Safeguarding Yourself From Scams – Don’t become a victim! Part 2: What You Can Do To Safeguard Your Information

Online Security Protection Internet Safety Guard Lock

1.) Don’t share your passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers or any other pertinent information with anyone.

2.) Don’t write your passwords down anywhere someone could stumble upon them. It’s best if you don’t keep written records of your passwords, but with the amount of passwords people need now, it’s getting a bit more complicated to keep track of them all without writing them down.

3.) Keep your computer’s spyware and antivirus software up to date and scan your computer regularly.

4.) Make sure you have firewalls up and running at all times. Whether it’s the built-in Windows firewall, your router’s firewall or a 3rd party firewall software; or all of them in combination if you really want to make sure they are working.

5.) Always be wary of emails asking for your personal or financial information. Don’t click on links or open emails that seem suspicious to you at all. Even one simple click can open your computer up to a criminal – installing malicious software and stealing your information. Never click on links in emails or links on web sites that you don’t know or don’t trust. If you get an email from “your bank” saying you need to log into your account right away for any reason, but you aren’t sure the email is actually coming from your bank then don’t click on any links in that email. Open a new internet browser, type in the URL yourself and then log in to your account and make sure everything is as it should be. If a link doesn’t feel right, don’t click it.

6.) Keep an eye on your assets and your credit and check on everything on a regular basis. Make sure to report any odd or suspicious activity immediately. Switch over to paperless billing and statements. Pretty much everyone now-a-days offers paperless statements… banks, credit cards, house-hold billing companies. Having them all delivered to your email inbox instead of your physical address saves paper, postage and also eliminates the possibility of someone stealing your mail.

7.) Never write your full account numbers on your checks when you pay your bills, especially when paying credit card bills, just write in the last four digits of your account number.

8.) Always shred documents you do not need, don’t just throw them in the trash. Criminals do sift through your trash looking for pertinent documents.

9.) Don’t broadcast that you are leaving town, or that you are out of town, on social networking sites. That is sort of like putting up a flashing neon sign over your house that says “no one is home and no one will be home for a while, so come on in and take what you want.” Wait until you return home from your trip to talk about it.

If Your ID Is Stolen:
Immediately file a fraud alert on your credit report by calling Equifax (888-766-0008), TransUnion (800-680-7289) or Experian (888-397-3742). After you have filed your report, call the issuers of any credit cards that may have been affected.

Basically the gist of everything I’ve written is: be careful with the personal information that you give out.
We all do a lot of shopping online which means we are all typing our credit card numbers into lots of different company websites. Make sure the company you purchase from is reputable. If something seems too good to be true, it is. There is nothing free in life. Massive discounts on normally very expensive items from shady online stores are more often than not going to cost you a lot more than you think.

A Few Tips For Kids:

staying_safe_online_large

Do you need any assistance? Want a professional to check your computer security? Contact TeCHS today!

~Your TeCHS

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Safeguarding Yourself From Scams – Don’t become a victim! Part 1: Common Techniques

scam alert

1.) Phishing : Phishing e-mails mimicking online businesses or banks in an attempt to fool people into freely giving out confidential personal and financial information. URL Obfuscation is the part of the phishing scam that really plays on human error and our brain’s ability to “fill in the gaps” automatically by sending a victim to a fraudulent web site address that looks almost exactly like a real address (i.e. www.pay-pal.com versus www.paypal.com).

2.) Pharming : Pharming is another form of phishing that “poisons” a person’s computer’s DNS cache and redirects visitors from a real web site to a bogus mirror site. Every web site has its own internet address and the Domain Name System (DNS) translates the IP address into the host name. A DNS cache poisoning changes the entries in the computer so when the legitimate site is typed in, the victim is sent to a fraudulent web page instead.

3.) Trojan Horse : Trojan Horses are malicious software files that infiltrate your PC by hiding in seemingly innocuous files. Some Trojans, called “keystroke loggers,” record every one of a person’s keystrokes and send that information back to the attacker.

4.) Trojan : Zombie Computers and Man-In-The-Middle Attacks are part Trojan and the malicious software that is installed on the victim’s computer allows that person’s PC to be controlled remotely by their attacker without their knowledge. The Man-In-The-Middle attack is frequently partnered with an “Evil Twin” which is a fake wireless internet hot spot connection that looks almost like a legitimate service. When the victim attempts to connect, the criminal launches a transaction to get the victim’s credit card information in the form of a standard pay-for-access deal to use the wireless internet.

5.) Cashier’s Check Scams : There are numerous ways to use cashier’s checks in scams. Here are a few of the most common –

Money mule: you receive payments, and you’re supposed to deposit the payments to your account and forward the money to somebody else. Often advertised as a work-at-home check processing job, these schemes are often problematic. In some cases, you’re laundering money for criminals. In other cases, the first few payments are fine, but eventually you’ll get a fake check (after they’ve gained your trust) and you’ll lose money.

Foreign wealth scams: somebody you don’t know reaches out to you and asks for your help transferring a large sum of money out of a corrupt nation. In exchange, you can keep a tiny fraction of the transfer, which is more than you make in a year. Of course, you’ll have to send money to somebody to complete the transfer (which will never arrive).

Inheritance and lottery scams: you’re about to receive a lot of money, but you’ll need to pay a small amount for taxes or legal fees to “release” the funds. It’s a small price to pay for the riches that are headed your way. Of course, they’ll never materialize.

Property rental scam: somebody is moving to your area for a new job. They’d like to pay the first and last month of rent (and security deposit) with a cashier’s check before they ever see the property. The day after you deposit the check, they say there was an issue with the job – they’re not coming, so they don’t need the rental. You can keep the security deposit, but they’d like for you to return some of the rent. After you send the refund, you’ll find that the check was a fake.

Part 2 will go over a few tips to protect yourself.

~Your TeCHS

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Smart Home by TeCHS

April 2017

TeCHS is proud to announce a new service offering : SMART HOME.

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What can a Smart Home do for you?

  • You can remotely turn lights on or off, turn power on or off to appliances, lock or unlock doors, and open or close your garage door.

You can receive notifications about what’s happening in and around your home like:

  • You can get notifications if a door or window has been opened.
  • You can get notifications if a door or window has been broken.

You can even have your home prepare for your arrival, start your day, or end your day with automated routines (turn on/off your heater, turn on/off lights, unlock/lock the door, etc).

Smart home systems are fun, affordable, and can help put your mind at ease.

No home is too large or too small!

Contact TeCHS today for more information and to schedule an appointment.

~Your TeCHS

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How does tech improve your life?

I write a lot on this blog about all sorts of technology but I don’t hear enough about how tech helps YOUR life.

So…

How does tech improve your life?

What technology do you use to make your daily life better?

technology

What do your TeCHS use every day to make their lives easier?

In our home we have a dedicated entertainment center with a Smart TV, XBOX game console, a full desktop computer, and a Bluetooth enabled soundbar for “surround sound”. Next to that we have our Amazon Echo which is tied into our Smart Home system. That brings me to our Smart Home system… it allows us to monitor who comes and goes, when they do so, and it allows us to check on our home when we are away (I have a bad habit of accidentally leaving the garage door open – with our system I can check to see if I left the door open and, if so, I can close it remotely). We also have a full home camera system that I can check remotely on my cell phone.  The office is about the same.

We’d love to hear what tech is doing for you! Drop us an email or connect with us on social media (links below).

Thank you.

~Your TeCHS

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How Smart Is Your Car?

There’s something to be said about classic cars – they may be gas guzzlers but at least they are safe from hackers! Hackers and motor vehicles? What the heck am I talking about?

I’m talking about the problems with the gradual shift over to wireless car networks. I have written articles in the past on the future of our roadways – connecting every car in a virtual net that, in theory, will safely guide us to our destinations. New cars today come equipped with systems like OnStar that wirelessly connects your vehicle to their network… and by “connects your vehicle” I mean everything… they know where the vehicle is at all times and can even shut the car down – all with a click of a button.

cartoon car

So with all of that in mind… what will happen when someone has the ability to hack into your motor vehicle while you are sitting in the driver’s seat?

Under the hood of today’s fancy new cars are no longer just simple mechanical devices, there are now small but powerful computers in there too. These computer systems are all linked together to control and coordinate vehicle functions. While all of the advances have increased the efficiency of the new vehicles and the safety of its passengers, it has also created quite a few potential risks.

Every car is now federally mandated to have an on-board diagnostics port which provides direct access to all of the vehicle’s internal networks. User-added after-market upgrades create even more potential attack points (audio devices, Bluetooth devices, other wireless devices) since they also attach directly to the vehicle’s internal network and communicate with other networks totally unsecured.

An independent study was done a couple of years ago by a large group of curious people where it was proven that it wasn’t all that difficult to hack into and take over someone’s motor vehicle. Remotely someone can honk the horn, pop the trunk, turn on the windshield wipers and display messages on the dashboard along with activating loud sounds through the stereo system. Someone can lock a single brake and can even disable your entire braking system which would not reengage no matter how hard you stepped on the pedal.

What are your thoughts on smart cars?

What features would you like to see put in?

~Your TeCHS

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Third-Party Chargers Are Not Worth The Price

Third-party chargers for your smartphones and tablets seem like a good idea… but the majority of them are simply not safe.

dont-buy-shady-cheap-chargers-unless-you-want-your-iphone-to-explode

The knock-off chargers are usually not insulated well enough to protect against electric shocks and most are not actually compliant with electrical safety standards. Using these cheap chargers can harm you (electric shock) and can start fires if they spark. Always be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of counterfeiting such as mistakes in brand names or logos, and check plugs for safety marks. Our suggestion = pay the larger price tag and make sure your chargers are originals from the manufacturer of your devices.

cell-phone-exploded2

~Your TeCHS

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Want your CD or DVD collection made digital?

Want your CD or DVD collection made digital? Want to have your movies / music on your tablet or cellphone?

Contact TeCHS today!

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We will take your physical DVDs or CDs and make them into digital files so that you can take them with you wherever you go! No quantity is too small or too large – we am happy to do 1 or 1,000!

We output all DVDs as MP4 files and all CDs as MP3 or WMA files.

PRICE:

  • DVDs = $1.00 each
  • CDs = $0.50 each
  • +Plus the cost of a storage device (USB drive or external hard drive) if you do not have one.

Please note:

  1. We are not selling any movie or CD file that you do not supply a pre-purchased hard copy for.
  2. We do not have a library of movies or music to sell.
  3. We do not keep client movies or music after conversion.
  4. The time required to convert your library will depend on how many items you would like done. We can supply an estimated completion date once we know how many items you would like converted.
  5. The same goes for the external storage needed to get the digital files home to you. The more DVDs/CDs you would like converted = bigger storage we will need to transfer the files to. If you would like to purchase a storage device just for this project – simply let us know how many items you will be transferring and we can give you a good idea of how much storage you will need.
  6. If you do not have a storage device and do not wish to purchase one on your own, we can purchase one on your behalf and add it to your bill.

Please contact us with any questions!

We are located in Ventura and serve all of Ventura County.
Have a great day.

~Your TeCHS

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3D Modeling from Microsoft

Microsoft is bringing 3D to the masses through a modernized version of its Paint application (Paint 3D) for Windows 10 that will be available in the Windows 10 Creators Update. Anyone who would like to start creating and sharing in Paint 3D can do so by joining the Windows Insider Program — available for PC and Phone — the company said. Of course, this is an entry-level product without all of the bells and whistles (or power) of the established 3D modeling software on the market… but small programs of this nature are a great way to learn the basics of 3D modeling.

I cant wait to see more and more programs like this as 3D printers become more and more affordable for every home.

What are your thoughts?

~Your TeCHS

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What to do when your email address sends spam

spam

Has this happened to you?

You get a call or email from a friend or a family member who tells you that Spam is finding its way to them and it is coming with your name on it.

What’s worse than getting spam? Unwittingly sending it.

When fake and probably malware-laden advertising goes out in your name, it can be frustrating and a bit scary. You may get flooded with bounced messages from dead addresses that some crook attempted to spam in your name.

The good news: Odds are good that you’re not really sending out spam and neither is your computer or your IP address.

If spam is going out from your email address, odds are good that the address has been either spoofed or hijacked. Either way, the spam isn’t actually going out from your computer, and probably not from the criminal’s computer, either. It’s probably going out from an unknowing victim’s malware-infected PC.

Spoofing an email address is, in a sense, forging it. The spammer sends out mail with your From address, even though they have no access to your account.

There’s really no solution to spoofing. Fortunately, for their own reasons, cybercrooks tend to change spoofed addresses frequently. The annoyance will disappear soon.

Hijacking is a bit worse. In this case, the criminal takes control of your account. They can read your mail, and they can target people you know when they spam. And they can lock you out of your own account.

Fortunately, you can do something about hijacking.

As soon as you discover that your address is spamming people, try to change your password…immediately. If you succeed, you’ve fixed the problem. End of story.

However, if your mail service rejects your password, the problem is serious. The hijacker has changed the password first and now controls your account. If you’re still connected and can receive mail, try to login on another computer or using your browser’s private mode. When the login fails, try the service’s “Forgot your password” or “Need help” link. The service will email you a new password. Hopefully, you’ll get it before the bad guy. If that fails, you’ll have to contact the mail service (i.e. GMAIL, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) and discuss the problem.

Have you been using the same password for other services? If so, change them as soon as possible.

Once you’ve got everything under control, email apologies to everyone who received, or might have received, spam apparently coming from you.

spam

Finally, follow these steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again:

  • Use strong, long passwords that people simply can’t guess.
  • Use different passwords for different services, and keep track of them with a password manager.
  • Set up 2-step verification for your service. You should find instructions on the service’s setup or options screen.
  • Never email your password to anyone, and I mean anyone.

~Your TeCHS

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Tech Support Scams

warning-scam-alert

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center has been receiving a large increase in complaints related to technical support scams, where the scammer claims to be an employee of a major computer software or security company offering technical support to you. Some scammer are claiming to be support for cable and internet companies to offer assistance with digital cable boxes and connections, modems and routers. The scammer claims the company has received notifications of errors, viruses or security issues from your internet connection. Scammers are also claiming to work on behalf of government agencies to resolve computer viruses and threats from possible foreign countries or terrorist organizations.

Tips to avoid being a victim:

  • Recognize the attempt and cease all communication with the scammer.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. The scammer will urge you to fast action in order to protect your device. The scammer will create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure you into immediate action.
  • Do not give unknown, unverified persons remote access to devices or accounts. A legitimate software or security company will not directly contact individuals unless the contact is initiated by the customer.
  • Ensure all computer anti-virus, security, and malware protection is up to date. Some victims report their anti-virus software provided warnings prior to the attempt.
  • If a victim receives a pop-up or locked screen, shut down the device immediately. Victims report that shutting down the device and waiting a short time to restart usually removes the pop-up or screen lock.
  • Should a scammer gain access to a device or an account, you should take precautions to protect your identity, immediately contact your financial institutions to place protection on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

To learn more about this scam and reporting information visit the FBI’s update at: http://www.ic3.gov/media/2016/160602.aspx

~Your TeCHS

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