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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Gmail getting a smarter Inbox feature

Google’s new Priority Inbox feature not only sorts your inbox, but it also figures out what’s important based on what messages you reply to and read.

Gmail has one of the best spam filters around, but your email isn’t made up of only good and bad email. After the spam is filtered out, you end up with mail you want or need to respond to, in varying degrees, as well as the email in between spam and a real message, such as advertisements and newsletters you’ve signed up for.

It watches how you interact with certain types of messages and senders, then shows you what’s most important based on that information. If something doesn’t look right or Gmail makes a blatant mistake, you can adjust message priority to make it work better for you. Also, if you don’t want to deal with an important message right away, starring it will preserve it for later.

Priority Inbox is in beta and should be rolling out over the next week or so. When you see New! Priority Inbox in the top right corner of your inbox you’ll be able to try it out.

adapted via lifehacker.com

  • 08/31/2010
  • IT

Five simple steps for Computing on the Road

So whether you are a small business, about to embark on the holiday of a lifetime, a short break or six months backpacking around the world, then make sure you follow these five simple steps.

Travelling with your laptop

  1. Remove all sensitive data off your laptop
  2. Back up all your data before you leave

Using a computer that is not yours while abroad

  1. Don’t give away personal data and passwords
  2. Don’t store passwords or login details when using a shared or public machine
  3. Close down and log out of the browser once you have finished your session

Adapted via AVG Blogs

  • 08/30/2010
  • IT

Un-Hide Friends from your Facebook feed

If you have hidden a friend from you Facebook feed and want to see them again just follow the steps below.

  • On your home page, click the filter in the left-hand panel that says News Feed.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the News Feed, it may “automatically” expand, just continue to scroll.
  • Click the link that says “Edit Options”.
  • A box will appear labeled News Feed Settings.
  • In the column labeled “Hide” find the friend(s) you want to un-hide.
  • Click the X to the right of their name.
  • Click Save.
  • Your Done :^)
  • 08/26/2010
  • OS

The 2 Biggest Security Threats: ScareWare & You

Without a doubt the largest threat to the security of your computer and consequently your identity, and bank account is YOU, followed closely by ScareWare. The best firewalls and most effective antivirus won’t help a bit if you, the user, click on Rogue Security Software and fake warnings. Known also as Scareware, this thief is fooling you big time. When it knocks, do not open the door.

Every day we have people describing ScareWare that has taken over their system. They are unable to run their antivirus because they can’t get to the sites they need. The Rogue AntiVirus has hijacked their browser and will not let them near a site that could help. Not being able to access a site or download a removal program is the work of the infection. The user receives a warning, clicks on a link to download an update and BAM! They’re infected.

What Do I Look For?

Any warning or suggestion that you are somehow infected is to be treated as possible scareware. You can be casually surfing the web or simply working with a program on your system when these false warnings arrive. Don’t click on them. Just because they’re knocking, don’t let them in. The same is true for any popup suggesting you need to download the latest version of a program or video player. Treat them all as suspect.

Looking for security software? You better know the software your reviewing. Even something as simple as a Google search can produce the very Rogue you are trying to avoid. Just because it shows up in a Google search doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you don’t know it, don’t let it in the door.

How Does It Hurt Me?

The most obvious damage but also the least troublesome, is that it prevents you from using your computer. It wastes your time looking for a way to rid yourself of the pest and get where you want to go. Consider yourself lucky if you realize you are infected and are successful removing it.

The next obvious damage is a little more frightening. It simply steals your money by duping you into buying the rogue program. Your immediate monetary loss may only be a few bucks but do you really think that is the end of it? Do you really want your credit card in the hands of people who duped you to begin with? Do you think they will keep your information safe? Just the thought of it is enough to make me shiver.

adapted via PCpitstop.com

  • 08/25/2010
  • IT

How can I know if my computer is infected?

Users are often advised to use an antivirus to check if their systems are infected, but with the current cyber-crime scenario, this is simply not enough.While many of today’s threats are designed specifically to go undetected, there are still some tell-tale signs that a system has been compromised.

9 signs of infection

1. Your computer is running extremely slowly. This could be a symptom of many things, including infection by a virus. If it has been infected by a virus, worm or Trojan, among other things, which are running on the computer, they could be running tasks that consume a lot of resources, making the system run more slowly than usual.

2. Your applications won’t start. How many times have you tried to run an application from the start menu or desktop and nothing happens? Sometimes another program might even run. As in the previous case, this could be another type of problem, but at the very least it’s a symptom that tells you that something is wrong.

3. Your computer speaks to you. There are all types of pop-ups and messages on the desktop either advertising things, saying that the PC is infected and needs protection… This is a typical, surefire case of an infection. There is either spyware on the computer, or it has been infected by a fake antivirus (also called “rogueware”).

4. You cannot connect to the Internet or it runs very slowly. Loss of Internet communication is another common symptom of infection, although it could also be due to a problem with your service provider or router. You might also have a connection that runs much more slowly than usual. If you have been infected, the malware could be connecting to a URL or opening separate connection sessions, thereby reducing your available bandwidth or making it practically impossible to use the Internet.

5. When you connect to the Internet, all types of windows open or the browser displays pages you have not requested. This is another certain sign of infection. Many threats are designed to redirect traffic to certain websites against the user’s will, and can even spoof Web pages, making you think you are on a legitimate site when really you have been taken to a malicious imitation.

6. Your files are gone. Hopefully nobody will be asking this type of question, although there are still some threats around designed to delete or encrypt information, to move documents from one place to another- If you find yourself in this situation, you really ought to start worrying.

7. Your antivirus has disappeared, my firewall is disabled. Another typical characteristic of many threats is that they disable security systems installed on computers. Perhaps if one thing shuts down it might just be a specific software failure; but if all your security components are disabled, you are almost certainly infected.

8. Your library files for running games, programs, etc. have disappeared from your computer. Once again, this could be a sign of infection, although it could also be down to incomplete or incorrect installation of programs.

9. Your computer has gone crazy… literally. If the computer starts acting on its own, you suddenly find your system has been sending emails without your knowledge, Internet sessions or applications open sporadically on their own – your system could be compromised by malware.

adapted via PandaLabs

  • 08/24/2010
  • IT

9 Dangerous Things You Can Do Online

Below are 9 potentially dangerous things, and what you can to do to make doing them safer.

1. Checking the “Keep me signed in” box on public PCs

How to protect yourself:

  • NEVER, ever, check the “keep me signed in” box if you’re not using your personal laptop or home desktop
  • Be careful with work computers. Your office PC might feel “yours” but others can easily snoop when you’re away from your desk. They could do something as simple as forward all your messages to their own private email account
  • If you just signed IN to Google, eBay, Amazon or other site from a public PC, make sure to sign OFF once you’re done
  • Delete your browser history from the browser tools when completed to protect your privacy
  • Using your browser’s privacy mode while browsing prevents information such as the websites you visited from being stored. Internet Explorer 8 calls it “InPrivate Browsing” and Google Chrome calls it a “New incognito window”
  • Never save passwords even when prompted to do so by your browser because someone else using your computer later would have access to your accounts

2. Failing to update Microsoft Windows OS /Java / Adobe Reader / Adobe Flash

How to protect yourself:

  • Java / Adobe Reader / Adobe Flash are responsible for an astounding number of PC infections due to security exploits. The best way to avoid becoming a target is to update all three pieces of software as often as you can. Flash will prompt you automatically, but you can tell Java to search for updates daily, instead of bi-monthly. Sign in for automatic updates with Adobe Reader as well
  • Make sure to update your windows operating system. One way to do this is to set your windows updates to install automatically. This will reduce your exposure to hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in the windows operating system

3. Searching for celebrity gossip, incriminating material (i.e. sex tapes)

How to protect yourself:

  • This one is a no-brainer. Always be cautious while accessing this material. Malware authors know that people naturally gravitate towards the sex/celebrity combo, so new attacks are targeted specifically towards this crowd
  • If you must, search for your news on Google News, Bing News or other aggregator. These services do a basic triage of sites, so chances are you’ll be kept from reaching infected blogs/web pages
  • When searching on Google use https://www.google.com instead of the common http://www.google.com, which will send your search request through an encrypted SSL connection. CyberDefender has found that doing so reduces the risk of being infected from search results.

4. Using BitTorrent to download copyrighted music/software/film/TV shows

How to protect yourself:

  • Stick to official downloads/streams such as iTunes, Hulu and legitimate websites. Avoid torrent sites at all costs – even if legit (not malicious), some of the ads found in torrent sites could be compromised. Drive-by downloads are often found in compromised ads and can infect computers without any sort of user input. Visit site -> get infected automatically
  • Do not download pirated material
  • Do not download pirated material 🙂

5. Online gaming (free to play, social games on Facebook and beyond)

How to protect yourself:

  • Be careful when downloading free to play (F2P) clients. If the client software is malicious – or quality assurance happens to be spotty – you could be putting your PC at risk
  • Don’t give out your login information to strangers. In fact, don’t give out ANY kind of information, personal or not, to people you meet gaming. At the very least, you could have your virtual items stolen. At worst, you could lose real money
  • Avoid falling for the old “FarmVille Secrets” scam. You will either download a Trojan or expose your Facebook login info to criminals

6. Leaving Facebook privacy settings wide open, therefore exposing personal info to all

How to protect yourself:

  • Carefully review your privacy settings on Facebook. Err on the side of caution – don’t let “friends of friends” see your birthday, cell phone number, etc. All of these could be used in an attempt to impersonate you to credit cards, credit unions, etc
  • Only friends should have access to the more personal layer of information we all have. So choose your friends wisely – “serial friending” would expose you just as well

7. Connecting to unknown wireless networks

How to protect yourself:

  • In public places, like airports and hotels, be careful about logging into unknown (private) wireless networks. In a hotel for instance, be sure you choose the official one, not another in the neighborhood. Bad guys can eavesdrop as you use your computer, “imitating” a real, safe environment
  • Public settings for your laptop are a whole lot more secure – e.g. no file sharing, increased firewall settings, etc

8. Using the same password for every single online account

How to protect yourself:

  • It’s hard work to remember several different passwords, so no wonder some use the same password over and over again. But if that one password leaks out to cybercriminals, your entire online life is suddenly open to the world
  • Keep different passwords for different purposes. Keep email and social media passwords separate, for example
  • Certain browsers can also help with a “master password” that keeps a multitude of passwords in check. So even if you have different passwords for different services, you only have to remember the master password Using a tool (Roboform or Password Vault) for this purpose that encrypts password information and uses best practices to generate passwords is an even better idea

9. Trying to get a free iPad, PlayStation 3 or similar gadgets (scams/phishing)

How to protect yourself:

  • Oldie but goodie: there’s no such thing as a free lunch
  • If an online offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is
  • Avoid any kind of giveaway that’s not supported in a big way by a known brand, even if it happens to be an online brand (like Zappos, for example)
  • Keep a security suite fully updated, since most of them can catch phishing attempts resulting from this kind of scam
adapted via gizmodo.com

Spam/Phishing Spreads Through Facebook Chat, Events & Messages

Recently, a new wave of spam messages, chat messages, and events requests have been flooding the site, and the volume has only surged in the past few days.

What do we mean by phishing? Most would be familiar with the term but for those who aren’t, I’m referring to fake emails that try to trick people into revealing their log-in details. Internet banking is a common target for this sort of social engineering hacking and versions for Amazon and eBay.

Sometimes spam and phishing attempts give themselves away with dodgy spelling or unprofessional layouts but in this case the emails look exactly like real private messages from Facebook.

If you are Facebook friends with some less techie types, then you might want to warn them. In this case, it appears to be straightforward spam rather than phishing. As many users have also noticed, numerous chat messages and event rsvp request are flooding the site, offering free iPhones. Fortunately Facebook is aggressively filtering many of these pages and alerting users that the pages may be abusive, however that isn’t preventing the scammers from sending them.

We’re assuming that the volume will die down as Facebook steps up its preventative measures, however it’s pretty clear that numerous accounts have been successfully phished and hacked. If you see messages like the ones described, do not respond or click on them as they will only result in the spam attack continuing to spread.

adapted via allfacebook.com

How to: Properly Coil Your MacBook’s Power Cord

Apple’s white power brick is pretty handy, what with the attached hooks for coiling it up and packing it away. If you do it wrong, though, you’ll likely stress the cord and break it (or worse, create a fire hazard).

Instead of just coiling it up, make a loop so the joint between the brick and the wire isn’t bent. It’s simple, see video below.

via tested.com

  • 08/20/2010
  • IT

How to Tag People in Your Facebook Status Updates

This was quite a big deal when it was announced this past September, but from the amount of searches on the topic “how can I make someone’s name go blue in a Facebook status?” it seems some people still have not found the answer.

To mention someone in a status update just type “@” (a la Twitter) in the status bar and start typing their name as it appears on Facebook (Facebook is rolling out an update that allows you to just type a proper name). An auto-generated list will then come up with people in your social circle whose name starts with the letters you’ve typed. The feature also works with pages, brands, events and companies.

Hit the name you want, complete the update, click share and the name will become a hyperlink (you won’t see the @ symbol) and will appear in blue text.

  • 08/19/2010
  • OS

Facebook has enhanced its auto-suggest and tagging

Facebook has enhanced its auto-suggest and tagging feature so that the @ key is no longer required.

Now if you start to type a proper noun into the status bar, you would be prompted with a drop-down menu listing any corresponding names among your friends, pages or groups. If you select one, the name would appear in your status update or wall post as a hyper-link. Previously you needed to trigger the tag by typing @ first.

It seems that the feature only works when you use a capital letter. So for me, typing “Book” prompts suggestions related to BookCrossing or the Book Passage Travel Writing & Photography Conference, while typing “book” is just treated as a normal word. As ReadWriteWeb comments, this is probably sensible – you wouldn’t want Facebook to suggest your friend Tom every time you type the word “tomorrow”.

  • 08/18/2010
  • OS
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