Windows 10 Upgrade is Happening Whether You Want It To or Not

I received a call today from a friend telling me that his computer was automatically upgrading to Windows 10. He was in the middle of something and his computer just rebooted and showed it was upgrading to Windows 10. 

As I mentioned in an AskBillFirst Newsletter, Microsoft said it would start doing this but from what I was reading, they said that it wouldn’t upgrade automatically, that it would just download and give you the option to upgrade. I guess that’s not what’s happening.

What can you do if your computer automatically upgrades to Windows 10? Well, the first thing is to let it completely upgrade. Don’t try to stop it or turn your computer off. That may disable your computer. After it’s done upgrading, you may want to use it for a couple of days to see what you think and make sure your programs all work. OR, you can roll it back to your original Windows version. Microsoft gives you 30 days to do so.

If you decide to keep Windows 10, as I stated in an AskBillFirst newsletter, there are some settings that need to be changed from the default Microsoft settings. I can help you with that.

Every Windows computer has had this “update” installed on their computer. It’s just a matter of time until it activates and upgrades fully to Windows 10. There is a way to uninstall that update before it activates, thus preventing the Windows 10 upgrade from happening. If you’d like to do that, you must uninstall update KB3035583 from your installed Windows update. Those who have signed up for my monthly maintenance service have this taken care of as it’s one of the many things I do to keep you computers running cleanly and efficiently.

Let me know if you’d like to find out more.

RANSOMWARE – What is it? How to Avoid it!!!

Perhaps you heard of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center that recently had to pay $17,000 to hackers who had seized control of the hospital’s computer systems and held them for ransom? They aren’t the only ones being held ransom, just the latest. There were over 4 million ransomware attacks my mid-year 2015 and it’s growing.

Now there’s a hospital in Kentucky that has recently been hit with ransomware. You can read about it here.

It’s not just hospitals and large companies who get hit. Individuals do as well.

What is ransomware? Ransomware is malicious software that allows a hacker to access a computer or network of computers, encrypt the files on that computer and then request money to decrypt it. Doing so basically lets the hackers hold your files or computer hostage. Even if you pay, there’s usually no guarantee that your files will be released.How does your computer get hacked? Generally, it happens when you open an infected attachment in an email, or you visit an infected website (which WOT should protect you from). Once the software gets on your computer, it may take a day or so to go to work but when it does, you’ll find that your sensitive files, your pictures, and videos, your files in your Documents folder, are all locked and there’s nothing you can do to open them; unless you pay the ransom.

How to avoid it? The single biggest thing that will defeat it is having a regularly scheduled backup. If you are attacked with ransomware you can clean up your computer and restore your files from backup. Keep in mind that some ransomware will also encrypt files on an attached external drive so if you’re backing up to an external drive, disconnect it when you’re done with the backup. You can also back up your files to the internet. I use iDrive for my cloud backup. With iDrive, you can back up not only your computer files, but you can back up your cell phone files, such as pictures, contacts, text messages, Facebook pictures and videos and more. You can back up multiple computers and devices to the same account. You can also backup to a USB hard disk attached to your computer for a local backup.  You can check it out at https://goo.gl/yjQ8SM.

Next, make sure that your antivirus software is current and active.

Make sure that your programs are updated, especially Windows and Adobe software.

Do NOT open email attachments unless you are 100% sure they are safe, even if it says it’s from UPS, FedEx, or your best friend. If a strange window pops up in your browser, use Ctrl-Alt-Del and go to TaskManager to close your browser. Don’t click on the pop up as they will often be programmed to install malicious software and never call the phone number in the pop-up to have them “fix” the malware attack (they only want access to your computer to do more bad things).

If you have any questions, please email me and I’d be happy to help you.

Amazon Free Shipping – How to Make Sure You Get It.

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership and you order on Amazon, you may have noticed at checkout the notice telling you that if you add $X amount to your order you would qualify for free shipping. Often times it’s only a few dollars you’d need to add but you have no idea what to purchase for that small of a dollar amount.

I ran across this site www.filleritem.com, where if you enter the amount you need for free shipping, it will return a list of items on Amazon that will qualify you for free shipping. It could be animal products, office supplies or any number of things but all could be useful items and they’d get you free shipping.

Check it out – www.filleritem.com.

How To Stay Safe From Unsafe Websites On The Internet

Have you ever visited a website and moments later a window opens up on your computer telling you that your computer is infected with hundreds of viruses and thousands of other types of malware? Have you been on the internet and all of a sudden your computer slows to a crawl and you have no idea why? Have you ever clicked a link in an email that a friend has sent and have been taken to a website that doesn’t look right, and turns out it’s an infected website? Have your kids been going places on the internet they shouldn’t be? Have you gotten on the internet and noticed that your starting page or your search engine has changed?

There is a way to protect you, your computer and your family members from accessing those websites by changing a setting on your computer.

      How does it work?

Each time your computer visits a Web site, it converts the website address that you entered to a number which represents the IP address of the site (computers only connect to IP addresses, not human-friendly names). Imagine that you want to go to a restaurant so you enter the name of the restaurant into your GPS and what you get back is the street address of the restaurant. That’s what happens when you enter a website name into your browser. Now, your GPS won’t tell you that the address is in a bad part of town, it’ll just give you the address and directions to get there. Imagine now that your GPS can be set so that it no longer just gives you the address, but it also tells you that the restaurant has been restricted because people have gotten sick while eating there or there have been some burglaries there recently or hookers have been known to hang out around there so you have a way of knowing that and can avoid going there. 

 

By making a simple change to your computer’s network setting, you can have that kind of protection when on the Internet. When entering a website in your browser, your browser performs a quick check on each site to make sure that the requested Web site is safe. If the requested Web site is unsafe, you will see a warning that includes information on why the site is rated as dangerous. There are a couple of different levels of protection, so you can set your computer to block sites hosting malware, phishing sites, or scam sites. You can also set your computer to block not only unsafe sites but those that contain sexually explicit material.

 

You can make the choice and I’d highly recommend you take the steps to do it. If you’re interested in this, comment on this and I’ll help you make the changes to your computer or if you’d like to make the change yourself, let me know what version of Windows or if you’re using a Mac, let me know that and I’ll send you the instructions. 

Can Your Password Change Your Life?

I’m a stickler for strong passwords. Amazingly, the top 10 passwords used on the internet in 2015 were:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. football
  8. 1234
  9. 1234567
  10. baseball

Is it any wonder people get their logins hacked? If you’re someone using any of these, please change them immediately.

What to change them to? Well, the recommendation is to make your passwords at least 8 characters, using upper and lower case letters, special characters (those above the numbers) and add a number or two. As you know, if, as also recommended, you use a different password for every site your need to log into, it gets pretty hard to remember what passwords are going where. I’ve recommended password programs in the past, such as LastPass and RoboForm, programs that will generate new passwords and remember what password goes to which login. There are several other really good ones. Programs like this are essential when using multiple passwords at multiple sites that you may not be logging into all of the time.

For those passwords that you use daily, or those that you use that you are forced to change on a regular basis, there is a formula to create passwords that have the capability of changing your life. Are there habits that you’re trying to break, or acquire? Are there things that you need to remember to do regularly, but somehow forget? Are there mantras or affirmations you need to remember to say? Turn them into a password.

I recently read an article from Mauricio Estrella. He was going through some life altering things. Per company policy, he was forced to change his password at work every 30 days.

“I’m gonna use a password to change my life,” he recalls thinking.

He continues:

“My password became the indicator. My password reminded me that I shouldn’t let myself be victim of my recent break up, and that I’m strong enough to do something about it.

My password became: Forgive@h3r

I had to type this statement several times a day. Each time my computer would lock. Each time my screensaver with her photo would appear. Each time I would come back from eating lunch alone.

In my mind, I went with the mantra that I didn’t type a password. In my mind, I wrote “Forgive her” everyday, for one month.”

Changing that password changed the way he thought of his former spouse. It was a recurring refrain, he says, a reminder to forgive her, accept the uncoupling, and embrace a recovery from depression.

“In the following days, my mood improved drastically,” Estrella continues. “By the end of the 2nd week, I noticed that this password became less powerful, and it started to lose its effect. A quick refresh of this ‘mantra’ helped me. I thought to myself I forgive heras I typed it, every time. The healing effect of it came back almost immediately.” You can read the whole article here.

Sound like something you can do? Of course. Think about things weighing on your mind. Turn them into a daily password and Change Your Life.

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.

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