Archive for 'Web'

Just Don’t Click!

FraudThis post was originally posted 2 years ago. However, it is as important as ever to pay attention to this advice – JUST DON’T CLICK!

Many recent data breeches and ransomware have been caused not by some sophisticated hacker plan, but by sending an employee an email that entices them to click on a link – DON’T DO IT!

Scammers know how to get you to react – that is act without thinking! You have an undelivered package from DHL, notification from a funeral home of the death of a dear friend, your bank account is about to be closed unless you act NOW, we have detected malware on your computer, the IRS has an important message for you, your friend is over seas and needs money, and on and on! Most of these emails contain a link for you to click on – DON’T DO IT!

These links most likely are malicious programs that will infect your computer, destroy files, hold your computer for ransom, and or steal your important information.

The IRS will NEVER email you! If your bank has an issue – they will CALL you! In the case of an email from a funeral home, friend or other business – pick up the phone and call!

In addition to the email scams are the phone call scams that say they have received a message that your computer is acting sluggish – duh, gee how did they know! They want you to give them access so that they can speed it up! Instead, they plant malware or other malicious programs on your computer that will compromise your security! If you did not initiate the call do not give them access or go to any website they give you!

Avoid falling for these scams. Make sure your computers virus protection is up to date and always think before your react! JUST DON’T CLICK!

 

Know your ISP

ISP Choices

ISP Choices

Who is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and what choices do you have? Unfortunately, most of us have only 1 or 2 choices.

ISP Types

Dial-up – Yes, Dial-up still exists and maybe you are still paying for it and do not know it. If you have an AOL account that you PAY for, then you are paying for dial-up. This is the slowest form of Internet connection. It uses the telephone line to transmit your connection to websites. You do NOT need to pay for AOL if you are using cable or DSL for your Internet. You can retain your AOL address for FREE!

Satellite –This is slower than DSL, but is sometimes the only option if you are in a very rural area. You do need a satellite dish for this connection.

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line. This is a connection that is usually provided by a telephone company, as it uses a telephone line to provide the connection. The pro to this is that it is usually cheaper than other Internet options. The con is that your speed relies on how close to the main connection you happen to be. The farther away, the slower your connection.

Cable –also know as broadband, can only be provided by a cable company, so you are limited to the one that serves your area – i.e. Comcast or Charter for example. A coaxial cable provide the service to your house. Cable is typically faster than the previously mentioned services, but can vary based on how many in your neighborhood are online. If everyone is streaming a movie at the same time, you might be experiencing a slowdown!

Fiber Optics – is the fastest, but most expensive of all the options and is only available in limited areas. Fiber optic lines are made of pure glass as thin as human hair.

Faster Internet connections cost more. But, sometimes it is well worth the price!

3 ways to boost your Internet Speed

Internet Speed

Internet Speed

Do you feel like your Internet is not working up to speed? How do you know if you are getting the speed that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is promising? There are ways that you can check and improve your home network and Internet performance.

There are several components involved in getting your devices online, an ISP, modem and router. It is important to understand what speed you should be getting from your ISP. Check your bill to see what service you are paying for, then check the website for your provider and see what speed they are promising.

Depending on you ISP, the method connecting you to the Internet will influence your top Internet speed. There are several ways that companies supply an Internet connection to your house:

  • Dial Up
  • Satellite
  • DSL
  • Cable
  • Fiber Optics (FiOS)

Read my other blog to learn about these different types. Depending on where you live, your Internet options are limited. Both providers and types are only in limited areas, which is very frustrating!

Your Internet connects your devices to the Internet using a modem and possibly a router. The modem usually connects one device using a network cable. Many homes have a wireless network – this relies on a router to be connected to the modem. Lean more about these here…

So you are supposed to have fast Internet and webpages are loading slowly, what do you do?

First – restart your modem, router and computer. Pull the power cord from the modem and router. Wait at least 30 seconds. Reconnect the modem. When all of the lights are showing on the modem, reconnect your router and then restart your computer.

All technology from time to time need rebooting – including your phones, handhelds etc. Many times this clears any issues you may be having.

Second – If it is still slow, try plugging a computer directly into the modem. Go to http://www.speedtest.net/and run the speed test. If this speed is significantly slower than your ISP is advertising, then contact the ISP directly. Your modem might need upgrading. If a fast speed is showing, try it again with the router plugged in and using your network. This test will probably be slower, but should be fast. If not, then your router might be the issue. If your router is several years old, an upgrade may be necessary.

Third – Remember the farther you are from your router, the slower your connection. Ideally, routers should be in the center of the house. Many are not. You can also purchase devices to expand the range of your Internet. These are usually called repeaters or extenders. They plug into an outlet and extend the range of your network.

Remember to make sure your Internet is PASSWORD PROTECTED. Others stealing your Internet can slow down your connection!

Networking

Networking

To go along with creating the fastest Internet network possible, 3 key components are the Internet Service Provider, modem and router. I discuss the ISP component in another blog. Read below about Modems and Routers

Modems and Routers 

All Internet connections require a modem where both the Internet line and your computer are connected. You might have a router connected to the modem, so that you can have many devices accessing the Internet – thus creating a home network.

A modem is a small boxlike device that connects to the Internet line or cable that comes into your house. There is usually 1 port to connect a network cable to a device, usually a computer. This device is the lifeline to the Internet. A modem is usually supplied by your ISP.

A router is another boxlike device that allows your Internet connection to be shared with other devices such as printers, scanners, handhelds and other computers. Today this router usually has a wireless component to it, allowing for devices to connect without being plugged into the router. The Modem, however, is usually plugged into the router. You can purchase a router from any major big box store or any online computer store. Linksys, Apple Airport, Netgear, Asus are among the major brands.

Standards for both Modems and Routers have changed over the years. If either of these 2 boxes are 5 years or older, you might want to get a new one that can handle the faster speeds. The modem is usually supplied by your ISP and usually can be swapped out for a new one. Routers can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars. You should look for the 802.11 number. The newest technology uses 802.11ac. Most routers being used today are 802.11n. The slower, older versions are 802.11g and 802.11b. Check the number on your router – if it ends in g or b, an upgrade is needed!

Lastly – make sure your modem is PASSWORD PROTECTED! You do not to allow unauthorized use of your network!

One Ring Phone Scam

Modern mobile bankIf you are like most people, when you miss a call, you are curious as to who called you. There is a scam that preys on that curiosity! They randomly call your cell phone, after one ring they disconnect. When you call them back you can rack up big charges!

These calls originate from outside the country. The international dialing fee costs you $19.95 initially, then $9.95 per minute! Some of the area codes used are 268, 809, 876, 284 and 473.

If you receive a call from an unidentified number, rather than calling it back, do a Google search of the number. Many of these numbers will pop up as being scams!

In addition, on many phones you can block numbers by tapping on the “info” button, scroll down and tap “Block this caller.”

When in doubt – do not answer. If the call is legitimate, they will leave a message!

If you think that you have fallen for this scam, contact your cell phone carrier.

For more information, check out the Better Business Bureau website.

Technology New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is a time many of us make resolutions – to exercise more, eat healthy, focus on family etc. Now is also a good time to make some technology resolutions. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Resolve to use strong passwords. Your dog’s name, birthday or the word “password” are not only a poor idea, but they leave you open for identity theft. Use random letters & numbers and insert special characters and upper case letters!
  2. Resolve to BACKUP! Cloud backups are probably best, but external drives that will automatically back up your files is also good. Or, if you are like me – I do both! It only takes one hard drive failure to lose those photos and documents to make my point!
  3. Resolve to organize your files – “I know I saved it here somewhere!” Create folders for your documents.
  4. Resolve to not let your smart phone interfere with your dinner out or your driving or your family! Whatever is on that text or email can wait!
  5. Use BCC when sending that funny story or cute picture. Also, if the email contains other people’s email DELETE these before sending. Your recipients will be grateful! Don’t know how to use BCC? The new year is a great time to learn!

Is Your Internet Fast or Slow?

hareWhich is better faster or slower? You know that commercial where a group of ankle biters are asked that question and in return give creative answers that only young minds can think of! The point of the commercial, in case you missed it, was to sell a faster Internet connection. How fast is your Internet connection?

First, to test your Internet Speed there are several websites, Charter Speed Test and Speedtest.net are just two that gave me similar results.

When you run the test, you will get 2 numbers – download and upload. Download is the amount of time it takes for your web browser to load pictures, pages and other web page elements, or for your email to download attachments. Uploading is when you send pictures or files either through your web browser or email. Today you can get speeds anywhere from 10Mbps (megabytes per second) to 50 Mbps for downloads and significantly less for uploads. There are many things that will affect your personal results – your computer, modem and router.

Think of it this way – if you had an automobile built in the 1920’s how fast could you go on an empty 4-lane highway? Or, if you have a NASCAR automobile, how fast can you go on the highway at rush hour? Your Internet connection’s “highway” is usually referred to as bandwidth.

Newer computers have faster processors, which affect all aspects of your computing, including your web experience. If you have viruses, malware or other issues that in general are slowing down your computer, do not expect your web surfing to go fast either!

Your Internet enters your house through a cable or phone line. This is then connected to a modem. If your computer is connected directly to this modem, then you will be getting the fastest speed allowed by the connection and modem. However, most homes have several devices that share the Internet connection, either by wire or Wi-Fi. If that is the case, then your modem is connected to a router.  The more devices devices (iPads, smartphones, laptops, desktops, even TV’s!) connected and using the Internet, the slower your Internet will be.

If you think you are not getting the speed you are paying for, you might want to start with the modem. Your modem was probably supplied by your ISP. If it is 4 or more years old, it should be upgraded.

Next, and very importantly is your router. The standards for routers have changed. In 1997 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) developed 802.11 as the standard. That could handle 2 Mbps! As the need for bandwidth grew, so did the standard. Next came 802.11 a/b, 802.11g, 802.11n and now there is 802.11 ac.  You should be using at lease 802.11n. Most computers are not equipped to handle the ac version yet.

Sorry if this was too technical for you. Just know that if you have the same modem and router that you had 5 or 6 years ago, maybe it’s time to replace them!

Backup your Computer!

Most people today take digital pictures, create documents and store information on their personal computer. What would you do if: your hard drive crashed?; If a burglar stole your computer? ; or, if your home caught fire? If you are like many people, you would have lost valuable information.

All computers today come with a program to create regular backups of your documents. In addition, there are several online companies that will remotely backup your hard drive.

Some people use a CD or USB to save important files. While relatively convenient, they require you to remember to put in the disk and save. In addition both forms of media can fail. If a disk gets scratched it will be rendered unreadable. USB drives are easily lost or misplaced.

Better solutions are to have an external hard drive connected to your computer, or better yet, use a “cloud” storage system. Both can be setup to perform regular backups of your files.

Pros and Cons to hard drive backup:

Pros:

  • Inexpensive and easy to setup
  • Both Windows Backup and Mac’s Time Machine allow easy access to recover documents
  • Multiple versions of your documents can be saved for retrieval
  • A complete backup of your hard drive is possible – programs and documents.
  • Backups retrievals are made quickly. A complete system restore of you programs and files can take 2 hours. A restore of documents, seconds.

Cons:

  • Hard drives can fail – including those used for backups!
  • Could be lost or damaged in a fire or other catastrophe.

Pros and Cons to online backup:

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Will backup every time a document in changed
  • Both Macs and PC are supported
  • Easy to retrieve documents – even if you are in a location other than your computer.
  • Storage is in a different location than your computer, adding extra security that your files will not be lost in case of a break-in or fire.

Cons:

  • Yearly fee charged
  • Takes approximately 2 weeks to fully backup or restore your computer files
  • Only documents are backed up. You need to make sure that you have the disks for the programs if you ever needed to reinstall them.
  • Only the most recent version of your documents will be saved.
  • Internet connection is necessary.

 

That being said, below is a list both hard drive and online backup systems. In addition, you might want to checkout your ISP. Many Internet Service Providers like Charter Communications, Comcast and the like, offer free online backups for customers. The pros to these are they are included in your Internet bill. The cons are that they usually offer limited storage.

Hard drives – It makes no difference what OS you are using, Mac or Windows, any of these can be used. Compare the prices with online places like PC Mall, Mac Mall and Amazon against the big box stores like Best Buy, Office Max and Staples. Brands that are comparable are Seagate and LaCie . I would recommend a terabyte or larger. That should store plenty of photos and music!

Online servces – Check out the terms of service, some allow for multiple computer backups. Carbonite and Mozy will probably give you the most storage for the money. iDrive and Norton Online Backup are others, but are a bit pricier for less storage!

What do I do? Both! I like the quick access that the hard drive affords. If I get a new computer or hard drive I can have it fully loaded with my programs and files in about 2 hours. At the same time, I have peace of mind that my documents are also safe guarded at an offsite location. If you decide to go for Carboniteuse this link and you will get a $25 Amazon gift card.

Google Doodles Honor the Summer Olympics!

Have you been noticing the Google Doodles? In honor of the Olympics, Google has been highlighting the various sports by making them part of their logo. Some like today’s canoeing are actually interactive games. Using your arrow keys, you can maneuver down the river through the poles to the finish.

The faster you toggle between the right and left arrow keys, the faster you will canoe – but be careful of the gates you need to go through!

Other interactive Olympic Doodles included basketball and hurdles. If you missed any of these, you can see them on the Google Doodles site.

Are your parents susceptible to scams?

Sad, but true, scammers target senior citizens. With the digital age, these scams can be in emails made to look legitimate. But more often than not with the older generation, scammers resort to the older technology of the telephone.

The most common and successful scam is the “Grandparent Scam” because it tugs at the heart. A caller pretends to be the person’s grandchild. They deviously get the grandparent to offer up the child’s name: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” Once they have established a grandchild’s name, they will tell a sad story about them needing money and “please don’t tell Mom & Dad”. Without thinking the Grandmother does just that!

A good rule for all phone solicitations is – if they called you – do not give money or credit card information! If you think it is a legitimate organization, get their phone number; check it out on the web before you call them back.

If you get an email requesting money, credit card information etc, NEVER give that in an email! If it’s a friend – call that friend on the phone and verify the need!

Be careful of emails that appear to be from your bank. They will NEVER ask for personal information in an email. Also the IRS will NEVER email you at all!

Just as when we were kids, our parents talked to us about dangerous situations, it’s not a bad idea to now talk to your parents about these scams! Check out the National Council on Aging website .

« Previous posts Back to top