DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 11, 2017

Schemes, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:49 am

For the past two weeks, we have looked at several of the ways we are being schemed and scammed out of our money. Today we will continue that journey looking at some other devious ways we are being bombarded by online purchases.

  1. Shop with reputable, well-known online retailers.  Do not shop at a site you have never heard of or where you do not have a friend or two who has successfully shopped there before.  In addition, read ALL of the information concerning your purchase in each screen.  Next, print the “receipt” page that is shown at the end of every online transaction, you may need it for returns later.
  2. Check for a little lock-like icon somewhere in your browser’s window (near the URL) when shopping.  Also, verify the URL of the site.  It should start with, “https” since the letter “s” at the end stands for secure.  They both indicate you are on a secure site which is a MUST.  Information submitted here is only readable by the receiver.image
  3. As I have stated last week and many other times, NEVER EVER click a link in an e-mail to order something.  I don’t care how proper the e-mail looks, no matter whom it is from, do not do it.  Always type in the address (URL) of the site you wish to purchase from.
  4. Get an email address to use only for online purchases and nothing else!  Do not give it to friends or relatives, do not sign up for anything else with it, do not post it online in Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard or anywhere else.  Other than online purchases you only use it with Netflix, Amazon, PayPal, your cable provider, etc.  I gave you reasons before so I will not repeat them here.
  5. Whenever possible use PayPal.com to purchase online items.  PayPal is in the business of making safe and secure online transactions and they are good at it.  They have built in security you cannot get on your own.  Google “PayPal security center” to see what they offer to protect you.  You may be surprised.
  6. This one is a pain but it is strongly recommended by me and other nerds.  Open a new account at your current local bank.  Open it with the full intention of never putting more in it than whatever you may spend on an impulse online purchase.  I usually keep about $25-$50 in mine.  It is the one that I connect to my PayPal account.  I only use the debit card connected to that account for any non-PayPal online purchases.  That way if someone hacks it they can never get more than that amount. If I am going to purchase something for more than the amount I have in there I transfer it in from my home checking or savings account.

 

Be safe out there. Unfortunately, not everyone is as nice as you.  Make no mistake – they want your money.

January 31, 2017

Facebook Safety, Part 2

A long time ago (on the “feels like index”) last year we looked at some Facebook security settings you should check on your account.  If you need a refresher on what I said go here, rd.dblclx.com/2hVbumC, to take a look again.

Today we will take a look at some of the personal things you need to think about before sharing.  First, I will mention your kids, grandkids, you know those little people in your family.  I cannot encourage you enough to not post many pictures of your kids.  You may think they are innocuous and cute but you may be giving away a lot of information. Especially over time.  Take the family whose young son was kidnapped.  They had only posted pictures about him on FB and other sites for his first few years of growing up.  The first day to school.  Many little league shots.  They mentioned a couple of his great teachers in elementary school.  Mom talked about how Wednesdays she had worked out at the local gym with pics of her friends and herself. Over time the kidnapper found out, even though it was never specifically mentioned, the boy’s school, his grade level, what position he played on the team, what days/times he practiced, his friends, his mom and her friends and where he was supposed to go on Wednesdays after school.  Put it together and you know how that worked.  Be very, very careful what you are posting.

Next, do not accept friends you do not know.  Many people are just selling you stuff on FB and will blanket as many people as they can for friend requests.  When you accept, you and all of your friends can be blasted with offers.  Use common sense, if you do not know or remember their names they are not quite up to being a "friend" anyway.  If the guy is from Gondwanaland and you do not know anyone there – ignore him, you will not hurt his feelings.

Keep in mind that if you secure your Facebook site to not allow anyone but friends to see your posts that is good.  However, their friends can see their comments on your posts and their friends can see theirs and on-and-on.  Your posts can end up anywhere.

Now time for one of the biggest no-nos.  Never, never post pictures or talk about your vacation until you are back.  Why?  Because there are sites out there that just look for people talking about  being away from home so that the nefarious bunch out there can remove your TVs, motorcycles or anything else in your home while you are away.  At one time, there was a site, "PleaseRobMe" that had a search going on Twitter and Yelp, letting burglars know what houses were empty.

The last concern is not just limited to what you post on FB, Twitter and Yelp.  Think about when you are out and publicly post about a great restaurant you are at, or how you are meeting some old friends for bowling…or whatever.  You are letting the world know you are out and where you are.  Be safe out there, would you? 

December 20, 2016

Facebook Safety – Part 1

I have a few suggestions this week of a few steps you may want to take to make your Facebook account a little more secure.  Just think if someone took over your Facebook account which has been known to happen to people in recent times.  To your friends, it may appear that you have starting posting very inappropriate comments and/or pictures on your account. 

First, I will be giving these settings as they are on a computer.  Yes, you may also get to these settings from a tablet or phone.  However, it is my belief that it is much easier to make settings and entries from a larger screen, the choice is yours.  Also, note that some of these settings may be slightly different on different devices.

Privacy ShortcutsGo ahead and open up Facebook in your browser of choice.  In the upper right corner look for the lock with three lines next to it.  When you hover over it you will see "Privacy Shortcuts." Click it.   There are basically three settings you can work with under "Privacy Checkup." 

Privacy Checkup

First, Posts.  Here you should choose who you want to be able to view your posts.  You can easily choose between the Public, your Friends (you have friended in FB) and Only yourself.  Why you would choose only you could see your posts I have no idea, but it is available.  Next, are Apps.  If you have ever used FB to log into a game it will be listed here. So, if you stopped playing a particular game or no longer wanted to be associated with it you can again choose who can see your scores.  I set it for just me or the "Only Me" option. 

Privacy Checkup Options

The next option is for your Profile which is very important.  Here you can decide who to allow to see very personal things.  First your phone number may be listed here if you gave it to FB when you set up the account.  If you did add your number here you can choose who can see it.  Again, that is either the public, your friends on FB or yourself…yeah go figure on that last one.  As with  all of the choices you can customize it to allow separate groups to see your information, not just the general three choices.  Other items in your Profile area are Email, Birthday and Hometown and who gets to see them. 

Last you can click either Finish Up which is self-explanatory or My About Page.  Clicking on the My About Page link will show you what people can see from your Profile in Facebook.  You can make other adjustments from there if you see changes that need to be edited. 

More next week and have a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

June 7, 2016

Password Vault

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:14 am

Bank accounts, dating sites, email, Facebook, Instagram, other email accounts, PC login, Twitter, websites, work, and on it goes.  What do those things have in common with most everything else on your computer?  Correct, passwords.

Five years ago I wrote about various ways to keep your bazillions of passwords safe.  DO NOT do what some non-savvy users do and write them on a piece of paper cleverly hidden under your keyboard.  Yes, I have actually known people to do that.  I also do not recommend creating a text document, spreadsheet, etc. with password protection as these are not really too secure. 

I used to exclusively use KeePass (keepass.info) which is an excellent program; however, from emails I have received it is a little cumbersome and difficult for some.  Especially when used in several locations like work computer, home notebook, tablets and also phones. 

KeePass logo 
I have recently switched over to LastPass (lastpass.com) which I find incredibly more useful in several respects.  When I mentioned LastPass five years ago I was slightly negative toward it since it had just faced its first hack attack.  However, that being said, it totally survived that attack and has not had a major attempt since. 

LastPass logo

LastPass puts your password information on its servers but that database is protected by your password and keys only you and your computer have. This is a very safe combination in that if your account was hacked at LastPass in the cloud, the hackers would still not have the information they need to get in.  That would have to come from you. 

LastPass’s online storage enables you to access your passwords online from any location on any computerized device.  That makes it incredibly easy to use anywhere. 

LastPass has many features but one of my favorites is once it is installed and set up.  You are able to save passwords as you browse, and when you go to that site next time LastPass will autofill the login for you if you want it to, as long as you have first logged into LastPass. 

Another good thing in its favor is if you have three Gmail accounts, 12 Yahoo accounts, and any number of others, it will remember them individually and let you log in to the correct one with the correct password.

As with all applications available today there is the free standard version and also a premium version.  The premium version gives you other beneficial features but you know me.  In my opinion the freebie gives you everything most users need, so try it out. 

If you use this link (rd.dblclx.com/20vo3US) to sign up for LastPass you and I will both get to try out the premium version for a while.  That way we can both see if its is that much better. 

Free or Premium really does not matter, this app will let you be much more secure online.  It will allow you to create a variety of passwords (which LastPass can even create for you) so that you are not using the same password for everything.  Come on, you know you are doing that since we cannot possibly remember a bazillion of them. 

Let me know if/when you try it out.  Below you can see some of the items in my LastPass vault.

Ron's LastPass vault

September 16, 2014

Good News and a Warning

A few weeks back I wrote about an application you could use to retrieve deleted files from a computer’s drive, SD Card, etc.  This was really highlighted when I got an email from Tom in Harrisonburg, about his adventure with that application, Recuva

It began with, "I took a deep breath, downloaded, installed and ran Recuva on my wife’s defunct mini-SDHC card from her phone…"  Tom went on to tell me that Recuva fully recovered about 90%, over 600 photographs and eight videos.  These had been taken on her phone and then the card failed.  Now the grandkid photos were back.

He was so impressed he bought the Pro version.  I like hearing good news from all of you, so let me know if you read something that helps you out. 

Now a warning for all of you Android phone users.  If you sell, give away or toss your phone/tablet in the trash there are two things you should do first.  Number one is to remove your SD card if you have one installed.  It may contain many things about your system, possibly pictures you have taken, downloaded files, sites you visit, etc.  Next, you must perform a "factory reset" of your device.   

FYI, here is the way to do a factory reset.  Note: devices may vary slightly.  Go to Settings, select Privacy and then "Factory data reset."  You will get a big warning about setting your phone back to the way you got it out of the box when you bought it.  It may give you the choice to also wipe your SD card.  Choose, "OK" and it will be wiped clean. 

Until recently I would say you are now safe to get rid of the phone/tablet.  But new information has come to my attention.  It is now known that some disreputable people have been known to get old phones and recover information.  They run software like Recuva or other similar "rescue" apps and get a lot of information back from the erased system. 

You think,"That is fine, my pictures are of me fully clothed unlike some recent celebrities."  But what about your email username and password?  Or you bank account login, a personal letter you wrote, your Dropbox account and on-and-on?  Your personal data could be retrieved.

Locked filesThere is a safe way to get around this problem many geeks suggest implementing.  You add one new procedure to your Android device before you execute the factory reset.  Encrypt your device.  Encryption basically scrambles your device’s data with a cryptographic key so that only you can access it with a great password.  That way it cannot be accessed without that encryption key.  You can do this on your device at any time; however, it has a couple of drawbacks.  It can cause battery drain, it can also slow down your device and if you decide you do not like your phone encrypted it cannot be undone without a factory reset.  That causes a loss of all data.

Look under Settings and then Security to encrypt your phone/tablet.  Once encrypted you may then run a factory reset and if someone looks into recovering your data they end up with a recovered scrambled mess.  Your information will be safe.  

July 8, 2014

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