Archive for the ‘Spyware’ Category
One of the great things about the Web is how it allows us to transact business remotely. Internet-based financial tools give us the ability to pay our bills online, manage bank accounts, or sell stuff we no longer need and buy whatever we want from the safety of our living rooms. (Sure beats running to the bank just to stand in line waiting for one of the two tellers on duty.)
In an increasingly mobile world, you don’t even need a computer to do business online. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, nearly 13% of mobile phone users access their banking information through their smartphones. That number is expected to increase to 108 million by 2017, meaning more than 45% of bank account holders in the US will manage their accounts with mobile tools.
However, all of this convenience comes with a downside: with more and more of our private information transmitted over the Internet, it can expose that information to hackers and ne’er-do-wells looking to use it for their own nefarious purposes. Every day, new identity scams and ‘crimeware‘ are unleashed into the cyberworld, and it’s tough work keeping up with them. There are a few standard steps you can take to protect your private data, and it’s always a great idea to use a secure password, but what it always comes down to is constant vigilance.
Unfortunately, everyone makes mistakes. If you do fall victim to crimeware, what should you do to minimize the damage? The folks over at the UK branch of Norton/Symantec put together a great article on how to recover if your victimized. (Check it out at the link below.)
Restoring your computer to its pre-infection state can be a little tricky. If you aren’t in the mood to deal with it on your own, don’t worry – Geek Squad Agents can help. (We live for this sort of challenge.)
Agent Ron G. has been battling the forces of unruly technology run amok since 2001, prior to Geek Squad’s acquisition of Best Buy. When not busy creating video & technical training content for Geek Squad Agents in the field, Agent Ron enjoys home brewing, international travel, public speaking (yes, he’s that kind of crazy) and learning how to cook new cuisines.
Update: Since publishing this article last week, Java 7u13 has been released, with important fixes included. We’ll post a follow-up article once the blacklisting has been removed.
For the second time since the beginning of 2013, Apple has blocked the latest release of the Java plug-in, effectively preventing it from being loaded into machines running OS X — as it did once before, in January of this year.
While it’s not immediately clear why Apple blocked this release of the Java 7 web plug-in, it’s likely that they are responding to reports that began over the weekend that this new release had some security issues and was allowing unsigned computer code to run on machine running the new plug-in.
Apple isn’t the only group with concerns about this latest release of Java. In a Vulnerability Note updated January 24, the US Department of Homeland Security recommends “(u)nless it is absolutely necessary to run Java in web browsers, disable it… even after updating to 7u11 (the latest release).”
Since users of OS X were victimized by the Flashback Trojan malware in 2011, Apple has been slowly moving away from integrating Java into its operating systems. Later versions of the software rely less and less on Java, even going so far as to disable the plug-in in the 2012 version of OS X Lion.
If you think you might be a victim of a computer virus or malware, we have Agents standing by 24/7 at 1-800 Geek Squad, or chat with an Agent online here.
Security experts have issued several warnings about security holes in recent versions of the Java software from Oracle. Java is used in web browsers across operating systems like Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, and is primarily used by websites to display dynamic content on your browser and some downloadable applications.
According to an alert issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, Java 7 (Update 10 and earlier) have a vulnerability in its code that can allow a hacker to run malicious software on a Java-enabled computer if that PC accesses a hacked website, or downloads malicious programs.
Oracle has released an update for the program (Java 7 Update 11) that is available as a free download at http://www.java.com.
Some security experts are still concerned about the vulnerability of Java, as this is not the first time hackers have used security holes in the code to exploit systems. Their recommendation? Disable Java on your computer, which can be done a) through the Control Panel, or b) by uninstalling the Java software from your computer.
Whether you remove Java completely comes down to the basic question of “security v. functionality” all computers face. Removing programs that have security vulnerabilities may help reduce vulnerabilities on your computer, but at the cost of losing some features and functionality of websites and downloaded programs on your machine.
Regardless, Geek Squad recommends practicing safe browsing habits whenever you are on the Internet, as well protecting your computer by keeping the Operating System updated and having updated antivirus software, as well as keeping your important files (documents, photos, etc) backed up on a routine basis.
If you need assistance in making sure that your computer is up-to-date and protected, connect to our Geek Squad Tech Support team online, stop by a Geek Squad Precinct in a Best Buy store near you, or call 1-800 GEEK SQUAD today.
Agent Derek has helped remove techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.
Case in point: free voucher/giftcard scams. While browsing Facebook recently, an old friend of mine posted about a “Free $400 voucher” on his Wall. Time’s a factor, hurry now, as supplies are limited. (Sound familiar?)
This is a scam, folks. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This con has been around for a few years now, with only the amount, the company and a few minor details changing to lure the unsuspecting in. It plays on your credulity, and your desire to take advantage of a killer deal during the biggest shopping period of the year. (After all, who couldn’t use a few hundred dollars more during the holiday season?)
What do you have to lose? Well, you could give thieves enough personal information to steal your identity or end up with viruses installed on your computer.
Most of the time if it strikes you as illegitimate, it probably is. On occasion, you might just come across an incredible deal. Here are a few tips to help you verify the offer:
Make sure to check out this article over at Blogher to help you avoid being the victim of a scammers during your holiday season. As always, when you need help, head over to geeksquad.com for updated tech tips & tricks, and to receive help from one of our agents online.
Agent Ron G. has been battling the forces of unruly technology run amok since 2001, prior to Geek Squad’s acquisition of Best Buy. When not busy creating video & technical training content for Geek Squad Agents in the field, Agent Ron enjoys home brewing, international travel, and learning how to cook new cuisines.
Frustrated with your computer or cell phone? Embarrassed to ask your kids/grandkids for tech help? You’re not alone. According to AARP, 33 percent of Boomers report frustration with technology. Here’s some tips to help you take control of your technology.
One of the most popular computer questions people have about their computer is “Why is it running slowly?” Through the years, we have narrowed down the list of possible reasons to ten:
1) Too many programs are running at the same time.
It is common for users to download utilities, applications, and other programs that run in the background. The more programs that are running – whether you see them or not – the less “attention span” your computer has to do other things you are asking it to do.
Avoid downloading web browser-helpers, more than one anti-malware program, or applications that claim to “speed up” your internet or your computer, as each one added will slow down your performance. (It’s also a good idea to uninstall programs that you do not use to increase your machine’s processing speed.)
2) There’s not enough free RAM.
Random-access memory (RAM) is what your computer uses for temporary working and thinking space. The more programs running at time, the more RAM is used. If your computer is running slowly, it could be because too many programs are running, and not enough RAM. To make your computer run faster, run fewer programs at a time or upgrade your RAM.
3) You have a virus/malware infection.
Internet slowdowns and slow computer operation can be a symptom of an infection. To find out if you have a malware problem, use an anti-virus and anti-spyware application to find it – like the free scanning tool we have available in the Self-Help area of our website.
4) You have low hard drive space.
Lack of hard drive space often affects older computers, or computers that do a lot of video editing or design work. Hard drives, which store all of your computer’s information, have a finite amount of space. Once they’re filled up, the computer no longer has the ability to manipulate files. The computer will slow down, eventually becoming unusable.
Generally, Windows will alert you to “low disk space” if this is the case. Moving some of your less-used files – such as pictures, music, and movies – to an external hard drive would free up some of your computer’s hard drive space and make it run faster. Deleting temporary files and performing a disk cleanup are also good ways to reclaim wasted space. Another solution? Install a bigger hard drive.
5) Restart your computer.
Every once in a while, it is a good idea to restart your computer. A computer cannot complete some of its updates until you restart. Restarting your computer can also free up memory resources tied up by buggy programs.
6) Sharing a wireless network.
If your internet is running slowly, but your computer is running quickly, you could have a lot of activity on your wireless network. Check to see if anyone else on your network is doing something that uses a lot of bandwidth (like streaming video or playing online games), as this can make your computer run slowly. You should also make sure your wireless network is secure so someone else isn’t using your Internet bandwidth. If your wireless network is not secure, Geek Squad recommends you create a password to secure your data and ensure strangers don’t join your network.
7) Too many “bells and whistles.”
Animated pointers and hi-resolution images of your favorite vacation spot may look nice, but they can also slow your computer down. Since animations and images load into memory every time you start your PC , there is less processing power available for more important tasks.
8) You have a scanning program running.
When a scanning program such as an anti-virus, anti-spyware, or automatic backup is running, your computer may respond slowly. We don’t recommend disabling these, as they are an important part of your computers safety. These programs should be run at least once a week, but don’t plan on using your machine while they are running.
9) Your computer barely meets your software’s minimum requirements.
Software usually has a list of requirements for things like processor speed, operating system, memory (RAM) and hard drive space. These specifications are the absolute minimum levels needed to make the software run. If your computer just meets the requirements, the software will run, but it might not run well. Try to meet or surpass the system “recommendations” of your software, rather than just meeting the bare “requirements.”
10) You have a fragmented hard drive.
It’s important to defragment your hard drive to help the computer organize itself better and make sure it runs smoothly. Think of your hard drive as someone who really likes to be organized but is always in a big hurry. Because you hard drive is low on time, it might save bits of a file here and pieces of it there, rather than all together. This works fine for a while, but eventually everything is scattered, and it takes your hard drive longer to find everything and get moving. Defragmenting is like a really big clean up. Your hard drive will put everything back in the right place and, as a result, will be able to move more quickly.
That’s it! If you’ve follow these ten steps, it should help you resolve a decent amount of your slow computer problems. There’s always more to learn, and lots to do in order to keep your computer running smoothly. Of course, there’s always help from Geek Squad, if you need it, but don’t be afraid to try some things on your own as well. We’ll always be available for you at www.geeksquad.com, at 1-800-GEEKSQUAD (1-800-433-5778), or at a Geek Squad precinct in a Best Buy store near you.
Agent Wiebusch carries badge number #3881, and has thwarted rogue technology issues since 2004, helping clients in store, in their home or business, and now online. When away from computers, he enjoys playing sports, playing videogames, and tinkering with motorcycles, classic cars, and anything else fast.
The holiday season is fast approaching and more people than ever are purchasing gifts for friends and family online. Unfortunately, ’tis also the season for online crime, and cybercriminals are on the lookout for ways to interfere with your online shopping. Whether it’s your smartphone, tablet, or computer, you need to protect your personal information in order to shop safely and securely online.
Fret not – we’ve got a few helpful tips to help you shop safely.
Secure Your Computer and Network: Help prevent unauthorized access to your PC or laptop from the Internet by installing proper firewall software. Firewalls can help secure your PC while you surf the Web. They help protect your personal information and can help block that information from being openly transmitted over the Web. Be careful though…configuring a firewall can be tricky, and improperly doing so can mess up your Web access. Be sure to configure your wireless network to use a password to help make sure your personal and financial information is safe on your home network.
Avoid Spam: With the increasing popularity of online shopping, spam has become more and more of a problem. Spammers can masquerade as legitimate businesses as a way to trick you into giving them valuable personal or financial information. Here are some steps you can take to keep from becoming a victim of spam:
Update Passwords: If the sites you’re shopping on require you to register, create a strong password. (For more on creating secure passwords, read this article in the Self-Help section of our website.)
Keep your credit card information in your wallet: NEVER store your credit card or other personal information on websites. As convenient as it might seem, allowing someone else to store this vital information could make it vulnerable to hackers and scam artists. If you’re addicted to the time saving advantage that storing your card information provides, use cards with a low credit limit, and make sure your account has online fraud protection for increase security.
Guard Your Gear: Beware of wandering eyes! If you’re browsing in any public place, keep an eye out for people seated nearby who might try to read your screen. You may want to consider investing in a privacy screen or filter, which fits easily over your computer’s screen, and can be found in all shapes and sizes. Never leave your laptop unattended in a public place.
For more tips on how to shop safely and securely, call 1.800.GEEK SQUAD to set up an onsite consultation. Need more help? Consider contacting a Geek Squad Agent at 1-800 GEEK SQUAD, on our website at geeksquad.com, or stop by a Precinct at a Best Buy store near you. (With Geek Squad’s Tech Support for AARP Members, you are even eligible for a discount on in-home technology services.)
Geek Squad is there for you: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for help with all your technology needs.
Fix It Free Day in the Twin Cities
October can be a scary month, with Halloween just a few days away, but it can also be a happy month if you’ve been having issues with your Mac or PC and live near select Best Buy stores in the Twin City Metropolitan area in Minnesota.
Did you say “fix it free?”
To help reduce the October techno-stress your technology may be causing, Geek Squad Precincts in the Twin City area will be holding a “Fix it Free Day” on Wednesday, October 26th. If you bring your computer into select Minnesota Twin City Best Buy stores, our Geek Squad Agents can help with the following services at no cost:
So if your computer is running slow, your email program won’t load, or your word processing software won’t save files, let us show you exactly how Geek Squad can resolve your issues with our expert Geek Squad Agents and services.
What limitations are there?
Here are a few disclaimers for your PC or Mac to qualify for free service:
What should I do before I visit the store?
Which Geek Squad Precincts in the Twin Cities are participating?
For a complete list of participating Geek Squad locations at Twin City Best Buy Stores visit http://www.geeksquad.com/fix-it-free-day.aspx
Fix It Free Day is a great way to let Geek Squad show you why we are so proud of our Agents and our services, while helping you to get your computer issues resolved. It’s all at no cost to you, so feel free to spend the money you save on Halloween candy you’ll be giving out on the 31st.
-Virtual Agent Derek M.
Nothing is substitute for getting an expert to sit down and look at it for you, but perhaps this will bring into focus a few possible causes for your computer acting lethargically.
1) Too many programs running at the same time. Over the lifespan of a computer it is common for users to download programs, applications, and other data that is running in the background. The more things that run in the background, the less “attention span” your computer has to do other things you are asking it to do.
Try to avoid downloading too many web browser-helpers like internet-search bars, programs that claim to “speed up” your internet or your computer, or multiple anti-malware programs. One or two may be fine, but too many will result in slow performance. Uninstall programs that you do not use that you see icons for in the lower right-hand corner of your screen, down by the clock. Once this is trimmed up you may notice a speed improvement.
2) Not enough free RAM. “RAM” is what your computer uses for temporary working and thinking space. The more you have the merrier your computer can be! If you look back to reason 1 in this article and have determined you need all those programs running, perhaps your computer doesn’t have enough RAM to do so. The hard drive inside your computer may make a lot of noise, accompanied by slow operation, if you are out of RAM.
RAM is a piece of hardware that can be added to your machine. Four gigabytes or more is recommended in newer computers, but the rule of thumb is to add as much as is affordable for you.
3) Virus/Malware infection. Quite often virus or malware programs running in the background can divert your computer’s attention away from what you want it to do. Internet slowdowns and general slow operation of the entire computer can be one of the symptoms of an infection. You should have the computer scanned for a malware infection to determine if this is the cause.
4) Low hard drive space. This generally applies to older computers. Hard drives, which store all of your computer’s information, only have a finite amount of space. Once filled up the computer no longer has the ability to manipulate your files. The computer will slow down, eventually becoming unusable.
Generally windows will alert you to “low disk space” if this is the case. Moving some of your less-used files such as pictures, music, and movies to an external hard drive would be a viable solution to regaining hard drive space. You can usually install a bigger hard drive as well. Deleting temporary files and performing a disk cleanup are also good ways to reclaim wasted space.
5) Due for a restart. Computer has not been restarted in…um, I don’t know how long? Yes, every once in a while it is a good idea to restart your computer. Some updates cannot be completed until you restart. In addition, restarting your computer can free up some resources that could be getting hogged up by buggy programs.
6) Sharing a wireless network. “My internet is slow but the computer is running fast!” There are many possible reasons this can be happening. Should you have a wireless network check to see if anyone else on your wireless is streaming video, downloading music, or playing online games. You should also make sure your wireless network is secure so someone else isn’t stealing your internet bandwidth. Wireless network security should be at the top of your important things to check.
7) Too many bells and whistles. Sure, that animated pointer and super hi resolution image of your favorite supercar look nice, but unfortunately these can also slow your computer down. These animations and images must be loaded into memory every time you start your PC which leaves less memory for other more important tasks.
8 ) Scanning programs running. Check to make sure your antivirus program, anti-spyware program, or automatic backup program is not the reason for the slowdown. If it is, I suggest you wait it out. Usually this type of activity is a necessity. Manufacturers of these types of software try to make everyday operations unobtrusive to you. There are times, however, when an update must be done or scanning must take place. Your computer will be a little slow to respond to you when this is happening.
I also find it is not necessary to scan your entire computer every single day for viruses and spyware. Once per week should be fine. The same applies for data backups. A complete system backup doesn’t need to run every single day for the average home user.
9) Not meeting software requirements. Software usually has a list of requirements on the box. Things such as processor speed, operating system, memory (RAM), hard drive space, and minimum video card requirements are usually printed somewhere on the box. Please note that this says minimum “requirements.” These specifications are the absolute minimum to make the software run. Run it will, run well it may not. Try and meet or surpass the system “recommendations” of your software, not the bare “requirements.”
10) A “fragmented” hard drive. This is becoming less of an issue with newer computers, but if you have an older PC it is worth a mention. Perhaps your hard drive needs a “defrag.”
Imagine a jigsaw puzzle. Computers like to store pieces of a file together, like a completed puzzle. Over time, with normal use these pieces can get scattered all over the hard drive; Similar to when your puzzle first came out of the box. The computer has to look to find all the pieces before it can access the file. This is not a problem if only a few files are fragmented. Once multiplied over several thousand files, however, we have a cumulative slowdown of your computer. Defragmenting your hard drive organizes all these pieces and puts them back together again.
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