Tech – for Everyone

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

Tips To Enhance Your Security And Privacy When Online

Folks, after hearing – yet again – another sad story, I feel compelled to remind you of some advice for a safer and more secure “online experience”, and – yet again – provide you the How To steps for being a ‘safer surfer’.

First up is a known ratings killer, but perhaps the second most important piece of tech advice I can share with you — passwords. (The first being: if it connects to the Internet, it needs an up-to-date antivirus. Period.) If my storyteller had followed this simple advice, they wouldn’t be so sad.
It’s that simple.

Create strong passwords, and use a different one for each website. These two links will help.

Okay, okay, okay. Tech – for Everyone readers don’t need to be told that. They already know. But perhaps you may want to send those to some of your less-savvy friends and family. Below are some very good items for review.

Protect myself from scams

Protect my personal information

I hate to say it, but the Internet is so dangerous (and has been for several years now) that those who do not know the information provided above have practically no chance of not getting nailed and becoming a victim of crime.. if they haven’t been already.
None, as in “zero”.

Bonus reading (unrelated): Use Your Google Drive As A Fax Machine

Take advantage of your Google Drive and use HelloFax to sign and send faxes online. With Google Drive being a new service provided by Google I am starting to see third party developers coming out with apps that integrate and take advantage of Google Drive. HelloFax is a prime example and is one of […] Read more..

Today’s quote:For a gallant spirit there can never be defeat.” ~ Wallis Simpson

Copyright 2007-2012 © “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.

April 30, 2012 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical advice for greater online safety

The materials below are practical advice on how to be a savvy and successful digital citizen.

If you surf the web, you should know ..

How to:
Get a security update, tool, or scan

Protect my kids from online risks

Protect my computer

Protect myself from scams

Protect my personal information

Create strong passwords

Security terms

Free materials

Digital citizenship in action: A guide to education and events

The materials below are included in Microsoft’s Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit. You will find practical advice on how to be a savvy and successful digital citizen. Use the materials to:

Teach yourself: Practical advice for greater online safety

Free materials including brochures, fact sheets, tip cards, videos, and posters to give you the basic information you need to help you stay safe online.

Teach others: Online safety presentations and event planning

Information and free materials to make a presentation or put together an event.

Downloads

Promotions

Research

Hey.. a bonus:


(One minor problem.. I don’t FB nor Twit.. never have.)

Bonus bonus: Countdown to Black Friday Deals (electronics)

Today’s quote:I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” ~ Reuben Blades

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


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November 2, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, PC, security | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You On The Web (and some free tools)

I do not simply tell my readers the Internet is risky place to visit, and is being abused (ruined?) by many: I have for four years now provided tips, advice, and how-to’s for keeping yourself, your machines, and your ‘identity’ safer and more secure. Here are a few more items I think you should know about…

image source: PCWorld

Google’s ‘Me on the Web’ Tool Alerts You to Personal Data Leaks

Google has launched Me on the Web, a new tool allowing anyone with a Google account to monitor what personal information about them appears online.Read more..

And I have discovered (new-to-me, that is) an interesting browser add-on.. TrackMeNot Firefox Add-on Keeps Search Engine Data Profilers Confused

The free TrackMeNot Firefox add-on takes a unique and creative approach to protecting your privacy from search engines that can create profiles of you based on terms you search for. Rather than hiding your searches from them in some way, it takes the exact opposite tack: It inundates search engines with a blizzard of background searches from you, so that no practical profile can be built because there are too many random searches.Read more..

(To see my personal list of Firefox security add-ons, click here.)

Best Free Software for Protecting Your PC and Your Privacy

Want to make sure that your PC and all its files and data are kept safe, secure, and private–without breaking the bank to do it? It’s not an impossible task–in fact, it’s easy to do. We’ve rounded up ten free pieces of security software that do everything from protecting you against malware, to keeping you safe at WiFi Hot Spots, to encrypting your entire hard disk.Read more..

Folks, the Internet is not Disneyland, nor a vast public library, where everyone is on their best behavior, and there’s security guards keeping an eye on things. Ha! Not even close! The reality is the Internet is a battleground, as well as being Big Brother. In the best cases, folks are merely trying to sell, sell, SELL, you stuff. In the worst, they’re trying to steal everything you own (or put the company you work for out of business)(Or bring down your government). Please don’t be a victim. Exercise paranoid common sense when online (no – your email did not just win the online lottery). And sign up to receive my newsletter, and keep receiving information you can use to be savvy. For instance..

.. do you know what that ‘paperclip’ symbol means?

It means if you, or your email client’s Preview Pane opens that email, your address will be automatically added to the Global Sucker List, and I guaranty you’ll get more spam. (See, Disable the Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam)

Today’s quote:Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

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


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September 7, 2011 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, free software, how to, Internet, privacy, security zones, software | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Computer Gaming Concerns

Recent events have caused me to have “video games” front and center in my attention – and by that, of course, I mean computer games (and gaming). I play games on my computer: chess and spider solitaire (and occasionally mah jong) daily (I like to think it keeps my mind sharp); but I also – being a big kid at heart, I guess – also sometimes play those “violent video games” you hear about.

Because computer gaming has been on my mind, I decided to go back and look at what I have written on the subject. Below is the very first article I wrote on this topic. Written 4 years ago, I think it is just as appropriate for today (maybe.. more so?) and I suspect you may have missed it, so …

Gaming: a confession, a warning

When I first started writing Tech–for Everyone way back on the 8th of June (56 1,461 articles ago), I wondered how long I could go before I talked about computer gaming. I think I did fairly well at delaying the inevitable. Two things triggered this post: a user with a pre-teen boy, and my mood. I’ll look at the latter first.

This week I got into a foul mood. I became short-tempered, irritated, antsy. I was definitely ‘out of sorts’. I was not a Happy Camper. Part of this was due to the fact that I had several back-to-back days of too-much-to-do/too-little-time (can anyone relate?). I felt a bit less than “in control”.
I managed to keep up with demands, and my time-spent was successful. I not only kept afloat, but I succeeded. However, this didn’t lighten my mood.
Finally, by staying up a little longer than I should, I was able to take a break and play a conquest map of Age of Empires III, The Warchiefs (naturally, I won). Amazingly, I was calm, refreshed, and happy. I was a Happy Camper again.
Why? I realized that it had been several days since I had played a game, and I had subconsciously “missed it”, like a smoker during a long flight, or a dieter walking past the bakery. And that once I got my “fix”, I was returned to a normal psychological state. This realization has caused me to wonder if I (me! myself!) wasn’t developing a gaming “addiction”. Wow.

There have been several news stories about computer gaming; ranging from the couple who suffered financial ruin by devoting their lives completely to the online game World of Warcraft (a couple of nut-jobs, if you ask me), to the medical ramifications (carpal-tunnel) of too much controller/mouse/keyboard use … especially in children.

There is a real belief in “gaming addiction”, and there’s a doctor who’s gone so far as publicly stating that as much as 40% of all WoW players are clinically addicted to it. (Read the article) Consider that there’s at least six and-a half 11.4 million people subscribing, and you realize that that’s a LOT of people … and that’s just one game. It is my belief that these news stories will only increase in number; that as our society becomes more and more of a shut-in society, and more of our interactions take place online, topics along this line will only grow. Google “World of Warcraft+divorce” and you’ll see 747,000 6,450,000 results. WoW!
If your friends are telling you you’re an addict, please … don’t take it as a compliment. Take a serious look at yourself, before you lose everything.
[Update: I understand the ‘hot new thing’ is a yet-to-be-released Guild Wars 2..]

That said, I do play computer games; and if you’re curious, I like the WW II FPS titles (Call of Duty, Medal of Honor), air combat simulators (Lock On, Il-2, Microsoft), and civilization games  [update: for some reason, I haven’t played any of those last in years] And good-old Solitaire. I play a couple of games a day, to “unwind”. I think I’m alright… I haven’t, as yet, spent real money on ‘magic armor’.

The second topic I mentioned was the lady with the pre-teen son. She keeps having “weird pop ups”, and her machine is “always so slow.” I had installed a security suite, and the full gamut of protections onto her machine, and yet she keeps having these issues. She asked me, “why does this keep happening?”
I asked her several questions and looked over her logs and histories. She told me she has a 12 year-old son, and that as soon as he gets home from school he goes straight to the computer to “do homework” … that he spends quit a bit of time on the PC. Well! I was once a 12 year-old boy, and I remember well how much time in the afternoon — freshly released from scholarly confinement — I spent on homework. None. Zero. Nada. (At least, not willingly.)
Sure enough, a look at IE’s browsing history (read how to do this here) did not reveal any instances of National Geographic, The History Explorer, Encyclopedia Brittanica, or “math help” (or anything else even vaguely homework-related), but revealed endless explorations of Flash games, online games, and “cheat codes”.
I looked at his download history and found plenty of “demo games”, magic swords and shields, and other “bonuses” he’d earned playing his online games. Could one of those ‘magic swords’ (or demo-games) have contained spyware??? Does spyware slow down your machine? Cause pop ups? Well … (duh) YES!

Tip of the day: Here’s the thing most folks fail to fully grasp — when you let your child run under your User Account, he’s running with full administrator privileges and can install programs unrestricted and when you click on “download this file”, you’re bypassing your protection. (It has to be this way, or you’d never get anything done) You are telling your anti-malware apps, “it’s OK. I know what I’m doing.” A 12 year-old boy, caught up in the excitement at having just “triumphed” and earning himself a +2 Sword of Sharpness, probably doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he will click “download your prize now!”
98% of the time, it’s harmless fun. How can you tell which demo game or ‘magic shield’ is safe, and which one’s contain spyware? You can’t. Sorry. Like I said, 98% of them are safe.

If you missed my series on protecting your kids on the Internet, you can learn how to remedy this — creating a Limited User Account, and cranking up IE’s security, etc. — by clicking here.

Internet News: Massive Phishing Attack Hits Tumblr

Users of the Tumblr microblogging service have been hit hard over the last few days with a phishing attack that steals user credentials.

Other gaming news: If you have a Steam account, you can now get Team Fortress for free.

And, oh, yeah. There is a $1,000,000 Call of Duty tournament

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


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July 1, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, kids and the Internet, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parents. Teens. The Internet.*

How To Out-savvy Your Child And Make Parental Controls ‘Stick’

One of the services I provide for clients as a computer technician is a category of tech commonly referred to as “Parental Controls”. These controls limit what the child can do on the computer – what kind of websites they can look at (no XXX, for example), what hours the Internet is available, etc.. (Yes. You can turn off the Internet after 10pm.)

These restrictions can be adjusted and modified to be appropriate for the child.. loosened as the child matures, maybe. Windows comes with Parental Controls built in, or you can acquire special-purpose programs. Let’s face facts: there’s a lot on the Internet children maybe shouldn’t see at their age (maybe.. ever see).

In my years in business, I have been asked to enable (or install) parental controls exactly three times. When I specifically remind a parent of these controls, and – specifically – ask if they would like me to go ahead and turn some on.. you know, ’cause I am right there? You know what I hear? (I bet you do.)

No. Thanks. My kid is pretty smart. They’ll just find a way to turn them off.”

Sometimes I hear, “No. Thanks. My kid is pretty smart. WAY smarter than me when it comes to computers.They’ll just find a way around them.

It would be nice if I had a dollar for every time I heard that..

What percentage of parents think their 10 year old is savvier with tech than they are? Just shy of 99, I’ve come to believe.

I came across an article for parents: Typical Trickery of Teen Hackers

Tech-savvy teens have figured out ways to get past parental controls, reset passwords, and install software and other activities frustrating to parents.

Fortunately, these situations are solvable. Here are some typical questions parents have about how teens are able to get around parental controls, and some practical advice on how to prevent it in the first place.

This will tell you how to stay in control, and keep your restrictions in place. Because YOU are the parent. And if you don’t know.. maybe you ought to learn? Reading the article is a great first step.

To read my other parenting-and-tech articles, click here. Also, I have a Page you might want to look at: Safety, Kids, and the Internet. (It is in the upper right.)

Today’s free download(s): For parents.
* K9 Web Protection is free Internet filtering and control solution for the home. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids.

As if being a parent isn’t hard enough…

The Internet has made your job a whole lot tougher. As soon as your child is old enough to get online, you have to safely guide him through a whole new world: the virtual one. How can you encourage your child to explore wonderful new places that stimulate creativity and learning while ensuring he or she doesn’t wander into dangerous territory?

Get FREE continuous protection against malware and inappropriate Web sites. Download K9 Web Protection now.

* Norton Online Family is a free service that has won recognition for excellence, and ease of use. (To see more awards, click here: Reviews & Awards.)

* Orig post: 11/22/2010

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


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June 13, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, free software, Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Special Day Indeed – SDAV 2011 License Giveaway

Folks, I Am Sincerely Pleased to Announce My Latest Holiday Software License Giveaway Drawing.

The folks at PCTools have generously donated 10 licenses for Spyware Doctor With Antivirus 2011 to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that. So I am going to do a random drawing ¹ contest from those who “enter”. The contest will close at midnight (Pacific) Thursday, June 2nd, and the winners announced Friday.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor™ with AntiVirus 2011 I am going to start this out by telling you that I have a very high regard for the effectiveness of this anti-malware and Internet Security tool, (so high, I installed it on my mother’s machine) and have been using it for years now – since before they acquired the award-winning Threatfire heuristics engine. Not only is “SD” very good at detecting and removing viruses, trojans, keyloggers, etc., but it is also very good at blocking that *stuff* from getting onto your machine as well.
(And I have said many times: an ounce of malware prevention is worth a couple pounds of cure.)

From the publisher:

Editor’s Choice Antivirus and Antispyware in One
Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus combines two powerful engines to detect and remove unknown threats faster.

  • Antivirus guards against malicious PC threats.
  • Antispyware prevents information and identity theft.

It defends your computer against malware attacks with multiple layers of protection using proactive, reactive and automatic anti spyware antivirus software protection to stop threats at every entry point. Now includes memory scanning, behavior profiling, and report cards to provide up-to-date protection and status monitoring for your PC.

Please notice in this slideshow, the various “layers’ (ten of ’em) of protection SDAV’s technology provides. (I hope you never have to use any of those last three.. )

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SDAV 2011’s main features and improvements are:

IMPROVED! Detection, blocking and removal of threats awarded top ratings by independent testing labs and recommended by reviewers worldwide.

  • Built on award-winning Spyware Doctor™ antispyware technology.
  • Advanced rootkit detection technology identifies and removes hidden threats from your PC.
  • NEW! Memory Scanner helps eradicate threats lurking on your PC.
  • NEW! Download Guard checks your downloads against a cloud-based network.

NEW! Multi-layered browsing protection against web-based attacks including phishing attempts, rogueware scare tactics and silent drive-by downloads.

  • Uses a combination of reactive blacklists and proactive content analysis.
  • Site Guard blocks you from visiting potentially unsafe or phishing websites and from downloading threats through your browser, IM or email.
  • Cookie Guard automatically removes potentially malicious tracking and advertising cookies.
  • Browser Guard stops automatic downloads, fake AV and malicious files from compromised or exploit websites.

Constant real-time IntelliGuard™ protection monitors for malicious activity involving spyware, viruses, tracking cookies, suspicious ActiveX® objects, browser hijackers, keyloggers, Trojans and more.

Quick links Overview Features Accolades Details

Spyware Doctor, in the years I have been using it, has never failed to earn my regard and respect. My (very few) critiques nitpicks have been minor. I consider it a most important tool in my fight against cybercrime. It is Top Drawer – period. (That’s my “review”.)

These 1 year (subscription) licenses retail for $39.99, and can be used on up to three of your PC’s.

How to enter? Residents of the US and Canada only may enter the contest drawing by simply clicking on “comment” (below), and entering a name and a valid e-mail (so PC Tools can send you a license key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)
Again, the license can be used on up to three PC’s.

Note: SDAV is an antivirus; and you only want one AV on your machine at a time. It is also not a good idea to have more than one heuristic (behavior detection) tool onboard (active) so you may need to disable or uninstall some products before installing Spyware Doctor With Antivirus.

¹ All entrants will be placed into Random.org’s “list randomizer”, and the top  10 results will be the winners. A 30-day, limited-function trial of Spyware Doctor with AV can be downloaded here, Free 30-day trial. Try it out yourself. (And then leave a comment. You may just win one of these valuable prizes!)

Again, my thanks to the folks at PCTools for making this Giveaway possible!

UPDATE: This contest has concluded. The winners can be seen here, Spyware Doctor Winners. My thanks to all who partcipated.

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


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May 30, 2011 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, Internet, PC, rootkits, security, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Reader Question: My Pick(s) For Best Antivirus

I wish I had a nickle for every time I am asked this question…

Q:Paul,
I want to thank you for all the good information on your website and I am hoping you can give me some advice. The McAfee on my new computer is due to expire and it is asking me to buy a subscription or I won’t be protected. Should I pay or should I get something else? I will be using this computer a lot and want the best protection. Thank you.
~ TB

A: TB,
In this day and age of Internet Insecurity, it is absolutely vital (IMHO) that any device that connects to the World Wide Web has antivirus: and, an “expired” antivirus is next to no antivirus. I have written much about Internet/PC security (and answered this question before). But the competition between the various vendors means that the answer to “who’s the best?” changes year to year… and I suspect you want my short answer. (And, currently, McAfee is not it.)

So, for April/May 2011 my General recommendations are:

  • For Netbooks: see, Best Antivirus For Netbooks?
  • For Smartphones: Smartphone security is new to me, and I can only (at this time) say that I think that, at the very least, you want Lookout.

* You may be interested to know, PC World magazine also has those first two as their top reco’s: see, Free vs. Fee: Free and Paid Antivirus Programs Compared

Can free antivirus software protect you? Or is it worth paying for a full-blown A/V app? We look at the benefits–and pitfalls–of free and paid antivirus products.

Additionally: (Internet security is much more complex than bullet point answers!)

● I prefer to fine-tune my answers to the User: everybody is different, after all. To get your own “fine-tuned” recommendation, try Gizmo’s Freeware Security Wizard.

This Wizard has been designed to help you select the best free security software for your PC based on the version of Windows that you use, your technical computer skills and your general level of security risk (read more…).”

● In my Blogroll, you will see direct links to trustworthy Product Comparison reviews.

● I recommend supplementing your antivirus with Anti-Spyware, and I frequently recommend SAS (SUPERAntiSpyware) here. It is a great additional “layer of defense”. It is available here. (It is also one of the few titles I actually reco upgrading to the paid version. Hint: look for the “Lifetime” price.)

● I suspect someone will write in and ask, so.. (For Infection Removal): MalwareBytes Anti-Malware

Today’s reading reco(s):

* Off Topic: White House Releases Birth Certificate

In all my years of being a citizen of the United States, I have never been more embarrassed… I was brought up to respect whomever was the President; whether it be Democrat or Republican. Today..Read more

* Restoring Your Contacts List or Address Book In Gmail

Google’s Gmail has been a very popular online (web) email client for years; and, rightfully so. It continues to improve and offer features that you would typically find in email software that you would install on your PC.” Read more

* Yesterday, I mentioned iPhone tracking only part of Apple’s security and privacy shortcomings

“The revelation by a pair of researchers that iPhones store location data for the life of the device is making waves. How much does it really matter? Chad Perrin suggests the problem goes deeper.” Read more

But Android users should (also) be aware.. Android phones keep location cache, too, but it’s harder to access

“After this week’s disturbing revelation that iPhones and 3G iPads keep a log of location data based on cell tower and WiFi base station triangulation, developer Magnus Eriksson set out to demonstrate that Android smartphones store the exact same type of data for its location services. While the data is harder to access for the average user, it’s as trivial to access for a knowledgeable hacker or forensics expert.” Read more

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


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April 27, 2011 Posted by | advice, Android, antivirus, Apple, computers, Internet, iPhone, PC, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments