Block Unwanted Calls on Your Cell Phone

Back in the November newsletter, I told you about a service that would block unwanted calls to your home phone with NoMoRobo. As more people are doing away with home phone numbers and using their cell phones exclusively, I’d like to tell you about a service that blocks unwanted calls to your cell phone.
Truecaller is an app that you install on your phone and once you set it as the default dialer, it screens all incoming calls and tells you if it’s a spam call or not. If it is an unwanted number, you can block it through the app so if that number tries calling again, it’ll be blocked. If you happen to miss a call and don’t recognize the number, you can do a search of that number and see if it’s spam or not, saving you a call-back. Truecaller collects its data through their partnerships with various phone directories, social networks and the Truecaller users.

Truecaller also has an app called TrueMessenger that will keep spam messages out of your SMS inbox and will easily identify unknown senders. You can set your own rules to block spam or let the Truecaller community start you off.

The Truecaller app is available for both Apple and Android phones while the TrueMessenger app is only available for Android. I’ve been using Truecaller for quite a while and highly recommend it.

Apple’s Quicktime Video Player on Windows Should be Uninstalled Immediately

If you have iTunes on your Windows computer, you most likely also have Quicktime Video Player as Apple often packaged these downloads together.

http://blog.trendmicro.com/urgent-call-action-uninstall-quicktime-windows-today/

We’re putting the word out that everyone should follow Apple’s guidance and uninstall QuickTime for Windows as soon as possible.

This is for two reasons.

First, Apple will no longer be issuing security updates for Quicktime Video Player on the Windows Platform and recommends users uninstall it. Note that this does not apply to QuickTime on Mac OSX.

Second, our Zero Day Initiative has just released two advisories ZDI-16-241 and ZDI-16-242 detailing two new, critical vulnerabilities affecting QuickTime for Windows. These advisories are being released in accordance with the Zero Day Initiative’s Disclosure Policy for when a vendor does not issue a security patch for a disclosed vulnerability. And because Apple is no longer providing security updates for QuickTime on Windows, these vulnerabilities are never going to be patched.

You can find information on how to uninstall Apple QuickTime for Windows from the Apple website here: https://support.apple.com/HT205771

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.