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Posts by Julia Nary

Identity Theft and Cyber Crime

Identity theft and Cyber Crime go hand in hand. Cyber Crime alone affects about 556 million people a year and while online shopping is a convenient time saver it also increases your risk of becoming a victim of Cyber Crime. There are a few steps you can take to help prevent that from happening some of which I’ll go over today.

Your first line of defense is usually a password and with dozens to keep track of it is tempting to use the same one more than once or to resort to birthdays; resist that urge. Some other things to avoid within passwords would be nicknames, pet names and other similar things. While they’re easy go tos for passwords they’re also easy to guess which makes them vulnerable. It’s also a good idea to change your passwords every 90 days.

And like I mentioned last week make sure not to click any unknown or strange looking emails. This also goes for websites you usually use. Make sure it looks the same as it has for previous logins; a lot of sites have security images or checkpoints built in so make sure to use them. An encrypted website will start with “https” as opposed to “http”, this is an easy way to make sure you’re on a secure site.

And as always there’s antivirus software with protection from identity theft built in to it’s features. There’s also specialty software that can increase your security but usually when you follow the basic precautions I’ve just listed it’s usually unneeded.

As always be aware and protect yourself and if all else fails Techies4Me is here to help you out.

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Popular Antivirus Options

Last week we covered Viruses; how they can be caught, how they can harm your computer, and how you can avoid them. While there are tips and tricks to avoiding a virus a good anti-virus is going to be your best defense. In this week’s blog post I’m going to give a (very) brief overview of some of the most well-known anti-virus software. I do want to emphasize the importance of research. Only you know what you use your computer for. Don’t be afraid to consult with an IT professional and ask questions, and of course our inbox is always open.

I’m going to start with paid antiviruses; Norton, Kaspersky, and Sophos. Something I love about Norton Antivirus is the fact that not only do they offer licenses for multiple computers with one purchase but they offer it for almost all their products. This can be good for a small office or a multi computer household. Norton is also a bit cheaper than other options without sacrificing protection.

Kaspersky is another option. It usually runs a little more expensive than Norton but one aspect of Kaspersky that’s popular is the virtual keyboard. A virtual keyboard is one that shows on your screen and used with your trackpad or mouse. This is a neat security feature that can be especially useful if you’re concerned about password security or key loggers. The one slight downside of Kaspersky would be that it can slow down your computer’s full boot up time.

The last paid option I’m going to talk about is Sophos. This is a program that often works in conjunction with IT support. What that means is that when you purchase Sophos at a retailer you are also paying for support to go with it other than the usual hotline or web support that most anti-viruses come with. Any time you have a problem you can walk into the store you purchased it at and get help from any of their technicians. This works great for people that need a little extra help or even for computers that are vital to their users everyday life. You’re going to pay a bit more but that human support definitely makes it worth it.

Now that we’ve covered some of the paid options I’m going to talk about some of the free options. I do recommend having someone computer savvy install these; simply because there are some malicious sites out there that can infect your computer under the guise of providing these programs. The two main free anti-viruses are Avast and AVG. I’ve used both of them for years and had a good experience with both. Avast did need an email registered to it to function but I never received a single spam message from them. And in the 3+ years I used AVG my computer didn’t get infected once. These are great options for if you’re already fairly computer savvy but recognize the need for protection.

Whichever antivirus you choose to get try and run scans every few weeks. There’s usually an option for it on the main dashboard of the program. With a good antivirus there’s very little upkeep other than an occasional scan. When you go to get antivirus software don’t forget to really think about what you use your computer for and what your main concerns are. Getting a good program is the first step in making sure your computer and information stay secure and virus free.

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The Dreaded Computer Virus

One of the computer user’s worst fears is the computer virus. Viruses have the capability of destroying data, stealing information, and even rendering a computer completely useless. One of the most dangerous aspects of a virus is the fact that they’re so easy to get. There are however some tips and tricks you can do that will help you avoid a virus. This will be a brief overview so feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

A computer virus (or malware) is a computer program that self replicates and installs itself without the user’s permission. They can affect the computer in a variety of ways: steal or corrupt data, take up precious storage space or CPU, spam contacts, and even log keystrokes. The first virus occurred in the 1970s, it was called the Creeper Virus and was created by Bob Thomas. Since then there have been hundreds of viruses that work in hundreds of different ways. Your computer can be exposed to these harmful programs through: downloads, online purchases, email scams, and shady websites.

Now don’t get too worried, I’m going to give you some tips to help ensure you never have to deal with one.

First of all, have some form of antivirus on your computer. Some of the more popular paid antivirus programs would be Norton, Kaspersky, Sophos, or McAfee. Be sure to do a little research before you purchase one as they all have different capabilities by brand but also by type. Some protect your internet exclusively whereas others focus more on the files stored on your computer. If you don’t want to pay for antivirus there are also some free options available to you. Some of which include Avast, AVG and Windows Defender. Again it’s best to do some research to see which fits your needs best. Most of all it’s important to listen to your antivirus. If it warns you about a file or website then it’s best to abide by its suggestions.

So we’ve covered the most important part, which is to have some form of antivirus. A few other things you can do include:

Being careful where you download things; a lot of shady websites will have a virtual minefield of download links with only one being official (hint: it’s usually the link that looks most plain). Most of the time you want to avoid those websites as they’re unsavory to begin with. If you’re ever unsure it’s best not to chance it (most antiviruses give you the ability to scan files before you download them; another good reason to invest in one).

Make sure any purchases you make are from trusted websites. Amazon and other major retailers are usually a safe bet so just keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Are they asking for information that isn’t really relevant to your purchase? Does the site look odd or maybe shoddily done? Look for those warning signs and you can avoid a lot of trouble.

Another trick is to never open email from an unknown sender. A lot of these harmful emails are designed to attract your attention so be wary! Chances are, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.

These tips may seem simple but they’re also easy to forget. With a watchful eye it becomes much easier to keep your information and your computer safe and if you are unlucky enough to get infected Techies4Me can help.

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