Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Okay.. Let’s cast a critical eye..

At the bottom of an article about how, for a few bucks, ANY-one can buy a ‘kit’ and make their own Android Ransomware (see, Easy-to-Use Apps Allow Anyone to Create Android Ransomware Within Seconds) we are advised how to ‘stay safe’ from such unhappy things..

How to Protect Your Android Devices from Ransomware Attacks

In order to protect against such threats on mobile devices, you are recommended to:

  1. Always keep regular backups of your important data.
  2. Make sure that you run an active anti-virus security suite of tools on your machine.
  3. Avoid downloading apps from unknown sites and third-party app stores.
  4. Always pay close attention to the permissions requested by an app, even if it is downloaded from an official app store.
  5. Do not open any email attachments from unknown sources.
  6. Finally, browse the Internet safely.

And let’s analyze that advice with our critical eye:

  1. Always keep regular backups of your important data. Because it’s not a question of if you’ll get screwed, it’s a question of when.
  2. Make sure that you run an active anti-virus security suite of tools on your machine. No arguements. If it connects to the Internet you NEED this. But KNOW THIS: it’s only a semi-effective shield, NOT bulletproof armor.
  3. Avoid downloading apps from unknown sites and third-party app stores. Or even regular ‘stores’, as we’ve seen them get ‘poisoned’ already (Google Play Store, recently [see https://thehackernews.com/2017/08/android-ddos-botnet.html]). So let’s just change it to: Do NOT download apps.
    [edit 9/18:
    and yet again. See this http://thehackernews.com/2017/09/play-store-malware.html.]
  4. Always pay close attention to the permissions requested by an app, even if it is downloaded from an official app store. Utterly pointless to advise this. First of all no one will. Second, were ‘average people’ to start doing this, they’d have no clue what all that ‘tech jargon’ means. And 3rd, most apps don’t offer you any choices with ‘Permissions’ – if you want the app, you have to accept the ads and the spying. So let’s just use my #3 as our guide.
  5. Do not open any email attachments from unknown sources. Um. People who still do this have never read a tech article in their life. So they aren’t seeing this.Those who do (read articles) KNOW email is still a favorite way for the criminals to infect your machine. MY advice? Unless someone you know has told you, “I’m sending you a document”, don’t open it – period.
  6. Finally, browse the Internet safely. What? Great advice! Only one problem — there is no such thing. ( Um … I guess that translates to “don’t look at pron”?)
  7. Do not ‘jailbreak’ or ‘root’ your device. (Okay.. so I had to add one.)

* * *

Today’s quotable quote:Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.” ~ Kenneth Branagh

Copyright 2007-2017 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | advice, Android, cellular, consumer electronics, cyber crime, e-mail, gadgets, Google, hackers, Internet, mobile, News, privacy, security | , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 tips for keeping your kids safe online

A reading reco for you today.

* Keep your children safe online

No parent wants their child to fall prey to the dangers online, but it’s hard to know exactly how to protect young ones today. From malware to video game addiction, it can seem like the Internet is a vast sea of dangers.

We’ve mapped out the most important online threats for kids today, as well as laid out our top five tips on how to help your little one safely navigate the web. Address the issue of online safety now and help your child develop the digital smarts they need to stay out of harm’s way.” Read more..

* * *

Today’s quote:Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All weq really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

September 28, 2015 Posted by | advice, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, security, tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for Safe Online Job Hunting

Recent events have made me decide to repost an important prior article.

A reader wrote in with a simply terrific question, asking about our modern way of finding employment. I think the answers are important.

Q:Paul:

I was laid off earlier this summer and have been looking for new employment since day one of my termination. The method for job search is now the Internet. You no longer can knock on doors and submit resumes and fill out application in person.
My question to you is, I have filled out numerous applications online and a number of companies ask for the last 4 digits of your social security number, and some will ask also ask for your month and day but not year of your birth.
I can understand if they are asking for a cell number, and some other standard information.
How can you tell if these are legitimate job sites or persons who are looking for quick score of your personnel information?

I have run into a few sites that offer jobs that seem to good to be true, once you contact them, they ask for up front money. A legitimate job site will not ask for any money. If they get paid it is from the employer.

Thanks for all you great information and keep up the good work,

A: I would like to applaud your awareness. Identity Thieves (and other scammers) are not only posting phony job listings, but whole websites. They are taking advantage of our desire (desperation?) and the supplicant nature of the job seeker.

  • Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.
  • Depending where you look, the stats say someone’s ‘identity’ is being stolen every second, or once every three seconds. (Either one. Where’s the outrage?)
  • This isn’t something that “happens to other people”: cybercrime is big business, costing our economy over a hundred billion a year. That we know about.

I have written many articles on cybercrime, as well as ID Theft. I won’t repeat myself here (but encourage you to use my ‘keyword’ Search widget). I will focus in on the sentence I highlighted in bold — how can you tell if it’s a real job opportunity?

Well, the short version is: you can’t, always. There is no magic formula. You simply must apply a double dose of “paranoid common sense”. And apply a protective self-policy. Because, yes, you will have entered a predator’s favorite hunting ground.

These scammers will post positions on legitimate employment-seeking websites. And those sites will make an effort to find and remove the scam postings. Do they succeed? Yes. Allatime always 100%? Instantly? Don’t make me laugh. These crooks post new ones as fast as their old ones are taken down. Faster.
The online classified services simply aren’t as equipped to try to sift out the bogus, having neither the budget, staff, tools, or.. motivation. You should apply a triple dose of “paranoid common sense” in the classifieds.

(My questioner points out that some ask for month and day, but not year of D.O.B.. Why? Because your year is published in tons of places. The crooks will simply research, then add two and two… With the amount of info about us already posted online, the crooks don’t have to research too much, or gain too many tidbits, to pose as you.)

A protective self-policy – Cyber Safe Resume: Let me remind you of a few early postings. The second one directly relates to this subject..
Identity Thieves Want Your Resume
Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed
A Top Site for Finding Work

All are great supplements to this article, and if you are currently seeking employment, well worth your time (it helps they are short, ha!).

Here’s one more: Scams & Schemes in Work and Employment Services

Review the following websites for additional recommendations on how to proactively protect your identity:

(You may also want to consider investing in an ID “protection service, such as, LifeLock.)

I know you want the job, and don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize your chances.. or get your application tossed before it’s even read, but in this world, today, you really have to leave the box blank, or put in “I will provide this to a real person, but not in this online form.” If you only click one link here today.. click this one: Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed.

Research the company using a search engine. Call them and ask them, when you have doubts and concerns. (And understand, the scammers will post phone #s, and answer them too. The con is not restricted to ‘online only’.)

I do wish you a speedy and successful job search. (And no, I don’t live under a rock. I know it is dang tough out there. But don’t add to your troubles by becoming an ID Theft victim.)

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

March 4, 2015 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet, privacy, security | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reader Asks, What Is “Thumbs.db”?

Reader Question Answered

Q:Hi Paul. I have a quick question. Sometimes when I am copying my files from one place to another I get stopped by a message about a file called thumbs.db. I have seen this file sometimes and often wondered what it is because I did not put it there. Is it safe to delete it? Thank you

A: Sir or Ms,
The Thumbs is short for “thumbnails”, and the .db is short for “database”. In Windows XP and older, the operating system will create a Thumbs.db file in any folder containing images – basically a way for the machine to “remember” how to render the ‘thumbnail view’ of that folder, so that the next time you open it the small image previews can load much, much faster (called a “cache”).
In short – it is a performance enhancing “system file”.

If you delete it, the machine will just create a new one. And, it will have to re-figure out how to render the thumbnails the next time you open that folder.. not a “big deal” but it will slow things down for a bit. (So, no, even though it is ‘safe’, deleting Thumbs.db is not recommended.)

When you are copying a folder to another place (say.. you are making a backup), and get a Thumbs.db “what should I do?” message, place a check in the “Do this for all” checkbox and click the “Skip” button. That will allow the copy command ‘batch job’ to complete, and you will get your files copied over.. minus the thumbnail cache (which you don’t need a copy of).

Today’s Tech News Tidbit: Netflix scraps Qwikster.com
In a move that can only be described as a Let’s Remove Our Head From Our Derriere: due to “negative feedback”, Netflix announced yesterday that it’s dropping its plan to split its DVD and streaming services into two separate websites. (aka “no Qwikster”)
Yay!

Today’s free download: Freemake Video Downloader

Download YouTube, Facebook, Megavideo, MTV, Vimeo, Tubeplus and 50+ sites, extract audio from YouTube, convert online videos to AVI, MKV, MP3, iPhone, iPod, PSP, Android with YouTube video downloader from Freemake!

Today’s quotable quote:A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 11, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, free software | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Be Smart – Tips For Safe Online Shopping*

I think it is a pretty safe bet that quite a few of you are doing some last minute holiday shopping.. and that some of you are going to use the Internet to do some of that shopping.

I would like to remind you that there is a healthy, active, and well-financed underworld of cybercriminals who are well-aware of the fact that the next few days are prime credit card and “identity” theft opportunities, and are going to be particularly active in trying to GET YOU.

You will see an increase in spam, and bogus pop-opens that tell you you are infected when you’re not. (Note: The phraudulent Skype alert is active again, too. see Skype — “Windows Requires Immediate Attention”.. Not! )

I am posting the following Basic Internet Shopping Tips in the hopes that Tech–for Everyone readers will not join the 9 12 million Americans who had their identities stolen last year.

  • Download Software Updates — Regularly!
  • Use Complex Passwords (include numerals and @#$%^&*[])
  • Use Onetime Credit Cards.
  • Verify Secure Connections See that little padlock symbol at the bottom of your screen, and in the URL address bar?
  • Check Your Credit report.
  • Enter Your Shopping Site’s Web Address Manually (embedded links=no!).
  • Shop From Your Own computer (not a public ‘hotspot’).
  • Enable your browser’s phishing filter, or install an add-on. (such as the super-easy WOT toolbar)
  • Don’t Send Credit Card Information Over E-mail. Even if you think it’s secure. Don’t send it over IM either. If you feel uncomfortable about sending personal information online, call up the business.

I would like to direct your attention to the first bulletpoint. The programs on your computer need to be fully “patched” with the latest updates, as exploiting weaknesses is the primary method hackers use to infect your machines. (You visit a website that they’ve ‘poisoned’, and if you have an unpatched ‘hole’ [aka “vulnrability”], bingo – you’re infected.)

How do you know if you have the latest updates? For all your installed programs? Do you think you are patched? Don’t guess. Be sure!

Today’s free link+download: Secunia offers a tool that I highly recommend. The online scanner (which you should bookmark, btw) will scan your machine for roughly 100 programs and tell you if there is a patch/update you need. If you go this route, I suggest you visit once or twice a week.)
Better yet, they offer a download, a Personal Edition, which will scan your system against a database of over 7,000 programs.
Even better yet, it includes direct download links to the missing patches it finds.

I just ran it and it found an old ActiveX plug in, and told me that my Java Runtime Environment was out of date.. and I didn’t think I had installed JRE on this machine!
vulnerabilities1

Related: Careful online shopping (a repost)

“It appears that we’ve reached a point where more people are doing their gift-buying online than at the mall.  It’s a fact: there are more reasons to do your shopping online this year than there were before ($3.49-per-gallon reasons)”

I hope you all have a super weekend!

* Original posting: 12/20/08

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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December 17, 2010 Posted by | advice, Internet, security, shopping for | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

45 Windows Tricks, Free Wallpaper, More!

Today is Saturday and I have decided I am going to let others do the heavy lifting for me. Below are some collections of tweaks, tricks, tips, and fun customizations for your computer.

First up: Essential Windows Tricks
Whether you run Windows 7, Vista, or XP, these 25 tricks will make your PC faster, safer, and even more fun to work with.”

* The verdict is in: Windows 7 is Microsoft’s best operating system yet. For those of you who have a Win7 machine: 20 Windows 7 quick tips and tricks for IT admins
Make working in Windows 7 even easier with these easy-to-miss tricks.”

(It’s okay you’re not an “IT admin”, just skip over tips #17, 18, and 19.)

* And spruce up your PC’s appearance with wallpaper: FREE High Resolution Wallpapers
Today, I want to tell you about a wallpaper site that I use that is not only safe, but provides a great collection of high resolution wallpapers.

* Is a Web mail (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!) your primary e-mail? Want to fix your “mailto:”? Default to Web Mail
Patrick wants a Web-based mail service to be his default email.”

So have some fun with your computer. Read these, and then try some “tweaks” and customizations yourself. Make your PC (Personal Computer) more “personal”.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 19, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Child-Safe Internet (Browsers)

Folks, my apologies to those of you who are looking for Part 3 of my performance upgrade series. A rash of rogue infections has had me performing non-stop repairs this week as the cyberciminals are “poisoning” more and more legitimate websites (please read [and refer friends and family to] Your Computer Is Lying To You… The Epidemic Of Rogues. Hey, Mr. “Cyber Czar”. You listening?).

Today I only have time to suggest a quick reading recommendation. It is a bit dated, but contains much good information for parents.

How do you keep you kids on child-safe sites when you can’t watch over their shoulders as they surf? With a child-safe browser.

Please read Neil J. Rubenking’s, Child Safe Browsers

*     *     *

* This just out: Keep Your Child Safe Online

From online bullies to perverts to the lure of time-wasters like YouTube, there are far too many ways unsupervised kids of any age can get into trouble on the Internet. We look at a baker’s dozen ways to keep your kids out of trouble online—whether they’re toddlers or teens or thirty-something return-to-the-nesters.

Today’s free download: Download Over 5000 National Geographic Wallpapers with One Click

February 26, 2010 Posted by | kids and the Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment