Daily Archives: July 15, 2014

Having your email account hacked

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Email accounts being hacked is nothing new, but having had my personal email hacked in March I thought I would elaborated on what happens, why and how to easily rectify the problem.
Since starting the business in 2007, I cannot remember a month where I have not received an email from a friend or customer whose email account has been hacked.  In March this number increased dramatically and I even found that my own personal Yahoo email account had been hacked.  Apparently hackers had identified a flaw in Yahoo’s security and had compromised a large number of email accounts.  Yahoo claim that the issue has been resolved but have advised users to ensure that their passwords are secure.

So what happens?

An email account is hacked and instead of locking you out of it or deleting emails they use your contacts to send spam emails.  It is an advantage to use your account as your contacts are more likely follow email links sent from people they know.

The good news is they are easy to spot, you will receive an email with a blue website link inside, like this http://www.boguswebsite-givenmeyourmoney.com.  Obviously they do not use such an obviously bogus website name, but you should treat it like it is and not click it!  Remember the person who sent you the email probably does not know you have been sent this or that their account has been hacked.  So it is best to just email them back informing them of what you have received.

How to rectify the problem:

To resolve the issue you simply need to login to your email account and change your password.
The strength of your password is governed by its length, variation of characters and by not using of common words/names.  So as covered in a previous article, the best passwords are complete ‘X4ET3D@H8’ jargon!  Jargon passwords are tough to remember, so I think random words with numbers are easier to remember but still secure for example ‘SunnyFridge7304’ – all very random but difficult for anyone to guess or for hackers to compromise.

What can you do to prevent your email account being hacked?

The best preventative measure is to have a secure password and to inform your contacts of the tell-tale signs that someone’s email account has been hacked.
If you are concerned at all or you have any other queries please get in touch, Ian.

Windows 8.1 ‘Update 1’ & Mini Tips

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Hello again, so the Windows XP deadline has passed and for many people it was time to say “Bye Bye” to XP!

This past month I have moved many customers over to new PCs, laptops and tablets with the aim of taking the stress out of the migration.  The majority of people have gone over to Windows 8 with a few choosing Windows 7 to lessen the degree of change.  I have to say I have really enjoyed helping people to adapt and understand their new devices!

In April Microsoft released an update ingeniously named ‘Update 1’ for Windows 8 adding some new features, a few of which I will cover briefly.

One minor feature is the tiled Start Menu now includes a power button to Shutdown/Restart, as you can see from the picture.  Minor to say the least but nice to have rather than the clumsy way you had to do it previously.  Another feature is that the Full Screen Apps now have the traditional top right actions ‘Minimise’, ‘Maximise’ and ‘Close’, giving them have a less ‘how do I get out of here?’ feel.  I think overall this update makes Windows 8 feel better for PCs and Laptop users.  Minor but good improvements and worth updating to in my opinion.  Did you know…..you can right click on the Windows 8.1 Start Button to reveal a useful menu of common tasks?

Mini Tips: I occasionally get asked ‘What is the best thing to clean a flat screen monitor with?

There are two options I use:

1st. AM Denmark Screen Cleaner Gel: it really gets the screen looking perfect and comes with a microfiber cloth.
2nd. Use a baby wipe!  Ring out any moisture in the baby wipe first then use it to clean the whole screen and remove any sneeze/smug marks or dust!  Then use a microfiber cloth to buff the screen shiny.

You can now find our old articles and other tips on the Tomlinson Computer Support Ltd Facebook page, please ‘Like’ us and leave a review if you have used us in the past.
Have a great month and please get in touch if you have any queries, Ian.

Tech Savvy Kids

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Hello, I have had another busy month helping many customers with IT issues, supplying many of our TCS desktop PCs with Windows 7 and 8, as well as Windows laptops. Having the sun out is a welcome addition and distraction from my own computer!

Over the past few months I have been to customers who have computers full of malware infections, pop-up adverts and bogus programs. It is quite common that these systems have become worse after being used by a child in the family. Kids nowadays are very tech savvy, picking things up very quickly and have no fear in exploring computers or tablets. Kids are great on these devices but as I have found first hand with my own children they will click on anything if it comes between them and getting to the game or website they desire! Many free games and video websites often contain supposedly ‘required installations’. Basically if you want to play a game the website can say you must install a specific piece of software or toolbar to continue. With just a few of these types of installations your system can stop functioning as quickly and be full of pop-up messages/warnings. This can cause the system to be branded with the all too common saying I hear “it’s going through the window in a minute”!

One thing I have been advising customers to do with this particular issue is to create a separate profile for the child to use. This account can be set as a ‘standard’ account meaning it is not authorised to install software without permission from your own account. This can help a lot. A lot of the minor infections can often only affect the account they were installed on, meaning that your own account is less likely to be affected.

So basically if you have a similar issue to the above it would be worth creating a standard account for that particular user. Then put a password on your own account to stop them getting back into yours or installing any gremlins!

Please get in touch if you have any queries, have a good June. Ian.

Being Search Savvy

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Every month I visit customers who are having problems with their systems caused by bogus software. This can often happen when people are trying to install a program and inadvertently download something completely different. So I thought I would give a few bits of advice to help reduce the chance of this happening. For this explanation the software to be installed is Adobe Flash Player which is a legitimate piece of software that is required by a huge number of websites.

To begin, I always recommend using www.google.co.uk as I find it usually will provide the most accurate results. Here is the Google search result:

search-savvy

When you search the internet results are given in order of relevance to the text you entered. So in theory the top result is the most relevant but watch out for the paid Ads. These can be spotted by the yellow Ad symbol on Google as shown above – they have paid to be at the top. A paid ad can take you anywhere and offer anything! There can be 0-3 ads at the top of each search, so my advice is to ignore the ads completely and use the links below them. So in the example above the top result is the advert which in this case offers bogus software and the second result is the genuine Flash Player download. I hope this helps to make it easier to find the websites you are really looking for!

Let me know if you have any queries. I really appreciate the feedback I get regarding the monthly article and please let me know if there is a topic you would like covering. Have a good month, Ian.

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