We all have more online accounts than we really know what to do with! For the most part we simply login to any account with a username and password. However, due to the increase in sophistication of hacking techniques, constant data breeches, and social engineering, simple usernames and passwords are constantly getting hacked and stolen. Which means they aren’t good enough to keep your account out of the hands of bad people.
What is Single Factor Authentication?
Signal Factor Authentication, or SFA, refers to logins that only utilize a username and password.
What is Multifactor Authentication?
Multifactor Authentication, or MFA, adds additional layers of security to your SFA.
How does it work?
Most accounts have the option to add MFA to them. Whether you are checking your GMAIL, Facebook, Twitter, or shopping at Amazon.
Basically you set up more than a simple username and password. MFA uses your username, something you know, and something you have.
“Something You Know” refers to a password, PIN, security questions, or other personal information that you provide.
“Something You Have” refers to a code sent to your mobile device, an app that asks you to approve the login, a USB drive, or some other physical authentication that must be input in a timely manner to ensure you are the one actually making the login request.
Basically, adding MFA to your accounts means that a hacker cannot access your account even if they have the username and password since they will not have the 3rd part – the Something You Have.
The longer the password, the more secure it is. The standard 8 characters should only be your starting point, consider making them at least 12 characters long.
Never use default passwords, any of the following, or any password resembling the following:
A few more tips:
Never re-use old passwords
Pick a unique password for every account
Never use personal information (such as family names or birthdays)
Never use your pet’s name
Avoid using common words or sayings
Don’t use the name of your favorite sports team or actor/actress
Never share your passwords
Here’s an idea:
Pick your favorite line from your favorite song and use the first letter of each word in the line followed by a set of random numbers along with a special character. For example the line, “Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help!” Would be: HInsHnjaH158995!
That password is 16 characters long, contains both uppercase and lowercase, numbers, and a special character. Perfect for any account, easy for you to remember, and is very difficult for a hacker to try to figure out.
If you believe that you were hacked, always start by changing your password! Need help? Contact TeCHS
Click the image below to download this password information as a handy reference flyer (PDF).
As we celebrate our ninth incredible and wonderful year as your TeCHS we always take time to look back at everyone that has helped us, guided us, taught us, hired us, partnered with us, and shared with us to help make TeCHS what it is today. We could not have gotten here without you.
We truly appreciate everything our amazing clients, customers, friends, family, and partners have done for us – thank you for your referrals and for your business. We truly appreciate you and we look forward to continue serving your technology needs.
This year has been incredibly difficult – for all of us. We wanted to make sure that you knew that your TeCHS are still here for you and are now doing the majority of our service calls remotely. Safety and health are our #1 priority! Most problems can be easily fixed off-site. Have an issue with your computer? Let’s schedule a remote service call and get you back up and running!
Seth and Kim, your TeCHS, are proud Ventura natives with well over 30 years of combined tech-y knowledge and know how. We strive to keep everyone’s digital life running smoothly and to keep business and money in our beautiful and wonderful county! From the home user to local business needs – we provide affordable, fast, friendly, professional and reliable services for everything from your toaster to your website!
Well, it has been well over a month since we were all ordered to “shelter-in-place” and I bet you are a bit bored. You are most likely also spending a lot more time using your phone, tablet, computers, and TVs than you are used to.
Here are a few new apps that can help distract you during this difficult time. A lot of people have found comfort in cooking, reading, exercising, and much more while we all hunker down at home and wait to reemerge into a (hopefully) COVID-19 free world.
LEARN TO COOK
The Project Foodie: Guided Cooking app will help you learn to be a better home cook. Recipes are demonstrated by professional chefs and are broken into steps.
LEARN SOMETHING ELSE
The EdX app offers hundreds of classes on just about any topic that you can think of. The classes have been compiled from some of the world’s best institutions including Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Tsinghua, The Smithsonian, and more. Learn to code, learn about history, learn about the universe, and so much more!
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Duolingo is a free to try language learning app that is structured more like a game than a class. It is very image heavy, fast-paced, and incentivizes you to keep going with small inconsequential rewards. On top of actual languages they have fictional ones like Star Trek’s Klingon and Game of Thrones’ High Valyrian.
Aaptiv is an audio app designed to get you moving. Just turn it on, listen, and workout. The Runkeeper app tracks when you run to help you measure your progress.
LEARN MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
This meditation app is a free mindfulness, meditation, and compassion building tool for all ages. It is designed to ease your mind from the moment you open the app. The app gives you a self-evaluation and then analyzes your current state to give you a personalized experience. The sessions include things like guided breathing, brief meditations, or even calming compilations of cat videos (if you are lucky).
GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
The Nextdoor app connects you with neighbors in your specific neighborhood. This is a good place to swap stories, trade items you need, and help keep an eye on each other from afar.
CONNECT WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Always remember that connecting with others helps boost your overall mood. We are human and we need one another. Use apps like FaceTime and Skype to have a quick video call.
We are truly in unprecedented times but we will get through this together. Stay safe, stay sane, learn something new if you have the time, and make sure to check in on others… from the safety of your home, of course.
Need a hand or have a question? Please do not hesitate to contact us.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is changing how our world
works, educates, and socializes. We are all learning how to keep healthy, sane,
and connected to each other during this difficult time. To that end, this month
I won’t be writing about technology so much as sending out a few tips to help
you keep connected and safe right now.
With stress and anxiety at an all time high, a dose of fresh
air and sunshine can go a long way! Make sure to get out and get some sun every
day. Simple short walks around the block can help you feel rejuvenated and
Just because we all need to stay at home and away from
others right now doesn’t mean that we cannot connect with each other. How can
this be done?
-Social media – If you don’t have any social accounts, now is a good time to set one up. Contact your loved ones and see which they are active on and create one yourself.
-Email – Take a few minutes to write short notes to friends and family to say hello, touch base, and even request assistance if you need it.
-Phone – Give people a call!
-Text – Same with calls and emails, texting is a great way to keep in touch with quick statements.
-Video – Now is a great time to learn to use Skype or Facetime to chat with loved ones and actually be able to see them.
-Lots of small businesses are going to need your support through this pandemic if they are to survive. Most of us eat out at least once a week but currently we cannot go to restaurants, consider ordering take out or delivery from your favorite local places.
-Most grocery stores offer delivery or pick-up services for orders.
-Other places like Amazon, Costco, Target, Walmart, etc are still shipping orders from their warehouses – if you need toiletries or other items consider ordering instead of heading into a physical store.
A few general health tips:
-Stay home as much as possible.
-Call your doctor if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, or shortness of breath) and/or a temperature above 100.4 F.
-Shield all coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow, or your shoulder (not your hands).
-Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot wash, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Let’s all remember to be considerate of other people and
help slow the spread of this awful virus. Our best course of action is to slow
how quickly the virus spreads by staying home and away from others. You can
review the CDC’s guidance for more information on how you can do
We are all in this together. We hope you and your loved
ones are safe and healthy and remain that way. If we can help please let us
Did you know that the dollar store
charging cable you bought and use on your devices just might be choking your tech
to death? Did you know that recently there has been a huge influx of weaponized
cables that can harm you as well as your device?
This is what is called Supply Chain Poisoning and it is kind of a big deal.
Cables are being sold right now with hidden
malicious modifications that damage your devices and even steal data from your
device and/or computer while you are charging it. Criminals have even found
ways to embed small wireless transmitters right inside those skinny little
Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your tech:
Buy only OEM cables from reputable dealers*
Charge your phone in a wall outlet – not connected to your computers’ USB port
Buy a USB protection adapter that blocks the data pins
Inspect any new cables for noticeable tampering
*Reputable dealers include stores like the Apple Store, Samsung’s online store, and Telco stores. Places like Amazon, WalMart, or your local Dollar Stores are not reputable dealers.
I know that OEM cables can be pricey
but they are worth it. Don’t be caught with your cheap cable not only charging
your phone… but also charging your credit card or stealing your identity!
We all love our voice-activated helpers… on our phones or in our homes… but did you know that they record everything you say? Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant devices all have ways for you to opt out of recording and human transcription… but you have to actually opt out on your own. Do it!
I am sure that by now you have read at least one article full of revelations and apologies from literally all of the major smart assistant makers on how they handle the audio snippets that their devices record. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana were all using third-party contractors to transcribe all of the recorded audio from the devices. However, the backlash over the lack of transparency kick started quite a lot of new customer controls.
If you haven’t done so before, now is the time to take stock of how you have things set up on whatever platform you have chosen to use. Each service has its own mix of options and controls. So, here is how to stop Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana from recording and keeping your voice data… and once you are done, tell a friend or two to do the same.
To opt-out on Siri : Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvements > Improve Siri & Dictation and toggle the switch off.
If you previously has this enabled, you will need to delete all the audio Apple has collected from you. To do that, go to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History > Delete Siri & Dictation History to wipe everything clean.
Amazon was the first smart assistant company to centralize and expand its user controls for voice recording retention, but it mainly due to massive public backlash.
You can review the voice recordings Amazon has stored for your account by going to Settings > Alexa Privacy in the Alexa app or through Amazon’s website. There you can delete entries one by one, by date range, by device, or everything. You can also delete recordings by device on the Manage Your Content and Devices page. You can delete voice recordings directly through the smart assistant device by saying things such as “Alexa, delete what I just said,” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today”… but you will need to turn on that feature. To turn that on in the Alexa app or Amazon’s website go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History.
To opt out of sending your Alexa recordings to Amazon, go to your Alexa Account in the Alexa app then Alexa Privacy > Manage how your data improves Alexa and turn off Help Develop New Features and Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions.
Google offers a number of ways to stop audio retention or to delete your recordings. This page lays out the different ways you can choose from to delete or opt out in a desktop browser, on Android, or on iOS. To delete recording on desktop, open your Google account and choose Data & personalization in the left navigation panel. There, under Activity controls, choose Web & App Activity and then Manage Activity. Here you can scroll through the list of entries—those with an audio icon next to them include a recording and you can delete individual items one at a time. Or on this same page click the More menu in the upper right, choose Delete activity by and under Delete by date select All time. Then at the bottom choose Delete.
To opt out of letting Google collect recordings in the first place open your Google account and choose Data & personalization in the left navigation panel. There, under Activity controls, choose Web & App Activity and then make sure the box next to Include voice and audio recordings is unchecked.
To manage or delete your audio recordings of interactions with Cortana, make sure you’re logged into your Microsoft account and then go to Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard.
Regardless of which platform you use keep in mind that these expanded controls, while positive and necessary, don’t change the fundamental concept of smart assistants. These services run on devices that contain a microphone, and can be woken up to “hear” things you’re saying and process them on a random faraway server. As with any internet-enabled technology—but particularly one that involves a potentially live mic—there are always going to be privacy considerations no matter how much control you have.
If these devices are a helpful and delightful force in your life, that’s fine! Just take steps to protect your privacy.
2020 is just around the corner and now is the time to
prepare all of your tech, your business, your marketing, and yourself for the coming
year. Here are a few helpful tips in all 4 areas.
1.) For Your New Tech
–Setting up a new device
Fully charge your new device before you begin setup or
use. If the device requires an account (Apple ID, Google, Microsoft, Amazon
account, etc.) you should login (or recover) any existing accounts that you
have. If you wish to set up a new account for your device, be sure to document
the email address and password/pin numbers used to create the account. Always
add security questions, or 2-factor authentication, as well as a valid
alternative contact method (email or phone number). Once your device setup has
been completed you should connect your device to your wireless network (if
applicable) and perform any system updates by accessing the settings from your
–Protecting your device
Electronics are expensive, and accidents happen. Invest
in a high-quality case as well as a good screen protector. If you feel you are
very accident prone, consider adding device protection offered by your
–Maintaining your device
To keep your new device running at peak performance take
some time to regularly uninstall unused apps, disable unneeded notifications,
and restart your device regularly. You also need to periodically physically
clean the entire device with a soft non-abrasive cloth. When charging the
device – never leave it on a charger overnight. This will cause damage to the
battery and shorten its lifespan.
2.) For your Business
The start of a new year is an exciting and challenging
time for businesses. It is a great time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t
over the previous twelve months. It is also an excellent time to take stock and
evaluate what your business needs to go forward.
–Is Your Hardware Still Up to The Task?
If your computers and peripherals are over 2 years old it
is well past time for a hardware upgrade. Newer hardware isn’t only safer to
use, it is faster, and is capable of holding more data. Today’s computing
demands asks a lot of our hardware and older hardware simply isn’t up to the task.
Take time to review your IT demands to ensure there are no bottlenecks in your
–Is Your Backup Reliable and Working?
Every business needs reliable backups for their data. It doesn’t
matter if you simply transfer files manually to an external hard drive or USB
storage device, copy documents over to a local server, or save all of your
media to the cloud, you need to have a system in place that is performed on a
regular basis. You don’t want to find out that your backups haven’t been going
on when you need them the most.
–Is Your Compliance Up to Date?
Nearly every business has compliance and regulations
standards that it must adhere to if it is to keep its position in the
marketplace. These may be industry specific (such as medical or automotive
certifications), or regional protections (such as data protection regulations).
Compliance regulations tend to change regularly. Make sure that yours are
3.) For Your Business Marketing
–Is your website ready for 2020?
Website trends are constantly changing and your site
needs to change with them. Much like your hardware, if your website’s look and
feel hasn’t been updated in the past 2 years it is well overdue for a facelift.
Web technology, consumer expectations, search engine optimization rules, and
more change dramatically from month to month. If you don’t keep up you will be
left behind by your competitors that do.
–Social Media Channels
Is social media part of your marketing strategy? If it isn’t,
it sure should be! You need to be where your potential customers are and they are
all over social media. Take the time to put together an engaging strategy for
2020 that includes posting on a very regular basis.
Do your marketing materials still reflect the right
message for your brand? When was the last time they had a re-design of their
overall look and feel? All of the materials about your business that your
prospective customers see need to stay on top of current visual trends in order
to be noticed.
4.) For Yourself
A new year can be a bit daunting but never forget that
you need to take time to work on yourself as well. We aren’t talking about New
Year’s resolutions that everyone forgets about come February. I mean the small things
every single day that make your day better, your life better, and the lives of
those around you better. Keep the playful kid inside of you alive and enojoy
every day that you can. Life is short. Enjoy!
… and Happy New Year!
May 2020 bring the everyone peace and happiness they deserve.
Scammers are taking advantage of a Firefox bug that
causes your browser to lock up and display the following message:
“Please stop and do not close the PC … The registry key of your computer is locked. Why did we block your computer? The Windows registry key is illegal. The Windows desktop is using pirated software. The Window desktop sends viruses over the Internet. This Windows desktop is hacked. We block this computer for your safety.”
It then tells you to call a toll-free number.
Don’t call the number!
Never ever call any number like this.
Simply force-quit your browser and go about your day.
Mozilla says it’s actively working on a fix but as of
right now there isn’t one.