I highly recommend anyone sign up and watch these webinars. Be smart and protect yourself!
They look like the real thing, but they’re really just impostors after your identity and your money. It’s not too late to learn how to recognize and protect yourself from these clever con artists. Don’t wait—sign up for AARP’s free, two‑part webinar today. Experts from AARP and the FTC will answer your questions live and teach you about romance scams and government impostor scams—two of the most common varieties. You’ll learn how they target people on dating sites and how they pretend to be government representatives. Discover the local and national resources available to you. Protect yourself by registering now for this must‑see webinar from AARP.
The Impostors: Keeping Yourself Safe From Scammers Part 1: Valentines, Candy & Online Romance Scams Tuesday, February 5, 2019, 7 p.m. ET Part 2: Fake Tax Bills: Protecting Yourself From the IRS Scam Thursday, February 7, 2019, 7 p.m. ET
In Part 1 we talked about what the Bad Guys could potentially gain from targeting you and your “nothing worth stealing.” But I think you saw that maybe you do have something worth stealing after all.
“Great, guess I’ll throw out the computer and no more email!”
Probably not a good idea and certainly not practical. It’s better to understand what you can do to protect yourself. Please allow me to digress for a moment into an analogy. It used to be that one could leave their doors unlocked and not worry about getting robbed. You can still leave your doors unlocked, but if you do get robbed — what do you think is the first question the Police and Insurance Company will ask? How much help do you think they will really be?
So we all put locks on our doors. That involved us carrying keys. The hassle!! Some decided to leave them under the mat or in a fake rock (or fake dog poo) near the door. That’s pretty handy. The criminals think so too. That turned out to be almost as useless as just leaving the door open.
So we get fancier locks. Something with a punch code. That’s pretty great until the battery dies in the unit (you forgot to replace it) and you still need the key to get in. (Did I leave it under that suspicious looking dog poo?…)
“There’s no way to win so why bother?”
For the same reasons you still lock your door and hassle with the key, you should be taking the time to create yourself a password scheme that includes upper and lower case letters, special characters (!@#$%^&*), and numbers. Have a minimum of nine characters — 12 and above is much better. Having a passphrase is often quite helpful. Don’t include personally identifiable info in your password (e.g. names — yourself, significant other, kids, etc.) but make it meaningful to you. TheRock!3Mount@1ns is an example of an extremely simple passphrase. (Don’t use it — I just gave it to you and all the Bad Guys. I’m sure it’s in a list now used to crack passwords. If you were using it, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know!) The absolute BEST passwords are the randomly generated ones but that can get really hard to manage.
“I have too many passwords to remember as it is and now you want me to make them harder?! Are you CRAZY?!?!”
Well, I’m not quite right, but I wouldn’t call it crazy. 🙂
There are lots of ways to manage passwords. If you are like many of my home clients, you have a workstation or laptop that stays pretty much in one place and that’s where you go to access the Internet. I’m going to suggest something totally radical for you to use as a password manager: a small notebook kept in a drawer somewhere near (but not next to) the machine. Keep each site on a single page so you have room to change the password as you need to. I just made security nerds everywhere scream out in pain. Take heart security nerds, I’m suggesting the electronic solution next. This recommendation is playing the odds — I’m making the assumption that the chances of a physical break in and the criminal specifically looking for and taking that notebook is fairly low. (You had the door locked, right?!?) Way lower than the online Bad Guys.
“Fancy passwords are a real hassle”
There is an electronic management solution — lots of them actually. PC Magazine recently reviewed and proclaimed “The Best Password Managers of 2017“. Don’t want to invest in a management solution? There are free options like a product called Password Safe. Another even more secure option is presented by Felicia King at Quality Plus Consulting making use of Password Safe and a product called YubiKey. She outlines the strategy here.
If you use a product like Password Safe you will be able to randomly generate passwords and electronically store them in an organized fashion. It’s that notebook on your machine. Of course, you’ll want to keep a backup of your password file — but you’re backing up the important data on your machine regularly anyway, right?? Right??
“How did this happen to me?”
I’m often asked “how did this happen to me?” when cleaning up a machine infected with whatever Bad Guy stuff that was installed. It happens often. Way too much really. The Bad Guys are ramping up their efforts as they find more success. It’s easy and quick to do. Like most criminals, they actively target the easy grab. Too much work is left to more motivated criminals.
“I have nothing worth stealing”
Another popular refrain. Obviously you do, or the effort to trick you into installing the Bad Guy stuff or infiltrating your network wouldn’t exist.
E-Mail: The EUREKA! moment
You likely are using your machine for e-mail. It’s pretty much mandatory these days for all sorts of services and communication. A valid, functional e-mail address might be worth $0.01 (I’m strictly guessing). Get 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 of those valid e-mail addresses and you’re talking real money that they can get from spammers and the Black Market. If they’re slightly more motivated, they can lock you out and take over your email account.
You just became way more profitable.
Now that they have access and control of your email they also have control of all those other accounts. If you didn’t have them before you can bet you will now. They’ll spend time posting and creating as you so that they can sell off those accounts as well. A Facebook account might be worth $2. An iTunes account maybe worth $5. It’s starting to add up.
It gets worse
Now that they have your e-mail account, they can start REALLY stealing your identity. They can steal credit card info and make fraudulent purchases or simply sell off that information to the highest bidder on the Black Market. They can pose as you and spam any contacts in your email client and possibly trick those contacts into also becoming a victim.
“What am I going to do?”
Check back for “The New Normal? The Bad Guys and You Part 2: The Smack Down”
I still maintain that OneNote is the best FREE tool you’re not using. Especially if you have a touch or pen device — but any device will do. There’s a OneNote App for that (really!). One of the arguments against switching over to OneNote was the lack of ability to move those files over easily. Well, here goes that argument.
Microsoft has released a tool that will import your Evernote files into OneNote from the Evernote Plus ($25/yr) and Evernote Premium ($50/yr). No word on the ability to import from the Basic (free) or Business ($120/yr/user) versions.
This is version 1 of the tool, so I’m sure there will be glitches and imperfections. I would also anticipate that, if successful, the tool will be upgraded to include all versions. In order to use this new tool, you’ll need Windows 7 or later. There currently is no Mac version of the converter tool.
Microsoft is in what appears to be a huge rush to get everyone to upgrade to Windows 10. They’ve even put a date on when they will quit giving it away for free: July 29, 2016.
Why is that and what’s the rush you ask?
There are a few good reasons to get everyone on the same playing field. It’s easier to issue patches and updates if you don’t have to create and test four (or more) different versions of whatever exploit the bad guys found. You wouldn’t have to worry about anything that was over 10 years old and still using software that has been full of security and performance holes for the last eight. That old, slow hardware that diminishes the customer experience can be retired. These are the reasons that come from the top of my head. There are more and (likely) better reasons than these few.
So how will Windows make money off of this? They’re giving it away for free.
One billion devices. (It’s necessary to do that line with your best Dr. Evil voice impersonation.) Microsoft has set a goal of getting Windows 10 on one billion devices. The fastest route to that goal is giving it away for free. They have a sunset date of July 29, 2016 but it seems logical for them to continue past that date as they haven’t quite reached one quarter of their goal (200,000 at last report). One billion devices delivers enough customers for developers to come back to the Windows Store and start designing those Apps we’ve all become so familiar with. The Windows Store really is pathetic compared to Apple’s iTunes and Android’s Google Play stores. Apple already is on over a billion devices and reported $31 billion dollars in sales per year. In Apps and “services”. That’s not a fair comparison you say? Microsoft is an operating system on a computer, not a phone. True — until now. Microsoft is building Windows 10 as a “universal platform” that works on all your devices from desktop to tablet to phone. It’s designed the App Development kit to enable developers to take advantage of all those different screen sizes in one set of code so that the experience is consistent across all those different devices.
Microsoft is taking a page from the Apple and Google model.
Apple gives away its OS. So does Google (Chrome OS). Apple makes its money from a 30% cut of the pie for every sale in it’s app store. Google primarily sells advertisements (and by extension your tracked data). Microsoft giving away Windows 10 to encourage you to engage in their own subscription model. Office 365 is the current “flagship” with what Microsoft hopes is the Microsoft Store nipping at its heels IF they can get the developers on board. Microsoft has been dabbling with the advertising (like in the free email client Outlook.com), but so far has stayed away from it on most other things. I hope they continue to do so. I will gladly pay for a subscription if it means I can stay “commercial free.”
It ends up being a numbers game.
One billion devices provides incentive for developers to create; users to buy and Microsoft to make money. They take a “hit” on revenue up front, but in the long game they come out ahead as we buy Apps and Office365 and whatever other subscription based product they come up with. It makes sense to me to just continue to offer Windows 10 for free as an upgrade with a small fee for the OS on new devices that would be part of the purchase price (like it is now). Only time will tell what strategy Microsoft will use but it looks like they’re on a path that can keep them relevant and solvent. Even when they’re “giving it away.”
It works on Android too — and it’s not a good idea to do it on either.
So far it looks like a “harmless” prank. If you visit the site crashsafari.com (please don’t) it will crash the Safari browser on Mac and iOS (phone) devices so hard that you’ll likely require a reboot. It appears to do the same to Chrome on Android devices and PCs.
From the Endgadget article:
“There doesn’t appear to be any malware lurking behind the code, and you should be fine once you restart your browser or device. However, there are concerns that someone could use the crash to compromise your security (some attacks rely on crashes to open vulnerabilities)… or at least, use a URL shortener to hide the link and pull a prank.”
I really wish the conspiracy theorists would go after Google and Apple as hard as they do Microsoft. Microsoft is huge, but the other two are just as big and in many cases doing things far shadier than anything Microsoft has come up with.
In any case, I stumbled upon an article today from Business Insider that was ripe with conspiracy theory claiming that Microsoft was working with its hardware vendors to “kill Windows 7 & 8” and “forces chip makers into supporting Windows 10.” (source: “Microsoft forces chip makers into supporting Windows 10”)
Well, I say they’re right.
Last time I checked, time marched on and we can’t run Windows 7 on a 386 or 486 computer. OK, someone will probably come out of the woodwork now and claim to have done so, but my question is: how many hours did you spend making that work? Was it worth it in the end?
Windows 10 is here. It is streamlined code that runs more efficiently than 7 or 8. The new processors (specifically Intel’s “Skylake”) are more efficient. Why not combine the two and “double down” on processing efficiencies and battery life?
I don’t see anyone “forcing” anyone else here.
Unless you’re unfamiliar with how this whole computer life cycle thing works. If they move on with new silicone and new operating systems, then we have to buy more product. There’s nothing technically wrong with the hardware we have — but if you already have it, you’re not buying. The Bad guys are exploiting more vulnerabilities in operating systems and apps of all sorts and plugging those holes is often easier in the new version instead of trying to patch code that was obviously flawed. We don’t live in a “fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry” society. We live in a “throw it away and get new” society. It’s a shame, really.
Reading the whole press release makes a difference.
“In addition to our OEM partners, throughout the design of Windows 10, we’ve been working closely with our silicon partners, including Intel, AMD, NVidia, and Qualcomm, on collaborative engineering to ensure Windows 10 takes full advantage of new silicon features. We continue to partner with these companies on their roadmaps, to achieve breakthroughs in performance, imaging, connectivity, power, graphics, and more as the Windows platform evolves with them.”
I’m reading this as saying that they’re working with the silicon makers to further increase the efficiency of Windows 10 by taking advantage of innovation on the silicon itself.
Of course, this does leave 7 & 8 in the dust.
Just like Win 3.1, Win95 and WinXP were left behind by advances in processors and graphics. SURPRISE! (not really)
I understand that business currently lives in the Windows 7 (and A LOT of WinXP) world. Testing applications and business processes take time — this slows down adoption of new technology. (The Bad Guys love you for this, BTW) It’s looking like business will need to start hiring more “nerds” to increase their testing and adaptation rates. Time marches on faster and faster in each technology year.
Windows 10 is here. “Skylake” is here. Microsoft, Intel and their kind want you to buy more stuff.
Guess what they’re going to do? First, they’re not going to market to you. They’re going for the “kids.” Then they’re going to make the “candy” you already have look like a big pile of manure so you’ll buy their “new and improved candy.” Oh, and they’re not going to make the old “candy” anymore (because you’d probably buy that instead).
I wonder where I’ve seen this strategy before. Hmm.