Staying safe online

By Richard Churchill – First Published October 2012

Last month I discussed some of the computer scams you could face in your email and on the phone, this month I’m going to cover scam programs and the scams that you will see on web pages. I will also cover how you can be sure you are looking at a real website.

Online Scams
If you are online there are two main types of scams, fake websites and scam software.

Fake & scam software
We often get called to visit customers who keep getting security warnings that they can’t get rid of. When we get there, we find that the security warning itself is fake. There is a whole industry producing fake security alerts and anti-virus software. The objective of this software is to get you to pay for removal software (that is also fake).

These fake alerts are easy to spot, they tell you you have hundreds of infections, then ask you for money to activate your security software. Occasionally real renewal notices from you security software can be confused with fake software, as always if you’re not sure ask for advice from a professional.

Some scams don’t even put software on your computer, there is a way to use a web page to fill your screen with warnings, if you just ignore them, and ask your computer to reboot, the warnings will be gone.

Fake websites
These can be for banks, email providers or sites like Facebook and twitter. The goal is always the same, steal your password so they can do something bad with it. How do you know if a site is real, first check that the login page is using a secure server (look for https eg https://twitter.com). Next, all real secure sites have to register for a certificate. Real certificates are displayed in a green box giving the name of the certificate holder next to the https (Microsoft puts it to the right, everyone else to the left) so we get “|Twitter, Inc. [US] | https://twitter.com”

As with all things on the internet, the best advice is to think before you click, and if you are worried get expert advice.

Going further

If you are fortunate enough to live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire and wold like help with your computer why not give us a call? You can call us on 01454 616365 or use our contact form and we will call you back.

How to avoid scams

By Richard Churchill – First Published September 2012

I wrote a article a year ago covering the some of the scams you face on the internet. In the last year the situation has only got worse. This month I will look again at the scam I mentioned a year ago, next month I will look at the scams that can get on your computer without you even knowing it. I hope that having read this months and next months articles you will manage to avoid these scams or have the confidence to put the phone down (more on that later).

Email Scams
Probably the most common type of scam on the internet, I get a few of these every day. The main types are:
Password Notifications – These emails appear to be sent by anything from Facebook to your bank. They tell you there is a problem with your account and you need to click on a link to fix it. Of course the link goes to a fake website.
“We couldn’t deliver your parcel”/ “Why did you post this picture?” – Bogus emails from shipping company or a ‘friend’ or government agency with “documents” attached, these actually contain a virus.

Just press delete to get ride of all these.

Phone Scams
“We have detected your computer ..” This cold calling scam is still going strong, you receive a call from the “Microsoft Security Department”, “Windows Security Department” and inform you that they have found a virus on your computer but if you go to this website they can fix if for you (for a fee). Simply, no one will actively call you about a virus on your computer unless you have a support contract (not even your anti-virus company). If you receive a call like this just hang up, if you are worried call your usual computer engineer or call me (number bellow) and get some honest professional advice.

As with all things on the internet, the best advice is to think before you click, and if you are worried get expert advice. Next month I’m going to cover fake anti-virus software and how to spot a fake website.

Going further

If you are fortunate enough to live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire and wold like help with your computer why not give us a call? You can call us on 01454 616365 or use our contact form and we will call you back.

Choosing a Computer

By Richard Churchill – First Published July 2012

The average PC will stay with you for at least 4 years, so choosing well is key to avoiding stress in years to come. The choices involved in buying a computer are intimidating. Here I briefly cover the major choices, I have put a longer guide “Buying a Computer”

First choice, what type of computer do you want? There are 3 main designs,
Tablets these look like large mobile phones, good for browsing online (I’ll cover these next month).

Laptops have flip up tops, giving you a screen and keyboard, varying from ultra-light to big and heavy, the larger models are faster but time between charges decreases (the biggest run from mains chargers most of the time).

Desktop/All-in-One, here the computer parts are either in a separate box, or built in to the back of the monitor. These are what most people think of as a computer. Other than shape there is no difference between Laptops and Desktops

The next question is “PC or Mac”? Mac is exclusive to Apple Inc and runs Apple’s own Mac OS software, considered to be more reliable and secure. Macs are more expensive, with fewer software titles available for them. A PC is any other computer than runs Microsoft Windows. PCs are cheaper, made by many companies, run more software but are more vulnerable to attack.

The hard disk is where you store all your stuff, (it’s the figure measured in hundreds of “gb” in a computers details). Simply the bigger it is, the more videos, music etc. you can store.

Finally the processor and ram, the brains and working memory of the computer. Processors have become so powerful now that for the average home user, even the slowest current processor will still be fast enough. Ram is now the most important element, without enough of it the computer will run slowly. 2GB is the minimum 3Gb or 4Gb are better if you can get it, more is unnecessary at the moment.

Going further

If you are fortunate enough to live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire and wold like help with your computer why not give us a call? You can call us on 01454 616365 or use our contact form and we will call you back.

Using the index

By Richard Churchill – First Published June 2012

The internet is often described in the same terms as an encyclopedia, the first place you normally look in an encyclopedia is the index. So where is the index for the internet? The internet has a lot of indexes, each run by a different company, each giving you a slightly different answer, for example Google, Yahoo, Bing (Microsoft). Continue reading “Using the index”

Shopping safely online

By Richard Churchill – First Published May 2011

Online shopping is one of the great conveniences of modern life, you can find almost anything, anywhere in the world and have it shipped to your door. However shopping online can be a worrying and confusing experience, if you are not confident that the website you are going to buy from is real, secure and well regarded. Continue reading “Shopping safely online”

Getting the Facts

By Richard Churchill – First Published April 2011

The coming of the internet has given us much greater access to information, it is now possible to find out almost anything about anything of the slightest significance. Anyone can put information on the internet and there is no editorial control. How in that case do you know the information you are reading is accurate? Continue reading “Getting the Facts”

Finding a company

By Richard Churchill – First Published March 2011

I have noticed that fewer and fewer people are using the big printed directories. The Internet is slowly taking over as the primary way to find the trades people. Using the internet gives you a very wide choice, you can check reputation of the company you have chosen and often find out in great detail what they do before you pick up the phone, or email them.
Continue reading “Finding a company”

Letting your pictures out

By Richard Churchill – First Published February 2011

The modern use of digital photography has led to a change in the way we relate to photographs. While it is possible to get high quality prints off our digital photos, either from our own printers or from numerous high street shops that are replacing their film developing equipment with digital photo printers, most of the time our pictures just remain trapped on our computers looked at whenever we remember they are there. Continue reading “Letting your pictures out”

Its a Social World

By Richard Churchill – First Published January 2011

The technical innovation of the last 10 years has been the group of technologies known as “social media”. At the turn of the century the idea of keeping up with what your friends are doing week by week via the internet was barely considered, now it is is possible (if you want) to keep up with your friends activities on a minute by minute basis. Continue reading “Its a Social World”