Know your software

On computers as well as smartphones I find people download software without even doing a google search to see if it is any good. Yet alone to check if the software is just bait for a virus infection or has had other issues discovered with it. Such as bugs or not working with certain O/S or hardware.

In addition software that is great today can be dangerous tomorrow if hackers compromise the source code or somehow are able to control the website providing the downloads for the software.

Yesterday some popular extensions for google chrome created by Chris Pederick have been reported to have been compromised by hackers.

If your running any of these add-ons you should remove them ASAP…

Chrometana
Infinity New Tab
CopyFish
Web Paint
Social Fixer

This is just one days hacking news as both Chrome extensions TouchVPN and Betternet VPN were also compromised in June.

So before downloading any program make sure you check it out. And if you need help ask a computer professional such as RenoGeek to help you with your software choices and security.

The end of net neutrality

Today is save net neutrality day.

Many companies want your law makers to change how information is processed by your Internet provider. While it might seem innocent, know that the Internet you enjoy today was built on equal access for all.

If these companies have their way within a few years you will find that with data caps and speed tiers your experience on the Net will become slower (for the most part) and more expensive. With you having to pay a premium to access your favorite websites and services.

Contact your lawmakers today and let them know you want to keep the Net Neutrality rules that are already in place. If you don’t, then expect to pay more in the future for sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Youtube.

 https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/

Ransomware protection

Once again a new ransomware is in the news. Starting in the Ukraine and spreading worldwide in just a few hours. As always happens once a new malware hits the news I get phone calls asking how the person can protect themselves from the new thing on the block. And my answer is the same. Good anti-virus products. Good computing habits and Back up, Back up and did I say backups?

With a good, well maintained backup even the worse virus or malware will just mean you need to re-install the O/S and copy your data back. Without a good backup you could spends months re-creating important work data and maybe loose important things like personal documents and pictures permanently.

In addition, a good anti-virus will help fend off malware and not clicking on every link sent via email from your friends and co-works can also limit your exposure to these new threats.

As always if you need help with computer security or other computer issues please give RenoGeek a call.

The coming end to privacy

The new Amazon Echo will have a “drop-in”, (feature???) where people you approve can just “drop-in” and video chat instantly. No picking up or screening the call, they just show up on your screen and start chatting. No warning.

In a world that has trained people already to never shut off their cell phones and spend the first part of their day checking emails and updating their status and where people think you died if you don’t answer a text in under a minute, it is a disturbing trend.

We already get rated at work on how “Available” we are and even Facebook will show how often and how fast you respond to their version of text. Now in this always on world companies are pushing us to never be away at all. Even in the book 1984 there were corners to hide in from time to time. But forget that in the new 24/7 “never away” world we are creating.

While I have spent my life working with and promoting all things “Tech”. I resist the idea that you should or even must be available to anybody in the world 24/7.

Technology is supposed to make your life better and free you to do the things you like. If any software or hardware device increases your workload or decreases your enjoyment then it has missed the whole point of why it should exist in the first place.

Information about wannacry

Most people over the last week have seen reports about the new ransom-ware that has been released and is infecting computers worldwide. Some big companies like Fed-Ex and even the English  health care system have had outages due to this new bug. And I have already gotten many calls and emails about it since the week began.

So what can you do about it? Well first as with all computer problems the best insurance is a good backup stored in a location under your control. The virus can not encrypt files it has no access to. So a back up on a external hard drive not attached to your computer is ideal.

Next the older your O/S the higher your chance of getting this or many of the other viruses floating around the Internet. So update to a current O/S and make sure you keep up with the current security patches. Which you can find here.

Last practice safe hex (old computer joke)…
Don’t click on links from unknown sources. Don’t read email from people you do not know or with weird spam like subject lines. Don’t visit download and porn sites. Use a modern antivirus products (that are also updated).

If none of this makes sense or your not sure you have followed these instructions correctly, feel free to give RenoGeek a call to setup a service call to double check your security.

Talk about bad tech support.

Here is a link to the .garadget tech support forum.

Seems they shut down a customers device because he gave them a bad review. Not the coolest way to do customer service.

http://community.garadget.com/t/iphone-app-will-not-stay-open-just-flashes-when-trying-to-launch/1706

and it’s even funnier when you see that this was a indiegogo project…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/garadget-app-smartphone/#/

Use a VPN

With the privacy laws in the USA and other countries being rolled back. It’s more important that you take your privacy more seriously. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a VPN (Virtual private network). But most VPN’s can be tricky for the average computer user to setup.

I have found a web browser that has a built in VPN. So the setup is as easy as clicking on one button in the web browser.

The Browser is called Opera and all you have to do is click on the VPN tab in the address bar and turn the slider to “ON”.

If you use a VPN and a browser in private mode your chances of getting tracked by your ISP and advertisers.

Here is where to get the browser and how set it up…

The browser.  http://opera.com

It’s VPN setup…
http://help.opera.com/opera/Windows/2393/en/private.html#vpn

Viewing in Private mode…
http://help.opera.com/opera/Windows/2393/en/private.html#privateWindow

More privacy rights eroded

Yesterday the  United States Senate voted to let Internet service providers (ISP’s) sell your usage data to any and all advertisers. So if you wonder why when you go to a “questionable” website and then start seeing ads for the same kind of thing shortly after your visit, you will now know why.

But this goes deeper. What if your into off road motorcycles and visit lots of websites about the sport. Would your health and auto insurance shoot up because now anybody can buy a look at your interests and see your into “risky” activities?

Since this is now legal your only defense would be to hide your browser activities. Look for my post about VPN’s if you wish to protect yourself.

What happens if / when the FCC relaxes your privacy protections?

It seems that on a number of fronts the new administration wishes to let companies use your data to make a bigger profit, while trashing any last remnant of privacy for their clients.

If old privacy rules are allowed to be weakened or removed altogether you can expect the these thing to occur in quick order…

1. Selling your data to marketers. After all they would love to know all your kinks so they can insert adds for your fav bull whip. 🙂

2. Hijacking your searches. Why should you get to choose where your information comes from?

3. Snooping through your traffic and inserting ads. What, you don’t want somebody looking at what your doing?

4. Pre-installing software on your phone and recording every URL you visit. It’s not like the police, NAS or CIA have ever used any of this information before against anybody, right?

You only get tot keep the rights you stand up for and protect. So it’s up to you if you will keep the freedom you expect on the Internet or let others take it from you.