Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

April 2018
Join Our Mailing List
Goodbye March, we won't miss you! Hopefully April will bring the mild spring weather we have been craving!

This month's newsletter covers two important security topics that are relevant for both PC and Mac users. There's been no letup in the attacks by fake tech support scams, so I am going into more detail about them. And, in a related subject, you really must keep your email account secure, as it's the primary way many websites identify you as you.
As always, if you need any help with these issues, please give me a call!


Julie Marto 
PS - time for a spring clean-up? Drop your system off with me and I'll get it zipping along like new!

Tech Support Scam Pop-ups

I have been getting more and more calls about these, so even though I've written about this topic in the past, I want to go into more detail here.

How it works: Scam companies send web "spiders" crawling through the internet looking for websites with vulnerabilities they can latch onto. If you land on a compromised website, their scam warning appears as a pop-up ad, just like any legitimate ad would appear. However, their ad is designed to take over your entire screen and broadcast a very scary warning that you are infected with a virus and MUST CALL NOW. They are good at writing these ads, which are very convincing.

What to do: DON'T CALL THE NUMBER! Your first defense is to just close your browser, but they don't make that easy. Follow these steps:

PC press the ctl-alt-del keys simultaneously
choose "task manager"
click on your web browser
choose "end task"
PC (alternative technique) look on task bar for an icon for your browser
right-click on it
choose "close window"
Mac click on "finder", typically in the bottom left
click on the Apple menu in the upper left
choose "force quit"
click on your browser and click on "quit"

If this doesn't do the trick, or you can't follow the steps - call me, and I will walk you though the process. I may have to come for a service call, but often I can just clear it up over the phone. Remember, at this point it's the website that is infected, NOT your computer!

What happens if you call them: A professional scam artist will tell you that they need to log onto your computer to "fix the problems". Once they do that all bets are off. They might just be trying to sell you unneeded services, or they might install malicious software to track your keystrokes. They might search your system for passwords and log in information they can steal, and use that to attempt to hack into your accounts.

If you have let them onto your system, you MUST call me or another trusted computer professional to clean your system and create an action plan. So please, be wary of these scams, and shut them down before they can cause any harm!  
Email Security

An email address is a sole identifier - like a social security number, each email address is unique, and owned by only one person. For that reason, your email address is often also your user name at any number of different sites. 

I often come across people who are confused about how this works - mostly because they don't understand that there is a difference between the password used to access their email, and the passwords sites use, in conjunction with an email address as a user name, to give you access to your customer account. Even if a site doesn't use an email address to identify you, it will often use the email address on record to send password reset links, or one-time access codes

Because email addresses are unique and used as identifiers, it's very important to keep your email account secure. In this world where we hear about hacks and security breaches every day, here are some steps you can follow:
Bonus - some interesting listening!

I love to listen to podcasts, and one of my favorites is Reply All, a podcast about the internet. Last year they ran a fascinating two part series about a tech support scammer who made the mistake of contacting one of this podcast's hosts.  If you want to really understand how these tech support scams work, I'd suggest finding some time to listen to both episodes!