Don’t Get Scammed While Shopping This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us. That means Black Friday, Cyber Monday, online shopping, deliveries, special emails, etc.

With all of that going on, the chance of being scammed increases. It was this time last year that Target’s checkout registers were hacked and millions of customers had their credit card information stolen. That was followed by Home Depot and preceded preceded by TJ Max and others. You avoided the stores and decided to shop online? That’s fine until you get the emails from UPS, FedEX, USPS letting you know that the item you’re expecting can’t be delivered, but click this link to find out why….VIRUS. So, what do you do? These tips should help.

Use a Credit Card, Not a Debit Card

Credit cards are much more secure than debit cards. You are protected for fraudulent purchases over $50. Additionally, your debit card is usually connected to your checking account so if someone steals your debit card information, they also have direct access to your checking account. A credit card protects you from that as well.

Another option is to get a prepaid or single use credit card. You can talk to your financial institution to see if they offer single use credit cards. They are great for shopping online. You use them once and no one can use them again.

Watch Out for Emails

This is the time of year where your email is getting bombarded with special offers. Incredible deals abound, just click this link…Don’t do it. Emails have an amazing way of looking like they’re coming from a reputable store but when you click the link, you’re taken to a website that just wants to steal your data.

If you see something you really like in an email, don’t click the link. Open your browser and go to the store’s website to see if they’re really offering that special. If so, use your credit card and order it. If not, delete the email. It was spam.

If you get an email from UPS, FedEX or USPS, be wary. They’ll tell you that your package was returned because it couldn’t be delivered and prompt you to click a link to find out why, or download and open an attachment. Don’t do it as that attachment or link will most likely contain a virus. 

The Top Sites in a Search Engine Are Usually Ad Sites

When you do a search for an item, the top sites that come up are usually ads or links that people pay for so that they come up first. Some of those people who pay for placement will put virus links on their site. Scroll down a little on the page to get  to the real sites that have the products for sale. 

Keep Track of Your Purchases 

Keep accurate records of your transactions. If you order online, print your receipts and keep them in a file. If you’re shopping in stores, keep your receipts and keep them in a file. That way you’ll have everything you need if a dispute arises, and it’s much easier to check your statements against the receipts when the statements come in the next month.

 

How Can I Check My Email to See if it’s Spam?

Every day it seems there is more and more spam coming to us in our email. Some have links that we’re tricked into clicking on. Some have attachments we’re pushed to download and “view”. Most have a connection to viruses, malware, or worse. But they look like they’re coming from websites or companies we know and use or they look like they’re coming from a family or friend. How would we know they’re bad?

There are a few things to check in the email but you have to learn to question every email, and then check it. Learn to “hover” your mouse over items, meaning move the mouse pointer over the link or other item in the email without clicking. What you’ll see may surprise you.

Watch my video here to see what I mean.

Did You Know You Could Do This With Your Apple iOS 8+ Device?

Now that Apple seems to have gotten the bugs worked out of their 8.+ update, I started to find various changes that are pretty cool. The more I searched, the more I found. I’d like to share them with you here. Some you’ll find to be very useful, others you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them. All are pretty cool.

Hide photos

When you tap and hold a photo within the Photos app you’ll see a “Hide Photos” option. If you tap it, the photo will be visible in the Hidden Album but not in your Moments, Collections and Years. This is nice if you have people who want to see your pictures or videos and there are some you’d not like to see.

More text control

There’s a lot more you can do with the texts you send and receive with iOS 8, including deleting them one by one. By holding your finger on a text message, an option for More will pop up — from there, you’ll be able to forward it along to someone else or tap to erase individual messages.

The new “details” section of Messages is pretty great for one key reason: you can now review all of the attachments that have been exchanged in each of your conversations on a single screen. You’ll see both images and videos you’ve sent as well as those received. And the archive goes back a long way — assuming you haven’t previously deleted your message history. But if you do need to free up space, the details view makes it even easier because you can just tap and hold on any attachment to erase it from your device

Timed selfies

When you’re taking a selfie and you need to set your device down so that you can get in the shot, your camera will now allow you a few seconds, up to 10, to get ready for that next photo. Just tap the clock icon at the top of the screen within the camera, choose how many seconds you need, and start snapping.

Bring Back Deleted Photos

If you’ve accidentally deleted a photo, it’s possible to bring it back: there’s a new Recently Deleted album in the Photo app that stores deleted pictures for up to 30 days before they disappear for good.

Battery Usage

Wondering why your battery is draining so fast? There is a new option that gives a percentage breakdown of what apps are killing your battery life most. To see which apps you should close when not in use, visit General > Usage > Battery Usage. You can then turn off some of those apps. This small step could add a few hours of extra battery life to your day.

Email Drafts

If you’re in the middle of an email, but want to go back to reading your inbox, you can hold the top of the message and drag down (but don’t put your finger too high on the screen or the notifications tab will appear). You can do this with multiple drafts, too. Double tap the minimized draft at the bottom to see all of them at once — this makes them appear in a carousel view, similar to how it looks with Safari tabs in iOS 8 — and proceed to open or delete them with taps and swipes.

Swipe to Delete in Email

Instead of hitting the small trash can icon for each email, you can now save time by swiping quickly to the left to get rid of individual emails. Just be careful when testing this feature; it’s so easy to remove emails that sometimes it happens when want to do other tasks. Meanwhile, dragging your finger slowly to the left on an email will let you flag or archive it. Swiping to the right will reveal the feature to mark a message as unread.

Interactive Notifications

Interactive notifications is one of the best parts about iOS 8. You can respond to texts, email, calendar invitations, reminders and messages within apps such as Facebook from the notification banners that pops up at the top of the screen. It’s a good way to reply to incoming messages without leaving the app you’re in or stopping what you’re doing all together. You have to have “notifications” activated on your device in order for this to work.

Keyboards

Finally, you’re no longer restricted to the keyboard Apple gives you and can pick better options from third-party developers, like Swype. Available for $0.99 in the Apple App Store, there’s a reason why Swype is the number one paid app right now: instead of tapping letters, you can swipe your fingers across the keys, which I’ve been wanting on my iPhone and iPad for years.

The built-in keyboard now offers predictive text, giving you word suggestions before you even type anything, right above the keypad. It “reads” what you’re keying in and anticipates what the next word will be. You can select it from the options and continue typing.

You turn other keyboards on after downloading by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard; you access them by clicking the globe key on the on-screen keyboard. 

Key People Shortcut

If you press the Home button twice, you’ll not only see the webpages you have open but the faces or initials of people you’ve recently talked to. This makes it easy to call or text your favorite contacts right away. The down side, however, is that it highlights contacts you might not want others to know about too. For example, if you’ve deleted a conversation you recently had with an ex (and you don’t want to broadcast this to anyone looking over your shoulder), their name will still display on the top. To remove this feature, visit Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Show in App Switcher and switch it of Off.

What’s that song?

Siri is now integrated with Shazam, an app that recognizes music and other media playing around it. You are now able to simply ask Siri “what song is playing?” and the title and artist will show up on your screen.

Hey Siri

So long as your iOS device is plugged in, you can now launch Siri just by calling out “Hey, Siri.” Just visit Siri’s settings to switch this feature on. You then tell Siri what you need.

Search Websites Instantly

Now here’s a super useful thing that most people will probably never even know about. If you go into Safari’s settings, there’s a new “Quick Website Search” feature. Whenever you search a website (Amazon, IMDB, etc.), Safari remembers that. So from then on, you can just launch a Safari search, type out “amazon” ahead of your search term, and Safari will offer to (instantly) search the website itself.

Control Center

You can access Control Center from anywhere in iOS—including the Lock screen. To access Control Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. To close Control Center, swipe down, tap the top of the screen, or press the Home button.

In Control Center, you can adjust these settings:

  • Turn on or off Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, and screen-orientation lock
  • Adjust screen brightness
  • Play, pause, or skip a song, and adjust playback volume
  • Connect to an AirPlay device or toggle between audio output
  • Adjust whether your device is discoverable for AirDrop

Control Center also includes quick access to these apps:

  • Camera
  • Timer
  • Calculator (iPhone and iPod touch only)
  • Flashlight (iPhone and iPod touch only)

If your device is not locked, you can also access the currently playing audio app by tapping the song title. 

Spotlight Search

Previously designed to search for items just on your iPhone or iPad, Spotlight has been a handy tool for finding emails, appointments, contacts, music and other locally stored items. But in iOS 8, the search universe has expanded way beyond just your local device.

Here’s how the new Spotlight works:

Trigger Spotlight by swiping your finger down from just below the top of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The search field now says: “Spotlight Search” instead of just “Search iPhone” or “Search iPad.”

The screen also explains the types of items you can now find. Beyond searching your local device, Spotlight will offer suggestions from the Internet, iTunes and the App Store. It can also locate nearby locations, showtimes for movies, the latest news and even items from Wikipedia.

For example, I opened Spotlight and typed “Dracula,” the new movie that’s just opened. In response, Spotlight pointed me to a local theater where I could see the film, as well as to a Wikipedia entry on the movie. It also served up links to various Web sites about the film.

Asking Spotlight to track down “Mexican restaurants” showed me a couple such restaurants in my neighborhood, along with a few related websites. And searching for “Robin Williams” conjured up a Wikipedia entry on the late actor and comedian, an album that I could purchase on iTunes, and other items.

The new Spotlight is a handy way to delve beyond content that’s stored on your local device. But you can limit its capabilities through the Settings page should you wish.

Open the Settings app on your iOS device. Tap the General tab and then tap Spotlight Search. The results show you check marks in front of all the different types of items Spotlight will find in a search. To filter out a certain item from the search, simply tap it to remove the check mark. For example, tapping off Bing Web Results will prevent Spotlight from scouring the Web for information.

By default, your Spotlight searches and related information are sent to Apple. On its privacy screen for Spotlight, the company says it doesn’t store your searches and instead uses the data to try to make its search suggestions more relevant. However, those of you concerned about privacy may still wish to turn off the entry for Spotlight Suggestions to prevent your search queries from being shared in this way.

Internet Explorer Malware Hole

Microsoft announced this weekend that ALL versions of Internet Explorer were at risk for “drive-by” attacks from malicious websites. These attacks are currently happening around the world so this isn’t a “could happen” attack, it’s real.

 

A possible “drive-by” attack is one where you visit a website and you start getting pop-ups stating you have hundreds of viruses, trojans, bugs, etc. and offering to fix your computer problems, for a price. Another type is the kind where you don’t know that it’s happening but the malicious site is installing damaging software onto your computer.

 

The risk of the Internet Explorer issue is that is has the potential of allowing the hackers the same user access as you have on your computer. That means that they’d have the ability to install software, create new user accounts, change or delete your files, hold your computer hostage, and many more things.

 

Microsoft is working on closing these holes but it could be sometime for it happen. Microsoft has said that they will not fix the holes for Windows XP.

 

What are your options until then?

  • Stop using Internet Explorer. Download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox and set them up to be your default browser, especially if you’re still running Windows XP
  • Do not click on links that you get in emails, unless you’re absolutely certain they’re legitimate.  

Of course, if you’re already using a different browser, you don’t have to do anything further.

Is This Email from a Friend Safe to Open?

With all of the spam email being delivered, here are a few tips that will help you decide if the email you’ve just received are spam.

The To: field has email addresses in it that are obviously fake (you may be bcc’d on it)
The To: field has multiple email addresses in it that are in alphabetical order, many of which you have no clue who they belong to.
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Look at the time of day the email was sent. If it was sent at 2:00 in the morning and you know the person in the From: field most likely wasn’t up at that time, question it.
If the time sent on the email is several hours later than the time at your location, chances are it was sent from a server out of country. Question it.
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The attachments are either a .ZIP file or a .EXE file. There are legitimate reasons for someone to send a ZIP file but very few people do that any more. Always question it.
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There is a link in the body of the email and the text in the email is asking you to click that link to “verify” some information. TIP – Hover your mouse cursor over the link without clicking. Most of the time a text balloon opens showing the actual site the link will take you to. Compare it to what the link in the email is. If it’s different, even a little bit, don’t click. If you’re suspicious, don’t click.
If something needs to be verified, don’t do it by clicking on a link. Open your browser and go the website itself and login and verify information. Most companies won’t ask you to verify anything via email. They may notify you and then tell you to login to your account but won’t have you click a link.

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If you want to check to see if the email you received with an attachment is a virus, forward it to virustotal.

The sending process is as follows:

Create a new message, or forward the suspicious email to scan@virustotal.com as the destination address.
Attach the file to be scanned. Such file must not exceed 32MB in size. If the attached file is larger, the system will reject it automatically.

If you completed these steps correctly, you will receive an email with the file scan report. The response time will vary depending on the load of the system at the moment in which the file was sent.

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Don’t reply back to sender asking if it’s okay to open the email. Chances are it didn’t come from who is in the From: field. Don’t reply back asking the sender to stop sending you things. If there is an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email, don’t. All of these things tell the spammer that they’ve reached a live email address and you’ll be put on more spam lists and receive more spam.
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Don’t EVER just click or open without questioning. Even if you’re expecting an email with an attachment, take your time to look at the email first for clues.

News Overload? Have You Heard of Flipboard?

By nature, I don’t watch the news. Often times it’s filled with nothing but bad news and then when I finally hear something I’m interested in, I never really get enough information since the newscasters are limited on length of talk. So, I just don’t watch the news.

With everything that’s going on in the world, from government, to business, to technology, to sports, how do I keep current on things? There are thousands of magazines, newspapers, web articles, but it would take me forever to read those. That’s not going to happen. What I do, is I open the Flipboard app my phone or tablet, and I flip through my personal magazines. (To install it, look for Flipboard in your devices app store. It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices)

Flipboard pulls together articles from magazines, blogs, social media sites and other places, categorizes them into sections such as: News, Business, Tech & Science, Arts & Culture, Food & Dining, Travel, Style and more. After downloading the app onto your device, you set up an account and then you choose the sections you want to keep up with. Flipboard populates the sections with articles. From there, you open the category and start flipping. Flipboard shows the first paragraph or so of the article and if you want to read the whole article, tap it and it opens on your device. Flip through the pages and when you’re done, back arrow and you are returned to main article lists. If it’s an article you want to share with others, there is a “share” icon where you can post it to social media, send it via email or save it. You can even search for individual people, hashtags, events, etc. and Flipboard will return articles related to that search.

Since you create an account, you can use that same account on all of your devices so it doesn’t matter what you have on hand, you have access to your selections. I find that I use Flipboard a lot on my phone while I’m standing in lines and then at home, I use it when I’m on my tablet.

The amount of news is overwhelming at times. With Flipboard, I feel I can keep it under control and still keep current on what’s happening around me.

End of Article….

Analysis of Yahoo Voice Password Leak – 453,441 Passwords Exposed | Sucuri

Have you noticed an increase in spam from those you know with yahoo, hotmail, aol or gmail accounts? There’s a reason for that. Apparently, there was a massive leak of Yahoo passwords and since many people use the same passwords for several sites, it was easy to hijack those accounts. From the link in this article, you can check if your email has been hijacked and is being used to send spam. Whether it is or isn’t, you should consider changing your password.  Also, take a look at the password list. Notice how many people are using simple, easy to guess passwords. Check out my post on creating strong passwords – Maybe My Password Isn’t As Strong As I Thought It Was

We recently heard that a massive leak of Yahoo passwords has been floating on the interwebs for a few days. According to Ars Technica, the dump is from Yahoo Voice and the data was released in clear-text yes, clear text in 2012. It seems they were not storing the passwords securely.We got access to the dump and we can confirm that this leak is valid. We can not however confirm it is from Yahoo, the password analysis does not have many “Yahoo’s” in it we’ll explain later.That said, we recommend all Yahoo users to change their passwords ASAP! Specially on other services that you are reusing the same passwords. Better safe than sorry.

*You can check here if your account was part of the leak: http://labs.sucuri.net/?yahooleak

via Analysis of Yahoo Voice Password Leak – 453,441 Passwords Exposed | Sucuri.

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