning on getting rid of your old devices (smartphone, tablets, computers), PLEASE take at least (at minimum) the necessary steps to clear the device of your data. Always do a backup to ensure you have all of your files, before doing this.

Reflected below, are steps I extracted from the article (see source link below), that will help you wipe an Android device, a Windows Computer, and a Mac. I don’t know how many times I have assisted folks and they throw the old device in the closet somewhere and the device is still holding their entire life…

For Android devices, open up the Settings app then tap System > Advanced > Reset options, and then Erase all data (factory reset). Over on iOS, the equivalent option is in the Settings app under General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

If you’re using a Windows computer, you need to load up the Settings app then click Update & Security, then Recovery, then Get started under the Reset this PC option. Choose to remove all personal files during the process. If you’re using a Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet, open up the Settings pane and pick Advanced, then Powerwash to get your computer into an as-new state.

It’s slightly more involved on a Mac: You need to restart macOS, then as soon as it begins to boot up again, hold Option+Command+R until you see a spinning globe. Release the keys, then choose Reinstall macOS, then choose Continue. Follow the on-screen instructions and select your main hard drive when prompted.

Source: How to Safely and Securely Dispose of Your Old Gadgets | WIRED

Best home security cameras 2018: Reviews and buying advice | by TechHive

HOME SECURITY CAMERA CHEAT SHEET

best home security cameras

TechHive’s quick-hit recommendations:

Read on to learn why these products rank best.

Source: Best home security cameras 2018: Reviews and buying advice | TechHive

Did you know you can now “Send Secure, Self-Destructing Emails in Gmail using Confidential Mode?”

I did not know this feature was even there until I read the article at one of my favorite sites (I Love Free Software). Yes, you can now send secure, self-destructing emails in Gmail using what is called confidential mode. I encourage you to learn how to use this feature by following the tutorial that is provided by clicking on the source link below.

secure and self destructing email created using gmail confidential mode

This tutorial explains how to send secure and self destructing emails in Gmail using confidential mode. This is a new feature of Gmail which has come with its new interface. While composing an email in Gmail, you can turn on confidential mode in a single click. After that, you can set expiration time of the email using the preset options (expire in 1 day, 3 months, 1 week, 1 month, or 5 years). Apart from that, it also provides passcode feature to securely send that particular self destructing email.

Source: How to Send Secure, Self Destructing Emails in Gmail using Confidential Mode

Here is a descriptive list of “Back to School Cyber Security Tips” – The LastPass Blog

These tips are good educational points for, not only for Students, but for everyone. I have found over the years people do not take online and device security seriously and/or do not have a good understanding of it. I encourage you to follow the source link below to learn the basics and learn how to keep your online presence safe.

Online and device security may not be the first thing that comes to mind with the new school year, but more and more middle school, high school and college students have mobile devices, laptops, and online educational requirements. It is more important than ever that students protect their digital lives as much as adults.

Source: Back to School Cyber Security Tips – The LastPass Blog

At Last, The Secret to Satellite Internet Security is Revealed

This is a Guest Post by Allen Jame, who is a follower of “What’s On My PC”. Thank you Allen for sharing your expertise on Satellite Internet Security with my readers…

Satellite communication is referred to as one of the most popular communication technology used for global communication.

Its applications are vast. Military intelligence, Broadband internet service, and weather forecasting are its some most popular applications.

The satellite dish network internet Wi-Fi is supposed to be the best solution for getting internet in the rural areas.

Although its advantages are vast still security in the satellite communication is a significant concern.

There are many limitations. For example, power control, high link delay, and link availability are some of the standard security issues on the satellite internet.

During the satellite communication, protections of the links and the satellites are not enough. Sound integrity and the confidentiality of the downlink earth stations is also a significant concern.

In this article, you will witness security issue with the satellite internet. Some of the main security issue covered in this article are:

  • Eavesdropping
  • Satellite security link protocol issues
  • Network infrastructure issues
  • TCP based security issues
  • Information-System based security issues
  • Long delays

Continue reading “At Last, The Secret to Satellite Internet Security is Revealed”

IMPORTANT: 500,000 routers infected with malware, security researchers warn

I am posting this, for the second time, to stress the importance of this cyber attack, how it involves you at home, and what you can do to protect yourself. This particular article was posted in USAToday…

Researchers with Cisco’s Talos cyberintelligence unit say malware called ‘VPNFilter’ has infected about 500,000 consumer routers worldwide.

Click on the source link below to learn how to protect yourself

Source: 500,000 routers infected with malware, security researchers warn

How To Scan Your Computer For Malware With Google Chrome

This is an interesting tidbit about Google Chrome’s ability to scan your Windows-based computer for malware. I tested this on a Google Chromebook and it would not launch; but, never the less, this is great. I encourage you to read and learn more about this by clicking on the source link below.

Google Chrome might be the most secure web browser around. What’s more, Chrome can actually make your whole computer more secure.

Open Chrome (or open a new tab if Chrome is already running) and type the following in to the address bar at the top: chrome://settings/cleanup.

Here’s what you should see when you do that:

Source: How To Scan Your Computer For Malware With Google Chrome

KeePass Password Safe

I highly recommend that you use a password manager to manage and store all of the passwords that you use. Typically, most folks use the same password for many sites and accounts and are careless in maintaining their passwords; often storing them in and around the computer. KeePass will assist you in generating strong passwords and will assist you in securely storing your passwords. Also, check further on their website for ported versions of KeePass to other operating system platforms, such as Android. KeePass is available as a full install or portable app.

KeePass is an open source password manager. Passwords can be stored in highly-encrypted databases, which can be unlocked with one master password or key file.

Source: KeePass Password Safe

Twitter Users – You May Want To Change Your Password

A glitch at Twitter has prompted the social media company to urge its more than 330 million users to consider changing their account passwords after some of them were exposed on its internal computer network. The company wrote a blog post informing users of the incident on Thursday.

Unknown number of passwords were “unmasked in an internal log”; no indication they were breached or misused, company says

Source: Twitter says to change your password today after it found a bug – CBS News

IMPORTANT FACEBOOK USERS: Do Not Fall For The Online Popup Tech Support Scam

I am seeing an increase of this scam lately with (see video below) Facebook users and is typically activated by clicking on a web link that is criminal in nature. I urge you read my brief description below on how the scam works; AND, encourage you to watch the video so that you can see in “real-time” how these scammers take over a computer.

HOW THE SCAM WORKS:

If you suddenly get a popup window on your computer (similar to what is pictured below in the video) informing you that it is a critical alert and your computer is infected; PLEASE, do not fall for the scam and call the phone number. If you have your speakers turned on you may hear a robotic voice repeatedly telling you to call the phone number and instructing you to not turn your computer “off” due that it is infected and will cause further damage. If you do call the phone number, you will be connected to a live person (the scammer) who will talk you into them taking over your computer, which they will do, and when done will want payment from you via credit card. At this point, your credit card is compromised and you will need to call your credit card provider to shut down the card. Failure to pay often results in the scammer actually causing mishap to your computer and they may become verbally threatening (and will even you call you back if you hang up on them).  Bottomline, Microsoft or no tech support will ever call or popup on your computer.

WHAT TO DO:

To exit out of the popup, which you most likely will not be able to do, via normal means, simply hit “ctrl-alt-del” (simultaneously) on your keyboard, select “Task Manager”; then, select your browser on the task manager list, and click on “end process”. This typically will resolve the issue. If this too much to follow, take the nuclear option and unplug the computer from the wall, wait a few seconds, plug back in and restart the computer.  As an added precaution, I would download and run “AdwCleaner” and “Malwarebytes Anti-Malware” to remove any browser hijackers and malware that may be associated with this scam. Also, the appearance and methods of these tech support scams change on a regular basis. I have even heard that this scam is so organized that there are call centers set up with numerous people trained to run the scam.

Backup Your Gmail With MailStore Home

Here is a good Windows software option, called MailStore Home, that you can use to download and backup your Gmail. I can also see using this to archive a Gmail account that is getting full.

 

MailStore Home is a free email archiving and email backup software for personal use.

With MailStore Home you can backup all emails in a central archive, even if they are distributed across different computers, programs or mailboxes. You can do this either on your PC or on a USB drive as a “portable” option.

Source: MailStore Home – Free Email Archiving and Backup for Home Users

Destroy Adware (and its’ friends) With AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner is one of those programs that I keep on my computer, that is engineered to target (and remove) adware, spyware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and browser hijackers. If you download this program, you will have to manually run it in order for it to work its’ magic. There is no install involved (simply download and run). I typically download it and run it at least every couple of weeks. I have had great success with this program over the years and highly recommend it to help keep your computer in a healthy state.

Source: Malwarebytes – AdwCleaner

How can I tell if my Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica?

How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?

Facebook has a page set up to help you determine if your Facebook data was compromised by Cambridge Analytica (which was used to influence people during the last Presidential Election). I encourage all Facebook users to do this… VERY IMPORTANT!

Click the source link below to go directly to the Facebook Help Center: 

Source: How can I tell if my information was shared with Cambridge Analytica? | Facebook Help Center

Use Facebook Messenger? You won’t believe how they track you | Komando.com

Facebook is like candy. You develop a sweet tooth for it and can’t put it down. Like the internet in its’ entirety, there is a good side and a bad side. Recently, Facebook has been subject to quite a few inquiries on what information it collects and what it does (and has done) with that information. If you are a Facebook user there is high probability your personal information (profile) has been compromised (data mined) and used for (maybe sold) for unscrupulous purposes. Below (click on the source link below), an article by Kim Komando, is some more information coming out on how the Messenger component of Facebook is being used to track you. In the end, including myself, if you use Facebook, you have been revealed; whether it is posting photos, jokes, your opinions, your cuddly animals; we all have been revealed and compromised… I am especially disturbed on how Facebook is and has been used as a propaganda tool to lead politically influenced lemmings off a cliff with misleading information that has fed people’s minds of mistruths that ultimately has changed the profile of our entire country. In a sense, as much as I love the idea behind Facebook, it has caused damage to our country, as a whole; and, what I find is people either people do not understand the magnitude of all of this or they just plain don’t care. Anyhow, click on the link below to learn more from Kim Komando…

 

Embattled, bruised and bloodied but the hits just keep on coming for Facebook, aren’t they? In the shadow of the Cambridge Analytica hubbub…

Source: Use Facebook Messenger? You won’t believe how they track you | Komando.com

If You Have A “MyFitnessPal” Account, Change Your Password. Here’s Why…

On March 25th (2018) MyFitnessPal discovered that a data breach had occurred. MyFitnessPal is a very popular online Free calorie counter and diet plan. If you have an account, you should have received an email about the breach and what steps to take. The most important step to take is to change your password. I learned about the breach (in the news); but, mostly through LastPass, the password manager that I use.


If you have other accounts where you use the same password or similar information, I highly recommend you change those passwords, as well; and, monitor those accounts for any suspicious information. Over the years I have seen folks use the same password for a multitude of their accounts.

According to MyFitnessPal, the affected information included usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. Reportedly the breach occurred sometime in February.

LastPass Tips For Maintaining Your Passwords:

Unique account, unique password: Creating strong and unique passwords for every account is the best first step to protecting yourself against a breach. Use a password generator to create passwords for you. Unique passwords ensure that a breach at one website doesn’t result in a stolen account at another.

Protect your email: If a hacker has access to your email account, they can use password resets at most sites to get into other accounts. Consider creating an alternate email address for online signups. And be sure to turn on multi-factor authentication for your email account. That way someone will need to get your email credentials and have access to your phone in order to truly get into your email account.

Give fake answers to security questions: You know those silly security questions companies ask you so you can “prove” who you are? Don’t give real answers. Use the password generator to create random answers that you can then store in LastPass. Just add it to the “notes” section for any website login stored in LastPass.

SOURCE: LastPass and MyFitnessPal

Download Malwarebytes AdwCleaner – MajorGeeks

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner is a “must have” application to help keep on your computer from being infected.  You will need to routinely run this software to help keep your computer in good shape.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner is a free anti-malware app that deletes adware, PUP’s, toolbars, and browser hijackers. Video tutorial available. It specializes in removing adware, PUP/LPI (Potentially Undesirable Program), toolbars, and hijackers.

Source: Download Malwarebytes AdwCleaner – MajorGeeks

Browse on your Android devices like no one is watching…

Here is an Android app, called Firefox Focus, that I highly recommend for your Android-based smartphone, tablet, and Chromebook. Firefox Focus, built by the same maker (Mozilla) as the Firefox browser, has been engineered for our Android mobile devices with privacy, safety, and security in mind. When you browse with Firefox Focus it automatically will block a wide range of online trackers; AND, will automatically erase your history, passwords, and cookies (which, by the way, is the method used to bombard you with unwanted ads). I use this browser a lot, to supplement my regular browser when I am shopping on the internet to prevent the cookies from haunting me with ads. The install on this is small (less than 3 MB) and works great on all Android devices, including the Chromebooks that support Android app installations.


SOURCE: Google Play Store – Firefox Focus: The Privacy Browser

Don’t get fooled this Christmas, because the scammers are still hard at it…

Saw the graphic below on the website, NakedSecurity, and felt compelled to remind the readers here on the blog that the scammers will not let up and will take advantage of any opportunity (such as Christmas) to trick and rob people. One very common scam is the phone call you answer from a person who claims they are tech support from Microsoft and want to fix a problem they detected with your computer. Please do not fall for this… Hang up on them and do not proceed with any conversation. Most of the time if they know they have a live number and person, they will relentlessly call back (often with a different scam).

To protect yourself, do the following: Most of us have voicemail or an answering machine. Let all your calls ring through. If you have caller ID, only answer the calls from numbers you are absolutely sure about. Even the phone numbers that may appear to be legit (i.e. from your area code) can be masked to look like a local number. I know this may sound extreme; but, this is how bad this problem is.

Also, there are poisoned websites out there that will prompt you to call a number to fix your computer. It is the same deal, they will scam you for money to fix a problem that does not exist. Bottomline is to avoid all solicitations by phone, computer, email, etc…

“Boiler rooms full scammers would make cold call after cold call, ploughing day and night through lists of phone numbers to scare victims into paying up for technical support they didn’t need for malware infections they didn’t have.”.

SOURCE: NakedSecurity – Watch out – fake support scams are alive and well this Christmas

How To Reveal The Password Behind Those Asterisks

Over a period of time you most likely auto login to most sites due that your browser saves and auto inserts the username and password for you. The password is typically not revealed; instead you will see a row of dots or asterisks. The problem I have seen people do when they auto login; especially over long periods of time, is that they will forget the password or where they wrote the password down.

If you ever get into that situation, one solution is to download and run “Asterisk Password Spy”. Asterisk Password Spy works on wide range of platforms starting from Windows XP to new Windows 10 and can help you to easily find (and record) the passwords from any Windows based application.

Here is how to use Asterisk Password Spy:

  • Launch AsteriskPasswordSpy on your system
  • Now simply drag the ‘search icon’ to any password box to reveal the passwords.
  • When you place it over the password box, it will automatically highlight it and password is added to list as shown in the screenshot below.
  • Finally you can save all recovered password list to HTML/XML/CSVfile by clicking on ‘Export’ button and then select the type of file from the drop down box of ‘Save File Dialog’.

SOURCE: SecurityXploded – Asterisk Password Spy

Want to compress a bunch of documents into a single encrypted file for archiving?

If so, take a look at BCArchive… This FREE program is specifically designed to compress a group of files/folders to a single encrypted file that is password protected.  I like the idea that, after installing, you can activate BCArchive from the Explorer file menu, which comes in real handy when you need to protect and archive files on the fly. Always keep in mind that when you password protect the file archive, to remember the password.

BCArchive is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/10 (32-Bit/64-Bit)…

To give you an idea how good this program is, here is a list of the options:

  • Create Compressed and Encrypted Archive File Protected by Password
  • Create Compressed and Encrypted Archive File by Using the Public Key of Another User
  • Add Several Passwords to an Existing Archive File
  • Apply more than one Public Key to an Archive File Enabling a Number of Users to Decrypt the Archive
  • Generate New or Use Existing Secret/Public Key Pairs in PKCS-12/X.509 Format
  • Compress and Encrypt Data to a Self-extracted Executable Program
  • Synchronize, Import, Export Functions
  • Includes BCTextEncoder Utility

SOURCE: Jetico – BCArchive

FREE Security and Optimization Software That I Use To Protect My Computer(s)

I have been doing computers since the 1980’s. During that timespan of nearly 40 years I have never paid for antivirus software. As a matter of fact, when I purchase a new computer, one of the first things I do is remove the pre-installed security software (such as Norton or McAfee’s). I have found that these security software packages cause more headaches than they are worth; are a resource burden to the computer; require annual subscriptions, and are so embedded into the Windows registry and system that you have to use special uninstallers to remove them. One important point I do want to make is that if you ever decide to remove the current antivirus or antimalware software from your computer, make sure you visit the software developer’s site to determine if they have a special uninstaller you can download to remove the software.  If you don’t do this, you are at risk of leaving remnants behind of the software that can impact the continued operation of the computer and may conflict with any other security software that you install. For your convenience, here is a resource at eset (click here) that will help you with uninstalling security software.

What I have found that is that you can protect yourself with applying common sense and using good free security and optimization software. There are numerous options out there (for FREE), but the list below is the software programs that I use to protect my computers:

CCleaner – the number-one tool for cleaning your PC. It protects your privacy and makes your computer faster and more secure! Make sure you download the FREE version.

BitDefender FREE – featuring virus scanning (and removal), advanced threat detection, anti-phlishing, and anti-fraud. After uninstalling your other antivirus software and you install Bitdefender FREE, you will be asked to set up an account. Once done that task, you are good to go.  You do not have to do anything after that and as a matter of fact, you will forget it is even there.

Malwarebytes FREE – is a next-generation antivirus replacement. The first of its kind for home users, Malwarebytes for Windows employs four independent technology modules—anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-exploit, and malicious website protection—to block and remove both known and unknown threats. The FREE version does not auto monitor your computer. What I do is routinely scan my computer using Malwarebytes sort of as a second opinion and to complement BitDefender FREE.  If I were to buy software to protect my PC, then I would buy the Malwarebytes Premium edition.

AdwCleaner – is another product from Malwarebytes that is FREE. AdwCleaner does not monitor your computer in the background. Simply download, run, and scan on a routine basis to search for and remove adware, unwanted toolbars, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and browser hijackers.

Avira Safe Shopping – is a FREE browser add-on for Google Chrome that will alert you to sites that are criminal in nature by highlighting infected sites directly in your search results to ensure you know which sites are harmful before you click. Avira Safe Shopping is your browser extension, which ensures your safety and privacy while shopping online, and provides you with better deals from secure websites.

The list above is my personal preference and has served me very well in protecting my computers. Please feel free to comment below and reflect any other security software (for FREE) that you would recommend.


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Naked Security: Advising Us To Stop Using The Android Unlock Pattern To Secure Phone (to easy to crack)

How many of you are using an unlock pattern to secure your device? In a nutshell: it is far easier for an attacker to shoulder surf a pattern than a PIN.

A new report (PDF) from security researchers at the US Naval Academy and the University of Maryland Baltimore County has quantified just how absurdly easy it is to do an over-the-shoulder glance that accurately susses out an Android unlock pattern…. READ MORE


SOURCE: Naked Security

MiniTool Shadow Maker FREE – Quickly back up system and hard disk drives in case an accident happens…

These days, compared to yesteryear, there is a multitude of good options to perform a Windows Operating System, selected partitions, and even the whole disk backup (often referred to as disk imaging).

One of the newer options that I recently was made aware of is “MiniTool Shadow Maker FREE”. I like the software that MiniTool develops and will be keeping an eye on (and testing) their rendition of this disk shadowing software. The purpose of this software is to provide you with an exact copy of your Windows OS that will allow you to restore your computer once a disaster occurs (and it eventually will). Disasters like a  system crash, hard drive failure, and more.

MiniTool ShadowMaker offers straightforward solutions to deal with all kinds of backup tasks, including system backup and disk backup. These backups contain exactly the same copy of all the data stored on the original disk or partition. Such backups allow you to recover your computer to the normal state when Windows works incorrectly or partition data get lost.

Main Features of MiniTool ShadowMaker

  • System and Disk Backup
  • Schedule and Event Trigger Backup
  • Differential and Incremental Images
  • Bare Metal Recovery and Universal Restore
  • WinPE Bootable media builder and PXE server
  • Password Protection and AES Encryption

SOURCE: MiniTool ShadowMaker Free 1.0

CCleaner was hacked and used to deliver malware to unsuspecting computers and Android devices…

This morning I am catching up on the tech news and the one thing that is jumping out at me is the news that CCleaner was hacked and used to deliver malware to unsuspecting computers and Android devices. I drilled down on this more and based on information from Piriform (the developers of CCleaner), a suspicious activity was identified on September 12th, 2017, where Piriform saw an unknown IP address receiving data from software found in version 5.33.6162 of CCleaner, and CCleaner Cloud version 1.07.3191, on 32-bit Windows systems. Based on further analysis, they found that the 5.33.6162 version of CCleaner and the 1.07.3191 version of CCleaner Cloud was illegally modified before it was released to the public.

All CCleaner users are encouraged to update their CCleaner software to version 5.34 or higher. The latest version is available for download from here.

CCleaner has been around for years and years and is a “go to” utility that is used by millions to clean and optimize their PC’s in order to protect their privacy and make things faster. I personally have used it for many years.


SOURCE: Piriform Blog – Security Notification for CCleaner v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191 for 32-bit Windows users

FREE Drive Wiping Tool To Erase All Data With No Method Of Recovery

Getting rid of an old computer? Before handing that old computer over to someone else, you may want to consider using “MiniTool Drive Wipe Free” to remove all data from the computer. Deleting your personal files is not enough. There are third party software utilities, readily available on the internet, that will let anyone recover deleted files. By using “MiniTool Drive Wipe Free” to wipe the drive, there is no method of recovery.

Wiping is the process of continuously writing some specific data to a hard disk or partition so as to overwrite original data stored on the disk or partition. Once wiping is completed, original data can not be recovered by any data recovery method.

To effectively carry out this operation I would remove the drive from the old computer and put it in a drive docking station such as the Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Lay-Flat Docking Station. This docking station is inexpensive and will work with 2.5 or 3.5in HDD or SSD drives. Once the drive is in the docking station, connect it to a workable Windows computer and use the “MiniTool Drive Wipe Free” software to “wipe the disk” that is in the external docking station. After performing this operation, you can safely reinstall the hard drive back into the old computer and do with it what you want (i.e. donate it, recycle it, give to a friend, sell, etc…)


SOURCE: MiniTool Drive Wipe Free

We use Facebook as a tool to connect, but there are those people who use that connectivity for malicious purposes…

Since I started using Facebook, I am seriously looking at the security and privacy ramifications that we expose ourselves to when we do social networking (such as Facebook). With that being said, I encourage you to read “4 Ways to Crack a Facebook Password & How to Protect Yourself from Them“.

You will see more postings, from me, in the future in regards to Facebook vs. Security and Privacy, as an effort to help protect ourselves from that element of our society who prey on honest people.

Crystal Security – A cloud-based system that detects and removes malicious programs (malware)…

Crystal Security, a cloud-based system that detects and removes malicious programs (malware), is new to me. I am currently testing the portable version and so far the interface part looks great (user friendly). The detection engine, from I am can tell, is based on data gathered from millions of participating users systems around the world to help defend against the very latest viruses and malware attacks.

Due to not being familiar with Crystal Security, at this point, I will continue to test and use it solely as a troubleshooting application to inform when the possibility of malware exists. If you are familiar with Crystal Security, I would like to hear your experience with this. I do like the idea that there is a portable (no install) option.

I do recommend that you know what you are doing when using applications, such as this; so as not to cause accidental havoc to your PC.


SOURCE: Crystal Security

US-CERT warns users to remain vigilant for malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on interest in Hurricane Harvey…

In light of hurricane Harvey, I pulled the information below in this blog post directly from the US-Cert website and the FTC website warning people to be cautious when responding to emails that may contain links or attachments that direct user to phishing or malware-infected websites.

From my experience, when life events occur of great magnitude, there is an element of our global society that will try to take advantage of people. This element of people will try to scare, intimidate, scam and rob you via electronic means; whether it be by phone, email, SMS messaging and even Facebook. My motto in our electronic world is “Believe Nothing, Verify Everything”. Just because it looks legit or a friend posted it, make sure you verify it.

I encourage you to read the article below by Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC to educate yourself about scammer’s exploiting people when tragedy occurs.

Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey
August 28, 2017
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes, and businesses to the ongoing flooding in Texas. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity.

If you’re looking for a way to give, the FTC urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams. Do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Consider these tips when asked to give:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record with dealing with disasters.
  • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Designate the disaster so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails unless you know who sent it. You could unknowingly install malware on your computer.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If they should be registered, but they’re not, consider donating through another charity.

To learn more, go to Charity Scams. For tips to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from a severe weather event, visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.


SOURCE(S): US-CERT – Potential Hurricane Harvey Phishing Scams AND Federal Trade Commission – Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

Control, Protect and Secure Your Google Account Information, ALL IN ONE PLACE

If you have a Gmail (Google) account you need to bookmark the link provided below that gets you to a dashboard (called “My Account”) that gives you quick access to settings and tools that let you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide how your information can make Google services work better for you. You can even use the dashboard to help find your phone if you lose it; or,  to see how much Google Drive space you have left.

Many Gmail (Google) account users are unfamiliar with this dashboard. I highly recommend that you put this one on your bookmark list and periodically visit the dashboard site to review your settings.

From the “My Account” dashboard you can manage (and control) things such as:

Sign-in and Security – Control your password and Google Account access (Signing in to Google, Device activity & security events and Connected apps & sites).

Personal Info and Privacy – Manage your visibility settings and the data we use to personalize your experience (Your personal info, Manage your Google activity, Ads Settings and Control your content).

Account Preferences – Set language, accessibility, and other settings that help you use Google (Language & Input Tools, Accessibility, Your Google Drive storage and Delete your account or services)

Security Checkup – Protect your account in just a few minutes by reviewing your security settings and activity.

Privacy Checkup – A quick checkup to review important privacy settings and adjust them to your preference.

Find Your Phone – Whether you forgot where you left it or it was stolen, a few steps may help secure your phone or tablet.

My Activity – Discover and Control the data that’s created when you use Google Services.


SOURCE: Google – My Account

Anytime someone asks you to pay money to get money, stop and think twice…

An example of where someone asks you to pay money to get money is reflected in a recent FTC Alert where a scammer poses as a government official to get you to send them money. I encourage you to read more below to see how this scam works.

The scammers in this instance are pretending to be calling from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to reports, callers are telling people they’ve been selected to receive a $14,000 grant from NIH. To get it, though, callers tell people to pay a fee through an iTunes or Green Dot card, or by giving their bank account number.

If you get a call like this from someone asking you to pay money to get money; STOP, and hang up the phone. The federal government will not call you to give you a grant. NIH does give grants to researchers, but they have to apply for them, and those grants are for public purposes, not for personal use.

Again, as I have recommended in the past when receiving a telephone call do not answer the phone unless you can positively identify the number. If you do not recognize the number, let it ring through to voicemail. Once a scammer has a live person on the phone, even if you do hang up, there is a high probability that you will be called again, for the same scam or for a different one.


SOURCE: Federal Trade Commission – Scammers impersonate the National Institutes of Health

You Need To Read This If You Are A Tax Preparer

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.

This sophisticated scam yet again displays cybercriminals’ tax savvy and underscores the need for tax professionals to take strong security measures to protect their clients and protect their business. This is the time of year when many software providers issue software upgrades and when tax professionals are working to meet the Oct. 15 deadline for extension filers… READ MORE


SOURCE: Internal Revenue Service – Security Summit Alert: Tax Pros Warned of New Scam to Steal Their Passwords

Google Chrome Browser Extension – Avira Safe Shopping

I first saw Avira Safe Shopping Chrome Browser extension at Major Geeks and decided to give it a spin. The Avira Safe Shopping browser extension is an extension developed by Avira, whom you may recognize as one of the leading makers of Avira Antivirus or predominantly now known as Avira Free Security Suite. I was skeptical at first after installing this extension, but once I discovered what it can do, it is a keeper in my book.

Once installed you will see a red shopping cart icon with a check mark in the cart. If you visit any site, you can click on the icon to determine if the site is safe, how many trackers were blocked and how many ads were blocked. If you perform a Google Search this extension will place a green check mark next to the sites Avira deem safe.  Also, discovered this worked with Bing, as well.

Where the real power in this extension is when you are shopping for something. For example, I am an avid Amazon shopper and if I bring up a product in Amazon, the Avira Safe Shopper will display a bar at the top of the browser displaying a comparative best deal and other offers (at other sites).

After briefly exploring the Avira Safe Shopper Chrome browser extension, I am going to keep this extension active to see what kind of mileage I get out of it. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose and may actually help you save some money.


SOURCE: Major Geeks – Avira Safe Shopping for Chrome

Kaspersky’s Antivirus For FREE Soon Rolling Out

I have known Kaspersky’s Antivirus to be one of the best when it comes to computer security (however, at a price — not FREE). Soon you will be able to get a baseline version of Kaspersky’s Antivirus for FREE. This new development by Kaspersky’s (according to ZDNet) is apparently in light of the U.S. Government removing Kaspersky Lab from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology equipment. Apparently, this is amid concerns the Russian-based company’s products could be used by the Kremlin to gain entry into United States networks.

The removal of Kapersky’s from the vendors list follows the accusations from US intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into Democratic Party emails, thus helping Donald Trump to election victory, despite President Vladimir Putin proclaiming his country has never engaged in hacking activities, but some “patriotic” individuals may have.

Ok, now that you have digested this, is it safe to install the free version of Kaspersky’s on our home-based computer systems? Personally, I am not installing it and will stick to the free version of BitDefender; however, if you are interested in the FREE version, click on the source link below to monitor for its’ release. Reportedly, the free version will rollout to the U.S. first…

If you do opt to give this a try, make sure you remove (uninstall) any antivirus software that is currently existing on your computer. Typically, to remove antivirus software, it is best practices to visit the website of the product and look for an uninstaller that will completely and safely remove the antivirus software from your PC.

SOURCE: Kaspersky’s Antivirus FREE

 

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