Posts Tagged ‘Security’
Mobile computing devices are letting us access the Web (and take care of business) from just about anywhere. Wireless technology now lets us pay our bills at the coffee shop, check our email while waiting for the kids after soccer practice, or take a conference call while getting our oil changed. Tablets and smartphones make it easy to manage our lives and stay in touch with the office while we are out and about.
All of this mobility comes at a price. Identity theft is becoming a real concern, as mobile devices used on open wireless networks could expose your valuable private data to hackers out trolling for their next victim.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to approach security issues a bit too casually when using our tablets — like leaving it sticking out of our backpack while going to the counter for a refill or on the seat of an unlocked car. The very thing that makes these device so convenient also makes it more vulnerable to theft. If you use it to access your bank account, a resourceful thief could figure out how to follow the path into your account.
Our friends at the Naked Security blog recently posted a very handy article on steps you can take to make your tablet more secure. We think all tablet users would benefit from checking themselves against the advice here:
If you need help setting up your new tablet or mobile email account, we’re here to help.
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.
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.
There have been a number of articles in the tech press lately about vulnerabilities with smartphone passcodes. Phones using both Android and iOS systems have been plagued by hacks that allow unauthorized users to get around the passcode lockscreen. Apple recently released an update to their operating system intended to address this problem. A similar issue was also discovered in Galaxy Note 2 phones.
When things like this hit the press it’s often difficult for most users to understand whether they should be concerned or not. Lifehacker has a good article that discusses what these vulnerabilities allow unauthorized users to do, how passcodes work, and how best to secure your phone. If you’re concerned with the security of your smartphone, it’s definitely worth the read:
If you still need help understanding and using your smartphone, Geek Squad can help.
So you splurged over the holidays and bought a brand-spanking-new laptop. Or you decided to pool all those gift cards and upgrade your home computing hardware. Let’s face it – you needed to put that old desktop that was still running Windows XP out to pasture. Feels better, doesn’t it?
Now that you’ve gotten all our browser favorites and music moved over to the new machine, it’s time to think about clearing it off your desk. But before you bring it in to Best Buy for recycling or donate it to a worthy non-profit, don’t forget to wipe your hard drive.
It’t hard to keep track of all the important personal information you end up storing on your computer, so it’s a good idea to scrub all the memory on the machine before letting it leave your possession. Selecting all the files and deleting them is not enough. Some data recovery tools can recover deleted files. To make sure you none of your personal information goes out with your computer when you let it go, there are some extra steps you should take to make sure your hard drive is really blank.
Fortunately, Geek Squad is here to help. A while back, we put together a ” Two Minute Miracle” video to help people understand how to securely wipe their hard drive before handing it to someone else for reuse or disposal. Check it out here:
We also have a Tech Tip on our website outlining how to wipe a hard drive. Find it here.
If you have any questions about this, we have Agents available 24/7 at 1-800 Geek Squad or chat with an agent here.
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.
On Monday, July 9th, thousands of internet users could find themselves without internet when the FBI finally shuts down the DNS-Changer malware.
For months, a group of cyber criminals have been infecting hundreds of thousands of computers with “DNS-Changer,” which redirects your internet traffic to “fake” versions of websites. Thankfully, this ring of criminals was taken down in an FBI sting operation called “Operation Ghost Click,” and since then, the FBI has been redirecting infected computers through special government servers to keep them online.
But on Monday, all that changes when the FBI pulls the plug. If you’re infected with DNS-Changer, you could lose your internet access. The good news is that the Geek Squad is here to help you out. To find out if your PC may have been infected by the DNS changer malware, try one of the following:
Agent William G. has been an Agent with Geek Squad since 2004. If he’s not working on computers remotely, or contributing to the Geek Squad Intelligence Blog, he can be seen skateboarding the sidewalks in the city of Atlanta.
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.
As the effects of natural disasters bring us together to help those in need, Geek Squad wanted to take a moment to share some lessons on how social media and mobile devices can play a role in that assistance.
Products from shoes to bathroom scales have built-in tweeting, and at least one innovator has created an app that tweets everything that he watches around the house via TiVo. It may make your head spin to think that the same microblogging service helped serve as the groundwork for revolution in the Middle East as well as a key tool for finding loved ones after the tsunami in Japan. Obviously, not all tweets are created equal. It should come as no surprise, then, that scammers are always waiting to exploit the next big tragedy via these networks.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while assisting others:
- If you are being solicited by a stranger for donations, consider who they may be and what their credentials are. You can never be too careful with your financial information.
- Use reliable and reputable sites to research any charities to which you are considering contributing.
- If you have trouble finding a relief effort that you can verify as legitimate, turn to major organizations such as the American Red Cross. (Best Buy recently donated $100,000 to this group for storm relief efforts)
- If you do not want to donate via credit card, consider a text message donation. (More on this below)
- If you live near an area affected by a natural disaster, such as the recent wave of tornadoes in the south, search Facebook for groups that are organizing volunteer efforts.
Most tweets and Facebook posts soliciting donations no longer redirect you to a website where you enter a lot of personal information, or even to a PayPal link to donate directly through that method. Many of these solicitations now take the form of “Send ‘KEYWORD’ to 12345 to donate $5 to the relief efforts.” The phone number is a “short code,” which is a shortened phone number specifically designed for receiving text messages. This donation method sounds so easy… so how does it work?
Text message donations have been around for several years, but only recently came into the mainstream after the Haiti earthquake. The way these work is simple. First, you send a specific word to a specific phone number. Then, the donation will appear on your cell phone statement. This is an easy way to donate from the road if you can’t get in front of a computer, and most major charities and disaster relief funds have this capability. As always, make sure you check the legitimacy of the campaign before donating! We’ve included two resources below to help you get started.
http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/ – The Better Business Bureau’s U.S. charity division, a repository of information about legitimate and illegitimate charity efforts .
http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2011/04/us-tornado-disaster-relief.html – A list of some charities and what they are doing to help with the storm relief efforts.
Tell Me More: Ransomware is a type of malware that gives hackers access to your personal data. Once your computer is compromised, the hackers claim they will return your data once you send them money. Consumers unknowingly receive the virus from somewhere on the internet and it then encrypts your files and holds them hostage. With this particular form of ransomware, once the files are compromised consumers receive a ransom letter which appears on their desktop demanding $120 in order to receive their files back.
Should I Be Worried? We haven’t completed our investigation of this newest malware ransom issue; however, based on our initial research we have discovered the virus encrypts the computer’s original files, making any recovery efforts virtually impossible. Because of this, consumers should be extra careful about links they click on while surfing the internet.
What Do I Need to Do? Here’s what you should know about ransomware:
• If you have received the virus and the ransom note pops up on your desktop, consumers should immediately shutdown the computer. The malware is still infecting your computer and by shutting the system down, there is a chance you might be able to save some of the data that has not been corrupted yet.
• As a side note, please remember your data should always be backed up on a regular basis. If your files are saved, you can simply remove the virus from the compromised system and restore the data from your backup.
Geek Squad Final Word: As always, if you experience any undesired computer symptoms, seek help from a computer professional as soon as possible.
For more information, check out the Geek Squad home page at www.geeksquad.com or contact your nearest Geek Squad Agent. Whether it’s online, via 1-800-GEEKSQUAD, or in any Best Buy store, we’re here to help 24/7/365!
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