GeekSquad.com | About Us | Careers | News & Press | Contact Us | Find a Location

Agent Blog

RSS Subscribe to RSS

No Comments
Monday, March 31, 2014

Gallery Image

More on the Retirement of Windows XP

By Agent Tanya B.

As we mentioned in a post last week, Microsoft will stop updating and supporting its Windows XP operating system beginning April 8, 2014.

Our web team collected some information about the sunsetting of XP, and what users should do to improve their network security if they choose to continue using XP. Stopping support of Windows XP means that Microsoft will stop fixing new bugs discovered in the system — providing new opportunities for hackers waiting to take advantages of XP’s new vulnerabilities. Basically, XP will become increasingly insecure as time goes on, and users’ data will be more in jeopardy as time passes without updates.

For more on what this means to people currently using XP and what they can do about it, visit our “Microsoft Stops Supporting Window XP page” on Geeksquad.com.

We also dug around and developed a few recommendations for users who aren’t ready to let go of Windows XP. If you are planning on using XP on your computer after April 8, you should really check out our “What to Do If You Want to Keep Windows XP After Support Ends page” on Geeksquad.com.

If you have questions on how you should handle this, we have Agents standing by.

Agent Tanya B. has been a woman of technology since 2009. When she steps away from her role maintaining the Geeksquad.com website, Tanya is either at the gym, walking her dog, or gaming with the other Agent B. Having moved to corporate from Florida last spring, she’s trying really hard to not complain about the cold too much.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | How To | News and Events

No Comments
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gallery Image

So long, Windows XP (Microsoft Says Farewell to an Old OS Workhorse)

By Agent Williams

It’s official — beginning April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide updates for that old, faithful workhorse of the masses – the Windows XP operating system.

First launched in October of 2001, XP was a huge leap forward for Microsoft — being a more secure, stable and effective system compared to earlier versions of Windows. While they replaced with Windows Vista six years later, and have released two more OS versions to date (Windows 7 in 2009 and Windows 8 in 2013), lots of people still use the old OS. Now, Microsoft seems ready to put their old XP horse out to pasture.

When Windows XP was originally released, I was initially reluctant to make the switch — mostly due to the amount of money I earned on my paper route, and the hefty price tag for XP at the time. (Plus, Windows 98 was doing everything I needed it to do: mainly play Doom and Age of Empires.) When I finally got my hands on a copy of XP, I realized all the changes made for a much more enjoyable Windows experience.

Windows XP helped me achieve a great deal: build my first web page, compose and record my first song, create my first logo, and (of course) fix dozens of interesting tech issues for my friends and neighbors. So while I moved on from Windows XP long ago, I’ll always have the fond memories of those early days.

So, for you XP lovers out there — never fear. XP isn’t going to “turn off” on April 8. It will keep working on your machine once support ends. What’s going to happen is this: Microsoft will stop sending out security updates and bug fixes for the OS. In turn, this makes the OS increasingly vulnerable to malware and hacker exploits. If you keep using XP, you run an ever-growing risk of exposing your private data to hackers, and the potential for identity theft grows right along with it. Don’t want to take that risk? Then Geek Squad strongly recommends you update your operating system to one that is supported (Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 8.1) that have the latest security updates needed to help keep your data safe and secure.

If you are using XP because your computer is old and cannot accommodate a newer version of Windows… well, that’s a bit of a problem. Your only solution may be to retire the old machine and buy somthing newer. (When it comes to your financial data, better safe than sorry.)

We are preparing some content for our web site about the XP shutdown. Keep an eye on this space, and we will link to it when we get it published.

Agent Williams joined the ranks of Geek Squad in 2007, earning the badge number #13337 and the alias “Agent Leeet Sauce”. Now Agent Williams protects the internetz from the Geek Squad Magic Castle. When he’s not policing unruly technology (or eating cookies) he can be found making music, chasing down his badge (it’s been on a trip to the stratosphere) or riding his imaginary pet unicorn.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | News and Events | Technology

No Comments
Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gallery Image

Beware the Netflix Phishing Scam

By Agent Derek M

Last week we published an blog post about how to avoid being a victim of a phishising scam. We hope you took a minute to read it. Although some think the identity theft that happens on the Internet is techie wizardry, nearly all of it can be thrwarted by just being a little more aware of what you’re doing when you’re out on the big bad Web. Skepticism is always the best first line of defense against cyber criminals.

I recently ran across a story on the Malwarebytes Unpacked blog, a site maintained by a computer security company dedicated to the belief that “everyone has a fundamental right to a malware-free existence.” The story brings to our attention a new flavor of the ‘computer support – you have malware -let me unlock your computer for you scam’ that was the subject of a post I did last summer. Although the scam itself is similar to the ones we have been talking about here lately, I wanted to bring it to your attention because of the hook this one uses.

In this instance, a potential victim goes to the Netflix home page to log in to their account and, after putting in their login information, are presented with a pop-up informing the user that Netflix had suspended their account because some suspicious activity had been detected. The pop-up displays a phone number and instructs the user to call that number to regain access to your account.

It’s a pretty typical fake tech support center scam when it comes down to it. But because so many of us are regular Netflix users, I wanted to get this out their to help you protect yourself.

Here’s what the pop-up looks like:

netflix scam popup

Here’s an article about the scam from the British version of Wired.com:
Watch out for this Netflix ‘tech support’ scam

Here’s the original Malware Unpacked blog post about it:
Netflix Phishing Scam leads to Fake Microsoft Tech Support

As always, be careful out there on the Interwebs.

Agent Derek has been removing 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.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | Security Threat Alert | Technology

No Comments
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gallery Image

Geek Squad Takes Over the YALSA Twitter Feed

By Agent Tanya B.

As part of their Teen Tech Week celebration (March 9 – 15), the Young Adult Library Services Association asked us to take over their Twitter stream for a day. We will be posting tweets about tech on the YALSA feed today from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Find the YALSA page on Twitter @YALSA

Agent Tanya B. has been a woman of technology since 2009. When she steps away from her role maintaining the Geeksquad.com website, Tanya is either at the gym, walking her dog, or gaming with the other Agent B. Having moved to corporate from Florida last spring, she’s trying really hard to not complain about the cold too much.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: News and Events

No Comments
Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gallery Image

Google Does "Takeout":
Your Data is Now Easier to Download

By Agent Ron G.

Google – owners of the the most popular website in the world (according to Alexa) – has never been satisfied being just the primary search engine to the Web. Between mapping the Earth through Google Maps and attempting to make everyone a data input via Google Glass, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have converted Google into one of the main forces driving innovation in the world.

 

Nowadays, Google looks like a company moving beyond it’s original mission of managing the internet’s data. With the development of their free software services (Gmail, Google Calendar, Blogger, etc.), Google has revolutionized the way people interact online. Their light, mobile-friendly applications provide standard tools anyone can use to write documents, share pictures, schedule appointments and stay in touch. As computing becomes more mobile, the availability of small, standardized cloud-based applications will become even more important to the public – and Google seems well-positioned in this regard.

However… there is also the issue of portability. A serious criticism of free software programs is this: many of them are proprietary and files generated by these tools often can only be read and edited by that tool. Worse yet, many web-based apps don’t allow users direct access to their own data. (For some of us, that’s kinda hard to live with.) I don’t feel good unless I know where my data is and can manipulate it as I see fit.

This was originally true of many of the Google Data Tools. But then a group of Google developers banded together to form “The Data Liberation Front” and that all changed.

Beginning in June 2009, Google began making data generated by their applications available for download by account users. The “Google Takeout” project was started as a way to give Google users the control over their data they wanted. They started by making available data from Google Buzz, Google Contacts, Google Streams and Picasa Albums. The project shortly added Google Plus and Google Voice to the list of available data. Over the next two years, data from other Google applications was added based on user request.

But it wasn’t until December 2013 that the project was able to make available arguably their most popular and most sensitive data – messages from Gmail accounts. (Seriously, who doesn’t have a gmail account by now?) Now, your emails are no longer stuck on the Google servers.

At this time, the Takeout project supports 14 Google products, ranging from documents stored on Google Drive to events you are tracking on your Google Calendar. Takeout allows users to select the data they would like to have by application, converts it into a single ZIP file and makes it available for download through the user’s Google account.

To find out more, visit the Google Takeout page here.

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, sketch writing, and learning how to cook new cuisines.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | How To | News and Events

No Comments
Friday, February 28, 2014

Gallery Image

Phished In! (How to Avoid Being Hooked By a Phishing Scam)

By Agent Patrick B.

Has this ever happened to you? You open an “official-looking” email that looks like it’s from your bank, credit card, etc. The message is dire — someone may be messing around with your account, and only clicking on a link to “correct” or “verify” your account information will save you. Hurry! Quick! Do it now! Without even thinking about it, fear of loss drives you to click on the link and supply the information requested (and breaking one of the cardinal rules of online security in the process).

SNAP! You’ve just been reeled in… by a phishing scam. (Don’t feel too bad… lots of smart people fall for the same thing all of the time.) Why?

Phishing scammers — people attempting to harvest your valuable, private information (like passwords or credit card information) by posing as trustworthy organizations or businesses — are all over the Internet. Everyone with an email account has probably seen a phishing email, which often looks uncannily like something from your bank, company, etc. Common to all of them is an inciting message — something requires your action NOW, or there will be problems.

The good news is that, although some phishing scams create pretty convincing email layouts, there are usually clues that you can find that all is not right with their request. We recently ran across a blog post on CNET that discusses ways to tell if an email is part of a phishing scam. It’s got some really good tips in it to help you avoid falling victim to these scams. Take a look at it here:

Spot a Phishing Email in 2014

One of the keys to keeping your identity safe online is to never give up your information easily. In the fast-paced rhythm of today’s world, is easy to rush from one task to the next without much thought. Fraudsters running phishing scams rely on that — distracted users are easy targets.

Phishing relies on people’s predilection toward following rules, and being helpful and cooperative. Online hustlers are skilled social engineers, manipulating people to turn their natural tendencies and good intentions into profit. So, when responding to a “your data has been stolen” or “click here for a prize” email, remember to slow down and ask yourself one question – why do they need it? Legitimate outfits won’t ask you for information they already have, so any such request is a dead giveaway that something isn’t right.

Be careful if an email offers an easy fix to your information being compromised. If a legitimate organization had their customer database compromised, they will be very careful about reestablishing contact with customers. They will also go out of their way to assure you that they are who they say they are, and will take care to protect your information — and definitely will not deploy a one-click solution to this problem.

For more on phishing and online scams, check out some of our recent blog posts:

Phone Scams and Computer Repair: Know Your Facts to Protect Your Computer

Online Shopping During the Holidays, Part 1: Let’s Be Safe Out There

Online Shopping During the Holidays, Part 2: Scamming in the Wireless World

Agent Patrick B. has been an Agent with the Geek Squad since 2005. When he isn’t overseeing the Geek Squad Web and Social Media presence, he can be found wandering the streets of Minneapolis in search of a fresh source of caffeine to fuel his all night gaming sessions.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | Data | How To | Security Threat Alert

No Comments
Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gallery Image

Routers & Malware: No Longer Just Your Computer That's Vulnerable

By Agent Williams

Warning: it isn’t just your computer at risk from hackers. Some recently discovered issues with wireless routers from two different companies show that they too can be vulnerable to hacker exploits that can leave your data exposed to online evildoers. In one case, the affected routers allowed hackers to access data on the victim’s network, while in the other the router was used to distribute a self-replicating worm onto other users’ networks.

Users of Asus RT routers have reported that a router flaw allows hackers access to data on external USB hard drives attached to the router. Although some security experts believe that only users who have turned on the https service (part of the router’s AICloud feature) were affected, some users have reported their systems were compromised even though they never enabled that feature.

The best way to secure these potentially hackable routers is to update the router’s firmware, make sure all default passwords have been changed, and deactivate any remote access options. For more details on this, check out the excellent article about the situation on ARS Technica.

Dear Asus Router User: You’ve Been Pwned, Thanks to Easily Exploited Flaw (Ars Technica)

Security experts have also identified activity online indicating a persistent attack on networks using Linksys routers, particularly those of the Linksys E series. The attack involves the distribution of malware designed to seek out and hijack other networks connected to the Internet by vulnerable devices. Although experts have not been able to identify the purpose of the attack, it is consuming significant bandwidth in specific IP ranges. Some speculate the attackers may be testing their ability to assemble a botnet (a network of compromised computers) that could exploit the Linksys router vulnerability.

Observers say simply restarting the router appears to remove the malware. However, this does not prevent the router from being reinfected. It appears that routers using updated firmware do not become infected, so it is suspected that the vulnerablity must be part of earlier versions of the firmware. Users with Linksys routers in the E series should go to the Linksys website and look for the 2.1 version of the software.

For more on this router-based vulnerability, check out this detailed article on ARS Technica:

Bizarre Attack Infects Linksys Routers With Self-Replicating Malware (Ars Technica)

If you think your system may have been compromised, we offer a Virus and Spyware Removal Service online, on-site and at Precincts in Best Buy stores.

Agent Williams joined the ranks of Geek Squad in 2007, earning the badge number #13337 and the alias “Agent Leeet Sauce”. Now Agent Williams protects the internetz from the Geek Squad Magic Castle. When he’s not policing unruly technology (or eating cookies) he can be found making music, chasing down his badge (it’s been on a trip to the stratosphere) or riding his imaginary pet unicorn.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | Data | Security Threat Alert | Wireless Networking

No Comments
Monday, February 17, 2014

Gallery Image

Digital Learning Day Expo 2014: Geek Squad Academy Shares Game Programming Curriculum

By Agent Tanya B.

On February 4th, the Libary of Congress in Washington DC hosted the Digital Learning Day Expo, a conference promoting digital learning and technology education in the classroom. Geek Squad was there, presenting on the Game Programming class taught at our Geek Squad Academy camps.

This curriculum is extremely popular with the kids, and is a good way of engaging kids and teaching the kind of decision-making and experimentation behind successful digital creation. Using Geek Squad-created content and the Stencyl game creation software,  the class helps students develop the programming and problem-solving skills needed to fix errors intentionally introduced in our “Gopher Roman” game. The students fully engage in in the computer programming process, manipulating characters, environments, backgrounds and behaviors as they learn to solve problems they find in the game.

Stencyl is a great vehicle for introducing programming to younger audiences. Because it is a drag-and-drop tool that reduces computer coding to actions, students intuitively grasp the concepts as they work with the software, and are able to edit parameters and rearrange activity blocks much the way computer programmers do without having to learn complex programming languages.

Geek Squad Agent Travis Sellers and Best Buy Blue Shirt Kelsi Facsina ran a demo of the Gopher Roman program in the Best Buy booth at the Expo, showing educators and other attendees how the tool can be used to draw students into the programming process.

The Geek Squad Academy project team would like to thank everyone involved in this event, particularly the Alliance for Excellent Education, our partner in this effort. If you are a teacher, the Digital Learning Day website features Lesson Plans you can use to help your students understand and use technology more effectively. (The site also has a link to Best Buy’s Teen Tech Toolkit, which includes the Game Programming lesson plan.)

For more on the importance of computer science education in elementary and secondary schools, check out this story National Public Radio did as part of their All Tech Considered series.

A Push to Boost Computer Science Learning, Even at an Early Age

Agent Tanya B. has been a woman of technology since 2009. When she steps away from her role maintaining the Geeksquad.com website, Tanya is either at the gym, walking her dog, or gaming with the other Agent B. Having moved to corporate from Florida last spring, she’s trying really hard to not complain about the cold too much.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | Culture | How To

No Comments
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gallery Image

Valentine’s Day and Long-Distance Relationships: Skype to the Rescue!

By Agent Tanya B.

Long distance relationships (LDRs) are not for the faint of heart. The late-night phone calls, frantic searching for low-cost airfares, the random text messages in the middle of the day, the joyous reunions and sad separations can take a lot out of a person. No matter how strong the connection between you and your loved one is, the miles between you can take their toll. Sometimes all you want to do is see his or her face.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, most of us are more concerned with “did I get the right gift?” (Answer: Chocolate and flowers are usually a winning combo.) But for those of us who have been in an LDR before, we know that the greatest gift is being able to be with your significant other — and when that’s not physically possible, we turn (as always) to technology for a fix.

One of the greatest things about technology and the Internet is that — together — they can bridge the gap between people separated by vast distances. The ability of modern hardware and network infrastructures enable us to stream clean, non-jerky two-way video & audio in real time is a glorious thing: so, if you can’t be with the one you love on the special day, at least you can still connect with each other via services like Skype.

Speaking of Skype, a few years back Agent Alex starred in one of our “Two Minute Miracle” videos on how to set up Skype on your computer. Check out the video on our site here:

Skype Setup: 2 Minute Miracles

If you have trouble getting this to work, Agents are standing by to help. Chat with one here.

Agent Tanya B. has been a woman of technology since 2009. When she steps away from her role maintaining the Geeksquad.com website, Tanya is either at the gym, walking her dog, or gaming with the other Agent B. Having moved to corporate from Florida last spring, she’s trying really hard to not complain about the cold too much.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | Data | Home Remedies | How To | Two Minute Miracles

No Comments
Friday, January 31, 2014

Gallery Image

Seriously: Companies Cannot Scan Your Computer Unless You Let Them

By Agent Ron G.

Last summer, Agent Derek M wrote a post for this blog on a popular “infected computer” phone scam. It turns out that there’s a new, more costly twist on this con. Because this new twist is dangerous and more costly to remediate, we thought we would reach out and reiterate some of the points Derek made in his post on the subject last June.

But first, the new twist on the “infected-computer-call” scam.

In this retread of the classic computer phone scam, the caller talks the victim into giving them online access to their computer, making it appear as though the computer is “infected”. Once they have access, the scammer uses their remote access to encrypt the machine, locking the victim out of their computer if they refuse to pay to have it “fixed.”

Our Agents have discovered a way to unlock the computer, but it’s rather complicated and would require affected clients to get a Virus and Spyware Removal service. Not that we mind doing it, but we’d like to give people a heads-up warning on this, to help you avoid being their next victim.

There are some things you should consider if someone calls you asking for access to your computer:

  1. No reputable computer company will call you on the phone to tell you that your machine is infected. This is simply not the way virus protection works. If someone ever calls with this message, just hang up — they are just trying to scare you into making a bad decision.
  2. No matter how professional they sound, never give someone who calls you “out-of-the-blue” access to your computer. No legitimate organization – not your Internet Service Provider, software creator or hardware manufacturer – can access your computer without your permission. So anyone who says they have been scanning your computer and think it has a virus iks not telling the truth. It takes the same level of access to live scan a computer as it does to actively manipulate a machine using online access.
  3. Never – and we mean NEVER – give your bank account information to someone who cold-called you. You are asking for trouble. If the call seems valid – whether it’s from a charity, financial institution or someone offering tech support services – tell the person you will call them back. And don’t use the “special number” they give you – that could easily be a setup. Go to the company or organization’s web site and look for the telephone number there. If it’s a legitimate call, they won’t mind you calling back. If the person argues with you at all about this, hang up.

Again, this is basically the same scam as Derek discussed in his earlier post, but this version is more expensive to fix and more damaging.

Derek did a post a couple of weeks ago about a phone scam the Federal Trade Commission was warning people about. You may want to take a look at it if you missed it:

Computer-Related Phone Scams: How to Spot Them, What To Do If Affected

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, sketch writing, and learning how to cook new cuisines.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...

Digg Digg      Delicious Delicious      Technorati Technorati

Categories: Computing | Security Threat Alert

Note: Comments are moderated and will be handled as per our privacy policy. Please keep your comments on-topic and free of profanity. For more information, please view our Blogging Terms of Use.

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives

Blog Roll

Tech Sites

Tag Cloud