Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Browser password managers

 

Is it OK to use the password managers that are built into Chrome, Edge and Firefox?  With recent updates to them all, the security factor of them has gotten much better. Straight answer is yes, they are safe to use, for the basic user.

If you just browse here and there, check email, and just simple things on the internet - yes this is an ok option and way better than using your birthday, dogs name, kids name, phone number, etc!

The only drawback to this is, its perfect to use on your home system. On a shared or public system, it can be dangerous.  If you look in the top right corner of your browser - and you see your little icon sitting there, that means you are "signed in" and the browser will usually auto-fill your passwords for you. But as long as that browser is open, your passwords are accessible!  On shared computers you should ALWAYS log out of the browser so that the next person doesn't have access to your passwords and any other information you store on your browser.

Another minor setback, is while you are on your computer with the browser open, and your signed in, the password information is accessible to hackers or anyone on your network that can intercept packets. Although I'm sure there aren't too many hackers trying to take over John Doe.  It is just a notable thing to keep in mind.

3rd Party password managers are even better than the built in ones. (See my article on these here - Passwords & password reuse) There are quite a few out there, both free and paid options.

Here is a list of a few great options, in no particular order:

1. 1password

2. Lastpass

3. Bitwarden (this is a great open source, free password manager)

4. Dashlane

5. KeePassXC

Having a password manager means remembering only one password, not a ton of them, and also helps with not having to repeat use passwords.

 

Stay safe.

 

V.

 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Have an old computer? Current computer running slow? Try this!

 

Your system running slow? Do you have annoying pop ups coming out of no where? Do you have known malware, adware, or viruses on your system? Maybe you even have an older computer sitting around that is sluggish, and you would like to use again. Now, you have a few options on getting these fixed, and most of the time it can be expensive to have it professionally done. Not including the time needed to take it to the shop, especially in these new times where we are in lock-down or there are many restrictions preventing you from getting this type of work done.

Well, I have a solution for you! The FixMe Stick! I'm sure some of you have heard of this or even seen it on TV, as it was featured on Dragon's Den in 2014 and also in 2018. You maybe have even seen it in some stores near you, they were featured in Best Buy, Walmart, Staples, Office Depot, and a few others. They even received a 4 star rating from PC Mag in 2017 and in 2019 for the third year in a row were ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 award program. With such great success they went forward to launch a new product, the StartMeStick! in 2019.

 Using the Plug and Play feature, they have created products that are very easy to use, extremely effective, efficiently priced and with the size of it reduces e-waste. With being in the computer field for over 25 years now, I have dealt with various computer problems, including 1000's of different virus', tons of malware and adware programs, and all kinds of hardware issues as well. Trying to keep up-to-date with all the different forms of virus' and malware out there has become nearly impossible, with thousands being released weekly. Along with this a lot of people sometimes forget to keep their software up-to-date as well, which usually ends up causing more problems. Most small businesses and large companies employ their own tech teams or local IT people which look after these problems. But what about the average user? or the less knowledgeable users? 

That's where the FixMe Stick comes into play! With its very affordable price, and extreme ease of use, anyone can use these solutions! It's as simple as plug and play, simply follow the onscreen instructions and voila! your done.

FixMeStick also has a business option or the "FixMeStick Pro" which is great for IT departments or small business that need a large number of computers scanned.

How about this! For reading this article today, and if you are interested in trying this out, click the image below for a 20% discount! Courtesy of FixMeStick and Mycomputerguy!

Try it out and drop me a line!

 


 

 

 Have an older system that is extremely slow? Have a system that you don't want to upgrade because you only use it for a few websites and emails?  Do you have to go have 3 cups of coffee and lunch before it even boots up? 

Well, Once again, here comes StartMeStick! The best solution for those that don't want to waste a ton of money upgrading a system they barely use. 

Just plug this into any USB slot, power it up, and boom! your up and running in a matter of seconds. With the awesomeness of plug'n'play, and it automatically connects to the internet* and is ready to go for all your browsing, email, and social media needs! It can be used anywhere and on as many computers as you want. With its perfect size, it just clips right onto your key-chain for perfect portability. They are also designed to never slow down, never break down, and never get infected. It's like having your computer in your pocket everywhere you go!

This little item is perfect for seniors and even those who don't like computers! Just plug it in, and your off!

 I will be doing a follow up article on this item, once I receive it and try it out for myself!

 

V.



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Credit Card scam !!!

 


Well, I woke up to this scam this morning, I got a call from a '780' area code, and upon answering, was confronted with a recording telling my that there was some unauthorized charges to my credit card. First one was $400 to Ebay, and the second was $1400 in gift cards. The recording then proceeded to say if accurate to press 1 to authorize or press 2 to not authorize.  This is where it doesn't matter what you press, you are/will be transferred to an "operator", it was at this point that I disconnected the call.

This happened to both my phone, and my daughters phone about 10 minutes apart. So there is another red flag. Below are 2 of the phone numbers that called me, and I do believe these numbers are hijacked as well, (which is when you call it back, you may reach a legitimate company)

780-667-8295

780-667-1392

 

I would be wary of any "Visa" or "MasterCard" calls from these numbers, also:

1. DO NOT give them any information, ie. your credit card number, your password, or the CCV number (the number on the back of the card)

2. DO NOT "verify" any information they may have.

3. DO NOT call any other number they may provide.

4. DO NOT go to any websites they may provide as well.

5. Just hang up!

 

If you do or have provided any information to them, contact your bank and credit card company immediately to lock your card!

Contact your local Police with the phone numbers they called you from, and as much information as you can provide.

NEVER send any money or other form of payment to them!

If you are still unsure of anything - CALL your bank! They will provide further information! 

Here is a link to an RCMP article with an overview of the scam - Credit Card Scam

 

Keep an eye on this page for ongoing information.

Stay safe!

 

Mycomputerguy!

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Ransomware - straightfoward definition and how to protect yourself

 Ransomware.

 

I'm sure all of us have heard this phrase on several occasions, as there are numerous companies and even people getting infected with it on a daily basis depending on the variant that's out there and what is being targeted. Although more and more every day, these ransomware programs are beginning to creep their way into everyone's everyday computing sessions.

What is ransomware? Well, the basic description is: A malicious program or set of commands that once executed encrypt all your data on your hard drive and then demand money for the key to decrypt that data. 95% of the time, the payment requested is being requested in the form of Bitcoin (see: Bitcoin) which is the main form of digital currency, said to be untraceable. Although there have been other forms requested for payment.

Ransomware can come in many different forms, and you can be infected by it in many ways as well. For the everyday user, these type of threats are very low, but never zero. Typically ransomware is transmitted by a Trojan, which is a program or other that is disguised as a legitimate program that users are tricked into downloading or executing a file or link that appears to be from a known source. I'm sure we have all seen text messages or emails that appear to be from someone you know, but appear kind of off. Well usually those links contained in there will direct you to a trojan of some form. Now once downloaded, these programs will run in the background of your system, slowly encrypting all your files on your hard drive. (Although some can even sit in the background and are programmed to trigger at different times or when some instances are achieved) Once this program has run it's course, you will usually get a pop-up or directed to a page stating that all your files are encrypted and to send payment to a certain address in order to get the "key" to decrypt your files.

Hopefully you will never have to experience this form of cyber-attack, but as always, there is no harm in keeping yourself protected from it. The best and easiest way is to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, and having all your Windows updates up-to-date as well. These basic precautions are usually the most proficient way for the everyday user. 

So when you see the little window in the bottom right popping up saying there are updates available for windows or your anti-virus, don't ignore them! Feel free to update them as they are usually pretty straight forward to do as well.  If you are ever attacked or involved in a ransomware attack, it is usually best to consult an IT professional regarding such BEFORE clicking on any further links or payment options etc. Sometimes it can be reversed easy, sometimes not. NEVER send money in any form to any of these attempts. There have been times, that people have sent money to get their information decrypted, and have never heard from the party again. Most ransomware attacks will usually target more established companies or places that have data known to be valuable, as the attacker can extort much larger sums of money.

Below I will add a link to a Wikipedia article explaining ransomware in greater detail. Once again, if you have any further questions or want some further detail, feel free to email me or comment below and I will follow up!

Ransomware - a Wikipedia explanation.


Stay safe.

Sevenowl

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Adobe Flash EOL (end of life)

 *all links are checked for virus' and malware


Another popular software product coming to an end.  Adobe Flash player, a commonly used feature in everyone's browser for website's and games alike is coming to an end as of Dec 31/2020.  It is also being recommended to uninstall it completely, as it will not be supported any further and software developers should have updated their products to all run on the alternatives.  

So, before any big surprises arise, I will try and give you as much information as possible as to how to remove it, and how to make sure your browser(s) are prepared for the change!

Adobe has a dedicated article regarding the EOL of flash player, which you can view here for more detailed information.

excerpt from Adobe "Since Adobe will no longer be supporting Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems. "

To remove Adobe flash, simply click on "Start", go to "Settings", then click on "Apps" Scroll to where you see Adobe flash, click on it and click uninstall. (Windows 10) 

Process almost the same on other windows platforms, simply go to settings or control panel, click on add/remove programs, find Adobe flash, click uninstall.

Once you have that done and are now ready to see if your browser(s) can support the replacement. Which in this case should be HTML5 (which all current/updated browsers support) there are a couple ways to tell. Number one - you can go to this link with your browser of choice and as you arrive it will show you, your browser version and everything it can run etc. HTML5 test

Number two - you can click on the options bar in your browser, located at the top right side. 

For Firefox, click on the 3 bars, then click on "Help", then "About Firefox"


and you should get a screen like this one:  


For those users of Chrome, you would check it pretty much the same way, click on the 3 dots, then "Help", then "About Google Chrome"

And, of course, for those of you who use the Edge browser, once again almost the same, click on the 3 dots, then "Help and Feedback", then "About Microsoft Edge"

Now just check your Version number with the list below, and if you have the latest browser(s) you should be fine and ready to run most previous Adobe flash content!


Browser version list:

  • Chrome 87.
  • Safari 14.
  • Edge 87.
  • Firefox 84.
  • Internet Explorer 11.
  • Opera 72.

*list provided by Updatemybrowser.org

If your browser lists a lower version, it would be best to update immediately to avoid any complications or problems in your future browsing.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line via the contact form on the right side. 

Stay Safe!

Sevenowl.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Phishing scams and malware attacks go up during Covid

 

 With the onset of Covid-19, and all the restrictions brought upon us and the retail industry, a lot of people are turning to online shopping and banking, etc.  With all this influx of activity, comes a new trove of information available to hackers and scammers. Now, not every individual gets hacked, what these people target, are the shops and information servers.  The places where your information is stored, your credit card info, bank info, all that fun stuff that is easy to sell on the dark web.

A lot of this info is obtained via phishing. This can include fake emails, texts, and even phone calls. Emails are the most common phishing technique, as fake websites, emails, etc are quite simple to set up. Below is an example of a phishing email, that a lot of people get, because most of us have a lot of passwords and they use this technique believing the majority of us will fall for it. (as most people don't keep track of a ton of passwords)

 
The picture below, is a fake site that you would most likely see, upon clicking one of those phishing emails.  If you don't pay close attention to details, anyone can fall for these. Always check spelling and where those email link too! Some of the time as well, as soon as you arrive at these sites, there is a possibility of malware already being installed.
 

 A good preventative is to run a weekly (if not daily) virus/malware scan on your system to help prevent these issues. That and simple preventative habits can help with it all.  If you don't recognize an email address - Don't open it! , if you don't recognize a website - close it! and Do NOT click on any links on the site! If you get any pop-ups for a download, etc, DO NOT accept it!

Phishing techniques go much further into detail, that novice users don't anticipate. For instance; once a hacker has obtained someones email address or other credentials, they can simply look through you facebook profile to obtain your address, pet's name, family names, etc that a lot of people use as passwords. They then simply run some software programs that target a number of common websites, like ebay, amazon, etc. that spam these names, address', birth-dates until a hit is found. Then they will usually change your password so that they retain access. Then they will move on to other websites and try those same credentials, which if you re-use passwords, they will hit again, and again, and again.

This is where password managers come in extremely handy! There are many out there that are very good, either free or paid options, depending on your needs.  Here is a great list by PCmag listing the top 10 password managers - Top 10 password managers.
 
Here is a link to another great article regarding scams during Covid from the HackerNews.  An excellent site to get more in depth on scamming and hacking related information.

Stay safe!

Sevenowl.




Monday, December 14, 2020

Layers of the Web

*Information purposes only*

 

 

Most people don’t realize the size of the internet (Web). A lot of people are happy with just the surface web, where everything is indexed by google, yahoo, bing, etc. What you may not know is that this part of the web makes up only about 5-10% of the internet. The other 90+% is made up of the Deep web and the Dark web.

The surface web is the safest place for the casual user and gamers etc. Think of it as an iceberg, the top part you see, is the surface web. With all the largest parts underneath where you can’t see them.

Here is a link to explain the surface web in a bit more detail. Surface Web.

 Next we have the Deep Web. (Click for more detailed description) This part of the web is not indexed by Google or any other search engines and requires specific software to access the sites. For example Tor browser (The Onion Router), is used to access these websites, if you know the addresses or know where to go.

 

This is where you will find tons of information for sale. For example, hacked accounts of all types, games, facebook, emails, porn sites, bank accounts, etc. All for a price. The currency of choice on the dark web of course is Bitcoin (and other crypto-currencies). Bitcoin is a digital currency that is almost completely untraceable. Be careful what you look for and access here, without proper security, and vpn’s etc. You may just fall victim yourself.

And lastly, we have the Dark Web. This is a place you don’t want to be.

 

 

The dark web is a nasty place, where you will find anything you could imagine, all illegal of course. This is where drug deals, gun deals, human trafficing, hitmen, ISIS redrooms, etc are all found. This part of the web is not accessable by regular web browsers at all. You need specific software and other measures to access this. I do not recommend you visit this part of the web. If you attempt to, you do so at your own risk! I do not condon any use of the dark web. This article is for information purposes only!

Hopefully this has explained a bit more about the internet and the hidden parts of it for you. Remeber you access these parts of the web at your own risk! Don’t forget your ISP knows everywhere you go on the internet.

Stay safe.

Sevenowl.

 

Featured Post

Browser password managers

  Is it OK to use the password managers that are built into Chrome, Edge and Firefox?  With recent updates to them all, the security factor ...