Archive for June, 2011
Since the program’s inception in 2007, the tech boot camp has grown from a one-day summer camp in Chicago to a nationwide program spanning nearly 20 states. This year, Geek Squad Summer Academy adds five camps for military communities through its participation in the “Joining Forces” initiative, a national initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to support those who serve in the military and their families.
By teaming up with local non-profit organizations, whether it’s The Girl Scouts of America or local YMCA’s, Geek Squad Agents volunteer their time to accomplish one unanimous goal: to inspire curious teens to embrace technology by exploring the ins and outs of their favorite gadgets. Agents teach attendees about everything from iPods to gaming consoles to desktop computers – and help them incorporate these gadgets into their everyday lives. Geek Squad Summer Academy is a unique opportunity for any child with a passion for technology to spend some time learning what makes it work.
New markets this year include: Charleston, S.C., Greensboro, N.C., Honolulu, Houston, Sarasota, Fla., and Phoenix, as well as five military bases located throughout the country.
For additional information, please visit http://geeksquadacademy.com/summeracademy.
So what happens when a non-Windows OS gains traction? Well, the inevitable happens – and people using such systems without malware protection face a nasty wake-up call (yes, even systems with fruit-based logos adorning the front). Today’s example? Mac Defender.
Mac Defender first appeared in May 2011 as a browser pop-up screen, stating that the computer is infected – and that Mac Defender can remove the infections. The truth? It’s actually a false antivirus application with a built-in malware payload. It demands payment to work, so once users enter their credit card number… BAM! (They’ve got you.)
Malware like this is nothing new. Malware is constantly evolving, as hackers find new ways to wreak havoc on your computer, or to obtain your confidential information. And once you’ve been infected, removal can be complicated – often requiring Geek Squad Agents (or other experts) to get it cleaned up.
To protect yourself from malware, all computer users should follow these tips to help them stay safe:
- Update your operating system often. People avoid updates because they seem like a hassle. System updates include fixes to vulnerabilities often exploited by malware. Updates are your first line of defense against infections.
- Don’t download suspicious-looking programs. If it looks suspicious, it probably is so avoid it! Only download programs and updates that you are familiar with, and then only from official (safe) resources.
- Email attachments and links: be cautious. Most people know better than to open attachments or links in email from unidentified sources. It’s common for many malware applications to harvest email address books on infected computers and send out copies of the infection on your behalf to your family and friends. Got an attachment from a friend or family member? Give them a call to verify whether they actually sent anything. When in doubt, toss it out – no matter how tempting it is to open.
- Beware of pop-ups. Like Mac Defender, these pop-ups may look like legitimate warning messages from your operating system. They try to trick you into purchasing, downloading or installing some sort of application that can infect your computer. Clicking on them often loads malware onto your computer, and can lead to all sorts of headaches. Get to know what to look for to close pop-ups (tiny “X” or red dot for closing the window in the upper corner), and NEVER click anywhere else within it.
- Avoid giving out personal or financial information. If you are prompted to provide credit card information and you are uncomfortable with where you are submitting it, walk away. (Only provide credit card information to authorized sources that you trust.)
- Install protection software. To reduce threats to your computer, purchase and install protection software. Anti-virus software is a good start, and there are programs with internet security available that can help prevent hackers from getting into your computer and stealing your personal information.
- Scan your computer for viruses or malware – especially if your computer is sluggish. Quite often, Internet slowdowns and general slow operation of the entire computer can be one of the symptoms of an infection. When in doubt, scan the computer for a malware infection to determine if this is the cause.
Malware – regardless of who’s behind it or what operating system it runs on – is a fact of life for computer users. Yesterday, it was only Windows-based PCs. Today, it’s fruit-labeled ones. Tomorrow? (Hey Linux, I’m looking at you.) By following these simple tips and making sure your operating system is up to date, you can avoid most of the headaches that come with a malware infection.
Summer is fast approaching! Families are piling in the car and setting out on the Nation’s highways and skyways in search of an inexpensive and stress-free vacation. Here at the Geek Squad, we want to make sure you know about a few technologies available that will help ensure your vacation is safe, efficient and a little less stressful.
Perhaps one of the most obvious tech gadgets in use today when on vacation is the GPS unit. This relatively simple-to-use device allows you to not only get easily from point A to point B, but also allows you to find new places of interest once you get to your vacation destination. What you may not know is that some newer GPS units also allow you to navigate a route using less fuel, monitor your fuel consumption and avoid traffic. Savings in the wallet and savings in time! Check out a GPS that offers live traffic reports such as a Garmin or TomTom. To get even fancier, Garmin has an accessory (ecoRouteHD) that ties your Garmin ecoRouteHD compatible GPS into your vehicle’s computer-control system to provide you with live engine data, including miles-per-gallon and engine trouble codes, right on your Garmin GPSs screen!
The smartphone is another tech tool that can help you save some cash. For example, a slew of applications are available on the market that allow you to see average area gas prices. Some applications, including GasBuddy (iPhone/Android), AccuFuel (iPhone/iPad) and GasBook (iPhone), even help you calculate whether or not it is wise to drive out of your route to save a few cents at a cheaper station. Smartphones and tablet devices can also help keep those back-seat drivers occupied by providing endless choices of entertainment. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you “are we there yet?” gets very old very quickly.
Technology can also help keep you safer when you are away. Digital cameras can be used to take a backup picture of vital documents such as passports or the condition of your rental car. GPS routing can be utilized at home before you leave, so you can let loved ones know your expected travel and arrival times. Smartphone and tablet applications that share your live location can also be shared with loved ones for a little extra peace of mind on those long-haul trips. Some people even leave their webcam-equipped computers on at home so they can log in via an internet connection and view get a live view of what is going on in the house.
Below is a short checklist you may find useful in planning and executing your vacation travel. Enjoy your adventure and keep it safe:
• Plan route in the GPS, write down times/dates and share with loved ones via email or written letter
• Take pictures/make photocopies of important documents as backups in case you lose the originals.
• On the day of departure have a list ready of all accessories: Do you have power cords, charters, batteries, and mounts for all your gadgets? Would an all-in-one power supply or charger help cut down wires?
• During your trip use your phone, portable DVD or tablet as a source of entertainment.
• Check in with your loved ones periodically by phone or email, especially if you have to deviate from your planned route.
• Always remember to have a map as a backup. GPS units are not infallible and should not be your only source of navigation whether you are in the car or on the trail. Please, use your head, it is the best safety device you will ever have!
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