Archive for March, 2012
Social Media, it seems, is the new frontier for keeping in touch with your friends and family. It’s become such a common place in our daily lives that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are typically the first place web go to share the latest news, upload photos from their mobile devices, and even vent about their day. The problem is that most of us rarely giving any thought to who can read, share and otherwise interact with our posts.
ZoneAlarm, with the help of a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, has compiled some interesting data around how users manage who is viewing their content. The infographic also contains 5 basic tips for ensuring that you are keeping in control of who can see your posts.
As always, for help ensuring your personal information, your computer, and your mobile devices are secure, Geek Squad Agents are standing by to assist. Find us Online or on the Phone at 1-800-GEEK-SQUAD 24/7/366. Or, find us standing by at a Geek Squad Precinct near you.
-Agent Patrick B.-
Geek Squad HQ
Last week, Google started rolling out a set of important changes that will affect devices that use its Android Operating System. The biggest change they made was to the name of their service, which is now known as Google Play.
Why the name change? Google wants to become content-centric and has decided to make their Android Market service into an “entertainment hub”, offering music, films and books on top of the Android apps and games already supplied by the service.
The most noticeable difference is the name and icon change. You will now need to keep an eye out for “Play Shop” as your source for new apps and the icon is now more colourful than the original green and white shopping bag. Google Play can be accessed from your computer’s web browser in the same way as Android Market and visiting www.market.android.com will divert you to the new address of www.play.google.com.
You will start seeing digital books, music and films appearing in the Play Shop which are available for sale or rent. This content can be downloaded to your Android phone or tablet in exactly the same way apps are downloaded. In fact, you don’t even need an Android device to enjoy the new services! You can download media content from Google Play using any computer that can access the internet.
Play Shop has already started rolling out across the globe, and the website has already been updated. If your phone or tablet still shows the Market icon, open the app and agree to the new terms and conditions (once you’ve read them and are happy with the changes, of course). Shortly after you accept the terms, the Market icon will change and you will be granted access to the Play Shop.
-Agent Peter C.
Covert Agent, Geek Squad UK
Agent Peter C. is a Covert Agent and contributor to Geek Squad UK’s knowledge Vault. See the original article on GeekSquad.co.uk, available here.
Modern smartphones are amazing. They are also an expensive investment. To safeguard our investment we buy cases, screen protectors, and protection plans.
Despite these precautions, nothing will prevent us from accidentally leaving our phones somewhere. And then there’s theft. They haven’t invented an accessory guaranteed to prevent that yet.
Losing a prized possession can be rough, especially when it’s an expensive one like a smartphone. Just the thought of misplacing my phone makes my heart sink and my wallet cry out in pain. The fear really comes in when I think of all the private data that ends up stored on my phone. Losing that could be embarrassing, inconvenient and potentially costly
Fear not! Its 2012 and our mobile devices are smarter than ever. Helping clients through the process of replacing mobile devices prompted us to put together the following step-by-step guide for protecting your phone or tablet.
Step 1: Lock Down Your Phone
If you want to make it more difficult for someone to access your data, lock your phone down with a password. Android phones and Apple iPhones both have a feature that requires pin codes and passwords to unlock them. Android phones can also be locked with a pattern that you must draw (or even facial recognition). Note: unlocking your phone with your face is a cool feature but is not as secure as using a pin code or password. Pattern unlock is also susceptible to attacks because your fingers will leave marks as they slide across your screen.
Step 2: Encrypt it!
New tablets and phones that run the “Honeycomb” and “Ice Cream Sandwich” versions of Android allow all the data on the device to be encrypted. The encryption options are available in the security settings menu and will require you to set up a pin number that will give you access to your device when you turn it on. Encrypting your device isn’t a necessity, but it does increase how secure your phone is.
Step 3: Disable potentially risky settings
There is a function in the Options and Security section of the “Settings” menu in your Android phone called “USB debugging.” Developers use this setting to access and update data on your device. This setting can also allow others to install apps on your phone. Android users should make sure this setting is “off” during normal operation. Leaving this option “on” would give thieves access to data on your device should they get their hands on your smartphone.
Installing apps from outside of the Android Market isn’t necessarily bad, but once you go outside the recognized market, you need to be very careful about the sources of the apps. Don’t install an app from the web unless you’re sure that it’s safe.
Step 4: Here’s where it gets fun…
So far, so good. But how would you like to use Google Maps to find where you lost phone is? How about using remote commands to have your phone to take a picture of the thief? Many phone and tablet security apps will allow you to do just that.
Android Lost is a free app that you can install on your Android phone that allows you to control the phone remotely. (Heck, the app can even be installed remotely.) With the app on your phone, you can remotely lock or wipe your phone, view its location on a map, play messages, read texts and even take photos using the phone’s camera. Once installed, you can prevent the app from showing up in the app list, and can control it right from the app’s website using any computer. (Pretty sneaky and cool, eh?)
Other good Android security apps include Lookout Security and Where’s My Droid. If you own an iPhone with the latest version of iOS, you can use “Find my iPhone” functionality to locate your phone using any computer. This is part of Apple’s new iCloud services suite.
Locked&Found is our contribution to the mobile device security market.. Our program is available for all Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones and Android and iPad tablets. Locked&Found service is available as a standalone service and is included as part of our Black Tie protection plans for tablets and phones.
We hope these tips help prevent future disasters.. If you don’t choose to put a password on your phone, at least install a security app. There are plenty of free ones, and it only takes a few minutes to setup. If these help you in the future, let us know! We’d love to hear about your success stories on Facebook.
-Agent Danny P.
It’s that time of year again – St. Patrick’s Day! That day when, regardless of your ethnic background, everyone is Irish. You dress up in green, wear a “kiss me I’m Irish” button, and hit the pubs for some fun with friends new and old.
Sometimes, however, this can lead to just a little bit TOO much fun. Whoops! Someone spilled green beer all over your table and your new smart phone. What to do???
No need to panic. Grab a towel and check out this Geek Squad handy-dandy guide to save your cell phone from liquid damage.
Before we look at drying out your phone, let’s talk about how to prevent liquid damage from happening in the first place.
First, do not lay your phone on any surface around or near liquid. Keep it away from your pitcher of green beer, be careful where you put it in the bathroom (we’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks) or anywhere else it has the potential to be dropped into or covered in liquid. Keep your phone in your pocket/purse, backpack, man bag, satchel, bag of holding, or whatever else you use to carry around your personal treasures.
You might want to invest in a water-resistant case to protect your phone. Try a case like the Otterbox or the very versatile, fully waterproof Lifeproof cases. If you’re still not a fan of using cell phone cases, you can have your cell phone waterproofed by the folks at Liquipel. While the initial investment for waterproofing can run anywhere from $50-$100, it’s completely worth avoiding water damage to your phone or the high costs of replacing/repairing them.
If it’s already too late and your cell got dropped into liquid after a fight with an ornery leprechaun, here’s that guide we spoke about earlier:
That should take care of it! With a little foresight you can avoid such problems. But quick response should your phone and emerald-hued alcohol come into a rendezvous with each other, you can avoid having to say “farewell” to your trusted communication side arm. That is until you see the latest eye candy version and want to upgrade. Good luck, and check back for more articles!
-Agent Laura G.
Geek Squad Online Support
In recent weeks, we’ve seen an uptick in reports of phone scammers, some claiming to be Microsoft technicians or in a few cases, even claiming to be associated with Geek Squad.
During these phone calls, consumers are told that their computers are out-of-date and need upgrading. The caller then attempts to remote into the consumer’s computer to “fix” the issues. Under the guise of a faux service, the caller asks for a credit card number and attempts to destroy the PC via remote connection before finishing the call.
For years, we’ve advised clients to avoid cyber attacks by following these relatively simple steps:
While these cyber protection rules still apply, scammers are creating new ways to get into your computer and take the information they want – including contacting you by phone instead pursuing you by computer. Here’s updated guidance for helping you identify and avoid these scammers:
Remember, Geek Squad will never reach out to you unsolicited in an attempt to perform service. If you are in doubt about a contact, you can reach an actual Geek Squad Agent directly by calling 1-800-Geek-Squad.
For help with all your technology needs, call 1.800 GEEK SQUAD to set up an onsite consultation, find a location near you at www.geeksquad.com, or visit the Geek Squad Precinct at Best Buy or freestanding locations to speak with an Agent directly. We provide our services wherever and whenever you need them – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Yesterday was International Woman’s Day, the global celebration of the power of women. Here at Geek Squad we believe in that power and our female Agents work hard every day to break through stereotypes of technology repair.
Geek Squad aims to empower women of all ages and backgrounds, even as young as elementary school children with our Geek Squad Summer Academy.
The Geek Squad Summer Academy runs technology education workshops annually in schools, camps, clubs and military bases nationwide. We strive to demonstrate the benefits of technology, how to safely incorporate it into their lives and even how to repair some tech tools. It is a great opportunity for young women to feed their curiosity about how things work and cross the boundaries in a world of technology that has traditionally been male-dominated.
If you know someone that would be a perfect fit to join Geek Squad Summer Academy or if you’re just interested in the program, check our previous blog post. You can also find out more about the program or your nominate home town as a Geek Squad Summer Academy location go to the Academy’s website here.
-Agent Laura G.
Every day, Covert Remote Support Agent Laura G. is remotely saving the sanity of clients around the United States while thwarting the presence of malware on their computers. When not working on computers remotely you can find Agent Laura in her kitchen in sunny Vero Beach, FL baking creative and innovative cakes.
Did you feel the pillars of heaven shake yesterday? Did hell freeze over? No, that other unthinkable event has happened: the Founding Father of Geek Squad – Robert Stephens – is moving on.
To some, this may come as a huge shock. Robert has been synonymous with the Geek Squad. He’s our high-profile founder and “Chief Inspector” – a man known for his incredible charisma and drive. And anyone who has heard him speak has experienced the “Reality Distortion Field” that follows – his words draw you in, reshape reality around you, and make you see the impossible as… well, frankly… possible.
That’s Robert’s gift. He dreams – and then makes those dreams happen. Which is why the announcement didn’t catch me as much by surprise as others.
Simple: At heart, Robert is an entrepreneur. He loves to create things. Taking a dream, crafting it with precision, winding it up and showing it to the world is Robert’s forte. He’s a visionary with aspirations as wide as the tech industry, and as such, he simply could not be contained to one section of it for long.
I’ve known Robert for over 10 years. When I started with Geek Squad, it had 20-25 employees, and was run out of a converted hardware store in the warehouse district of Minneapolis. Now, it spans the globe, with tens of thousands of “Agents” (Geek Squad employees), and is synonymous with the words “service” and “tech support.”
Back in the old days, we toyed with dreams of greatness. Robert even coined “Worldwide Domination of the Computer Support Industry” as our catchphrase. Sure, we joked about it then – we saw the potential of Geek Squad to grow, but never imagined the heights to which it would climb in the years that followed. But you know what? Robert did – and that is what sets him apart.
Bill Gates once said that the key to success is being in the right place at the right time, recognizing you are there, and then taking massive and immediate action. It’s a common trait in the world of the movers and the shakers – those who leave a lasting impact on the world. And that’s Robert, to a T. He stepped into the tech support world back when it consisted mostly of mom and pop shops, and brought common sense, old-fashioned customer service into the 20th (and 21st) century – and all dressed up in a snappy black (clip-on) tie, white short-sleeved shirt, and black pants. (Oh, and don’t forget the white socks.)
Robert has left a lasting legacy at Best Buy, and it is with deep sadness that we see him move on. Yet we know that his boundless passion, entrepreneurial spirit, and incredible drive will leave a bigger impact as he moves into the larger technology world.
But the spirit of Geek Squad lives on, and continues to grow, in the hearts of its Agents. And while Robert may have built the brand and created the environment in which it could grow, the true culture of Geek Squad has come from its Agents. So it is only fitting that we give them a forum to express their thoughts on Robert’s departure:
These are just a small portion of the outpouring of thoughts and feelings coming in today as the message spreads. There are more… and will be even more as the days go by.
Geek Squad will always remember our founder (and Chief Inspector Emeritus) with fondness and respect, and continue to blaze the trail that he started us on 18 years ago. And so (on a personal note), I will add my own thoughts in closing:
“Robert: you’ve brought out the best in us. You’ve taken the term “geek” and turned it into a badge of honor. You gave us something to believe in, and fostered our growth. From a small group of crazy guys and gals fixing computers (and having fun at it!) you created a worldwide juggernaut of technical service – all with trademarked Geek Squad humor, pride and style.
You’ve made us believe in something: the power of an individual to change the world; that greatness lies within us all, and we need only be fearless enough to dream, reach out, and work tirelessly to make it a reality.
You’ve walked the path that giants walked. Your legacy will endure. And we look forward with great anticipation to the new ways you will shake the pillars of the industry, as we continue to uphold your dream, and carry on the Geek Squad mission of “Serving the Public, Policing Technology, and Protecting the World.”
After two decades of service to Geek Squad as Chief Inspector and to Best Buy as Chief Technology Officer, Robert Stephens has announced his decision to move on to his next adventure.
Geek Squad was started by a person with a unique vision about computer repair 18 years ago. Robert Stephens’ idea was to create a company that combined service and style into one package, known as the Geek Squad Agent.
Tens of thousands of Agents subsequently joined Robert in his role as Chief Inspector of the Geek Squad. Through its relationship with Best Buy, Geek Squad expanded beyond computer repair, and now our ranks include Agents specializing in Home Theater, Car Audio, as well as TV and Appliance Repair.
Geek Squad also stretched beyond the U.S. thanks to the work of Robert Stephens, with Agents joining us from countries like Canada, the UK and Mexico. Our Agents also became accessible remotely, 24/7, through our Online Support teams. And with luck, our proposed Geek Squad Moon Base will one day be a reality.
Thousands of Geek Squad Agents, as well as the thousands of grade school students trained through the Geek Squad Summer Academy, and families helped by the free services provided at the Children’s Hospital of Minneapolis, all want to thank Robert for the Geek Squad he created.
Robert made sure that the Geek Squad will be in great hands when he eventually left, with Agents having invaded all levels of Best Buy and all technology platforms. As Agents, we look forward to our continuing opportunity to demonstrate how his vision can be made reality, one computer repair, TV install, appliance repair or car stereo setup at a time.
For us, that Geek Squad is more of a family than a company, and more of a passion than a job. We wish Robert all the best in his new adventures.
“Cura et Celeritas”
-Agent Derek M.
For more information, visit Robert’s statement at http://robertstephens.com.
The Mobile World Congress 2012 has drawn to an end. It has been a whirlwind four days of many presentations, racing to see who had the final device, or who can surprise the users more.
As we try to summarize everything we’ve seen at the Mobile World Congress, we are sure there are even more devices in the pipeline, so make sure to leave comments to help us.
That should finish our coverage of 2012 MWC Barcelona. Keep an eye out for us at future events!
-Agent A. Gutierrez
Deputy Field Marshall, Geek Squad Spain
Obviously step three is not the best way to spend a couple of hours, so we have trawled through it all and brought you the more important bits, what they mean and why you should pay attention to them! But, please remember, that if you are at all worried about what any company (not just Google) is doing with your sensitive information, always read their policies and never take someone else’s word for it! After all, your personal information is your private information!
So, before I start explaining, here is a direct link to the new policy, in case you haven’t seen it yet: http://www.Google.com/policies/privacy/preview/
So, where to begin? Well, the first thing that all Internet users should be aware of (and many of you will be already) is “cookies” and no, not the type you have with a glass of milk!
Cookies, or HTTP cookies, to give them their proper title, are used by a website to send information to the browser and vice-versa. Or, in English, it remembers things you tell certain websites and the replies you get from them!
As well as cookies, Google also keeps a record of your IP address. An IP address is basically an address for your computer; just like your house has its own number and post code, your computer has an IP address.
The main reason for this is so when you connect to the internet, certain websites and services use location-specific data to ensure you get the most relevant information. So, when you search for Take-Aways or Doctors’ surgeries you’re going to see the ones near you, not the ones in another part of the country!
Fortunately, your IP gives away very little information about you. If you were to Google your own IP, then you would see your Internet service provider (TalkTalk/Virgin/BT/SKY etc), your country, and the location of the nearest large town or city to you. So, nothing more than your post code, or anything that could tell you apart from Mr Bloggs that lives the other side of your city!
For this bit, we need to take a step back from the Google we all see every day, that is Google.com the search engine and remember Google Inc. is the largest advertising company in the world.
Imagine yourself in their situation; you are looking for things that interest people, so you can show them adverts that might interest them and, therefore, make the user more likely to click on these adverts. Google also had a way of knowing what sort of things they searched for, using one of the world’s most popular search engines and so, things that more likely interest them, which enabled advertising to become a lot more personal than it once was.
So, back in March 2003, Google started using targeted advertising, and it is only doing what any company can and would do in the situation. (Facebook and many other websites do this too!)
But, you do have a choice. If you are not happy with Google anonymously keeping an eye on what you search for in order to show you specifically targeted adverts, go to https://www.google.com/history/ , log into your account, then click “Remove Web History”. This will also pause your web history, so no more search history will be stored. So this means that searching for a florist for your wife won’t then mean you get adverts popping up with flowers, so your surprise will remain a secret until she gets them!
Also remember, that if you use Gmail, this is also anonymously scanned by Google AdSense and that you will see adverts relevant to the content of your message. Google likes to point out, so its only fair we do to, that this process is entirely automated and anonymous so no person will ever read your email or your search history.
The main thing to remember here is that most mobile apps (again, not just Google ones) share your location by default; this is normally to the nearest cell mast but if you have GPS turned on, it can share your location as accurately as to a couple of meters.
Especially take care of this if you you use Google-Latitude, as your location automatically updates as long as the app is running.
Finally, I am going to end on what is most likely your first view of the Google Dashboard.
If you are a Google account user, this is the best place to go to see what information Google has stored on you already and ways to clear anything you are not comfortable with them holding.
Some of it is very valuable information to have secured online in a safe place, like your Google contacts and android device history, which if you use android, is good, because if you were to ever have your device lost or stolen, you have a back up of all your contacts and a copy of your IMEI number to give to the police.
What to do if you’re not happy with anything.
Using the dashboard, you are able to clear most information that you have given to Google voluntarily – so this shouldn’t be an issue for the majority of people – but if you find anything available on Google about yourself that you’re not happy with, you can request Google to provide you with a copy of all information they hold on you and request its removal.
All this provided by Google, in the form of “Data Liberation”. For more information on this, you can visit http://www.dataliberation.org/
- Agent M. O. Bowler
Precinct 1580 – Cardiff, UK.
Agent Agents Android anti-virus Apple CES computer Dancing With the Stars DIY DIY (Do It Yourself) projects do-it-yourself facebook Geek Squad Global Positioning System Google GPS HDTV Holiday Home Theater how-to internet iPhone Laptop laptops malware Microsoft netbooks PC Security skype Smartphone Spyware Tablet Technology tech savvy gifts tips travel twitter Two Minute Miracle Update Video WiFi Windows 7 Windows XP wireless networking