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iPhone – Make a Mistake… Just shake it

New to iPhone, made a mistake typing, deleting, cutting, or pasting and wondering how to undo it? While you might have already figured this out through unbridled frustration. If you’ve been editing some text and you either typed the wrong thing, deleted more than you intended to, or cut, copy, or pasted yourself into error-land, here’s what you do:

Hold you iPhone firmly in one hand

Shake it (Really)

Tap the Undo button to confim

You’re done!

Apple has built “shake to undo” into the iPhone since iOS 3 and it works really well.

  • 03/25/2013
  • IT

Staying safe and minimizing risk while using social media

Do your friends make questionable decisions on social media? Yes, because many of our friends actually help scammers share their message, many because they are not well-informed. But just in case you’re in any doubt about how important it is to proceed with caution on social media, consider these three factors:

  1. The web is a dangerous place: The security company Sucuri scanned about 10 million websites and found 26% of them were compromised (hosting malicious injections or otherwise blacklisted).
  2. People are sharing more personal data than ever: That’s not just a hunch, that was the finding of a seven-year study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University: Silent Listeners: The Evolution of Privacy and Disclosure on Facebook.
  3. Consumers are not the only victims: Criminals conducting cyber attacks against companies are finding social media a great resource (there are several social media attack scenarios in the recently published Trustwave 2013 Global Security Report).

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Three suggestions for 2013

The new year has begun, and we have three suggestions for improving the quality of your computing life in 2013.

1. Backup often and in the cloud: Consider the consequences if all your data… Word files, Music or Photo library, Quicken/Quickbooks data, and everything else, were to just disappear. It’s a scary thought, but it happens to the unprepared all too often. Make 2013 the year to get you backup in order and configure it to archive your most important files and folders automatically. A whole-system local backup is very important, too. But the cloud-based approach to backing up protects you from disasters like fire, flood, theft, and virus infestations. Don’t wait another year to safeguard your data.

2. Look before you click: Watch out for fake download buttons,toolbars and other junk-ware. Users get into trouble with these things all the time because they click without thinking. Before clicking anything that’s unfamiliar, take a second or even ten, and look more closely at the link. A little bit of precaution can save you from hassles, and even disasters.

3. Keep it clean: Dust can kill a computer, clogging it and causing everything to overheat, with potentially disastrous results. When you have pets their hair can exacerbate the situation even further. So, schedule regular cleaning sessions where you use a can of compressed air to blow dust and pet hair off your cooling-fan blades and out of your case.

Remember BWS Technologies is always available to assist you. 
Call us at 334-358-6305 or email us support@bwsit.com

Adapted from article from CIO

  • 01/11/2013
  • IT

Seven Ways to fight Scare-Ware

Have you encountered this before: a pop-up pops and it looks like a window on your computer. Next thing a scan begins. It often grabs a screenshot of your “My Computer” window mimicking your computers characteristics then tricking you into clicking on links. The scan tells you that a virus has infected your computer. And for low price of “$49.95” you can download software that magically appears just in time to save the day. If you not to  download and install the software, your computer goes crazy and pop-ups will invade you like bedbugs in New York City hotel.

Information Week reports those behind a new fake antivirus software have added a new social engineering element — live support agents. The rogue software comes equipped with a customer support link leading to a live session with the bad guy. Real scammers on the other end of chat have the ability to offer live remote access support instructed by support to click a link initiating remote access to their computer.  Once connected remotely, the scammer can potentially retrieve documents to steal your identity.

Another new twist on the scam involves a popup in the form of a browser with a warning that looks like what your browser may present to you when you visit a page that might have an expired security certificate, malware warning or be a potential phishing site. The page is usually red with a warning: “Visiting This Site May Harm Your Computer” then it provides you with a link, button or pop-up that gives you the option of downloading security software or to update your browsers security.

The software is sometimes known as “AntiVirus2010” “WinFixer,” “WinAntivirus,” “DriveCleaner,” “WinAntispyware,” “AntivirusXP” and “XP Antivirus 2010” or something like “Security Toolkit”. These are actually viruses or spyware that infect your computer, or just junk software that does nothing of value.

What makes the scam so believable is there is actual follow through of the purchasing of software that is supposed to protect you. There is a shopping cart, an order form, credit card processing and a download, just like any online software purchase.

Protect yourself:

1. Use the most updated browser: Internet Explorer 8, Chrome or Firefox, download the latest and greatest. At least download whatever security updates there are for your exiting browser. Also keep Flash and Adobe Reader (Acrobat) up to date.

2. Usually by default, a pop-up blocker is turned on in new browsers. Keep it on. No pop-ups, no scare-ware.

3. If you are using another browser and a pop-up –pops-up, shut down your browser. If the pop-up won’t let you shut it down, do a Ctrl-Alt-Delete and shut down the browser that way.

4. Never click links in pop-ups.  If the pop-ups are out of your control, do a hard shutdown before you start clicking links.

5. Persistence counts. Shutting off this pop-up is often difficult and any buttons you press within this pop-up could mean downloading the exact virus they warned you of.

6. Install the most recent versions of anti-virus and keep it set to automatically update your virus definitions.

7.  Never click on links in the body of a “WARNING” webpage that is suggesting to download updates for your browser or suggesting to download security software. Don’t click the little red X in the upper right corner. Alt-F4 should close the pop-up window, and if it does not, then Ctrl-Alt-Del and use the Task Manager to kill the whole IE/FF browser etc (including any other running copies)

adapted via finextra.com.

  • 10/29/2010
  • IT

Guard yourself from Firesheep and Wi-Fi snooping

The abundance of free/cheap and open Wi-Fi networks in restaurants, airports, offices and hotels is a great perk to the traveling user; it makes connectivity and remote access much easier than it used to be. But you need to be informed and understand the risks.

Unfortunately, most of those “Open” networks don’t employ WEP or WPA passwords to secure the connection between device and hotspot, every byte and packet that’s transmitted back and forth is visible to all the computers on the wireless LAN, all the time. While certain sites and services use full-time browser encryption (the ones that have URLs beginning with https:// and that show a lock in the browser status bar), many only encrypt the login session to hide your username and password from prying eyes. This, as it turns out, is the digital equivalent of locking the door but leaving the windows wide open.

Firesheep is a Firefox extension which makes it trivially easy to impersonate someone to the websites they log in to while on the same open Wi-Fi network. It kicks in when you login to a website (usually in a secure fashion, via HTTPS) and then the site redirects you to a non-secured page after login. Most sites that operate this way will save your login information in a browser cookie, which can be ‘sniffed’ by someone on the same network segment; that’s what Firesheep does automatically. With the cookie in hand, it’s simple to present it to the remote site and proceed to do bad things with the logged-in account. Bad things could range from sending fake Twitter or Facebook messages all the way up to, potentially, buying things on ecommerce sites.

The solution

USE SSL/HTTPS only if the website supports it — is quite simple: after you connect, the site should keep your session secure using SSL or https. Some sites, including most banking sites, already do this. However, encryption requires more overhead and more server muscle, so many sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) only use it for the actual login. Gmail has an option to require https and has made it the default setting, but you should make sure that it’s enabled if you use Gmail (Google Apps has a similar feature). This also doesn’t necessarily help if you’re using an embedded browser in an iPhone or iPad app, where the URL is hard-coded.

Protecting yourself from Firesheep if you use Firefox or Chrome is possible with extensions like the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere, Secure Sites or Force-TLS. These work by forcing a redirect to the secure version of a site, if it exists. The obvious problems with these solutions are: a) you have to install one for each browser (and we have not yet found one for Safari), and b) it only works if a secure version of the site exists.

Even better.

A) Don’t use open networks.
B) Use a SOCKS proxy and SSH tunnel.
C) Use a VPN.

adapted via tuaw.com

  • 10/26/2010
  • IT

Top 10 Facebook Fixes

Facebook may be the de facto social network of, frankly, almost everyone, but that doesn’t mean you have to use Facebook exactly the way its creators, or your Farmville-addicted friends, want you to. Here are 10 tweaks to make Facebook better.

10. Access Facebook Chat Through Your Preferred Client
Feel free to set that little box in the lower-right hand corner of the Facebook page, the chat box, to “Go Offline.” If you really want to have even more up-to-the-second chats with your Facebook contacts, you can do so through your own favorite client: Pidgin, Adium, iChat, Trillian, Digsby, whatever you’d like.

9. Back Up Your Account with SocialSafe
There’s a whole lot of data, and photos, in your Facebook account, and getting them all out is no small feat. SocialSafe, which costs just $3, lets you save all your photos, friends, photo albums, and even friends’ photos that you’re tagged in, along with your status updates. It doesn’t grab everything in and around your account, but enough to liberate you from feeling chained to the service.

8. Have a Plan for Your Account After Death
It could be more than a little awkward for friends, distant relatives, and others to leave you messages on your Facebook account, then find out you passed away. Even more awkward for those around you when people go digging through your account, or when your account can’t be deactivated. All pause for thought, and a motivator to set up a post-mortem plan for Facebook. There are services that offer professional account-after-death services, like Entrustet and Legacy Locker, but really, just thinking through a system where somebody you trust has the keys to your account and instructions on what you want done with it. Officially, Facebook offers a “memorialized” account for relatives that can prove their loved one is deceased, but won’t hand over the keys to anyone on their own part.

7. Prevent Sites from Auto-Customizing Content with Your Facebook Login
You can turn off Facebook’s “Instant Personalization” service in your settings, but the reality of your Facebook login status following around the web, and occasionally allowing less scrupulous sites to glom on, is still there. Shut down access to your Facebook credentials from anyone except Facebook using Adblock Plus and custom filters.

6. Filter and Compress Your Activity Alerts
If you let Facebook dictate how it emails you about status updates, replies, “Likes,” and other changes, it will overwhelm you. If you leave it to yourself to check, you can just as easily overwhelm your willpower to avoid distraction. Compress all your Facebook notifications into one or two emails per day with NutshellMail, a social media aggregator that we recommended for filtering and managing your online social life and never missing important events—that last one set up so that event invitations come through right away, but friends tagging you in old college photos waits for your end-of-day web checks.

5. Find Out When Anyone Else Logs into Your Account
Maybe you left yourself signed in at a friend’s house. Perhaps you found out too late that you should have given your old cellphone a better wiping clean. However it is that you’re concerned about other people getting access to your account, you can wipe the slate clean and pin it down from your Facebook settings. As the Trouble Fixers blog explains, there are settings to get email or SMS notices whenever your account is accessed from a “new” device, be it a browser, phone, or other gizmo, once you wipe the slate clean and register your computers and phones as authorized.

4. Get Back the Basic Privacy You Signed Up For
If you’d wanted everything you posted to be public, you’d use Twitter. If you wanted all your co-workers to see it, you’d send it over email. You signed up for Facebook to give a select group of friends access to the more private side of your life and thoughts, and you can get back to that kind of small-circle feeling. We’ve previously posted guides to Facebook’s simpler privacy controls, as well as getting back to what you first signed up for. Even with Facebook’s latest round of comprehension improvements, it’s still worth looking at what you might not know you’re sharing.

3. “Quit” Facebook While Still Staying in Touch
Facebook can be more trouble than it’s worth, especially for those who have anything approaching privacy concerns. Still, it’s becoming the world’s phonebook replacement, and some people still want to get messages and sign in for events when necessary. So go ahead and quit Facebook without actually quitting Facebook, by wiping out one account and building another with very limited access to prying eyes.

2. Strip Out Annoying Facebook “Games,” Quizzes, and Other Cruft
Sure, you can click on every single one of your friends’ indulgences to hide them, but there will always be another questionnaire, turn-based addiction machine, or other viral thing right around the corner. Wipe them all clean from your account with F.B. Purity (technically “Fluff Busting Purity”), a user script that installs on nearly every major browser and cleans away all those status updates you never want to see again.

1. Stop Your Friends from Revealing Your Location
Facebook’s new Places feature? Yeah, it’s a lot like Foursquare, Gowalla, and other I’m-here-right-now apps. The big difference is that your Facebook friends can, by default, check you in somewhere without your knowledge. To prevent letting everyone else publish your social calendar, you can disable Facebook Places, or just disable your friends’ ability to geo-tag you.

adapted via lifehacker.com

  • 09/03/2010
  • OS

How to Avoid Friend Spam on Facebook

With Facebook’s ever-growing popularity, it’s not surprising that fake accounts are after your online friendship. Here are some tips for detecting and avoiding friend spam.

Check Recent Activity
When you receive a friend request and you’re not sure if it’s real, check the person’s profile to see their recent activity. If they’ve added an inordinate amount of friends very recently, there’s a good chance they’re spam.

Do You Have Friends in Common?
One good thing Facebook does to help you out is let you know who else is friends with anybody else. If you don’t know who someone is but your friend approved the request, send them a message to find out before you add this person to your list. Perhaps your friends know them and can give you some background information, or maybe they just added him or her arbitrarily. Either way, it’s a quick means of finding out who might be at the other end of the request.

Be Wary of Suggested Friends
People You May Know is Facebook’s way of identifying some possibly worthwhile friends. While it’s been pretty accurate for me about half the time, the other half is filled with people that seem to have sprouted out of nowhere. Inevitably you’re going to have a friend who has a friend who’s really just spam. As a result, you’re going to get friend spam suggestions here and there. Be sure to check out people you don’t know before you add them.

Be Wary of Actual Friends
While a lot less common, spammers have actually taken data from real people and repurposed it in a fake account. When you receive a friend request from somebody you know, it takes about ten seconds to visit their page and see if anything looks a little off. If it does, send them a message first and make sure it’s really them. Chances are this isn’t going to be an issue you run into very often, if ever, but it’s always a good idea to check out friend requests before you approve them.

adapted via lifehacker.com

  • 09/02/2010
  • OS

Five Great Text Recognition Tools

Working with text on your computer offers a range of possibilities in searching and editing that simply aren’t available with hard copy text. Check out these five text recognition tools to get your printed text into your computer.


1. Adobe Acrobat (Windows/Mac, From $130) – A solid OCR system is one of the most overlooked featured of Adobe Acrobat. Included in all versions from Adobe Acrobat Standard to Pro Extended and tucked in a sub-menu, the OCR functionality in Adobe is robust and works with both scanned and already saved documents. Many people already have a copy of Acrobat at home or at work and find that the OCR quality is high enough that they have little reason to invest the money in a dedicated OCR tool.
Read more

2. Evernote (Windows/Mac, Free) Evernote was not designed to serve as a standalone OCR tool, so the OCR capabilities are intended simply to supplement the primary purpose of the tool—taking great notes. To that end, however, if your OCR needs are few and mostly centered on pulling in hard-copy text to your note-taking/research workflow, Evernote is a great solution. If you need text recognition with a large volume of documents with high page counts, however, you’ll likely want to find another OCR solution, as this app is not particularly well-suited for dealing with anything bigger than indexing the text of business cards and low-volume documents.
Read more about Evernote

3. OmniPage (Windows, From $149) – At this point we’re getting away from products that serve the needs of infrequent OCR users and moving into products that are feature-packed and exclusively focused on OCR. OmniPage has a powerful OCR engine, excellent format and layout recognition and preservation, and integration with popular applications—including one-click text-recognition support in Microsoft Office and a send-to-Kindle function. OmniPage supports multiple languages, batch processing, and exports to multiple common document formats.
Read more

4. ABBYY FineReader (Windows/Mac, $399.99) – ABBYY FineReader has an astounding number of features and OCR tricks—as it should, for the hefty price tag of $399. FineReader excels at recognition of text and formatting across a wide range of inputs—scanned text, existing documents, camera captures, and more—with support for over 180 languages. It can recognize text in images, barcodes, and other elements most basic OCR tools would miss. FineReader integrates with popular office applications and comes programmed with “quick tasks” to make common scanning workflows a one-click affair. ABBYY FineReader is available for both Windows and Mac OS X, although Mac users are limited to the FineReader Express package ($99) a light version of the full FineReader package.
Read more

5. Readiris (Windows/Mac, $129) – Readiris technology is the OCR engine behind the OCR features in popular applications like Adobe Acrobat, but it’s also the same tech that powers their standalone OCR software. Readiris supports over 120 languages—with additional packages available for Asian and Middle Eastern languages. The application scans and sends documents directly to your favorite application, creates and converts PDF files, and generates smaller documents by using their propriety compression techniques to radically shrink documents for easy transmission and archiving. Readiris also supports text recognition in images and handwritten notes.
Read more

adapted via Lifehacker.com

  • 09/01/2010
  • 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

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
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